I’m glad that the Community writers have decided to really run with the whole “Britta is a psych major” plot, because it’s made things interesting lately. This week, the appearance of Pierce’s amazingly alive but horrifically racist father allowed Jeff to tease out some of his own daddy issues, and the sometimes misguided Britta got to be right on target for once.
We start things off with a callback to earlier in the season (way back before the chaos theory episode), when Troy unwittingly impressed the school plumber with his natural plumbing talents. Once the plumber invites Troy to come unclog a toilet with him and then “tell him he doesn’t feel anything,” Troy gets poached by the sinister air conditioning repairmen. John Goodman was back in all his delicious, villainous glory, initiating the potential new recruits with just enough surreal details to make it all seem like a dream. (What, like you don’t have an astronaut in the corner making you a panini right now?) The Vice Dean wants Troy to bring his talents to the glamorous but lifelong order of air conditioning repairmen, instead of plumbing.
The exploration of this plot point, Troy’s future career, together with Britta’s new-found focus on her major and other hints in the last few weeks, continue to make me wonder if the writers are preparing us, and the characters, for this to be their last season. I’d be really sad if that turned out to be true, but it’s nice to know they are putting some thought into creating some closure for the characters if we really have to say goodbye to them in the spring. (Sniff.)
Anyway, while Troy’s off considering his post-Greendale future, Pierce discovers that his family business, Hawthorne’s Wet Wipes, has become a cultural touchstone for the gay community. Internet-savvy Abed quickly pulls up a drag queen’s music video for the song “I’ve got a pocket full of Hawthornes.” Rather than recoil in horror from this new discovery, Pierce embraces the reality–and his newfound fans’ money–and plans a new product launch for “Rainbow Wipes.” He’s going to cap things off with “Greendale’s first-ever Gay Bash.”
It’s then that ivory-bewigged Mr. Hawthorne Senior shows up to voice his disapproval, not only of gay men, but also of the “lower classes,” Swedish people, and the Welsh. Seeing Pierce wither so completely in his father’s presence not only explained a lot of things about his personality, but it also lit a fire under Jeff, who denies that his stake in the situation has anything to do with his own daddy issues. Britta proclaims the whole thing to be a manifestation of an Oedipal complex, but Jeff claims he’s just standing up for what’s right. He un-cancels the Gay Bash and tells Pierce that he’s set him free of his tyrannical father.
Pierce is just starting to enjoy himself, and the attention of his adoring fans, when his father shows up again and without a word, intimidates Pierce into disowning the gay community. Pierce’s coping mechanism in the face of boos and projectile trash is, of course, the patented Hawthorne Fake Heart Attack. In the hospital room, Jeff loses it on Pierce’s father, and the speech he gives him is not only cathartic for the suddenly-sympathetic Pierce, but for Jeff as well. I really think Joel McHale has done his best (only?) acting on this show when acting out Jeff’s issues with his father. Seriously, go watch the speech on Hulu, it was amazing.
But then, the final fake Heart Attack from Hawthorne Senior turns out to be the real deal, and an unrepentant Pierce, after handing his father’s ivory wig to Jeff, concludes his eulogy by telling his dead dad to suck it. Afterward, Jeff still refuses to acknowledge that Britta was right about the Oedipal issues, much to her indignation (“But you killed an actual father!”). In the hallway, Troy tells the air conditioning Dean that he’s made his decision, and his decision is to put off thinking about his career for a while so he can watch TV with Abed. I guess Inspector Spacetime wins this round!