Troy and Pierce deal with their respective daddy issues
Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC
McHale is the king of snark, which made him the perfect choice for prickly, self-obsessed Jeff Winger. But here's the surprise: As Jeff continued to…

Over the years a lot of female Star Trek fans have written slash fiction imagining a romance between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. My initial reaction to that is something like Troy’s “Hey girl, how you livin’?” But the thinking is that those women yearn for the kind of friendship Kirk and Spock have so much that they imagine that there’s even something more there. Friendship is, after all, the best foundation for romance. So it’s not difficult to imagine why Britta, Annie, and Shirley have suspected there’s something more going on with Troy and Abed on Community.

I mean, Trobed finish each other’s sentences, know exactly what the other is thinking, and provide mutual emotional support. At the end of last night’s episode “Advanced Gay,” Troy even decided to put his relationship with Abed ahead of his career. Oh, and there is more than a little Kirk/Spock in their sci-fi alter egos, Inspector Spacetime and Constable Reggie.

Like it’s been for much of this season, Troy’s story in “Advanced Gay” was about growing up. But being a man has little to do with chomping on candy cigarettes and restocking your toilet olives. It means choosing what you want to do over what somebody else (often a father or father-figure, in the case of Vice Dean Laybourne) wants you to do. Troy discovered that he’s a wizard at plumbing and air conditioning. In fact, he has such skills that I’m starting to think he could repair an F-15 with his mind alone, even without being sewn to Abed.

After repairing a toilet with savant-like aptitude, Troy found himself kidnapped — with a bag over his head, no less! — by the Greendale Plumbing Department’s archrival, Vice Dean Laybourne, the head of the Air Conditioning Repair Annex. Forget Dan on Roseanne. Maybe Laybourne and the late Mr. Connor (Yes, forget that whole lottery thing. He died, remember?) share a blue-collar background, but the similarity ends there. This is the demonic John Goodman of the Coen brothers oeuvre. I half expected him to give Troy a box which may or may not contain a human head. Apparently, the Annex is like Greendale’s Skull & Bones, more a secret society than a fraternity, with a heavy dose of Manchurian Candidate garden-party surrealism, including a Panini-making astronaut and black Hitler. (Oh my God, John Goodman’s Mad Man Mundt in Barton Fink says, “Heil, Hitler!” My comparison is air-tight!)

Like the Masons or the Others on Lost, the Annex charts its roots to ancient Egypt. Palm fronds were the first air conditioners, after all. “Now, we are the Pharaohs,” Laybourne said, leading Troyinto the room — a room that is perfectly, completely conditioned, that is the baseline for what we laymen call “room temperature.” “I can’t tell where the air ends and my skin begins,” Troy said, succumbing to the utter sublimity of that perfectly controlled environment.

NEXT: Daddy Hawthorne runs afoul of a Welshman!

Proving that all the best study group members have daddy issues, while Troy was dealing with his surrogate daddy Laybourne, Pierce’s real father showed up. Or however much can actually said to be “real” of a man who’s had most of his organs replaced, wears an ivory toupee and comes across like Colonel Sanders as envisioned by George Romero. A man who’s single-handedly perpetuating negative views of Swedes (they’re inbred with Laplanders!) and Welshmen. (Okay, I was really hoping that he’d give a dramatic reading of “Taffy Was a Welshman.” Does that make me racist?)

Why the sudden appearance of a man whose extreme age clearly means the dark arts are keeping him alive? Because Hawthorne Wipes, to paraphrase Annie, had just “become a gay icon.” If you’re wondering why, imagine what Bruce Vilanch would do with them. Abed even discovered a neon-colored pride video called “Pocketful of Hawthornes.” (Not to be confused with that Natasha Bedingfield song, though I realize that just by mentioning that you’ll now have “I’ve got a pocketful, a pocketful of Hawthornes…” playing on a loop in your brain the rest of the day. You’re welcome.)

Still a hard-headed businessman, Pierce immediately set up a party to celebrate Greendale’s gay community because sales of his wipes were up 7% after the release of the aforementioned video. But ever a slave to his “Edible Complex,” Pierce immediately bowed to his father’s homophobic wish that he cancel the party. To make it worse, he canceled the party, you know, at the party, severing all ties between Hawthorne Wipes and the gay community. Jeff wasn’t going to let this slide. With a Welshman’s insolence he confronted Daddy Hawthorne and caused him to keel over on the spot, the typical Hawthorne exit from an unwinnable argument. This time, though, Daddy Hawthorne wasn’t faking, and next Jeff knew he’d just inherited his ivory toupee, which Hawthorne Sr. had specified would be a trophy for whoever killed him. Jeff saw his Edible Complex through to a truly Oedipal conclusion. And Pierce could be at “pierce” not having to kowtow to his father’s cartoonish hatefulness.

That act of liberation had to be inspiring to Troy, who decided to truly be a man and do what he wants to do regardless of Vice Dean Laybourne’s wishes. And that is…watch TV with Abed, while neglecting to pursue any career whatsoever! Now that is indeed the mark of maturity. And don’t you dare think that the fact I’m paid to write about TV has prejudiced my point of view here. Not at all.

NEXT: Pew! Pew! An appearance from Inspector Spacetime. And the seven best lines of the night

I’m not going to lie, “Advanced Gay” wasn’t nearly on par with “Remedial Chaos Theory” or “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps,” though that episode capper with Trobed battling Blorgons as Inspector Spacetime and Constable Reggie came close. Donald Glover showed off his mastery once again of simultaneously being a shameless nerd and a suave poseur (remember his Sexy Dracula?) with his perfectly delivered come-on to a scornful member of the opposite sex: “Hey, girl. How you livin’?” And yet even that didn’t make my seven favorite lines of the night. Here they are:

7. “Yes, I’m always nice to the gays. They may live in defiance of God, but I’ll die before I let a woman touch my hair.” –Shirley

6. “These are your friends, Pierce? Minorities? Jewesses? The unseasonably tanned?” –Daddy Hawthorne

5. “You should be proud. You got Pierce to symbolically kill his father by dancing to club music.” –Britta

4. “What brings you here? I assume it’s not for your son’s party, unless segregationist mummy is a gay fetish I was unaware of.” –Jeff

3. “With all due respect sir, I have zero respect for you.” –Jeff to Daddy Hawthorne

2. “Aww, the party’s cancelled? I bought a cone bra.” –Annie

1. “The question isn’t what they want from us…but when.” –Abed as Inspector Spacetime

Do you agree “Advanced Gay” was a bit of a letdown? Was Daddy Hawthorne a bit too grotesquely over-the-top? Will a Mad Man Mundt-style inferno engulf the “room temperature room” to symbolize Vice Dean Laybourne’s wrath? Will I ever be able to write Laybourne without his full title of Vice Dean? And what on Beta Earth is going on with all the parallel universe motifs this season?


Episode Recaps

McHale is the king of snark, which made him the perfect choice for prickly, self-obsessed Jeff Winger. But here's the surprise: As Jeff continued to…
Joel McHale and Alison Brie star in this comedy about a community college study group that turns into a surrogate family.
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