On 'Community,' Dan Harmon Gave Pierce the Perfect Send Off And Set the Stage for Troy's Heartbreaking Departure
Dan Harmon, who seems to have been rejuvenated by his forced sabbatical from Community, continues to impress with his rebooted fifth season. Last night’s episode was typical of the kind of episode Harmon is capable of, where fans want to claim a piece of ownership, shout that it was the “best episode since … ” and express pride in the fact that we’ve stuck with it, humblebrag that we never lost faith (even if it has wavered from time to time).
I am among those who share that sentiment, and after the brilliant first three episodes of the season, it’s hard to claim that last night’s was even better. But it was. Using Walton Goggins, who played Pierce Hawthorne’s estate attorney, Dan Harmon was able to create the perfect Pierce episode, despite the total absence of Chevy Chase. Goggins acted as a stand in, and in doing so, instigate the study group into the exact sort of intra-squabbling circumstances Pierce always managed to provoke, before pushing the episode back into the gushy, heartwarming, poignant moments that typified the first two seasons, while also taking the edge off those moments with a dose of levity in the form of Pierce’s frozen semen.
It was a perfect episode, one in which the study group never left their table (until the episode’s button, which merely highlighted once again how amazing Walton Goggins is, and how every great television show should be required by law to utilize guest roles from Goggins). But there was more to it than the genius of a recreating a Pierce-centric episode without Chevy Chase, Harmon also set up Troy’s departure, and in doing so, Harmon, in a way, expressed his well wishes, his gratitude, and his heartbreak about Donald Glover’s decision to leave.
Abed’s dishonest reaction — “Cool, cool … cool’ — sums up the feelings of both Dan Harmon, the rest of the cast, and the audience, which is to say, we’re going to put on a brave face and wish Donald Glover well, hope that both finds himself and earns his millions of dollars as Childish Gambino, but we’re not really OK with it, and to suggest otherwise, is disingenuous. It may not be the ideal truth, but it’s the honest truth.
And, of course, a classic episode of Community needs its fantastic callbacks, too.
Community is in the midst of the kind of creative resurgence rarely seen on sitcom television, and whether the show gets 2 million viewers or 10, and whether it gets picked up for a sixth season or not, those of us who have stuck with it are lucky witnesses to what is once again the best comedy on television.