Community: S. 5, Ep. 4 ““Cooperative Polygraphy”
Will Neal | Saturday, January 25, 2014
Pierce Anastasia Hawthorne – it’s hard to say goodbye. I’m not just referring to Chevy Chase’s departure from the series last season, but as of last week, our insensitively beloved senior member of the Greendale Seven passed away. While last week’s “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” first addressed the passing of Pierce, this week dealt with the aftermath. Don’t worry; it’s much funnier than it sounds.
It would have been easy for the series to forget Chase’s presence on the show after his departure, but Dan Harmon cares about his characters. As a tribute to both fans and Chevy Chase himself, Pierce received a funny, touching, and proper final send-off from the series. Mirroring the title of the classic bottle-style episode of “Community” entitled “Cooperative Calligraphy,” we once again focused on a plotline that trapped the cast in the study room for the entire episode (minus the 2-minute tag). Through the consistent laughs and clever one-liners, this episode served its ultimate purpose of saying goodbye to one character, and preparing for the departure of another.
Due to Pierce’s own suspicion of the nature of his death from beyond the grave, his lawyer, Mr. Stone (played perfectly cold by Walton Goggins of “Justified”), was brought in to question to study group through simultaneous polygraph tests. Furthermore, if the group wanted to receive their “bequeathments” from Pierce, they would have to answer every question thrown at them, no matter how revealing. This setup took away any potential action from the episode and relied strictly on dialogue and delivery between characters… and it was wonderful. The questions asked towards the study group (“Jeff Winger: Are you gay? Are you sure?”) revealed that, despite their 4 years of tight-knit friendship, there were still some (hilarious) skeletons in the closet. This led to some wonderful moments of admit from each character, from Troy admitting that he uses Jeff’s Netflix account (“Is that why my review of ‘The Grey’ keeps changing?”), to Abed revealing he Catfished Annie in the name of pancakes for breakfast (“You’re Lance Underjaw?!”). The episode’s setup allowed each character to be put in the spotlight through interrogation and have their individual moments to shine. A real standout of the episode was Yvette Nicole Brown, especially in her hilarious delivery screaming, “We all know that, you judgmental bitch!” to the polygraph operator pointing out the consistent stream of lies. Donald Glover’s upcoming departure has allowed him to have some strong moments in the episodes this season with wonderful lines like, “I’ve never been to Legoland. I just wanted y’all to think I was cool.” Which brings us to the important reveal of the episode: just what would cause the departure of the beloved Troy Barnes?
Pierce’s bequeathment to Troy offered him the opportunity to gain a vast share of his fortune if he fulfilled Pierce’s goal to sail around the world. It was a bit out of left field, sure, but connecting Pierce’s departure to Troy’s was a smart move from the writers that offered a heartfelt moment of friendship beyond the grave. His reaction to the situation was pretty funny as well: “he’s offering me something I’ve been searching for my whole life… millions of dollars. And being a man or whatever he said.” For the rest of the cast, Pierce’s final written words to each study group member often moments of sweet closure for each bond they shared with him. Oh, and every character received a canister of his sperm (“Abed, I’ve never understood anything you’ve said or done. Here’s your sperm.”) It wouldn’t be a departure for Pierce if there wasn’t one last highly inappropriate gesture towards his friends.
It’ll be hard saying goodbye to another cast member next week, but “Cooperative Polygraphy” gave a wonderful and hilarious send off to Pierce Hawthorne, giving each character their moment to shine. Let’s just hope that Troy’s departure next week offers an even more epic departure. Also, that ending tag with a drunk Walton Goggins was just wonderful.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.