In lieu of reviewing the entirety of Community's latest episode, "Dungeons & Dragons, I'm going to focus on its handling of Pierce's character.
Well, that's a little bit of a lie. I'm going to mostly do that. However, I can't resist making a few remarks about the episode as a whole. Like last week's episode, "Dungeons & Dragons" was an excellently done installment of community. I ranted in my review of last week's episode about my disappointment with season two as a whole, but my love of Community has been restored. This episode was filled with hilarious moments, and almost every character got a chance to shine. Abed's character playing was amazing. Most of Britta's lines revolved around her over-activism (Honestly, I'm not sure if that's really a good word for it. If you can think of a better one, feel free to tell me so.), but all of them were hilarious, particularly when combined with the rest of the group's groaning. Jeff got a chance to shown how much he's grown since the beginning of the show. Despite the fact that he coined "Fat Neil," he was genuinely caring and mature in this episode. I loved Troy's "huzzah"s and note-taking. Annie's seduction of the keeper of the pegasi was priceless. And of course, Chang's makeup was pretty attention grabbing. I can't think of any standout Shirley moments, to be honest, but I loved her and Annie's "aww" at the village that accepts all races.
Pierce was also a standout of the episode but in a much darker way than the other characters. We've seen plenty of example of Pierce being horrible before this episode. I can't remember all of them. but among them are his ruining the secret of the trampoline, pantsing Shirley, and last week, even promoting drugs to kids. But this week, we saw a whole new level of horrible for Pierce. He was nasty and spiteful towards a suicidal kid. Although this week had some very funny moments, I found much of Pierce's taunting to be hard to watch. The scene in which he transformed Neil's character to be "as fat as Fat Neil" was absolutely heartbreaking. Even if you acknowledge that Pierce was acting largely out of hurt at being excluded, there's no denying that his actions were terrible.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to think about the handling of Pierce's character. It was pretty dark for a comedy, but I can't say that it was out of character. I think my opinion is mostly going to depend on how he's handled in future episodes. If this darker development in Pierce is carried out, I think it could be a really interesting storyline. On the other hand, if the characters continue to interact with Pierce normally in future episodes, I'm going to be very disappointed. The way that Pierce acted towards Neil was far too cruel to merely be ignored. However, I have faith that the writers of Community know what they're doing.
I did really like the way that the writers ended the episode. The line about Pierce saving Neil yet learning very little was surprisingly poignant. It was touching without being saccharine for Neil to have a moment of glory defeating Pierce and then invite him to play again with him in the future.