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Community Report Season 5 Episode 5 “Geothermal Escapism”

Why don't they call it Planet Trek?

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Evolution works in mysterious ways. I don’t claim to know how it happened, but perhaps it somehow goes all the way back to when the Earth was a young, molten ball, and life was still just scattered inorganic ingredients. For some reason, every human child is born with instinctive knowledge of how to play “The Floor Is Lava.”

The universal childhood game was how Community chose to send off Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) on his final episode of the season, and it was as great as any paintball or pillow fort episode that turned the entire school of Greendale into a bizarre competitive death match.

The episode starts with the entire study group sitting around the table, saying goodbye to Troy on his last day at Greendale, and covering their grief by being excited about pretty much everything. Abed’s not quite ready to let go, of course, and he has convinced the Dean to turn the entire campus into a game of The Floor Is Lava.

Like the old paintball episodes, things get serious when Abed announces there’s a real prize involved that’s worth $50,000, and the entire school quickly becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with chair walkers, sofa hoppers, and a fortress of furniture.

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Of course, now that we’ve gotten a Jeff and Annie-centric episode and posthumous Pierce-centric episode this season, it makes sense for Troy’s last episode to focus mostly on Troy and Abed coming to grips with parting ways for the foreseeable future. There’s also a lot of Britta in this episode, and she annoys everyone pretty much the entire time, but this time she’s annoying because she’s right.

She’s basically the character who introduces us to the entire lava world, because setting up an entire world and then coming to a conclusion all in one episode is no easy task for a half-hour show. Britta wants everyone to forget about the game and deal with their real feelings about Troy leaving, which is easy to relate to, because I’m still refusing to deal with those feelings.

I wonder what zany antics Troy and Abed will get up to next week. I bet they’ll do secret handshakes and generally make the world a brighter place. What? Troy left? Nah. I don’t know what you mean.

Anyway, so Britta finds herself participating in the game, and the rest of the gang quickly shows up to help her, because a sofa hopper like her won’t last 20 minutes once all the chairs are gone.

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They have a run in with Chang and his lost—er, sorry—locker boys, and Professor Hickey has fashioned himself a lava tank, because his son’s wedding is getting expensive, and he wants that prize. After he gets rid of Chang, Troy and Abed abandon Britta, because nobody wants a downer in a game of The Floor Is Lava, and Hickey teams up with her out of pity.

The rest of the group makes it to Shirley Island, which is a giant fortress of furniture complete with its own drum circles and legends about how all of the lava began, because 90% of the characters on the show are pretty much just waiting for a reason to go insane.

Troy and Abed are looking for a weapon called “The Orb,” but Shirley insists her island is a place of peace. It’s also a place of standing on tables and pissing in jars, but I digress.

Hickey and Britta arrive with an army of Chair Walkers (those would, of course, be people who walk over the “lava” with chairs strapped to their feet), and a battle breaks out. Jeff and Britta wind up doing battle and exchange less-than-sharp witted trash talk, and for the first time in an extremely long time, I can actually see a spark between them as they bicker. Even if it’s unintentional and nothing ever happens there again, I can’t say this enough, but it’s great for Britta to finally be more than just the butt of jokes again.

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She winds up defeating Jeff, and Shirley finally gives Troy and Abed The Orb, which is a giant plastic bubble that they can run around in together and knock people over, because who doesn’t want to see that? Things are going great until Hickey slashes the bubble with a knife, and they’re forced to retreat to the basement.

There, Britta pushes Hickey into the lava so she can continue trying to talk sense about Troy’s departure to Abed, because it turns out Abed is actually seeing real lava, because he can’t deal with Troy leaving. He winds up throwing himself in, because he needs to let go, and he plays fake dead.

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Britta and Troy finally realize that they have to help Abed grieve on his terms, so instead of having a healthy conversation about feelings, they pretend to clone a new Abed from his fake dead body’s DNA. It works, and clone Abed turns out to be more emotionally adjusted than regular Abed.

So, Troy does the same by falling into the lava willingly, and his clone is a more assertive, individual person, who is totally OK and not locked in complete speechlessness when LeVar Burton shows up to help him on Pierce’s boat and make sure he doesn’t cheat in his quest to sail it around the world.

Everyone says their goodbyes and Troy leaves Greendale with the boat, but not before Abed drops a line about remembering to eventually return home, so maybe we’ll get some more Troy next season.

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The entire episode was great and absolutely lived up to the spirit of the crazy paintball competitions that had come before it. It was the best possible send off I could’ve imagined for Donald Glover, and if it’s any indication of what the rest of the season will be like, I just might be able to get over that loss.

(via images via Community)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.