Community- Episode 5.04 "Cooperative Polygraphy" Review- An episode that is on par with the show's strongest half hours
Posted by Pablozky at Monday, January 20, 2014 25 Comments
One thing that made me hate last’s week episode so much was how out of the blue Pierce’s death came, which didn’t allow for any real emotional impact as it gets in the midst of the plot and his loss is not even really felt. The show makes up for it in this episode, which starts with the group coming back from Pierce’s funeral (as he was part of a futuristic cult his funeral had a lot of bipping).
Pierce hired a guy to do a polygraph test on every single member of the study group (plus Chang) in order to determine if any of them is involved in his demise. This brings up brilliant jokes, amazing punch-liners, and by the end a sense of how Pierce’s life impacted everyone.
Because the episode relies only in this story and there is so much to it, it’s impossible to review the episode like I usually do, narrating the story plots while throwing my thoughts at how it was developed. Instead, I’m going to outright express why I think this episode worked as wonderful as it did.
First of all, it has one of Community’s classic plots in which Pierce turns every member of the group against each other and it does it with really funny results, from the reveal that Troy picked up his secret handshake with Abed from a video blog to Abed freaking out about Annie giving the group some drugs to pass some tests. By now everyone knows that is really easy to turn the group against each other; because they love each other they ignore their friends faults, but when they come up its impossible to ignore. That happens in real life too; we’re blind at the people who we care about, so it’s not surprising that members of the study group can do terrible things and be completely ignored until they are brought up by the polygraph, which brings great comedic results.
The comedy also comes by how the show can turn mundane situations into living hell for the characters; at first this was supposed to be the aftermath of Pierce’s funeral and a will reading, and then a polygraph came along to determine who inherits Pierce’s money with questions designed to turn these people against each other, unlike any normal will reading would go. And everyone is serious about it, and it gets more and more farfetched, but the actors manage to keep balance so it is neither too serious nor too lightly taken. It’s played right, with just the right amount of seriousness and silliness.
And of course, there are always the so welcome emotional beats brought into the mix by the end; Jeff realized that if they are honest with each other, they don’t have to fear any question that could come up and so everyone admits what they have been hiding. And as they get ready for the last round of questions, those questions are actually a meaningful way for Pierce to say goodbye; he outright tells Britta she hates herself too much and that her passion inspired him, he admits he was intimidated by Shirley’s strength of character, that Annie was always her favorite, he leaves a scotch for Jeff (so he is less tempted to drink sperm from the cylinder he gave him), and that Troy has the heart of a hero. It’s a wonderful moment that got me into some tears; nobody in the group realized how much Pierce cared about them (well, maybe not so much about Abed, who he thought was insane) and now it can be really be felt how his loss will affect them. They lost someone who cared about them, someone who, as broken as he was, wants nothing but the best for all of them.
It’s really brilliant, this way the show manages to give Donald Glover an exit from the show in an inspiring touching way that also related to Chevy Chase’s departure. Just brilliant, magnificent… I have no words to describe how awesome it was, how cool. Cool, cool, cool. Now, the next episode will have to deal with Troy’s departure and how it will impact Abed.
Readers, you can now forget last week’s grade and focus on this one. This episode has proved me that Community can reach the same heights it once reached during its second and third season; now more than ever I want to see six seasons and a movie, because I know they can pull it with this perfection.
-“Troy and Abed are in mourning”.
They did that during the eulogy. Cool. Cool, cool, cool.
-Polygraph guy: “Shirley Benet. Are you a dishonest person?”
Polygraph girl: “She thinks that’s true”.
-Polygraph guy to Chang: “Say your name”
Chang: “Benjamin Chang, I have nothing to hide”
Polygraph guy: “Have you ever masturbated in the study room?”
Annie’s and Shirley’s faces are priceless!
-Polygraph guy: “Mr. Barnes, state your name”.
Troy: “Troy Barnes. Douh! I meant to say Butts Carlston!
Polygraph girl: “He did meant to say Butts Carlston”.
-At first I didn’t imagine everyone would get Pierce’s sperm, but midway it became obvious, and it was still funny when Troy received the last one. It was so Pierce like to do it.
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