Okay, seriously, have the folks at Greendale learned nothing about prizes? Tonight's episode showcased some of the best things about Community, but some of it felt a little rehashed. "Geothermal Escapism" may have felt a little bit like a retread of the paintball episodes, but it also was a wonderfully warm way to say goodbye to Troy on Community .
First of all, this was a classic Community concept episode, but it only distinguished itself from the paintball concept episodes in two ways: This time, the competition was "the floor is lava" (perfect and definitely believable as something Abed would do for Troy on his last day), and the concept was dystopian, post-apocalyptic films. Otherwise, all the touchstones from the paintball episodes were there: heightened competition for a valuable prize (you think they would've learned by now), a safe haven from the madness (this time run by Shirley), a standoff between Jeff and Britta, someone from the study group taking one for the team. There were some standout moments, like Chang's Locker Kids gang, but the first part of the episode was sort of bland in comparison with earlier concept episodes.
But then, the twist: Abed is actually seeing that the floor is lava because he doesn't want to let go of Troy. This is Community at its best: an out-there, conceptual episode that has actual consequences and emotional weight. More importantly, it has the characters evolve, with Troy and Abed finally realizing that they can't be so dependent on one another. And it shows a kind of rare moment for Abed that we haven't seen since "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas": He recognizes his mental illness and showcases a rare moment of emotional vulnerability.
The ending is understated, but incredibly heartwarming. Troy says goodbye to all of his study group friends, saying the perfect thing to each one in turn. And in another classic Community moment, LeVar Burton shows up on the boat Troy will sail around the world. On a lesser show, this would be just a goofy, throwaway reference to a previous episode. But instead of freaking out like in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking," , Troy remains surprisingly calm. He's a different person than he was then. He's finally grown up.
Goodbye, Troy. We'll be crying for you.