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'Community' recap: Don't mess with Pierce

February 18, 2011 |  8:00 am


Wow, Pierce. All this because the Greendale gang didn't take you seriously? So, they forgot your birthday, excluded you from a game of Dungeons & Dragons and didn't invite you to the secret trampoline. Is that worth messing with people’s heads?

Yes, if you're Pierce (Chevy Chase). Last time we saw him, he was passed out on a park bench, surrounded by pills on Valentine's Day. Now he's recovering in the hospital: "It was the pills! I saw awful, horrible things. 'Demons,' 'Aliens,' 'Critters 3,' something called Bruce Willis' 'Surrogates'!"

Hmmm, the self-conscious way people are talking, the quick cuts, the jerky camera  ... is this an episode of "The Office," maybe? Nope, no sign of Rainn Wilson. No sign of Chang (Ken Jeong) either. Turns out it's a documentary about Pierce's life, despite Abed's (Danny Pudi) intense boredom with Mr. Hawthorne as a subject. Still, there is the narrative facility of the documentary format to play with, so Abed is game. Pierce wants to put his house in order, make a few bequests because he's dying, and, oh, get it all on tape. Um, sure. Turns out what he really wants is revenge, the colder the better. "Fish in a barrel," indeed.

The rest of the gang gathered in the hospital lounge, discussing Pierce's bequest plans. Troy (Donald Glover) is hoping for a drum kit or a signed photo of LeVar Burton or a million wishes that could be used on a million signed photos of LeVar Burton. Troy, that's weird, even for you.

Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is the first one summoned to Pierce's well-appointed hospital room, where she receives a CD that he claims contains audio of the rest of the gang talking about her while she's out of the study room. Sweet Shirley is upset -- "Goodbye, forever!" -- and starts obsessing about the CD and her so-called friends.

"Sourface" Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is next. She gets a check for $10,000 with the "pay to the order of" line left blank, to give to her charity of choice -- or herself. Zing! Britta wanders back into the lounge, where a discussion about death is underway. Annie (Alison Brie) feels that people shouldn't die in the same place as People magazines die. Troy, meanwhile, says that he and Abed have an agreement that if one of them dies, the other is going to stage it to look like a suicide caused by the "unjust cancellation" of "Firefly."  "We’re gonna get that show back on the air, buddy."  Oh, if that were only the case.

Back to those mind games … Britta is pondering which charity will get her gift, or maybe not. $10,000? It could pay off parking tickets and credit cards and keep her from getting kicked out of her place in April. Or it could go to charity. Bad, wicked Pierce!

Annie is next, but Jeff cuts in. It's confrontation time, pal! "Pierce, it is starting to seem from observing the others that you're using the social leverage afforded you by your alleged deathbed to exact complicated acts of psychological vengeance on those closest to you." Yep, that about sums it up. Jeff apologizes for the group for not responding quickly enough to Pierce's pill problem. Apology accepted? Not on your life. Instead, Pierce announces he's found Jeff's long-gone father and that he's heading their way.  

Jeff returns to the lounge, where he and Britta engage in a wild and widely veering back-and-forth, taking in closeted dads, Iran, Oingo Boingo and the Green Line in Iraq, ending with “money can't just make people appear." You sure about that? LeVar, you're on. Seems that a visit by LeVar Burton is Pierce's gift to Troy. Outwardly, Troy is frozen in shock, but inside, he's totally freaking out. "I told Pierce a thousand times I never wanted to meet LeVar in person. I just wanted a picture. You can't disappoint a picture!”

Lucky Annie gets a tiara. Cut camera to the lounge, where Jeff is freaking out and Troy is still in shock as Burton tries to connect with him (did he know him from "Star Trek" or "Reading Rainbow"?). Not a word. Inside, though, it's another story, where Freakout No. 2 is underway, this time involving the singing of the "Reading Rainbow" theme song. No, it's not a good day to be a friend of Pierce.

Then it's Annie’s turn to confront Pierce, and Britta finally proves to Shirley that there's nothing on that CD worth getting worked up about. Keep on playing those mind games, Pierce. Then it's on to Jeff, who warns Pierce that he better not pull any "Ferris Bueller," "Parent Trap," "Three's Company," "F/X" or "F/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion" crap. "I will beat you, and there will be nothing madcap or wacky about it." Uh-oh, better call off the fake dad, Pierce. Jeff storms out to meet his "dad," but it's just Pierce, faking his voice, and Jeff lets him have it. Pierce finally admits the root of all his recent nastiness -- they treat him like he's some kind of a joke. Um, see the joke, be the joke. 

Annie gives Pierce a worthy piece of advice, telling him that she doesn't want to be the kind of person who picks favorites, because it means she'll die alone. Word to the wise, Mr. Hawthorne.

An ending? Who needs an ending when Abed's at the controls? "If a documentary is just as messy as real life, you can always wrap it up with a series of random shots which, when cut together over a random voice-over, suggest a profound thematic connection." 

Extra credit: And we're back in Greendale's library, somehow, where LeVar Burton and a still shocked Troy are having a meal, complete with "Troy and Abed in the Morning" mugs. How does one get one of those? Anyway, Burton starts singing the "Reading Rainbow" song and Troy runs wailing from the room. "More fish for Kunta."

Fantastic episode, folks. The Pierce problem finally comes to a head. Well, maybe. Hopefully, everything will be back to what passes for normal at Greendale next week. Kudos to the cast and crew and guest star LeVar Burton. Oh, and best line of the night? So many to choose from, but I think this was my favorite: "Can you imagine bouncing a check to Kunta Kinte?"

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: Pierce (Chevy Chase) is confronted by Jeff (Joel McHale) on "Community." Credit: Jordin Althaus / NBC