Fall TV Mystery: Has Community's Pierce Left the Group for Good? (Do We Want Him Back?)
With those words at the close of last month’s season finale, Community curmudgeon Pierce Hawthorne rebuffed Jeff’s invitation to rejoin the study group and walked away, seemingly having had his fill of being cast the villain -– a perception he had just minutes earlier upturned by riding to Greendale’s rescue in the paintball battle with City College.
Will Pierce ever reclaim his chair beside Troy? Can he be convinced to forgive those who hated on him? Series creator Dan Harmon, for one, didn’t set out to leave viewers with any cliffhangers this go-round.
Watch Pierce’s goodbye scene here, then read on for more:
” I didn’t want to hold people emotionally hostage in terms of, ‘You have to tune in to find out what happens next!’” Harmon tells TVLine. “But at the same time, I wanted to give some energy to the first six or so episodes [of Season 3].”
Besides, as many will agree, a bit of a “reset” is warranted with Chevy Chase’s sitcom alter ego. Originally sketched as just an old kook, Pierce this season grew bitter, and at times was even mean to Jeff, Britta, et al. As he deluged a husky D&D geek with hard truths and refashioned Annie’s PSA play as pro-drug propaganda, the founder of Hawthorne moist towelettes found himself in ever murky water.
Addressing his critics (of an otherwise stellar sophomore run), Harmon says, “I didn’t think it was an inappropriate reaction at all, but I also don’t think it was an inappropriate thing to do with the character.”
With a big-screen comedy icon playing Pierce, “It was a waste to make him befuddled, picking up a banana and thinking it’s a phone,” Harmon says. So, knowing that Chase holds the role of sardonic Fletch dearest to him, Harmon embarked on a “sort of darkening” of his Community character.
“Chevy Chase is a more dynamic, more formidable presence when he walks into a room that Pierce Hawthorne is — he’s got a backbone and tooth to him that the [Clark] Griswoldian aspect of his career doesn’t service as well,” Harmon notes, “so it felt dishonest to not let the character cast a shadow.”
But has that shadow overshadowed the funny aspects of the character? Harmon is confident in his plan to plot Pierce’s eventual return, continuing his “redemption” without smoothing out too many of the characters newly roughed edges.
“Maybe we made him a little too dark, too quickly,” the writer/producer admits. “But the truth of the matter is his role in the group needs to be looked at and addressed by the characters. And I look forward to ironing that out in Season 3 — his role as a dark father figure to Jeff.”