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<i>Community</i>: The Adventures of Shark Troy and Lava Abed

Perhaps because he's working on a shortened season order for the first time, Dan Harmon apparently opted against spacing out his movie parodies. Two weeks removed from his David Fincher homage, he returned to the spoof well last night with "Geothermal Escapism" a.k.a. "Community: Lave World," which sent up a whole bunch of post-apocalyptic disaster movies with a specific emphasis on the legendary Kevin Costner boondoggle Waterworld.

In that movie, of course, the polar ice caps melted and the resulting floods of water consumed all dry land on the planet, forcing survivors to live in man-made atolls or on tricked out ships. In "Escapism," Abed decided to prolong -- and possibly prevent -- Troy's departure from Greendale to sail around the world on dead Pierce's boat by leading the school in a rousing game of "The Floor is Lava," where all solid ground is consumed by imaginary (to everyone but Abed) molten rock, forcing students to move about on desks, chairs and anything else that will keep them propped up. As in the legendary paintball episode, this seemingly innocent game is taken very seriously by the players, with the school's population fracturing into outrageously clad tribes of warriors that resemble both the Smokers from Waterworld and Lord Humongous' followers from The Road Warrior.

But things got even more serious when Abed -- who had pledged his $50,000 first-edition Space Clone comic to the last person left standing above the lava floor -- admitted that this wasn't a game and that Troy's decision to leave really was a matter of life and death. And, as it turned out, saying a proper goodbye demanded not just one, but two (fake) deaths followed by two (fake) cloning-assisted rebirths -- an extreme, but essential step that gave both of these codependent best friends the wherewithal to become their own men... at least temporarily.

It was that emotional leap that made "Geothermal Escapism" a far more successful, if less technically accomplished, parody episode than the Fincher half-hour. That was a case where Harmon's prodigious ability to replicate pop culture artifacts down to their smallest detail briefly covered up the fact that he didn't really have anything interesting to say. Here, though, he uses Waterworld as a jumping-off point for a thoughtful, deeply felt (and let's not forget hilarious) exploration of how we say goodbye to someone that means the world to us. Recognizing that Abed's world -- and the world of the show -- won't be the same without Troy, Harmon literally ushers in the apocalypse and has these two crucial characters re-emerge into a changed world as changed people. In fact, if you really wanted to get all Biblical about it, "Geothermal" can be read as re-telling of the original Waterworld saga: the legend of Noah and his Ark, with Troy even standing in for the dove who flies away from the place and people that have provided him shelter from life's many storms for five years now…

Okay, so maybe that's a stretch. (Still, now I kinda wish that Harmon was directing that upcoming Russell Crowe-as-Noah movie instead of Darren Aronofsky.) One thing is for sure, though: few writers deliver better goodbyes to beloved TV characters than Dan Harmon. Bringing it all back to Waterworld, here's each character's ideal Kevin Costner movie and their funniest line from last night's episode.

Troy
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: The Postman
Neither snow, nor sleet, nor the end of the world would keep trusty Troy from venturing through a desolate wasteland, delivering the mail to the few pockets of survivors that remain.
Funniest Line: (With Abed) "Troy and Abed in a bubble!"

Britta
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: JFK
$10 says that Britta has a theory about the Kennedy assassination that would make even Oliver Stone go, "Yo… that's crazy."
Funniest Line: "Who's there, bitch? Floor! Floooooor!"

Jeff
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: Field of Dreams
This is the flick that Jeff secretly puts on every Father's Day and weeps through while composing texts to his absent dad that he never sends.
Funniest Line: "Sweet, sweet portable chairs! Plastic gold, four-legged diamonds! You claiming this? Lava joust?"

Annie
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
She actually skips the movie and jumps to the end credits so she can swoon along to the Bryan Adams chestnut "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," like the romantic that she is.
Funniest Line: "You wanna join this alliance or you wanna to join the lava?"

Abed
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: Mr. Brooks
A movie about a guy with a split personality, one ordinary and one psycho-ish? Sounds like The Abed Nadir Story.
Funniest Line: "In a cool way like Keyser Sozë or a lame way like Jewel of the Nile?"

Shirley
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: Dances With Wolves
Granted, Shirley would probably like the movie more if it ended with Costner's interloper converting the Native American tribe he joins to Christianity.
Funniest Line: "Friends, welcome to Shirley Island, where all your dreams come true. If you dream of standing on a table and pissing in a jar."

Buzz
Ideal Kevin Costner Movie: The Untouchables
Because Jonathan Banks is as big a bad-ass as Sean Connery. Minus the Scottish accent, of course.
Funniest Line: "Come out with your feet on the floor and there will be no need for nudging or jostling."

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