And then there were five. In a fitting farewell to Donald Glover (who is leaving the show to concentrate on his his stand-up comedy), Abed (Danny Pudi) gets the entire Greendale community to sign-on for a game of Hot Lava where no student or faculty member is allowed to touch the floor until only a single survivor remains. As expected, Greendale devolves into a bizarre dystopian future in only a couple hours as the entire populace becomes obsessed with winning the game (and the $50,000 Abed puts up for a grand prize), and the various members of the Study Group each find their way to say goodbye to their friend and wish him well on his worldwide adventure.
While harkening back to the insane frenzy that has overtaken the school while shooting each other with paint pellets or going to war over pillows and blankets, at its heart Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is actually correct as the entire game is just a way for Abed to try and delay the inevitable of saying goodbye to his best-friend as he believes the ground underneath him is actually turning into lava. With Britta’s help, the friends find a way to say goodbye to each other (or their clones) and things at Greendale go quickly back to normal (or what passes for normal at a school 911 has on its blocked-call list).
The show has indeed captured some of its old magic with last week’s farewell to Pierce (Chevy Chase) and this week’s goodbye to Troy. The question is, with nearly a third of its core cast gone can this renaissance continue or is Glover’s departure, and the end of Community‘s core friendship, a body blow the show might never fully recover from? Given how much life Dan Harmon has been able to breathe back into the show since his return I’m certainly going to hope for the best.