Community S05E05: "Geothermal Escapism"


For about 13 minutes there, I was pretty worried about "Geothermal Escapism," the Community episode that will forever be known as the episode where we said goodbye to Troy and learned that self-publishing books don't publish themselves. Sorry to be taking bribes from Big Buzzkill, but a silly Waterworld/Mad Max parody was not how I wanted to see Butt Soup off. However, this is Community, and as is generally the case with the show's spirit, Abed, indulging childish fantasy was the show's way of facing a difficult reality and confronting the truth. "Geothermal Escapism" squeezed our hearts 'til they burst, milked our eyeballs for their sweet treasure trove of tears, and eased our worried souls until we were ready to let go. The episode as a whole wasn't perfect, but Troy's send-off was, and that was the whole point.

We all knew that Troy's departure would be hardest on Abed, and "Geothermal Escapism" made sure we saw Troy's exit through Abed's eyes (it also ensured that we knew that's what was happening, by having Abed say it repeatedly). Abed's schoolwide game of Hot Lava was ridiculously fun, but it was also ridiculous and it elevated the proceedings to a point where the return to "real life" would hit that much harder. We were passengers on Abed's ride, and when he said, "It's not a game for me, Troy, I'm seeing real lava because you're leaving, it's embarrassing. I don't want to be crazy but I am crazy, so I made a game that made you and everyone else see what I see." Hello, sobering dose of the unavoidable truth! Hello, lump in my throat! And when Abed said, "I don't think the lava's here because you're leaving, I think it's here because I won't let go," it was a 100-mph crash into the wall of reality. That's when the lump in my throat turned into a full-sized boulder. That was the sad part of saying goodbye.

But in circumstances like this, when a goodbye is beneficial to the person who's leaving, goodbyes are also a joyous occasion, and it's up to their friends to suppoert those who are affected the hardest. This is when "Geothermal Escapism" took off like a rocket, and those salty drippings of sadness turned to sweet expressions of happiness. 

How about Britta!?!?!? We may need to redefine the verb "Britta," because Britta totally Harmon-ed it this week. Arguably the MVP of the episode, she saved the day with PSYCHOLOGY, of all things, pulling Abed out of fake death by seeing things from his point of view and acting in a way he could relate to. I expected what we saw from both Troy and Abed, but it was the Britta arc that really surprised me. From the very get-go, she begged the group to consider the gravitas of the situation rather than shelve it in favor of goofball distractions, yet she had to engage in their playtime in order to make Abed realize that he could understand Troy's decision to leave, and that he the strength to let go. I love the character movement in Community, and the way Britta and Abed started so far apart and ended up in the same space was fantastic emotional comedy writing.


And for his part, Troy sold his exit really, really well. He never wavered. This was the choice he made, and even though he admitted he was scared of what lay ahead (uhhh, it's a sailing trip around the world, he should be scared, because sharks and Somali pirates), I don't think we've ever seen him look so genuinely confident or strong. 

The Oz-ian goodbyes (as in "Wizard of," not "rapey HBO prison drama") were as perfect as they could've been, with the real emotions of a tight-knit group of actors accentuating and bleeding through their scripted words, and the reality of Donald Glover's personal journey to fully realize himself completely respected and celebrated by everyone involved in making Community. I'm going to miss both Troy and Donald Glover so much that it hurts, but knowing that both are headed to a better place feels even better. Bon Troyage, Mr. Barnes. Try not to let Levar Burton drink Pierce's sperm.



STUDY NOTES


– Great, now every time I hear "Come Sail Away" I have to think about Community AND Freaks and Geeks? Too. Much. Emotion.

– I didn't say much about the first 13 Waterworldian minutes of the episode, because the way I see it, it was all designed to make the impact of Troy's departure that much stronger. And it worked really, really well in that aspect, even though there were times I didn't even fully enjoy it.

– The return of Mr. Reading Rainbow was perfect. What a great companion for Troy's journey into manhood. 

– Starburns: "Fifty thousand bucks! That's fifty thousand lottery tickets!" Wow. Instant classic right there! 

– Nathan Fillion, you better watch your back. You will be Chang'd. (Fillion is guest starring on Community later this season.)

– With Troy and Pierce gone, that's one whole side of the study table that's empty. What's going to fill that void, both literally and metaphorically? There are lots of questions marks down the line.


What did you think of Troy's goodbye, and the episode as a whole?


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I Loved the little references to Alien 3's lava falling and Alien: Resurrection's ... umm resurrection
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I didn't check this review page until now. I suppose it's pointless to comment now, since most people won't see the comment, but I have to say that I can't believe you guys liked this. I thought it was a really bad episode. I was optimistic when they announced the lava game (remembering some paintball greatness), but everything that happened in the game was boring.
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well clearly you cared more about the episode instead of the sendoff, which was a mistake. try re-watching and instead focusing on trobed. just a thought. (because to quote Tim " The episode as a whole wasn't perfect, but Troy's send-off was, and that was the whole point." and i dont think i could word it any better.)
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I liked that they called the boat the "Childish Tycoon". No doubt a reference to Glover's musical alter-ego.
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I love the idea that it was Troy who started the whole Game of Lava thing. From the Webisode Study Break Generation Gap.
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A hilarious and sad episode at the same time. A twist I didn't see coming was that Magnitude is actually British haha. Farewell Troy you will be missed!! hope you'll be back in one form or another
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Britta: I Get it, I lived in New York.
Shirley: I didn't skip my son's birthday for second place!
Troy/Abed: Troy and Abed In a bubble!
Dean: did you say fifteen or fifty thousand? Oh who am I kidding?
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"Big Buzzkill" cracked me up in the episode, and I could feel them building to the heart of the story so the Waterworld-esque gimmick didn't bother me.

I did feel like this episode forgot to deal with the fact that Abed was already a broken yet whole individual when we met him, and has since become a codependent mess, but they at least threw the latter a bit of lip service at the last moments.

Honestly, what I liked about this was that it wasn't a tearjerker, it wasn't overly manipulative, it downplayed that without keeping it out of focus when the story needed it (the point of the story was to keep it out of focus intentionally for a while, so it made sense to be that for a bit).

Filling the void for Pierce could be Professor Hickey, he was a bit over the top here (again, this was intended) and has so far worked pretty well and stayed consistent.

Filling the void for Troy though, I really don't think that will be possible, and Chang sure as hell isn't going to be the one to do it.
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First time I've teared up during a sitcom other than from laughter. Damn you Harmon!! 10 minutes of solid tears ... Perfect send off for Troy. Gonna miss the best tv friendship of all time.
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I liked it. It felt a little rushed and could easily have been a two parter but they did a damn good job.
Now that Troy is gone im hoping we get more Abed and Jeff interactions like in Season 1, and maybe some scenes of Chang teaching.

Fav Line: "Unbelievable! When this game is over....Im gonna shove you back!"
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If the show some how gets a 6th season, Glover really needs to come back.
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Trying to sail from the landlocked Colorado. Hilarious.
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I LOVED this episode. Troy was never my favourite character but Ioved the Troy and Abed dynamic and I'm sad to see him go. Best line of the episode (and potentially the season) - "Earn your M & M's" with "Troy and Abed in a bubble" a close second. bless you Dan harmon - when you say goodbye to characters you give them a proper send off. I know this ep wasn't everyone's 'cup of tea' but i love these ridiculous apocalyptic -everyman-for himself episodes and that teacher's (sorry can't remember his name, can't be bothered to look it up) Mad Max style killing machine rocked! I hope he manages to raise the money to pay for his gay son's wedding.
Must admit I am worried about how the show will continue with Troy and Pierce. neither one were 'my favourite characters' but the group dynamic is like jenga in that you risk collapsing the whole thing when you move pieces of the foundation. Six seasons and a movie!!!!
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After it ended some clueless friends asked me "were you crying" and i said "of course i was crying, how can i not, even Abed was crying!" (not entirely true but he got misty eyed).
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I know I shouldn't admit this in public but I totally cried! :-)
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Tim was mostly right but didn't go far enough it wasn't just 13 minutes that was bad. I keep hoping for Community to turn into the show everyone else seems to think it is but it never does. This ep wasn't very funny and a sitcom character leaving doesn't make me cry, add in the fact that it was yet another worldwide school game and I just zoned out.
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btw i am aware that im kind of late in this but you know what idc i needed to comment.
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ok i agree that the school wide game has been wayyyy over used, but i think that was kind of the point. Don't you get that this was all through Abeds point of view? Abed was grasping on to something that felt safe because his word was collapsing around him, and so, school wide lava floor game. You're focusing on the wrong part.

Also, how dare you say Troy is just another sit-com character!? and even if he is then, well that still doesn't make him any less of the fully formed and universally loved character that he is. SO you know what, I am so wasting my breathe, because you clearly don't watch this show for the characters, and that's what we all care about the most, but so what are you even doing here?
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Donald Glover was the reason I found Community in the first place. I was a fan of Derrick Comedy, and when I found out he was in Community, I had to check it out.

That being said, it was especially sad seeing him go. However, I really feel like this episode could not have been done better. It was really a masterpiece. I was so bummed about the departure of Troy. Not only would he be leaving, but he was connected to other characters in a way that gave the show its special version of innocence. This episode shelved almost all of my doubts and even most of my grief. That's pretty amazing.
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I always feel like Tim is thinking too much and feeling to little when it comes to community. This was the silly and loveable community we had to miss for so long and it was just an awesome episode. Don't worry so much, be happy its back and don't start reviews with: well this wasnt perfect.
I don't think community has ever been better, aside from anthropology...(more Dunkin please !!!)
Awesome episode! I started smiling when the title rolled and didn't stop till the end(well... including sad farewell smiles)
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I loved the episode! I seriously don't know how they could have given Troy a better send-off than they did because it was... beyond cool, cool, cool. I agree that Britta did not Britta this episode in any way, shape or form but that she instead practically carried it. Gillian Jacob's I think I'm in love with you!

Man, I just love these characters and this episode really reminded me why. I'm sad that Troy is gone but, in a way, I think his departure really gave the show something new to explore which is always exciting so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
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Fantastic episode, I must admit I didn't read the review after you making it clear that you weren't sold within the first few minutes, as soon as Abed announced the $50,000 value prize and the mood shifted with the "Lava World" heading appearing I was more than sold.

And not only did the episode go on to say a pretty emotional farewell to Troy but the comedy was top quality as well. The whole knock-knock exchange between Britta and Jeff was hilarious, but my favourite line from the whole episode has to be Magnitude with the revelation that he's "actually British".

Loved every minute of it and whilst I'm sad to be losing Donald Glover I am thrilled that Community can pull of these bizzare concept episodes to the previously-held high quality once again.
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This episode made me really happy and really sad.

I just try not to think about there being no more Troy and Abed doing whatever.
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While this episode was fun I, I have to say that I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I have enjoyed this season overall.

Britta (Who was the MVP of the episode at least for me) vs. Jeff and Troy saying goodbye were the highlights of this episode for me! I still think that going high-concept for a farewell episode might have been a mistake.
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britta annoyed me in this episode for the first time in 3 seasons. everything else was great tv
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"Why I am crying, was I accidentally listening to 'Come Sail Away' by Styx again?"
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When they released the Dark trailer for Season 5 of Community. And they showed clips from this episode. I knew right from the start they were playing Hot Lava floor. That is so awesome. I remember playing that when I was younger. Hoping from couch to chairs. Such good times. I knew this would be a good episode. Add to the fact that it was Troys goodbye. It was great & emotional. Lots of good stuff: Chang's posse, Hickeys Mad Max style vehicle,Jeff & Britta battle over a knock knock joke, Dean wondering how much, Troy & Abed entrance, plus more. The ending was sad. That scene with Abed hanging was rough on the heart. Really gonna miss Troy & great call back to Levar Burton. I love Communitys call backs. I can't wait to see next week's episode & see Abed deal with Troy being gone. TROY AND ABED FOREVER!!!
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Really liked that version of "Come Sail Away".

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:'(
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The whole knock-knock exchange between Jeff and Britta
...
...
...
floored me.

Thank you and good night.
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as sad as I am to se troy leave, this was also the episode that re-established my faith in community from season 4.
community is back.............with a vengeance
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My emotions!
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Loved it. Who knew that the best way to keep Chang funny was to use him less! Hickey was epic! The lava game didn't sit well with me either till second viewing, then I just went with it and realised that it perfectly summed up Troy and Abed. In a word, INSANITY!

Also, didn't the trailer show a scene from outside the school where Starburn's says Britta has taken over the school? Was this cut or from another episode?

TROY AND ABED IN A BUBBLE!
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"it perfectly summed up Troy and Abed."

Exactly. I can kind of see why some people may have wanted a more normal episode revolving around Troy leaving, but this episode was as much a closure to Troy and Abed's relationship as it was a send-off to Troy himself. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Really solid episode but I think it would have been better as a two parter. The concept wasn't as good as 5x03 but the last 5 minutes were amazing.

Come sail away with me.
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I loved the fact that the last scenes were filmed not as Greendale but as in the studio (watch the street), thus giving Troy also a send away as an actor and not only as a character.
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Good observation!!!
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I laughed so much:
"Friends, welcome to Shirley Island, where all your dreams come true... If you dream of standing on a table and pissing in a jar"
AND
"My name was Vicki! Tell my story!!!!!!!!"
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Vicky's line was hilarious and made me laugh, Magnitude's line right after of "I'm actually British" killed me.
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I pissed myself at that line. :)
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I loved that line by Shirley. I'm digging the edgier version of her we're seeing this season--*this* version of Shirley feels more genuine and three dimensional. (I can also see former lush Shirley in this version, and I like it.)
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Closing the episode with an absolute classic Troy-ism.

"Why don't you call it Planet Trek? You never go to a star....you....not one episode"

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A funny line, but not really true, Crusher once plunged the Enterprise into a star to hide from the Borg...
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Thanks! I had the same thought. I think there was also an episode where some star's gravity caught the Enterprise in a time loop or gravitational hole - or something like that.
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What really got me was Troy telling Jeff he's the coolest person he's ever met.
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And then Jeff saying that Troy was cooler than him.

So many emotions near the end... :'(
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I had tears in my eyes pretty much from the moment Abed revealed that he's actually seeing real lava. Jeff telling Troy that he's never left Colorado, and that doing this makes Troy much cooler than he will ever be is when the tears finally fell. For Jeff of all people to admit something like that...
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I love how Britta embraced Abed's quirks and tried to help him by going with it. It showed what a great friend she is, and how much the group now understand each other. Also 'FLOOOOOOR'. And tears :(
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Between this, the ads for Ann and Chris leaving, and Parenthood, NBC is emotionally destroying me on Thursdays. I've always thought goodbyes were the hardest things to do and watching Troy go in such a fitting way was sad and amazing. It was perfect that Troy and Abed couldn't part like normal people and I think the writers were true to everyone's character this week. I also deeply loved that Troy will be with Levar Burton.
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I didn't cry the first time I watched , because I was with friends. But when I watched it the second time, I cried so much.
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Fantastic episode. I don't know about anyone else but I kind of wanted to regress back to my childhood and play me some hot lava. None of my Colleagues however were up for it.

This was a fantastic send off for one of the most consistent characters of the show. Glover is phenomenal at delivering the nondescript one liners that you will laugh at and then continue to do so hours laters thinking about the line. Glover is such a great talent and he will be missed. And he also is a fantastic rapper so pick up his album.

The fun of this episode was great. When I heard Hot Lava I hesitated a bit. But Harmon really knocked it out of the park, so did Gillian Jacobs for that matter. When she showed up in her water world garb it was hilarious. And psychology does fix everything. (not really but that is the business I am in so tell people it does.)

Great episode. I hate to see Troy go. But his departure was handled well. And is he coming back at the end of the season? I thought his season was 6 or 5 episodes? So does he come back for the season finale?
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Gillian Jacobs was totally the episode MVP, though I laughed when I saw Johnathan Banks in his wasteland chariot (the guy went from BB to this! That is one hell of a flip, yet he still retains that stuff that made Mike a likeable thug). Maybe Britta really can be a psychologist some day.

As for Troy and Abed? The feels. (Since it was from Britta's POV, I get her response, but surprised they didn't work in some kind of Inspector Spacetime regeneration riff instead of cloning. I guess s4 killed any more desire of IS for anyone).

I hope Donald Glover finds his way out there. I think these are actors we'll all continue to try and champion long after Community is gone. (Same way us Browncoats at least TRY and support all former Firefly cast members).
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What kind of comedy show makes you cry? I will miss Troy so much!!!
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Scrubs managed it for me a couple of times. But I see your point.
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Yep. Scrubs got me a couple of times as well. Damn you Scrubs! Damn you!
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Professor Buzzhickey wasnt even mentioned. He was great! Agree that Britta was awesome. Hot Lava game was great as a kid. This ep nailed it. Great way of Community to lighten up the mood a bit. Still every bit as emotional as it was intended to be.
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"I spliced your DNA with genes from a homing pigeon. You may notice side effects, like the compulsion to come back."

RIGHT IN THE EMOTIONS Abed.
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Yes! That one got me. Genuinely misty-eyed at that moment.
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Just watched it. So sad right now. Can't wait for the review. Gonna miss Troy.
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Right in the emotions! That was so funny and sad. Perfect goodbye episode for Troy.

I was actually afraid the episode wasn't going to do the characters and their special friendship justice in saying goodbye to such an important part of the study group but I'm glad I was wrong. There have been cases where goodbye episodes felt weird and shortcoming for me like the last episodes for the 10th and 11th doctor from doctor who because I thought they deserved more (I liked moments of those episodes but not the whole episodes) but this one really managed to own up to the characters and give us great moments.

There are so many great moments like LeVar Burton, the name of the boat (childish tycoon), the apocalyptic feeling of the game and so many more that I could probably quote and mentioned the entire episode as memorable and epic.

I'm going to miss Troy but six seasons and a movie and let's hope that he gets to come back at least for small cameos.
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Fantastic episode (AGAIN!). Goodbye (Clone) Troy!
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AMAZING! Firing Dan Harmon was the worst decision they ever made.
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God, I can't stop crying. Such an amazing episode.
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If this episode doesn't give them Emmy recognition, humanity is lost.
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It won't and humanity in the business of the Emmy's was lost a long time ago.
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Another fantastic episode. Harmon is a genius. He might have dropped the ball a bit in season 3, but now he made up for it 110%. Thos season might end up being the best one yet. I'll miss Troy, but with the way the season is going, I'm super excited for the rest of the season and of course - sixseasonsandamovie :)
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Hold up! Season 3 was awesome! It is legitimately one of The Greats of comedy seasons. It was well paced, held up, was cohesive and contained several infinitely re-watchable classics. It had "Geography of Global Conflict" (CRISIS ALERT!), "Pillows and Blankets" - it had "Remedial Chaos Theory" for God's sake! I will participate in criticizing season 4 all day, but I will stand by season 3 till my dying day. Or till I get bored at least.
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Dan Harmon was not involved with season 3 at all which is why it was so bad
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You're thinking of season 4.
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Right I forgot we were in season 5
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MY WHOLE BRAIN IS CRYING!

So long Troy!
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