There’s no understating how big Troy (Donald Glover) leaving Greendale is, and Dan Harmon and crew used the occasion to pull off another, very effective genre tribute in the tradition of every paintball and fort epic they’ve ever executed. (But not the Hunger Games parody from last season, because it sucked.)
And it’s something we can’t avoid, no matter how hard we and the study group tried to inchworm, hootenanny and chair walk last night. The school-wide hot lava game (did Abed really have $50,000 to give away?) was clearly a representation – as killjoy Britta pointed out – of how Abed can’t handle the reality of Troy sailing away with LeVar Burton for Pierce’s millions. But the commitment to the game his friends showed reveals that they couldn’t deal with Troy going away either. Less so for everyone else, who were just playing to buy 50,000 Lotto tickets or get cash for a son who’s getting gay married.
We’ve seen Abed struggle to deal with the harsh truth in the past. He acknowledges he’s a little mental. Troy’s departure affects him a lot more than everyone else, and how he’ll have to adapt is traumatizing. How Britta gets Troy to help her “clone” Abed after his lava “death” was a clever way of dealing with someone so abnormal and fragile at times. Britta isn’t that bad of a would-be psychologist after all, despite her clumsiness with the cloning jargon. What makes these genre tributes work so well is that a) they’re funny and b) there’s some real, deeply-rooted emotion. “Modern Warfare” from season one is a classic; I watched it repeatedly and laughed out loud. But under the laughs, it was about Britta and Jeff’s relationship. Season two’s two-part, season-ending sequel? Funny, but because the fate of Greendale and their futures were at stake. It all needs to be about something for us to care.
Jeff and Annie are still paired up here during the battle, and hopefully there’s no meaning to it. Not much Shirley here, but she was great in the scene where the post-apocalyptic Shirley’s Island (giant fort) is introduced, piss jars and all. Gillian Jacobs and Jonathan Banks work effectively together after Britta is left for dead by Troy and Abed. I can’t mention often enough what an asset Banks is to the show now as Professor Hickey. I’ve probably laughed more at him in these few episodes he’s been in than the four seasons Chevy Chase was on the show. Maybe it’s because he’s less reliant on gay jokes, misogyny and out-of-touch bigotry. Banks has played menacing tough guys a lot, and hearing him threaten to shove Britta back at some point in the near future makes the line all the funnier because of it.
The main group of actors have been together since the pilot, and there was some genuine emotion in the last scenes as the group (“clones” of the group) sent Troy off with LeVar. Guess he can sorta handle talking to himself now, as we saw in the post-credits button. This reminds me that very few can hysterically break down in tears as perfectly as Glover, as I’m sure fans attempted after last night.