CliqueClack TV

Community – Are Troy and Abed breaking up?

I have so many questions this week. When will evil Abed return? Is the Vice Dean evil Abed in disguise? Are Troy and Abed permanently dunzo?

- Season 3, Episode 13 - "Digital Exploration of Interior Design"


Last week, Community started the initial fractures between the iconic Troy and Abed relationship. In my interview with Dan Harmon I noted that he can’t stop revolutionizing his formula. Season one surrounded ’80s pop snark, season two incorporated group darkness and season three’s first half inverted time. However, for season three’s Spring return, Harmon no longer reconstructs the formula, but the friendships themselves.

I always expected Harmon to eventually fragment the relationships, but I didn’t expect it until season four. I suspect the forced hiatus catalyzed moving up the schedule. Honestly, I’m not certain how I feel about this latter step. Part of me likes it, but part of me misses the group dynamic. The one thing I love about Community is the warm, fuzzy feeling it leaves me after the realistic, terrifying danger it undergoes — despite the storytelling spin of anime, multiple dimensions, and Dungeons & Dragons.

However, the recent episodes have run counter to a 1990s sitcom. Instead of ending with group happiness and warmth, they end with sadness and strife like Shirley and Pierce losing to Subway, Abed in league with Evil Abed and Troy realizing his difference from his friend. This week continues the separation of the two.

On a relationship plotline I find it interesting. Outside of Jeff and Chang in season one, most of the characters remained undeveloped. However, in season two, Abed, Pierce, and Annie found their footing, with Britta following shortly after. Although Troy proved awesome as Abed’s other half, Harmon didn’t develop him the way he developed the A-man. I never fully noticed that until last week, when Harmon started pointing it out. It takes a big writer to point out his character writing flaws through his writing. Like Ryan Murphy in Glee, he’s starting to develop his undeveloped minority figures. Unlike Murphy, he doesn’t just throw the character into a new situation; instead, we see a fundamental character growth.

Both this and last week, Harmon covertly (and not-so-covertly) points out Troy typically follows Abed’s lead or finds joy in Abed’s joy. I always thought their decisions were mutual and stemmed from their conjoined brain, but I like the new perspective.

I also like the new perspective to Abed’s personality. On the positive side, Abed is like the NeverEnding Story’s Empress: eternally child-like, yet eternally wiser than his colleagues. However, season three reveals Abed’s negative side where childhood means eternal selfishness. Although his child-like nature makes it easy for Abed to speak the truth, he hasn’t learned to see behind the façade nor notice when he hurts his bosom buddy.

By contrast, although Troy is like Abed, his childishness stems more from immaturity. If Abed is Peter Pan, Troy is essentially Wendy and her brothers. Although he can run away and join the lost boys, eventually he’ll start to feel the tug of adulthood. It’s an awesome storyline for Donald Glover, whom Jaylen wrote about earlier. Harmon returns us to Troy’s path to manhood, started on his 21st birthday.

Because season three’s second half so greatly diverges from season three’s first half, we should call the spring episodes, Season 4. Harmon admitted he started writing the episodes from a dark place because the forced hiatus upset him. And it shows.

Remember the trailer hinting at what will happen for the rest of the season? Well, it’s all happening right now. In fact, even without the hint, each episode’s conclusion shows that something darkly wicked this way comes. Last week, we saw Chang lay the foundation for his security dictatorship. We also saw the serpent of Evil Abed creep into the Dreamatorium’s Eden-like garden. This week we saw the blanket fort fall down and the continued rift between two brothers. It’s frightening.

The rift between Abed and Troy is epic and can scar the group even more than Pierce’s rift from them last year. Abed and Troy are the Bert and Ernie, the peanut butter and jelly or the chicken and waffles (if you’re from the south, you know what I mean) of the group. Rending them apart is unthinkable. And, that’s just what Harmon did. In fact, the rift completes part of the self-fulfilling trailer prophecy.

Quite honestly, the Vice Dean’s goatee reminds me of Evil Abed. According to TV canon, I should fear anyone with a goatee. Is the Vice Dean Evil Abed or his avatar? Or does facial hair equal evil, like in any Star Trek: TOS episode? Didn’t the Vice Dean look like a mini-devil with his red PJs and goatee, hanging out on Abed’s shoulder?

Remember when I said the new dynamic made me nervous? Scratch that. The more I think on it, the more I like it. In the past couple seasons, I’ve merrily followed Harmon’s erratic roller coaster ride and never questioned the abrupt turns. Harmon was my Inspector Spacetime and I was his Reggie. However, for the first time I question him. And, it’s strange for me to not trust Dan Harmon’s path. But, I’m interested to see where we go next.

How about you?



Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/NBC

5 Responses to “Community – Are Troy and Abed breaking up?”

March 30, 2012 at 12:15 AM

What I got from last week’s episode is that Abed, for all his charm, doesn’t take responsibility for his actions and can be very selfish when it comes to what he wants to do. While he says he doesn’t want to be controlled, it comes down to either him not trusting his friends or not caring when his friends are really concerned about him. He makes it about them controlling him even when they’ve just saved him from getting his legs broken by thugs due to his irresponsible behavior.

Tonight’s episode shows that when between what he wants and what Troy wants, Abed is going to pick himself.

What I believe (and how I think Evil Abed will play into the last part of the season) will happen in the next few weeks is Abed is going to have to grow as a person or risk pushing his friends away.

March 31, 2012 at 6:29 PM

I love the overall storyline, character development, and analysis thereof. However, I think it’s important that we not take for granted the single episode stuff – the jokes that really land and the B stories that probably won’t be brought back (e.g., Travis Schuldt as Subway) except in references for those who are paying attention.

Speaking of paying attention, did you catch the TWO penis jokes they snuck into this episode? (One by the Dean, one by the Subway rep.) Hilarious! One other thing I’ve noticed – Dan Harmon has been sneaking Abed’s “smooth jazz” song from the Halloween episode into just about every episode since. It’s been hummed nonstop by Abed, Troy, and now Annie. It’s only a second or so of it each time, but I’ve spotted this running gag and I’m loving it.

April 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Did you also catch the Vice Dean’s band name on his baseball cap? I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but it was a temperature pun.

April 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Just went back and checked, and it was “Kelvin and the Zeroes”. Ha!

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