In Community season 5 episode 5 "Geothermal Escapism", Abed begins a school-wide game of "Hot Lava" to commemorate Troy leaving Greendale.

After Britta has left the study room and the countdown has ended, the episode goes to the opening sequence, and when the audience returns to the events happening in the school it appears Britta hasn't encountered anyone else, as she is still in the game and she doesn't know any of the new terms for the game (centipeding etc.).

However, in the same amount of time it seems that the majority of the students are now out of the game, as the school is almost abandoned. In addition, several factions have emerged (like the Locker Boys), Shirley Island was constructed, and Buzz Hickey managed to build a fire extinguisher powered vehicle. In addition the school is a wreck, the vending machines have been abandoned and Jeff points out that almost all of the plastic chairs have been claimed.

How could enough time passed have passed for these things to happen, yet Britta was still clueless about the game? Had she hidden somewhere safe when the game started, and emerged once the initial carnage had passed? As I was watching it I couldn't make out whether 2 hours or 2 days had already passed.

Is there any solid evidence of how much time had elapsed since the start of the Hot Lava game and the beginning of the episode after the opening sequence? Or was there an explanation from the writers?

  • 2
    I suspect the problem here is that the Rule of Funny is firmly in operation here. You'll also note that next week the show will be subject to a snapback reset where all the damage is mysteriously fixed with zero explanation.
    – user7812
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 14:53
  • @Richard possible, but considering how much focus Community usually puts on things like continuity it seems more out of place than the usual ridiculous things that are hand-waved away (such as the memory loss after the zombie episode). I had hoped that they might have hinted at some sort of time-frame. Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:04
  • 3
    After each of the "special" episodes like 'For a Few Paintballs More' there was the tiniest of hand-waves (where we see a cleaner wiping the walls) before everything was back to normal, despite there being hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage caused.
    – user7812
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that its not told or explained exactly how long the game lasted.

The show Community has a common theme of doing episodes like this which are style parodies of different movies. A more common example would be the various paintball game episodes done in the style of action and western genre. Each time there is a competition for a prize deemed of such value that the players go to extremes to win it. (priority registration, large cash prizes, etc) Of course there is a high degree of ridiculousness in these but that is part of the charm and style of the show which is after all a comedy.

Here are some examples of episodes that use similar types of ridiculousness and transforming the school into a war zone in the name of some sort of style parody.

Season 1: Modern Warfare

Greendale Community College is transformed into an apocalyptic war zone when the dean promises the winner of a paintball competition priority registration, and it could fan the flames of sexual tension between Jeff and Britta.

Season 2: Fistfull of Paintballs and For a Few Paintballs More

In a "spaghetti western" parody, Pierce tries to get revenge on the rest of the study group during this year's paintball tournament. When the study group learns that there's a sinister plot behind the paintball tournament, they unite the remaining players to defeat the enemy.

Season 3: Pillows and Blankets parody style of Ken Burns "The Civil War" Documentary

The United Forts of Pillowtown, headed by Abed, is at war with the Legit Republic of Blanketsburg, ruled by Troy. Annie sets up a hospital zone to treat casualties on both sides. Britta takes a stab at war-photography. Jeff tries to reunite two former friends turned mortal enemies using sarcasm.

Season 5: Geothermal Escapism mashup parody of "Waterworld" and "Mad Max"

As a going-away present to Troy before his around-the-world trip, Abed sets up a high-stakes game of "Hot Lava" at the college, but Britta suspects that the game is just masking his real feelings about Troy's departure.

As you can see it is a common trope in the Community universe to do episodes where the school is turned into a post-apocalyptic setting in order to make various styles of film parodies.

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