After Pierce’s death in Community, Abed was the only character not to receive a personalized gift. A compelling fan theory may explain why.
A surprising Community fan theory may explain why Pierce didn’t bequeath a personalized gift to Abed after his passing like he did to everyone else. Community season 5, episode 4, “Cooperative Polygraphy”, is a bottle episode that features the gang gathering in the study hall after Pierce’s funeral. There they are met by Pierce’s executor (Walton Goggins) who polygraphs them all to determine if any member of the group murdered him, in accordance with the wishes expressed in Pierce’s will. At the end of the session, everyone except Abed receives a special gift (along with frozen samples of Pierce’s semen). The will states that “nothing you said made sense to me.“
Community is known for its self-aware meta-comedy. It has even been theorized that the study group’s empty chair is for the public. By far the most self-referential character in the Community is Abed Nadir who spends most of his time commenting on unfolding events, applying popular media tropes and narrative structures to the humorous situations the band find themselves in. The other characters often feel alienated by Abed’s incessant references to popular movies and television shows; Pierce, in particular, is still troubled by Abed’s eccentricities.
Reddit User, EquivalentInflation, suggests that Pierce actually gave Abed a personalized gift: the episode itself. Pierce’s lie detector creates a situation in which all the characters have their worst secrets exposed, creating drama within the group. This type of manipulation is something Abed was known to do before; in fact, in this very episode, it is revealed that he followed all the other members of the group. Abed probably knows he’s on a TV show, which is why he likes when situations play out under certain dramatic rules. Indeed, Abed immediately grasps the dramatic structure of the episode. When confronted with the sad truth that Troy actually copied his signature handshake from a YouTube video, Abed even comments, “I forgive you, but only to escape the established pattern of self-righteous outrage followed by immediate improvement“, and when Goggins’ character reveals one of Abed’s secrets, Abed notices”Alright, I guess it’s happening anyway.”
While this episode of Community ends on a rather melancholic note, with Troy accepting Pierce’s condition that he sail around the world in order to receive Pierce’s shares in the company (meaning that Troy will leave Community), Abed later overcomes his ambivalence over his best friend’s departure in the following episode, season 5, episode 4, “Geothermal Escape”. Thus, Pierce’s gift to Troy provided character growth for both Troy and Abed. Troy makes an important choice about his future and Abed learns to let go of his friend and become the man he wants to be.
However, it’s also possible that Pierce really doesn’t know what to get Abed, meaning he never quite figured it out until the very end. Whatever the case, Pierce, intentionally or unintentionally, provided Abed with the perfect parting gift: a meta-character exploration that allowed him to comment on the nature of the series. In doing so, Pierce turned his own death into a brilliant episode of Community.
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