Even though we knew it was coming, last week's Community dropped a major bomb on viewers: Troy (Donald Glover) was leaving Greendale to sail Pierce's boat around the world in order to get millions of dollars (and become a man, or whatever).
"I thought that the writers did a really great job of working it into the script in a really interesting and still very sentimental way," Alison Brie tells TVGuide.com of Glover's decision to exit the series. And according to the actress, who plays Annie on the NBC comedy, Thursday's episode will act as an "amazing farewell" to Troy.
As he prepares to say goodbye to his best friend, Abed (Danny Pudi) organizes a school-wide game of hot lava which soon escalates into a grueling, high-stakes battle where touching the floor means certain (in-game) death. "It's totally on par with paintball," Brie says. "I think this is [Dan Harmon's] answer to not wanting to do paintball again, but wanting to give the fans something just as fun and epic."
Though organized in honor of Troy, the game quickly becomes a ruthless affair that turns friends into foes (at least temporarily). "It's every man for themselves," Brie teases. Though, the actress notes Annie finds herself making an alliance with Jeff (Joel McHale) once again. While the pair's close relationship once again became joke fodder in "Basic Intergluteal Numistatics," Brie promises Jeff and Annie's partnership won't lead to any romantic developments this season. "I think that there will always be a certain level of flirtation between the two, and they certainly care about each other. But I don't think they'll ever go all the way."
And though Jeff and Annie will combine forces in the grueling Mad Max-esque war, the pair only rise to "mid-level badass-ery," according to Brie, and will still have a tough fight ahead of them. "There's certainly more powerful forces at work than them," she explains.
Those forces include Britta (Gillian Jacobs), who will show off "a side of [her] we've never seen before," and Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks). "He's a scary presence," Brie says of the criminology professor. "Everyone's playing a game and they get really out there in their imagination. But professor Hickey was an actual cop and you're never quite sure if he'll actually murder you. He's like, real-world scary."
But beyond the fierce action and plunger fights, there's a real emotional undercurrent to "Geothermal Escapism." "Whenever it's hard for Abed to deal with real emotions, he hides behind some theatricality," Brie says. "It's really him dealing with losing his best friend for a significant period of time and just not wanting to deal with those feelings."
And Abed isn't the only one struggling with Troy's impending departure. The entire Study Group will struggle to deal with their feelings. "As usual, the Study Group is a pretty selfish group of people so I think their immediate reaction is, 'How is this going to affect us?'" Brie says.
While Community has already proven it can do just fine without Pierce (Chevy Chase), Troy's exit poses a much larger obstacle for the series. Unlike Pierce, who probably ranks somewhere above Chang but below Magnitude, Troy is one of Community's most-loved characters. And his friendship with Abed has proven the most sustainable— and comedic — inter-Study Group relationship over the course of five seasons.
With Troy gone, Community won't be the same. But according to Brie, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. "Troy leaving opened a door for a lot of different character pairings and character interactions. So, the dynamic of the group changes but in an exciting and fun way ... I think it just gave us this opportunity to have story lines and adventures with characters we haven't spent that much time with."
Will you miss Troy?
Community airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.