**Before I begin, I just want to acknowledge that this episode was written by Alex Rubens and directed by Tristram Shapeero. I will be referring to all writing/directing staff as Dan Harmon though because it's just easier, and you and I both know he had his hands all over this one. Cool? Cool cool cool.
Of course Dan Harmon found a way to make the best Pierce-centric episode one that Chevy Chase is absent from...
By using a very well cast surrogate to legally speak for the deceased, Harmon was able to let Pierce say all the things that Chevy never wanted to, giving the character a legacy that the actor didn’t deserve. And with such a well-written episode, Harmon lets his sharp wit deliver the final blow in the feud between them, even if Chevy may never realize how clean the cut was.
Usually funerals falsely exonerate the dead, but this never once tried to paint the dead as saintly. Instead, the dead posthumously embraced his humanity and found a clever, if not twisted, way to make the living embrace theirs. Pierce Anastasia Hawthorne, in death, was able to help his study group feel better about their imperfect lives — even if they had to tear some scar tissue along the way - something he could never dream of doing while alive.
Structurally, this episode is a combination of "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking,” the episode in which Pierce enacts psychological revenge on his study group from a faux deathbed, and that shitty “confessional” episode from last season that tried to hide the fact that it was terrible by using puppets and musical numbers. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is Harmon’s middle finger at that episode, saying, “You want to get real? Let’s get REAL” with the kind of dark, twisted information that comes to light in these 20 or so minutes.
In fact, SO much stuff was revealed this episode that I figured it might just be easiest for us all if I made a list. Here we go:
Britta has had violent thoughts towards Pierce.
Jeff is not gay.
Shirley is a platinum donor to a the pro-life site Prenatal Patriots.
Troy meant to say Butts Carleton.
Troy got angry when Pierce told him that Fat Albert died of diabetes (like any American would).
Troy and Abed have a Doomsday Plan in case of a zombie attack.
Abed has never 9/11'ed anyone.
As a child, Abed never killed a squirrel with a slingshot and felt nothing and wondered if he was capable of doing it to a human.
Troy and Abed use Jeff’s Netflix account without his permission.
This is why his review of The Grey keeps changing.
Annie is aware of this fact.
Annie did not murder Pierce.
Annie overcharges Troy and Abed on their rent and puts it in a savings account.
In order to save money, Shirley replaced the tofu served at her sandwich shop with meatfu.
Britta was higher than usual during Shirley’s son’s baptism.
Jeff keeps trophies of sexual conquests, including a pair of Britta’s panties he said was stolen by a hawk.
Troy and Abed go through Jeff’s stuff all the time.
Jeff keeps bread in the freezer.
Jeff’s mirror says “You’re special” when fogged up.
Abed took a shower at Jeff’s place.
Troy didn’t kill Pierce.
Troy didn’t invent he and Abed’s famous handshake.
Abed planted geo-tracking devices on everyone to know where they are at all times.
That’s where Pierce is buried.
Annie drugged the group with a pharmaceutical amphetamine during finals.
Abed invented an entire language after staying up for three days straight; yewfltiz barbingitz gork.
Abed is catfishing Annie.
Jeff made Abed apply for handicapped parking so he could get a better parking spot.
Britta invited Garrett to Annie’s birthday party.
Troy won’t sit on a toilet seat after Jeff.
When Shirley and Troy are alone, Shirley refers to the group as “those people.”
When Annie is alone with other female students, she calls Jeff her uncle.
Shirley believes the group is going to hell.
Chang didn’t just masturbate in the study room; he masturbated everywhere.
That's a lot to take in, I know.
But more importantly than any of that, we learned that Pierce admired Britta’s passion, we learned that he respected Shirley, and, most importantly, we learned that he believed Troy has the heart of the hero.
Which I somehow never realized until I heard Mr. Stone say it out loud.
If everyone comes to Greendale broken in some way, Troy came as a coward. An inflated sense of self shelled an athlete so afraid to take the next big step that he faked a career-ending injury to get out of it. But over the course of his years at Greendale, the cowardly lion found his heart; he captained a simulated rocket launch, he fought bravely in the paintball battle against City College, and he was even the commander of his own blanket-loving army. Jeff may have anointed him the title on his 21st birthday, but after 4 solid seasons at Greendale, it’s impossible to deny that Troy is now a man.
Now he has to learn how to be his own man.
Troy’s biggest insecurities all stem from the fact that he perceives himself as Reggie; a sidekick to Abed’s Inspector. It was blatantly addressed — and mocked — earlier this season, and now we get to see why. Harmon has a way of twisting scenarios to help accommodate narrative changes, and by emphasizing Troy’s problem then presenting a (relatively) believable solution, we as the audience are left realizing not just that Troy has to leave, but that we should want him to.
It’s a genius bit of storytelling.
You might have forgotten it, but Pierce and Troy were always supposed to be the bromance that Troy and Abed blossomed into; Harmon has gone on record saying as such. They even lived together for a summer (@oldwhitemansays) and so it’s not far-fetched for Pierce, in his posthumous moment of sincerity, to recognize that kinship. As Troy says, “Pierce was a crazy old coot, but I think he knew something about me that even I didn’t know until now, because he’s offering me something I’ve been searching for my whole life.” It all comes full circle.
And it’s setting the stage for a great finale for a character worthy of the effort, though Abed’s insincere “cool cool cool” is the obvious hole in the sail that has to be handled incredibly delicately next episode.
God damn it, I love this show.
Grade: Instant Classic
"Troy and Abed are in mourning.” - Troy and Abed
"I’ve been instructed to point out to you that that means your gay." - Mr. Stone
“If I wanted the government in my uterus, I’d fill it with oil and hispanic voters.” - Britta
“In a church, Britta? That’s where God gets his mail.” - Jeff
“You told me a hawk stole them! You exploited me and made me believe in a slightly more magical world!” - Britta
“Silence wench!” - Troy
“Okay, I’m ashamed…lie…” - Abed
“I was up for three days that week. I invented an entire language, yewfltiz barbingitz gork.” - Abed
“YOU’RE Olympic polevaulting hopeful, Brent Underjaw?” - Annie
“I didn’t just masturbate in the study room; I masturbated EVERYWHERE!!!” - Chang
“I’ve never been to Lego-Land. I just wanted you guys to think I was cool.” - Troy
“When any of you chew gum, I want to punch you. You may as well have sub-machine guns in your mouths. It vibrates my skull.” - Abed
“Abed Nadir, did you know that you are insane and nothing you ever said ever made any sense to me? Here’s your sperm.” - Mr. Stone