‘Abbott Elementary’ Recap: Season 2, Episode 11 “Read-A-Thon”

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ABC/Gilles Mingasson

Abbott Elementary returned from hiatus this week. The new episode was all about the books and sees Melissa and Janine get into competition over the school’s read-a-thon. Jacob also pursues a new endeavor with Gregory.

Janine vs. Melissa

The episode begins as Janine and Gregory have a painfully awkward encounter in the break room. Soon after, Ava hands out score sheets for the school’s read-a-thon, and Melissa walks in with a wrestling-style belt boasting her win streak. But Janine is ready to win this year. Later, Melissa spots Janine wheeling a cart of books into her classroom. She tries some intimidation tactics, but Janine is unshakeable. With fueled motivation, Melissa tells her kids it’s crunch time and is counting on her three strongest readers. One girl, Maya, also says she’s going to read the most and is heckled by another student, but Melissa comes to her defense.

Melissa and Barbara discuss the read-a-thon, and Barbara shares some hot takes on Ms. Frizzle. Janine walks up and admits her kids are a few pages behind but will catch up. The nurse arrives next with Melissa’s top three readers in tow; they all have pink eye due to reading in the bathroom. This further boosts Janine’s confidence who leaves the conversation by running down the hall until she reaches her classroom.

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Maya’s Reading Record

Janine and Melissa are in the library (where Janine was waiting) and think they should raise the stakes of the contest. When Janine spots a poster for Jacob’s podcast, she suggests that the loser must be a guest on it. This lights another fire under Melissa as she gives another rousing speech to her class and gets a few students to step up. Later, Janine notices Melissa’s stats are surprisingly high, but Melissa claims she didn’t cheat. Barabara vouches for her and says that Melissa’s pep talks convinced her to watch The King’s Speech (which she says Colin Powell was very good in. Never change, Barbara).

In class, Melissa notices Maya is getting through a book pretty fast. She looks at Maya’s reading log and asks about the 25 books she read in one night. She quizzes Maya on the name of a Berenstein Bear (Maya: “Beyoncé”) and realizes Maya probably didn’t read the books. So, Melissa meets with Maya’s parents. She expresses her concerns and thinks it could help to get Maya tested. Her parents think it’s unnecessary and leave.

This Abbott Life

Meanwhile with Jacob, he and Gregory have started a podcast, which a whopping total of two students have signed up for. Jacob is THRILLED, but Gregory only cares because he gets some extra cash for doing an extracurricular. As the club begins, Jacob begins waxing on about podcasting to the two students – Clarence and Rahim – when one mentions Joe Budden (not to be confused with President Joe Biden) and his work. However, Jacob already has plans for the podcast (script included). Soon, the group gets ready to record. The boys get a little off track, annoying Jacob who talks about “journalistic integrity,” but the boys aren’t feeling it.

After the episode is live, Clarence and Rahim see Jacob and are mad at how Jacob changed it. They claim censorship which absolutely scandalizes Jacob. Unfortunately, it was enough to make the boys quit, along with Gregory, who won’t get paid if there are no students in the club. Jacob turns in his podcast equipment and Ava has an “I told you so” moment. Jacob just wanted to give the kids something exciting, but Ava notes it was probably only exciting for him.

ABC/Gilles Mingasson

Winner, Winner, Pizza Party

The read-a-thon is over, and Melissa’s class won (but not really). Maya asks if she can be done with books now that the contest is over. Melissa brings her into the hall and asks if reading feels tough to Maya, who says yes. So, Melissa shows her a book with highlights in it and shares that it was a book she had as a kid because she struggled, too. Melissa says she loves reading now and promises that Maya will grow to love reading too, and it doesn’t matter what speed she reads.

Janine is a bundle of energy and pride over having won the contest – until Melissa re-reads the rules and notes that she can combine totals for the grades she teaches. So, it turns out Melissa really did win, and even gets a slow clap moment from Barbara. As such, Janine must go on Jacob’s podcast, and Clarence and Rahim have returned too. Jacob lets them make it their own, and they begin by asking Janine about dancing with Gregory at the club (shout out to the mom gossip). It goes south very quickly.

Abbott Elementary airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Keep up with our recaps and other coverage of the show here.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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