Last night’s Community bid farewell to the beloved Troy Barnes, played by writer, actor and hip hop artist Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino).
After dealing with the departure of cast member Chevy Chase‘s character Pierce Hawthorne last week, this week’s episode marked perhaps an even deeper departure. While Hawthorne was often the group’s antagonist and has been replaced by the criminology professor Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad fame), Troy was an integral and much-loved part of the group. The show often used Troy and Abed’s friendship to explore different themes, and outtakes for their college radio program “Troy and Abed in the Morning” often served as the outro to many an episode.
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Troy’s send off was as dramatic and trope-centric as a fan could expect. In order to avoid dealing with his emotions, Abed bribes the school using a comic book valued at $50,000 into playing a game of “The Floor is Lava.”
The episode borrows from post-apocalyptic films like Water World, The Warriors and Mad Max as it pits the study group against each other. The episode is reminiscent of the paintball episodes as well as the war documentary-themed “Pillows vs. Blankets.”
There are a lot of great jokes throughout and some pretty great work by Gillian Jacobs as Britta attempts to shut down Abed’s fantasy world to force him to deal with reality.
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Plus, we get another cameo from Lavar Burton, calling back to an earlier episode where Troy’s one wish to meet Lavar Burton is granted with disastrous consequences.
A heartfelt goodbye – with an open door for future appearances by Glover — is followed by Burton and Troy riding off into parts unknown.
It’ll be interesting to see what the show does now that its natural character pairings have been broken up. Traditionally, we’ve seen the character pair off into pretty consistent groups on their adventures: Jeff/Annie, Shirley/Britta, Troy/Abed, and Pierce to undermine them all. Despite brief variances like when Britta and Troy were dating, it’s a lot of character development between partners with no friendship greater than Troy and Abed’s. Hopefully, this opens the door for some more hilarious moments from Banks’ crusty character and Abed’s TV-obsessed oddness.
As for Glover, his next steps are unclear. In a series of notes he wrote and Tweeted, it seems he left just to be on his own. He revealed many fears, included that Community creator Dan Harmon hates him. It seems those fears are unfounded, as Harmon tweeted a warm farewell to the actor.
And thanks to Donald Glover. I really don’t have the words to express my admiration of this man. All I can do is clone myself and move on.
— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) January 24, 2014
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