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Community- Episode 5.04 "Cooperative Polygraphy" Review- An episode that is on par with the show's strongest half hours

Last week I was very hard on Community because I didn’t like the episode in any level; I was so disappointed at the episode that I graded it with a D+, a grade I thought inconceivable for Community. I was happy that, apparently, I was one of the few people who felt that way about it; the passion that came on the comment section about how people loved the episode was heartwarming and made me feel quite good; I rather people disagree with me and enjoy an episode I consider bad than seeing that people is agreeing with me, which in this case would mean they were as disappointed as I was. But the best thing is when we can agree that an episode of our beloved Community is awesome, and I think that everyone will agree that “Cooperative Polygraphy” is not only the best installment of season 5 so far, but also an episode that is on par with Community’s strongest half hours.

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 of it all is, for one, how many crazy things these people have done and how they have managed to keep it from everybody else. Some things are common and the reactions are exaggerated (like Troy and Abed using Jeff’s Netflix account, to which Jeff responses infuriated), and some other things are outright messed up (like Abed tracking everyone on the group) and the reactions are more than expected. Community plays wildly and crazy like no other comedy (give or take How I Met Your Mother… at times) and it does it the best when it uses its whole cast to its fullest (something I found lacking in last week’s episode) and when the jokes actually reflects who these people are and why they are together.

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 just wonderful, after making everyone admit who they really are to each other with the polygraph questions, Pierce managed to tell these people that they are actually great people, with a lot of strengths they have yet to make use of. And in the spirit of bringing those strengths out, Píerce leaves Troy his shares on his company (which is valued with millions of dollars) on the condition that he has to sail his boat and travel around the entire world, so that he can become his own man.

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.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

-“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?”
Shirley: “No”.
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?”
*Chang leaves*
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.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother and Community

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