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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.4 - Cooperative Polygraphy


crazyforkate

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blog-polygraphy.jpg 

polygraphy

At first, I thought that this said "Cooperative Polygamy" and was rather interested to see what they'd come up with. No matter, "Cooperative Polygraphy" is sure to produce some juicy stories on its own - and with Season Two's great "Cooperative Calligraphy", I have to wonder if there might not be a connection.

The gang returns in weird blue uniforms, clutching a lava lamp. That's right, they're back from Pierce's funeral, held at the centre of his unknown religion. "Troy and Abed are in mourning!" the guys sing. Chang comes in and taunts them about their friend's death, saying they're only pretending they liked him because of the whole "respect the dead" thing. To be honest, he has a point. The study's group response is to spout the usual cliches related to death - "live life to the fullest", "I can't believe we'll never see him again", etc.

Just then, Pierce's lawyer, Mr Stone (Walton Goggins), appears to tell them of Pierce's will. Apparently, he wants an inquest to make sure none of the study group murdered him, because of course that's something Pierce would think. The entire group, plus Chang, will be subjected to polygraph tests. Just then, Pierce's life vapor lava lamp starts to leak. In an effort to save his deceased friend, Troy leans forward and inhales it. Opening credits.

Abed's pretty psyched about the polygraph from his cop shows, Britta's all human rights-y, Chang thinks that it's pointless since murdering Pierce would be a "waste of murder". The test begins. Britta fails right away, setting it off when they ask if she ever had thoughts of violence towards Pierce. The deceased Mr Hawthorne also wants to know if Britta ever had the hots for him, if Jeff is gay, and if Shirley is dishonest. It's revealed that Shirley donates to a national pro-life organization, which sets off Britta's ire. Yeah, I think Pierce was less trying to investigate his own murder and more trying to unravel the study group so it wouldn't continue without him.

Troy tries to introduce himself as "Butts Carlton", but fails. The lawyer interrogates him and Abed about their zombie apocalypse plan, which does not include any of the other members. Suddenly, they too look like total assholes and manage to alienate their friends. By this time the gang has caught on, as Shirley mutters that Pierce is "doing it again". Chang, meanwhile, fails right away on the "Have you ever masturbated in the study room" question.

Abed's turn is next, and Pierce's questions search for all sorts of sociopathic tendencies, including whether Abed caused 9/11. He's of course not responsible for any murders, but is guilty of stealing Jeff's Netflix account. Jeff is predictably outraged. Annie claims she never knew, and fails the test. She is also dinged for overcharging Troy and Abed on the rent.

Wait, that makes no sense. Didn't she come after them? So wouldn't they obviously know what the rent is? Anyway, according to her, she put the extra money in savings accounts, since the guys are notoriously bad at saving money. Since money is stretched enough already, they flip out and Shirley makes a not-so-veiled anti-Semitic comment, which is low even for her. Within minutes, everyone argues. The lawyer shuts them up and tells them it's time to "begin". That's right, this was only a "calibration round" - the real inquest hasn't even started. IF they pass, they're entitled to their bequeathments from Pierce's will.

Jeff says it isn't worth destroying their friendships, and the entire group agrees. The technician solemnly declares everyone to be lying.

The destruction begins. Shirley is secretly serving meat in her vegetarian sandwiches, destroying Britta. meanwhile, Britta was high at Shirley's son's baptism - "at least with a bris there's an element of suspense". Jeff keeps trophies from his sexual conquests, including Britta's underwear. At least Troy thinks it's awesome.

To offset the tension, Troy briefly admits to killing Pierce, but it's a lie. The lawyer (who refers to Abed as "Aybed", just like Pierce - nice touch there) chooses to go after the two for their special handshake. Apparently, Troy and Abed didn't actually invent it, but stole it off the internet. Abed's heart is broken. However, he is immediately in much hotter water, as the lawyer reveals that Abed planted geotracking devices on all his friends, so he could know their location at all times. Wow. These guys really told Pierce everything, didn't they?

Everyone is hurt and betrayed, of course, and Britta in particular accuses him of being just like the totalitarian government. They immediately start searching their persons for traces of a mechanical device. That's okay, because Annie once gave them speed to get through finals! The Worst Friend Ever contest just got a new frontrunner. Abed in particular is outraged that she messed with his precious brain. Meanwhile, he has been Catfishing her for ages, creating a fake online boyfriend because she cooks better breakfasts when she's in a relationship. I wish I was making that up.

They all start flinging accusations at each other, until Jeff calls it to a halt. He blames the entire situation on Pierce - until the lawyer points out that there have been no questions from Pierce for a while. The group realizes that this situation is pretty much of their own making.

Annie comments that after all this time you'd think they would be better people. Jeff thinks there's no such thing. He comes to the conclusion that no one is really that bad - and neither they nor Pierce are better than the other. Would they rather be poor and pretend to be perfect, or be rich and admit they were flawed? Yup, it's another Jeff Winger speech. They all admit bad things about themselves, then proceed with the questioning.

So, the final round begins. Pierce tells Britta that she hates herself more than she should, and her passion inspired him. He leaves her his iPod - and a vial of his sperm "just in case your lesbian lifestyle wears out and you wish to raise an army of geniuses". To Shirley he admits that he was intimidated by her "strength of character and business acumen". She receives Pierce's Florida timeshare, and a snide comment about her family. Oh, and a sperm cylinder. I guess in case she gets tired of having nice kids. Annie, Pierce admits once again, was always his favorite. She is given a tiara, and yes, some sperm. Wait, I thought Pierce was infertile? Never mind.

We're on to Jeff, who is told he is gay once more. Pierce gives him a bottle of old scotch. And sperm, which makes even less sense. We go on to Abed, who is apparently insane and makes no sense to Pierce, and just gets sperm. Okay, the sperm joke is getting really unfunny. Fifth time is not the charm. Troy is told that he possesses "the heart of a hero", and that he shouldn't waste it like Pierce did. He is given sperm, of course. Troy sadly reflects that this is a pretty awful bequest. The group agrees. HOWEVER, Pierce isn't finished yet - he's left Troy all of his shares in the Hawthorne Wipes Company, which makes Troy a millionaire several times over.

Everyone gasps. The lawyer adds one condition - in order to prove himself worthy, Troy must sail Pierce's boat, The Childish Tycoon, around the world. Otherwise, he doesn't get a cent. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Glover has been written out!

Pierce recounts how as a young man, he was expected to do the same thing, but cheated and spent the year "floating off the coast of Belize doing coke with John Denver". Now he regrets losing his chance, and wants Troy to have the experience.

Jeff immediately tries to get Troy out of it using his legal brain, but Troy immediately agrees to it. He says that he's always been "searching", and this might be the answer. Everyone's horrified that Troy is leaving. Abed, for his part, can only come up with a mildly uninterested "cool cool cool". The technician helpfully explains that it's a lie. The group sits in silence. What lies ahead?

Tag scene - the group takes the lawyer to a bar, where he gets really drunk and tells them what he really thinks about the will. If this is Troy's last episode (though I think that's next week), I'm really disappointed we didn't get a single "Troy and Abed in the morning" this season.

So, like "Cooperative Calligraphy" in Season 2, we got the characters into a single room and forced them to reveal truths about themselves. Did it work? Yes, but not as well as before. Some of the revelations seemed quite out of the blue, and on a whole it was not quite as cohesive. I was glad to see a minimum of Chang, as the writers don't seem to know what to do with him at the moment. It was also probably a wise choice to leave out Hickey entirely, as he was not part of Pierce's group. The framing of Pierce's will was quite well done, and his final round was very touching (though once again - less would have been more with the sperm joke). It also served as a good way to write out Donald Glover, though he will be dearly missed. Next week is his last episode, so make sure to tune in. I'll be there with you.

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