Half the fun of watching Community is figuring out what the hell Community is parodying. Think back to “Critical Film Studies”, and the moment you realized what was going: an NBC sitcom, airing at the same time as Wipeout and Million Dollar Money Drop, was doing an elaborate meta-homage of My Dinner with Andre. The wordy “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” wasn’t as thoughtful or obscure as “Critical” — it didn’t parody one thing so much as an entire genre — but it’s still amazing that it happened, and that it was as good as it was. With a but(t).
But let’s talk about the BIG moment: I can’t help but wonder if Dan Harmon & Co. worked backward. They knew they had a Pierce problem, and that the best (only?) solution was to kill him off. Chevy Chase wasn’t allowed to interact with any of the other actors, per his agreement with Sony, so another guest appearance was out of the question, and even with the drastic improvements in CGI since Livia Soprano terrified an entire generation of TV viewers, they weren’t going to do that, either. Further complicating things, I’m guessing Harmon didn’t want to make a big deal out of his “going away.” So why NOT handle Chase’s departure near the end of an episode-long spoof of Fincher movies (especially The Social Network and Zodiac), The Killing, and about a million other rain-drenched thrillers, where it could be acknowledged without becoming the point of the episode? Maybe it was vindictive on Harmon’s part not to give THE GREAT CHEVY CHASE (that’s what his business card reads, probably) a more proper send-off, but I enjoyed it, and the Dungeons and Dragons shout-out was the proverbial cookie on the wand.
But as much as you may want to over-analyze the episode (like I just did), from the look of it to the winking continuation of Jeff and Annie’s will they, won’t they relationship to the identity of the Ass Crack Bandit to Dave, brah, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” really boils down to one word: butts. Butts have always been funny and will always be funny, and Community know this. It wrapped a highbrow concept around a lowbrow word, because butts.