Nothing says Halloween more than Valentine's Day and daddy issues, right? Well, maybe not, but Community has never been one to conform. On Thursday's episode "Paranormal Parentage," the latest addition to the show's beloved lineage of Halloween episodes, the study group ventures to their scariest locale yet — Hawthorne Manor. So to paraphrase Jeff, what in the Scooby-Doo happened?
Exclusive Community Video: Who's going to graduate?
The Greendale Seven was down to six as they prepared to head to Vicki's party (she, understandably, isn't too big a fan of Pierce so didn't invite him). But before they can get their drank on, the gang has to help Pierce get out of the panic room he "accidentally" locked himself into — or as Jeff suspects, purposefully locked himself into to get their attention. "Calling for help, the classic call for help," the oh-so-wise Britta muses.
When the study group arrives at the mansion, which Jeff notes looks like "David Lee Roth threw up Miami Vice," Pierce admits he locked himself in on purpose, fearing the mansion was haunted by his late father. Words can do no justice to the gang's ensuing hijinks. Mainly because "obsessed" and "perfection" seem like garbage compared to how amazing the images of Troy riding Pierce's sex swing and Britta dancing in a ham costume are.
As the group hunts down the code to free Pierce (which, not so coincidentally is 1989, the same year Do The Right Thing was released), they encounter various horrors from scary movies: flickering lightbulbs, hands coming out of walls, terrifying portraits. So for those of you who, like Annie, "hate reference humor" this episode isn't for you. (Actually, this whole show isn't for you, so why were you even watching in the first place?)
Community showrunners and cast discuss season 4: Will Jeff leave the study group?
In the midst of all the terror, Britta takes aim at Pierce and gets ready to "set my shrink ray to daddy issues and blast that sucker full of closure." But as it turns out, the person most in need of Britta's therapy sessions is actually Jeff, who has been carrying around his estranged father's phone number for three weeks (in his waistband, we might add. Gross).
Thinking Pierce has been murdered, the gang rushes into the panic room only to discover the entire "haunting" was orchestrated by Pierce to — as Jeff guessed — get attention and punish them for going to Vicki's party without him.
That's when Abed, who's been hiding out in the surveillance room watching Cougar Town, reveals a mysterious figure has been lurking around the mansion. At first refusing to believe this figure isn't just some lackey helping with Pierce's plan ("LeVar Burton was a hard no," Pierce admitted), fear soon sets in as the unknown person begins unlocking the panic room door.
Of course, the shadowy figure isn't a ghost. It's Gilbert, Pierce's half-brother, played by Giancarlo Esposito. Without their father to take care of, Gilbert has lost all sense of purpose. After stopping by the mansion to drop off the deed, he took to secretly living in the house, taking in Pierce's mail, washing his socks, and generally acting like a creepy butler. Though Pierce doesn't need someone to take care of him, Pierce does tell Gilbert he could use a roommate and asks him to move in (a deal sealed with a heartfelt hug).
Photos: Bad guys we root for
Pierce's offer to Gilbert combined with discovering Jeff's "costume" boxing gloves were really his fathers was a surefire recipe for tears, if you ask us. This is especially true for Pierce's story line, since most of the time it seems his friends don't even like him. "I think that Pierce can be really difficult to get wrapped around and it was real genius to bring a long-lost brother in such a very strange story line right to his door, because it gives you the opportunity to feel compassion for him," Esposito said. "Although Community is such a great comedy, it also reflects how we could be lonely in a world where we shouldn't be."
Knowing this will be Chevy Chase's last season, moments like this, when Pierce becomes anything more than a one-dimensional bigot, are becoming a little bittersweet. But we're still happy that we got to see Pierce and Gilbert interact one last time before Pierce graduates, dies in a vehicular meth lab explosion, or however they decide to write Pierce out of the show.
And we weren't the only ones loving Esposito's return to Greendale. "I was very excited to come back to Community because I was familiar with the show and it has such a large fan base and because it's so well written. And it's very different from what I normally do so I was really excited to stretch those muscles in a new and different way," Esposito said.
"It was a breath of fresh air to do something like this after playing Gustavo Fring for so long," he said, referring to his villainous Breaking Bad character.
What did you think of Esposito's return? Were you happy to see Pierce bond with his brother?