Abbott Elementary is finally back! Last season, we left off with Gregory having taken on the title of a fill-time teacher, Janine (finally) breaking up with Tariq, and Ava somehow securing her future as principal of Abbott Elementary. A new school year is dawning, so let’s catch up with our favorite crew in their adventures in the season 2 premiere of Abbott Elementary, “Development Day,” as they prepare for the upcoming school year.
Janine Teagues — Independent Woman
The and of last school year came with many changes for Janine, most notably her break-up with Tariq becoming official as he moved out. Newly single, it’s a new school year and seemingly a newly matured Janine (and her newly styled left side part in her hair. Don’t forget about the side part).
However, it seems like she’s secretly struggling as we find out throughout the episode. She’s having issues keeping up with her rent (Tariq’s 20% contribution really made it work, you know?), and Jacob starts to notice things are off with her. Gregory gets pulled in for an intervention, but Janine insists she’s got everything together. She’s gotten Thee Flyers mascot, Gritty, to come surprise the kids on the first day of school as proof. She’s planned out the Development Week mixer. She’s good. Totally fine.
The tension all comes to a head as Janine’s car, which has 7 outstanding tickets courtesy of Tariq, gets booted. Janine couldn’t afford to pay the outstanding tickets and Ava had made her park on the street to save room for an Eagles tailgate she was holding to raise money (“for the school”… allegedly). In a moment of insanity, Janine tried to move her car while it’s in the process of getting booted. The thing that makes her finally get out the car? Gritty shows up at the school. It’s the wrong day.
Janine finally opens up about how she’s been struggling emotionally and financially post-Tariq. She didn’t want her breakup to affect her life, but it seems like she can’t help it. Despite everything, she’s struggling and she’s sad. Barbara and Melissa give her some great advice about moving through her issues and not trying to get over them, and that she’s just at the beginning of her journey; things will get better. Gritty even gives her a hug (that Ava ruins by sneaking in for a selfie, but what’s new).
Janine seems to have her head back on straight by the end of the episode, with Jacob having loaned her some money to help with her financial situation (and Gregory having noticed her side part). It’s going to be a great year.
It’s Gregory’s first year as an official first-grade teacher, and he is grappling with juggling all of the learning objectives the district mandates him to meet. Of course, being Gregory, he anally comes up with an extremely detailed plan of how to space everything out throughout the year, which Barbara tries to tell him will inevitably go off the rails.
Meanwhile, Gregory and Janine are still dancing around each other. Gregory under the guise of a worried friend (thanks Jacob for giving him that in. That man is a gossip I tell you) asks Janine how she’s doing post-Tariq (and if she’s dating anyone… smooth Greg). In turn, Janine not so subtly inquires about him and Taylor, who are still together.
Meanwhile, witnessing Janine’s breakdown has Gregory spiralling about his lack of control over circumstances. He’s realizing the impossibility of what is asked of teachers year after year, and is afraid he’s going to fail. Barbara gives him some solid advice, and instilling confidence in him that he can meet the challenges they’re up against. You can’t always do everything, but you can try and care, and that will always be enough.
Meanwhile, Barbara is hot off of her hot girl cruise summer (land Barbara is very different from sea Barbara okay?). Her first order of business? Getting the school and her classroom ready for a new student in her class who uses a wheelchair. Despite Barbara’s enthusiasm to get the student all the accommodations they need, the district is giving her the run around, and she is not having it (seriously, she is tired. Pray for them).
Though she doesn’t manage to get her student a special desk, she did manage to get a ramp to the school installed by helping Ava organize the school’s finances for the year. Yet another example of doing what you can with what you can, as she tells Gregory. In response to her inspiring help and advice, Gregory goes searching finds an ADA desk that the school had previously used in the basement and sets it up ubenknowst to Barbara, leaving her close to tears when she wheels her student in on the first day of school and finds she’ll be able to adequately meet his needs.
All you need to know is Jacob’s summer is that he taught in Peru and learned some basic ASL. In true Jacob fashion, he will not let you forget either of those things. It did, however, come in handy when he met a new student who used ASL. Quite heartwarming. Additionally, he really pulled through for Janine once everyone discovered the depth of her troubles, lending her some money — though that came at his own personal expense. It was the money for his student loans payment! He’s fine though (“President Joey B’s gonna cancel the rest of that debt like any day now”).
It seems like our favorite Philly 11 is going to be struggling this year as she gets saddled with a combined class of 2nd and 3rd graders. A fancy charter school has stolen all of the 3rd graders with high test scores, leaving too few kids for a full class.
The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning show Abbott Elementary airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m ET/ 8 p.m. CT. Check out all of our other coverage on the show here (including episodic recaps) and stay tuned for more updates.