written by Alex Rubens | directed by Tristram Shaperro
A spiritual sequel to season 2's "Cooperative Calligraphy" (likewise a budget-saving "bottle episode" using one set), I thought "Cooperative Polygraphy" demonstrated Community's characters and group dynamic better than any other episode in ages. It was also impressive as a farewell to the late Pierce, as the study group returned from his funeral to be immediately wired to a lie-detector by Pierce's executor Mr Stone (Walton Goggins).
The polygraph was a fun way to get these characters talking about themselves and each other, without the ability to lie, so amusing and insightful truths quickly filled the room. "Cooperative Calligraphy" was a dense episode of dialogue that reminded you just how great the cast are together, crammed with funny jokes and embarrassing confessions. In a cool surprise, it also began the storyline for Troy (Donald Glover) leaving the study group (now that Glover has decided to pursue other things), while leaving the door very much open for a return.
Sending Troy on a round-the-world trip of self-discovery in Pierce's yacht, to be rewarded with an bequeathment of $14 million, wasn't how I expected Troy to be leaving the gang behind, but it works. If Glover ever wants to come back, he can presumably do so as (a) a victorious millionaire, or (b) a moderately wiser failure after an unfortunate shipwreck or maritime incident. Unless something else happens before Troy's final episode, I'm happy knowing the writers don't appear to be closing the door on his character they same way they've done with Pierce.
Overall, I though ""Cooperative Polygraphy" was the smartest episode of Community this season, but still found last week's much funnier. Walton Goggins made for a cool guest-star (even allowed to do something completely opposed to his Justified and The Shield roles during the credits 'tag'), and there were plenty of subtle callbacks to older episodes. I'm not enough of a forensic fan to have caught them all, alas, so for the most part this was just a strong bookend to the aforementioned season 2 classic "Cooperative Calligraphy" (about the missing pen) that did something clever with the aftermath of killing a regular character off.