Director: Joe Russo — Writer: Tim Saccardo — Aired: January 23, 2014 —Season: Five — Number: Five Summary: Abed stages an epic, high stakes competition in honor of Troy, who is preparing to leave Greendale.
Psychology has taught me the human mind has a tendency to re-channel separation anxiety in the form of frivolity and giddiness.
In Group Study Room F, the Save Greendale Committee throws a going away party for Troy before his trip. Britta reminds everyone it's okay to be sad Troy is leaving. The PA system interrupts with the Dean letting Abed announce his going-away present for Troy is a school wide game of "Hot Lava." Meanwhile, Abed incentivizes everyone to play by offering his comic book "Space Clone" valued at $50,000. Everyone scrambles to get ready for the competition as Abed starts a countdown. Hours later, Britta is searching for Abed while adhering to the games rules when she encounters Professor Duncan in the teachers' lounge. Duncan attacks but Jeff and Annie show up and save her.
Let's all play Hot Lava.
Britta joins them and they begin "centipeding" through the halls with chairs. Britta believes the lava game is Abed's way to put off saying goodbye to Troy. Jeff dismisses her theory as he spots loose chairs. When they approach, several students pop out of the nearby lockers. Ben Chang is the leader of these "Locker Boys" and demands their provisions. Troy and Abed make a heroic entrance and tell Chang to back off. The Locker Boys retreat although it's because of Buzz Hickey arrival riding an intimidating makeshift vehicle. Hickey drives through making quick work of the Locker Boys. The study group members escape with Abed telling the others he and Troy will meet up with them at "Shirley's Island."
When Britta encourages Abed to say goodbye to his best friend, he orders Troy to strand Britta in the hallway. However, Hickey takes pity on Britta and invites her to join him. Elsewhere, Troy and Abed arrive at Shirley's Island, a peaceful demilitarized oasis inside the cafeteria. Shirley welcomes them all but turns less friendly when Abed asks her about something called "The Orb." Troy regrets how they treated Britta on his "last day", but Abed doesn't understand his meaning. They are interrupted by the arrival of Hickey and his army of "chair-walkers." Britta is with him and declares everyone should quit playing childish games and face their feelings. Hickey's army attacks and the ensuing battle claims not only Annie but also Jeff who is sent into the lava by Britta.
The cavalry arrives.
Inside the Island, Shirley presents The Orb, a Zorbing sphere, to Troy and Abed who use it to burst free from the Island. They roll into the battle and dispatch the remaining enemies. They face off against Hickey and his Juggernaut in a game of chicken but lose when the sphere gets sliced. Troy and Abed retreat and are pursued by Hickey and Britta as the orb slowly deflates. They roll down a stairway to the basement and leave the crumpled orb. Abed suggests escaping but Troy favors making a final stand because the game has to end. Abed admits that it's not a game for him, he really sees lava instead of the floor. When Hickey and Britta show up, Troy explains the situation to get them to back off.
Total bad ass.
Hickey doesn't care and knocks over the shelves which Troy and Abed are holding onto. Troy is still safe but Abed is forced to jump up into the rafters. When Britta eliminates Hickey from the game, Abed realizes that the floor is only lava because he refuses to let go of Troy. He decides to fall to the ground and pretends to be "dead." Troy prepares to forfeit the game but Britta comes up with a plan. They "clone" Abed, who is revived as a copy who can now let his friend go. Troy is "cloned" as well to remove his trepidation about leaving. Afterwards, the study group assembles outside the library to prepare to say farewell to Troy as his sailing vessel arrives.
Hickey prepares to battle the dynamic duo.
Britta tells Troy he's a better lover than Jeff and Annie is happy they've become close friends. Jeff confides that since he himself has never left the state of Colorado, Troy is now much cooler than he is. Shirley thanks him for putting up with her parental ways but Troy assures her she is the badass of the group. "Clone Abed" then informs "Clone Troy" that the cloning process included homing pigeon DNA which gives him a compulsion to return. Jeff worries that Troy will have trouble sailing alone. Troy responds that Pierce's will arranged for someone to join the trip to verify he doesn't cheat. His favorite celebrity LeVar Burton then appears from inside the ship and invites Troy on board. The rig pulls away as Troy and the study group wave goodbye to each other.
A box of "Rod & Barry's Plumbing" brand pipe wrenches is on the basement shelves knocked down by Hickey. In the Season Three Episode The First Chang Dynasty, Troy and Abed use the pseudonyms Rod and Barry when pretending to be plumbers to infiltrate Greendale.
A version of the Styx song Come Sail Away plays as Troy boards the Childish Tycoon and leaves Greendale. Troy once mentioned in the Season One episode "Debate 109" that the song makes him cry. Though he doesn't cry in this episode, the song plays during the part of the episode he might be expected to tear up: the farewell.
The school is once again taken over by a supposedly simple game that turns serious because of a high stakes prize.
Troy, Shirley, Pierce, and Star Burns played a variant of the lava game while taking a sailing class in "Beginner Pottery," with the parking lot serving as the ocean and Pierce "drowning." It was during this class that Troy would learn some of the skills he would need to complete the voyage he embarks on at the end of this episode.
A photo of Britta in her "Tranny Queen" sash from Pascal's Triangle Revisited can be seen being pinned onto the "Fallen" board on Shirley's Island.
Coined and minted: Several new terms related to the game of Hot Lava are introduced. These includes "Floor strider," "Inch worm," "Scootinany," "Centipeding," and "Chair Walker." (For a full definition of these terms see the "Hot Lava" article).
Discontinuity: In this episode Jeff tells Troy that he never left Colorado, yet in the Season One episode "Communication Studies" he told Britta that he went to Disneyland once. It's possible he was lying in either case just to make the other person feel better.
Abed's fall into the lava references the fall of Sméagol in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." Similarly, Troy's fall into the lava is similar to Ripley's suicide in "Alien 3". Like Ripley, Troy also returns as a "clone."
IRL: Magnitude proclaims that he is actually British. The actor who portrays him, Luke Youngblood, is British.
Résumé: Britta shouts "Who's there, bitch!" after knocking Jeff down, similar to the "Bitch" catchphrase used by Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. Jonathan Banks plays a character who acts as a mentor to both Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad and Britta in this episode.
The episode script.
On September 12, 2013, Community writer Tim Saccardo tweeted a picture of this episode's script with the caption:
“After 1 month of rewrites, 3 allnighters and immeasurable amounts of insanity... It begins #community #ep504”
Writer Tim Saccardo posted a draft of the episode's script on his Twitter account. It contained deleted dialogue including an extended goodbye from Abed to Troy:
Abed: Clone Troy.
Troy: Clone Abed.
Abed: From a clone perspective I can see what an important figure Original Troy was in Original Abed's life. Original Abed spent decades unaware he could connect with other people. But his friendship with Original Troy showed him he doesn't just have to observe the world. He can be a part of it.
Troy: Me, too. Original Troy used to care so much about what people thought. But Original Abed showed him it was okay to be himself. I'm really glad those two met.
Extended goodbye scene.
Production diagram for the introduction of the "Juggernaut"
During the Q&A session for the charity table read of "Cooperative Polygraphy " during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Dan Harmon recalled the episode's tag originally showed LeVar Burton yelling at other drivers during a traffic jam (including using his Reading Rainbow clout over another driver). Harmon claims this version was shot and even edited, although none of the cast recalled ever seeing it.
“Don't regress to primal behavior just because it's allowed. We're human beings, not the editors of Teen Vogue.”— Britta
“This is why the British never win at sports! Because everyone else cheats!”— Professor Duncan
“Sweet, sweet portable chairs. Plastic gold, four-legged diamonds... you claiming this? Lava joust?”— Jeff
“Did you all hit your heads on each other's heads?”— Britta
“Cirque du so long you high-stepping acro-bastards.”— Leonard
“Knock, knock, Britta.”— Jeff
“I'm not going to say 'who's there' because someone on the floor is knocking.”— Britta
“Well, that's lame. You have to say 'who's there'.”— Jeff
“That's who's there!”— Britta
“I'm actually British!”— Magnitude
“What time did you guys have to get up in the morning? Does every writer write for one character? What a best boy? (I saw it in the credits once) Why don't they call it Planet Trek? You never go to a star. You-, not one episode.”— Troy, asking LeVar Burton about Star Trek