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Recap / Community S5 E10 "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

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Professor Hickey becomes a grandfather, but he and his son Hank (played by David Cross) don't speak to each other. The study group decides to play another game of Dungeons and Dragons to help the two reconnect.


The Community episode Advanced Advanced Dungeons And Dragons provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Hickey's sons are named Furio and Hank.
    • The characters in the game are named Riggs, Joseph Gordon, Tristram, Hector, Croûton, Fibrosis, Dingleberry, Tiny Nuggins.
    • The hobgoblins that Abed role-plays, Golback and Kling, are embroiled in a love triangle over a female goblin called... Lisa.
  • And This Is for...: Hickey declares "This is for Crouton!" as he kills a goblin, avenging the death of Shirley's character.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Abed doesn't take Hickey's criticism of his DMing laying down, snapping back at him twice in a way that decisively shuts Hickey down.
    • When Hickey claims he's never missed a punch to the heart:
      Abed: Have you ever been a three-foot-tall halfling running through two-foot plants trying to punch a seven-foot monster? I'm gonna go check on the others. You might want to check your character, or just kind of generally take this game seriously. Your son does.
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    • See No Ending for his second lecture.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Hank and Hickey feel this way about the D&D game.
  • Bathos: A dramatic moment in the game is interrupted by Hank asking for a toothpick because a piece of popcorn is stuck in his tooth.
  • The Bet: The only reason Hickey and his son agree to continue playing.
  • Biggus Dickus: Hector the Well-Endowed returns, and Annie is once again stuck with playing him.
  • Black Woman Dies First: Shirley, though she only dies in the game.
  • Break Them by Talking: Hickey does this to the two captured hobgoblins.
  • Call-Back:
    • To "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons":
      • Annie once again plays Hector the Well-Endowed after the group winds up with the wrong character sheets. Jeff and Britta also end up playing a fighter and a rogue respectively, just like last time.
      • Abed is once again terrible at creating names. And is devoted to being an impartial DM.
      • Abed's ability to playact and do the voices of fantasy creatures.
      • The group is playing Dungeons & Dragons to help deal with someone's psychological issues.
      • Jeff justifies another game by pointing out that the first game did help Neil get over his suicidal depression.
      • Someone not intended to be part of the game invites themselves along because they were present when the plans were made.
      • One of the party's magic users is killed early in the game due another player's actions.
      • Someone unhappy about their participation in the game deliberately throws the intended campaign off the rails, resulting in the game being played across multiple rooms.
      • The group's intended solution to the problem is rather simplistic and hinges on them just rigging the game so that the person / people they're trying to help easily wins. As things get more complicated, the game appears to make things worse, but the added complications ironically end up helping the person / people far more than the original approach would have.
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    • To "Cooperative Escapism In Familial Relations":
      • Jeff uses his own experience of resolving his own long standing issues to try and help reconcile Hickey and Hank. He's also the only one who realises what's happened between the two over the course of the game.
    • To "Geothermal Escapism":
  • Cassandra Truth: When the group decides to reunite the Hickeys with Dungeons and Dragons, everyone ignores Abed pointing out that things didn't exactly work out as planned last time. True to form, things don't exactly work out as planned this time.
  • Clothing Damage: The Dean rips part of his shirt to tie a ribbon around his message to Jeff. Because he keeps failing the roll to get the message to Jeff successfully, he winds up with a huge chunk of his shirt missing.
  • Combat Breakdown: The climactic battle between Hank and Hickey devolves into this, with Hank's cleric out of offensive spells and and Hickey's rogue unable to gain an advantage for a sneak attack, leaving neither of them with an conclusive way to hurt the other.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Abed informs the party that Hank's use of a fire spell has set the bridge on fire, thus weakening it, Jeff pointedly suggests to him that given the "bigger picture" (i.e. their attempt to force a reunion between Hickey and Hank), he might have underestimated the strength of the bridge. This prompts Abed to consult his notes and realise that the bridge was actually weaker than what he'd previously thought, meaning that the bridge collapses.
  • Condescending Compassion: As with the previous D&D episode the study group means well in trying to help Hickey and Hank, but their general lack of interest in / disdain for the game means that they come across as rather condescending and insincere, and their approach is transparent and simplistic. Hank picks up on this and clearly doesn't appreciate it.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crazy-Prepared: Abed is this kind of GM, as evidenced by his huge binder of background material on his game world.
  • Critical Failure: During Abed's stuffed animal tea party at the end, Abed disdainfully informs Hillary Rodham Kitten that she failed her skill check to pass crumpets.
  • The Determinator: Dean is told that the chances of his message reaching Jeff's character are extremely low, but continues to send heartfelt letters in the hope that one of them makes it. Half a wastebasket of lost messages later, one miraculously reaches its mark. When they meet up later, Dean refuses to give up on hugging his "father", even when it means getting impaled due to Jeff's mistrust.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Dean stroking his sword, thinking of his "father" Jeff.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Dean, who otherwise spends the entire episode immersed in character and obsessively trying to reunite with his "dad" Jeff, takes a moment to give Chang an annoyed look when the latter misinterprets Hank's confession about Hickey spending most of his life in a place that rhymed with "not there". (Chang answers with "Times Square").
  • Funny Background Event: Fat Neil can be seen walking around Greendale as Jeff describes how them playing D&D with Fat Neil allowed him to recover and once again become a background character in their lives.
  • Genre Blind: Hickey is this at the game, justified since it's his first time playing. He plays recklessly and ends up getting Shirley killed. He quickly learns his lesson though and plays a lot more competently for the rest of the game.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Hank, being a seasoned D&D player, knows how to play the game quite well as he healed his comrades soon after the bridge collapsed (something Hickey failed to do). He also knew that the Sky Spiders were simply misunderstood and had them help him in his quest; and also realizes immediately that the game is a trick to get him and his father to bond (especially since their characters are father & son), and has the group switch characters.
      Hank: Guys, I don't suppose this is some kind of contrived paint-by-numbers adventure that's designed to force an emotional bond between me and my emotionally-stunted father, is it?
      The Others: [Various unconvincing denials]
    • Abed notes that the study group seems to view Dungeons and Dragons as a way of reprogramming people's minds and argues that it's not quite as simple as that, pointing out that they almost ended up driving someone to suicide last time. Like the previous D&D game they played, the study group's initially rather simplistic plan of letting the person they're trying to 'reprogram' win the game and thus, in their minds, instantly solving their problems is waylaid by unforeseen complications, but the way the game actually progresses ends up improving things for the better anyway. Abed also seems aware of this, judging from some of his pointed comments to Hickey and Hank during the game.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • The Dean stroking his sword, thinking of Jeff.
    • The scene where Hector the Well-Endowed "sprays all over them" while swaying her hips and making it seem like she's holding a ridiculously large...you know.
      • (Making uppercut motion) "I SHOVE IT UP THEM!!"
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Annie, to the point that when Abed is DMing a tea party between them, she pops her head out of her room asking for them back since she can't sleep without them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Shirley uses an entangle spell to save Hickey's character from a troupe of hobgoblins, at the cost of drawing their fire and dying from her injuries. Subverted in that she's clearly resentful about dying.
  • Hidden Depths: Gruff macho-man Hickey gets on much better with his openly gay son than he does with his straight son.
  • Hulk Speak: During the climactic battle between the two parties, Chang basically just stands around shouting things like "Dingleberry smash!".
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Chang does this with Hank.
  • Incest Subtext/Relationship Writing Fumble: In-universe; since the characters were originally intended for Hank and Hickey it presumably wasn't intended, but when the Dean got the role of Joseph Gordon Diehard and Jeff got the role of his father Riggs, the Dean's interpretation of Joseph quickly added what appears to be a one-way crush to the characters.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Abed splits the party within minutes of starting the game by adhering strictly to the rules. And just after Jeff not-so-subtly pointed out to him that this was supposed to be about reconciling Hickey and his son, not indulging in his DM-ing quirks. Ironically, this approach arguably works to help Hickey and Hank's relationship more than the original one would have; Hank immediately pegs the original reason behind the game and openly rejects it, but splitting the groups enables both Hickey to develop an interest in the game and for both men, as Jeff points out, to discover a way of being able to be in the same room without having to 'be' in the same room.
  • I Will Find You: The Dean's only objective in the game is reconnecting with his father.
  • Jerkass: Hank is initially rather stand-offish and rude, and he refuses to enter into the spirit of the D&D game. This is implied to be a consequence of his poor relationship with his father and his difficulty being in the same room as him, however; once the game has become less contrived, the parties are split and he's in a different room with the other members of his team, he generally becomes more agreeable.
    • He also reacts as any experienced role-player probably did to Abed's frankly atrocious gamemastering in the original D&D episode (although how much of that was Abed's fault is debatable, since Caverns of Draconis is apparently a D&D module in Community).
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Hank's refusal to play along with the D&D game is frequently petty, but he has accurately figured out that the group has no real interest in playing the game and is just trying to unsubtly manipulate and force him into a reunion with his father that he has no interest in. He also notes that the group hasn't heard his side of the story regarding his relationship with Hickey and claims that he has entirely valid reasons not to want anything to do with his dad.
    • In a (sort of) in-game example, after Hank tries to derail the game by going in an unplanned direction, Annie tries to get him to play along by having her character physically manhandle him into the right direction. Hank promptly has his character cast a damaging fire spell on Annie's. While everyone's kind of appalled, Hank points out that since his character was under unwanted physical duress, technically it was self-defence.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Annie promptly loots Shirley's character less than 10 seconds after she leaves the apartment following her character's death.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Jeff begins calling Neil by his despised "Fat Neil" moniker, only to catch himself and morph "Fat" into "Fabulous".
  • Leeroy Jenkins: After the group splits up, Hickey charges forward with no regard to enemy forces beyond punching them in the heart if they get in his way. The rest of his team follows him to help and Shirley's character gets killed as a result.
  • No Ending: In the D&D game - the Necromancer escapes because the two parties were too busy fighting over who got to kill him, leading to Hickey and Hank calling Abed out on this. Abed turns it back on them, however, pointing out that it's their own damn fault because they refused to work together:
    Hickey: You can't just say he's gone! You owe us an ending!
    Abed: I owe you nothing. I'm a Dungeon Master. I create a boundless world and I bind it by rules. Too heavy for a bridge? It breaks. Get hit? Take damage. Spend an hour outside someone's front door fighting over who gets to kill him? He leaves through the back. He's out there somewhere. You might find him — if you get your crap together.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: A downplayed example; Hank points out that while he understands why the "Save Greendale" Committee view him as the bad guy in his relationship with Hickey, he has valid reasons for not wanting anything to do with his father. However, from what little we learn about both men (including Hickey's positive relationship with his other son, which suggests he is not entirely to blame), their overall personalities and how we see them interact throughout the episode, it's pretty clear that both men are more-or-less equally at fault for their poor relationship.
  • Not So Different: Both Hickey and Hank are clearly incredibly competitive, which is part of the root of their conflict; the scene before both groups reunite involves both persuading the other members of their teams to fight each other rather than cooperate.
  • Off the Rails: Hank does this as a reaction against the group's plan to have him reunite with his father.
  • Offing the Offspring: Jeff, as "Sir Riggs Diehard" kills his son "Joseph Gordon" played by the Dean, by refusing to sheath his sword when the Dean tries to go in for a hug, at which point Joseph Gordon impales himself on the sword.
    Britta: Son-Slayer!
  • Out of Focus: Shirley dies early on in the game and isn't seen again after she leaves the apartment. The rest of group survives to the end.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hank's resentment towards Hickey is based partly on his claims that Hickey was never around, particularly on birthdays.
  • Perp Sweating: Hickey, an ex-cop does this to two captured hobgoblins.
  • The Power of Trust: Inverted; Hank and Hickey, each distrusting the other, convince their respective teams to fight each other so that one or the other can win rather than work together. All this results in is the deaths of the other characters and the Necromancer being given plenty of time to flee, meaning that neither wins the game.
  • Pull Yourself Down the Spear: Dean pulls himself down Jeff's sword for a final embrace with his lost father.
  • Railroading: Hank first mocks Abed's plot and implies this, but it turns out Abed is the exact opposite of this kind of DM, much to the chagrin of Jeff who had intended this to be a "reunite Hickey and Hank" session. This is only a surprise for Hank and possibly Hickey, viewers and other characters already knew this from the previous episode.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Invoked by Abed in his D&D game. He pointed out to Hickey that punching a hobgoblin in the heart wouldn't work out since his character was so small, and that the Necromancer would obviously escape if the two parties spent so much time loudly fighting each other over who got to kill him right in front of his castle.
    • Hickey and Hank's issues clearly aren't resolved just after playing one game of Dungeons and Dragons with each other, but it is implied that they've begun sharing one mutual interest at least.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Abed ends a game of Dungeons and Dragons Tea Party Edition with Annie's stuffed toys by having them all brutally assassinated.
  • Rope Bridge: Its collapse splits the party into two fractions.
  • Serious Business: The Dean really gets into his role as Joseph Gordon Diehard. Largely because it gives him an excuse to obsess over Jeff.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire game turns out to be this, since by the time the surviving characters reach the Necromancer's throne room he's fled through a back door. When confronted over the lack of resolution, Abed points out it's their own fault for loudly fighting over who gets to kill him right in front of his house instead of working together.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Like his father, Hank isn't one for fist bumping.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Accidental, but Shirley's druid is the first to die, which does help the later bloodbath take shape.
  • Shout-Out, besides the extended one to Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Jeff and the Dean's characters have three in their names.
      • Their family name "Diehard" is taken from the Die Hard movies.
      • "Sir Riggs Diehard" is named for Martin Riggs of the Lethal Weapon movies.
      • "Joseph Gordon Diehard" is named for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
      • Additionally, the fact that the son is named "Joseph Gordon Diehard" is potentially a reference to Looper, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a younger version of a character played by Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis was the star of the Die Hard films.
    • The way that the Dean 'impales' himself is hilariously similar to Shinzon's death in Star Trek: Nemesis. Bonus points for both characters being bald and having weird pseudo-daddy issues with the character who kills them.
    • Hank yelling 'lightning bolt' repeatedly during the battle scene is most likely a reference to this video.
  • Signature Move: Hickey's is to punch someone in the heart. Abed informs him that since he's a three foot halfling fighting seven foot hobgoblins, this is not effective.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The final confrontation contains this:
    Britta: We are here so that Tristram Steelheart, Lord of the Sky-Spiders, can slay the Necromancer. You guys cool or are we gonna have to get red?
    Jeff: Tiny Nuggins, Waterboarder of Goblins, shall do the slaying because every man has the right to hang out with his grandson.
  • Spanner in the Works: Both Hank and Abed, when it comes to the group's plan to use the D&D game as a way of reuniting Hickey and Hank:
    • Hank because he's quick to see what's really going on and reacts against the group's plans for him by swapping around the character sheets and going Off the Rails when they try to force the game down the planned narrative path.
    • Abed because of his commitment to the rules of the game environment and to being an impartial Dungeon Master, which sees the game follow a narrative the rest of the group didn't anticipate.
  • Split Screen: During a Time-Compression Montage showing both parties progress in their quest, there is a split screen with Abed on the left side and Hickey/Hank on the right. Gets interrupted by Hank's Bathos moment.
  • Stealth Pun: The whole point of the game is to repair the shaky relationship between Hank and Hickey. The first thing Hank does in the game is to literally burn a bridge.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The ending of the episode sees Hank and Hickey reluctantly working together to find the Necromancer so that one of them can kill him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Dean ignores that Jeff has his sword drawn, and impales himself on the sword when he tries to hug Jeff.
    • Worth It: What the Dean claims afterwards.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Abed's dungeon mastering skills have certainly improved between the two episodes. In the previous one he was obviously new to it, even letting Pierce get away with the most obvious metagaming in history, but in this one he is a very competent storyteller and arbitrator, taking the game more seriously than anyone else (besides the Dean).
  • Torture Technician: Hickey proves disturbingly competent at psychological torture after Annie and Jeff manage to capture a pair of Mooks.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The Necromancer pulls this in the D&D game, leading Hickey and Hank to call Abed out over the lack of resolution. Abed in turn asks exactly what they expected of a man who was faced with two groups of people loudly fighting over who gets to kill him right on his front door.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The Dean's interpretation of Joseph Gordon Diehard, in light of Jeff's stoic contempt, makes him this — along with some added creepy sexual overtones.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Subverted. Hickey stops wantonly killing hobgoblins when he discovers they can speak... not because he's having a crisis of conscience, but because he realises he can torture them for information instead.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl:
    Hickey: I punch them in the heart and I keep running! There are no women with them, are there? Because I got class.
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