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Recap: Community S 5 E 05 Geothermal Escapism
Troy and Abed, Intimidation Stance

As Troy prepares to leave Greendale, Abed plans an epic going-away party; subsequently a game of "The Floor is Lava" transforms into a high-stakes Thunderdome-esque competition.

The Community episode "Geothermal Escapism" provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game
  • All There in the Manual: The group (well, half the group) already played "The Floor is Lava" before in one of the Study Break mini-episodes. That one was much more subdued while in this episode, Abed cranks it Up to Eleven.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Garrett's story in Shirley Island refers to the "Now-Now Time" following the arrival of the "Burny-Touch", with everyone gasping in amazement. For perspective, this is a few hours into a children's game about imaginary lava covering the floor we're talking about here.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Hickey is the main antagonist for the study group. Even after learning about Abed's hallucination, he's still determined to make them lose. But for him, it was all merely a game that would help him pay for his son's wedding. His continued antagonism after Troy reveals that Abed is actually seeing lava is also explained by the fact that, having only known Abed a few weeks by this point, Hickey has less experience with Abed's condition and various other breakdowns than the rest of the study group.
    • Also Britta. She's definitely the killjoy of the group, trying to spoil the fun everyone's having with the game, but she's only doing so because she doesn't want them to waste their final hours with Troy and is concerned about Abed's mental state. While she does join Hickey in leading the assault against Shirley Island, she's only doing so because Troy and Abed abandoned her for "dead".
  • The Apunkalypse: What Greendale becomes when a children's game is given high stakes.
  • Badass Boast/"Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Parodied, when Shirley sacrifices herself to give Troy and Abed the Orb:
    Shirley: You tell Buzz Hickey that Shirley Bennet said... well, I don't wanna waste your time. Just think of something cool and give me the credit.
  • Badass Grandpa: Hickey proves to be the strongest player in the game. He drives a desk vehicle capable of knocking people to the floor, destroyed Shirley Island and destroyed the Orb.
  • Battle Cry: The Chair Walkers' "Ah-OOOOH!!!"
  • Big Bad: Buzz Hickey is the group's biggest enemy in the Lava Game, complete with Bald of Evil and Beard of Evil.
    • Britta becomes The Dragon for Hickey after getting abandoned by Troy and Abed. She does a Heel-Face Turn after learning from Troy that Abed is seeing actual lava.
  • Call Back:
    • "The Floor is Lava" degenerates into a quasi-apocalyptic war across the Greendale campus, much like their paintball games tend to.
    • This isn't the first time Abed's had a huge emotional crisis and saw hallucinations because of it. But this time, he's aware that the lava was fake from the start and really wants to stop seeing it. Unfortunately, he can't.
      • Along that same line, it's not the first time Abed has struggled to accept being separated from Troy and suffered a breakdown because of it. The major differences are that Abed convinced himself that becoming Evil!Abed from the Darkest Timeline was the best option, here he actively realises he's having a breakdown; and that whilst Britta went along with the Evil!Abed delusion and wound up emotionally distraught over it, this time she tries to get Abed to face the reality of Troy leaving. On top of that, whilst Abed thanked Britta for her efforts and making him realise he does need help, here she actively helps Abed face up to Troy's departure.
    • The photo of Britta that is posted on the wall of the "fallen" at Shirley Island shows her wearing her Tranny Queen Sash.
    • Shirley creates Shirley Island, a safe zone in the cafeteria, much like Pierce's Fort Hawthorne in "A Fistful of Paintballs."
    • Again, the Dean is forced to watch as a friendly game is turned into a campus wide obsession thanks to someone offering a massive cash prize- Abed in this episode, Dean Spreck in "A Fistful of Paintballs."
    • Abed once again leaves Britta for "dead" in a setting he created after she tries to get him to face his emotional pain.
    • Troy's final farewell provides a callback to this season 1 moment:
  • The Cameo: LeVar Burton reappears, having been assigned to accompany Troy on his voyage to ensure he doesn't cheat.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Chang's same-sex celebrity crush is Nathan Fillion, who guest stars on a later episode this season.
  • Cerebus Retcon: It was obvious from the start that the Lava game was designed to deal with Abed's emotional turmoil. But it takes on a whole new level of meaning when it's revealed that Abed ACTUALLY sees lava on the ground and wanted everyone to play so that they could see what he sees.
  • Character Development:
    • Instead of being initially reluctant to join the school's hijinks as usual, Jeff gave up his Only Sane Man position as he fully got into the Lava game and not just for greed. He happily jumped into it even before the cash prize was announced. He also thought it was a cool way of Abed sending Troy off.
    • When Troy told Jeff he was the coolest person he knew, Jeff confessed to him that he never left Colorado and remarked that Troy would be much cooler than him after his world wide voyage. Looks like he learned something about honesty after Pierce's round of questioning.
    • A subtle one with Abed. Once again, he was hallucinating when facing an emotional crisis. But this time, he knew it was fake right off the bat and tried his best to reject it. And when he can't, he still decides by himself that he needs to let go.
    • Troy is now able to converse with Levar Burton, after spending their last meeting frozen in wide eyed shock.
    • Britta, while still a bit incompetent, is a lot more effective and insightful as a psychologist than she's previously been. She also manages to help Abed on his terms by using her imagination and embracing, at least partially, his way of looking at the world. She also manages to verbally outwit Jeff when he attempts to mock her with a 'knock-knock' joke about her ending up on the floor.
  • Clone Degeneration: Abed's "clone" does not share the original's wild emotionality, which enables him to let go of Troy.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: One of the few times Britta's psych evaluations are right, when she deduces that the group (and particularly Abed) are using giddiness and the game to distract themselves from the sorrow of Troy leaving.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Hickey helps Britta stay in the game after Troy and Abed abandon her to be eliminated, purely because he wasn't pleased with the boys doing so.
    • Jeff, Annie and Shirley aren't exactly impressed when they find out about it, partially because Abed lied about leaving Britta behind. It's underplayed, due to Hickey and Britta leading a force in the destruction of Shirley Island.
  • Evil Makeover: Britta adopts a different hairstyle and black leather outfit when she joins forces with Hickey.
  • Fake American: In-universe: It turns out Magnitude is one.
    Magnitude: (In an upper-class English accent) I'm actually British!
  • Foreshadowing: Abed sitting on top of the table while making his announcement showed that he was ready to start playing the Lava Game from the get go. But it also hints that he's been seeing lava before the game ever started.
  • Fridge Logic: In-universe; while they're waiting to reach the ocean, Troy takes the opportunity to question Levar Burton about why Star Trek wasn't called 'Planet Trek':
    Troy: You never went to a star. Not one episode.
    • Trekkies, as is their nature, would split the hair that, for certain definitions of "went", numerous episodes involved the Enterprise travelling to stars to study them. Your Light-yearage May Vary.
  • Future Slang: Lampshaded by Britta, who refuses to learn the new names of anything.
  • Genre Blindness:
    • For whatever reason, Britta is at disbelief that the students are taking the game so seriously for the first half of the episode. Even though the school has done this several times in the past. She waved off Jeff's suspicions about Chang's trap, believing nobody would care that much about the game. Although to be fair to Britta, everyone else does seem to be taking the fantasy to levels they've never quite gone to even in previous examples of Greendale taking children's games to Serious Business levels:
    Chang: You're in no position to make threats, Floorstridernote ! Our truce ended when you banished us from the payphone bench!
    Troy: You used that bench to upset The Balance. By the vapours of Magmorath, we will restore it.
    Britta: You have gods?!
    • The other study group members display a bit of this themselves, sneering at Britta's concerns that the Serious Business levels of the game might reflect Abed's fragile mental state at the prospect of Troy leaving as reflective of her poor psychology skills — conveniently forgetting the many other times that Abed's psyche has fractured due to a big change, often involving Troy.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: Hickey and co. attack Shirley Island shortly after Troy and Abed arrive there.
    Shirley: What have you brought to my door?
  • Heroic BSOD: The whole game is Abed's attempt to avoid this.
  • Holier Than Thou: While posting up photos of the "dead" on Shirley Island, Shirley makes a point of dividing them into "Christian" and "Secular" groups.
  • Hope Spot: At one point, Star-Burns is seen making his way through the corridors, and upon getting no response to his cries of "Hello?" comes to believe he has won the game. He takes a moment to joyfully celebrate winning $50,000 ("That's fifty-thousand lottery tickets!"). Then he gets knocked down and run over by Troy and Abed while they're in a large plastic bubble.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • For all of Britta's asserting that "the adults are here," the force she leads with Hickey is still actively playing the game.
    Britta: The adults are here and we're going to tear down your fort! Chair Walkers, attack! (Battle Cry)
    • Annie scoffs at Britta's initial refusal to immerse herself in the game along with everyone else and announces that she's perfectly willing to force Britta out of the game because of it ("You wanna join this alliance or do you wanna join the lava?"). She then protests when Britta ends up embracing the game and knocks her out of it.
    Annie: Britta, I'm your friend.
    Britta: I can't hear dead people, Annie, I'm in a world of imagination.
  • If Its You Its Ok: Chang asserted that everyone has a same-sex celebrity crush. For him, it's Nathan Fillion.
  • Insistent Terminology: Played with; when Troy and Abed's betrayal of Britta is exposed, they object to the entirely accurate way the other members of the study group phrase what they've done, but are unable to find a way that makes them sound better:
    Jeff: Is that Britta? Is she alive?
    Shirley: [Glaring at Troy and Abed] Why would you think she was dead?
    Troy: [Guilty] ... We kind of... l-left her?
    Annie: Left her for dead?!
    Abed: It sounds bad when you put it that way. Can't you put it in a way that sounds good?
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • For a given value of jerkass; everyone in the study group assumes Britta is just being a humourless killjoy and ignores her when she protests about playing the lava game, but she's really only doing so because she doesn't want them to waste their last hours with Troy in childish denial over his leaving without admitting how much he means to them and is concerned about Abed's mental state.
    • Again with Britta, she becomes The Dragon to Hickey, leads his forces against Shirley's Island with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how they're all in childish denial, and gets pretty much all of her friends knocked out of the game. But considering that Troy and Abed abandoned her for dead and everyone else has been treating her and her insights about Abed and the game with dismissive sneering, they all arguably had it coming to some degree or other.
  • Lame Comeback: Jeff and Britta trade a whole load of these as they each attempt to get in a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
  • Large Ham: When Britta gives up and finally decides to embrace the game to deal with Abed on his terms, she really gets into it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Troy and Abed abandon Britta for 'dead'. In return, Britta joins up with Professor Hickey and his 'chairwalkers' and they attack Shirley's Island with Troy and Abed inside.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: Even imaginary lava is enough to turn Greendale into a post-apocalyptic hellscape.
  • Lured Into a Trap: Jeff, Britta and Annie were lured by Chang's Locker Boys using a stack of chairs.
  • Nice Hat: The sea captain's cap that LeVar Burton presents Troy with at the end.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Averted. Abed and Troy ditch Britta when they see Hickey's steampunk tractor-thing (and because Abed doesn't like the fact that Britta's pegged his abandonment issues and is trying to make him confront them, and Troy is too weak-willed to challenge Abed). Hickey's not pleased and picks Britta up to join him.
  • Not so Above It All: Britta as regards the hot lava game. It's for the best, really. She's the one who has the idea of cloning Abed.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Both Britta and Troy, no doubt remembering back to "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", have this reaction when they learn that Abed actually is seeing lava on the floor, and they immediately drop their involvement in the game out of concern for him (while still abiding by the rules).
    • Troy and Abed were clearly not expecting Hickey to take pity on Britta, and are clearly aware that they're in trouble when Britta reveals that she's still 'alive'.
  • Only in It for the Money: Hickey freely admits that he's only playing the game to win the prize so he can help pay for his son's gay wedding, although he does seem to get plenty of enjoyment out of being a Mad Max-style villain as well.
  • Only Sane Man: Britta is the only one who points out how stupid the whole thing is, mainly because of the absurd lengths everyone's going to to embrace The Apunkalypse fantasy rather than actually confront the fact that they're upset that Troy's leaving. Eventually she reveals herself to be Not so Above It All, when Abed abandons her to her "death" she decides to really confront him about his abandonment issues, by going as crazy as everyone else.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    Jeff: Hey, seat-feet! Chair to dance?
    • Jeff tries to pull this on Britta with a knock-knock joke, but she refuses to play along. Their back-and-forth argument about the subject ends up getting him so riled up that she's able to knock him onto the floor... and to add insult to injury, she then delivers the same put down he was going to deliver to her as a Bond One-Liner.
  • Put on a Boat: Troy leaves Greendale to fulfill the stipulations stated in Pierce's will to gain his bequeathal.
  • Reality Ensues: The episode ends with Troy saying goodbye to his friends and leaving on the boat he's supposed to use to travel the world. But as The Tag shows, starting your sea voyage from Colorado isn't the best idea.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Shirley skipped her son's birthday to participate in the game, though to be fair $50,000 was on the line.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Britta delivers one to the study group, along with the rest of the inhabitants of Shirley Island, after joining forces with Hickey:
    Britta: I wanna say some things to you guys about mental health. You do realise that this isn't just a pile of chairs, right? This is a crib. And you're curled up inside there, sucking your thumbs, because you're too scared to say goodbye. Well, it's time to grow up. The adults are here and we're gonna tear down your fort.
  • Restrained Revenge: After Britta shoves Professor Hickey to the floor, he vows to shove her back... after the game's over.
  • Serious Business: Abed intentionally turns "The Floor is Lava" into this by offering a comic book worth $50,000 as the prize. This being Greendale, of course it ends up with everyone acting like it's The Apunkalypse.
  • Running Gag: When Hickey mentions his son's upcoming gay wedding, Britta replies "I understand. I lived in New York."
  • Ship Tease:
    • Jeff and Annie partner up in the Lava War.
    • Britta and Troy get a very heartfelt goodbye with each other with Troy telling Britta she was the best and that he loved her.
    Troy: I'm better at sex than Jeff, right?
    Britta: I've yet to have anyone worse.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The stance Jeff and Annie took when challenging Britta to a Lava Joust is similar to the Fire Nation stance.
    • Abed falling into lava and being resurrected by cloning is a nod to Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection.
    • Hickey's desk-tank would not be entirely out of place among the other cobbled-together vehicles in Mad Max.
    • "Lava World" for Water World, continuing The Apunkalypse theme. Shirley Island resembles the Atoll, and if you gave Professor Hickey an eye-patch he'd almost be a match for the villain of that movie, played by Dennis Hopper.
  • Special Edition Title
  • Stealth Pun: Early in the episode, Britta's status as the group's resident buzzkill is restated, and in the end she literally (kind of) kills Professor Buzz Hickey.
  • Tempting Fate: Starburns rejoices over being the last player standing a mite too soon.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Britta, knocking Jeff into the "lava" after he repeatedly tries to bait her into a Knock Knock Joke while they're fighting:
    "Who's there, bitch?! Floor! FLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!!!"
  • Wham Line
    Abed: Oh, and because the not-awesome often need incentive to do awesome stuff, the final survivor will win my near-mint-condition #1 Issue of Space Clone. Valued by the comics authority at $50,000.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Britta to Abed after he gets Troy to leave her to "die".
    • Jeff, Shirley and Annie to Troy and Abed upon learning that they abandoned Britta.
    • Annie to Britta after she laughs at Annie's elimination from the game due to her chair tripping over some rope.
    • Hickey to Britta after she eliminates him from the game.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never see Dean Pelton following the countdown to the start of the game, so we never learn how he gets "killed".
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    Duncan: I'm not afraid to push a girl into make believe lava! In fact, it's been my primary strategy.
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