Abbott Elementary – Season 2 Episode 1 “Development Day” Recap & Review

Development Day

In Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 1, the school teachers return to Abbott for Development Week, having experienced several new developments of their own.

Most notable of these is Janine’s breakup with Tariq and her brand-new attitude approaching the new school year. This year is going to be different, Janine insists (and not just because of the new part in her hair–which no one has noticed). No bringing her personal problems to school with her!

Other teachers are also gearing up for changes. Jacob learned ASL over the summer, and is excited to teach it in a class. Barbara appropriated grant funds to install a ramp for an incoming student who uses a wheelchair. She still needs to find the student an appropriate desk–but the school district is not complying with her request. And Melissa prepares to take on extra students, for whom there isn’t room enough for their own class.

Gregory is approaching the new year with a newfound excitement to be a full-time teacher (and is, of course, still giving Janine the same sweet, yearning looks). But he’s immediately overwhelmed by all the curriculum the district expects them to get through in one year. He puts together an intense schedule that should allow him to get through everything, but Barbara comes up with several scenarios that would slow him down.

Janine surprises Melissa and Barbara with the ways she’s matured. Unlike the old Janine, she’s able to lay down the law when they don’t like her idea for the mixer she’s organizing.

Jacob and Gregory, on the other hand, find out that something is wrong–that Janine is late on her rent payments. They try to get her to open up about her struggles now that Tariq is gone, but she insists that everything is fine.

Janine organizes an impressive mixer, but her confident attitude is quashed when someone calls her outside. Her car is getting a boot put on it because of Tariq’s unpaid parking tickets.

Not only that, but Gritty–the mascot Janine hired to come surprise the kids–shows up a week early. Janine scheduled him for the wrong day.

The teachers surround Janine to ask her what’s going on. She finally breaks down, admitting that she’s sad. She can’t afford to pay her bills, but she’s more upset about how she misses Tariq.

Her friends and co-workers support her. Barbara tells her that breakups are hard, but part of becoming an adult. “You just gotta go through it, not over,” says Melissa. “And you’re at the beginning, not the end.”

Jacob lends her the money for rent, and Janine admits that some things (like grief after a breakup) just can’t be rushed through.

Later, Barbara finds Gregory, who is still upset over the curriculum. “Everything is chaos, and we all lose,” he says. In just one day, before school has even started, he’s already fallen behind on his schedule. Barbara tells him they’re simply going to have insane challenges. They just have to show up and try their best. They’ll still have successes. For instance, she didn’t get the desk she wanted, but she did get the ramp. “That’s true,” Gregory admits, erasing his unreasonable schedule.

The first day of school comes around. The wheelchair-bound student enters via the new ramp, and Jacob is able to sign a greeting to a deaf student. Gregory was even able to find a desk for Barbara in the storage. “Mrs. Howard was right,” he says. “We may not be able to do it all… but we’ll do what we can.”

Before they go into school, Gregory notices and compliments the new part in Janine’s hair, making her smile.

The Episode Review

Quinta Brunson and the Abbott Elementary crew are back with another season of their beloved school-setting comedy mockumentary. We return to Abbott for “Development Day,” an apt episode title which not only denotes the teachers’ responsibilities before school begins, but also several developments in their personal lives–most especially, Janine.

Janine’s arc is especially heart-wrenching when we see the blunt denial of her pain clash with the ways she has genuinely matured. As the episode writer, Brunson navigates a fine line to deliver, in such a short runtime, a story that both respects how far her character has come and also how much growth she has yet to experience.

Abbott, too, is growing significantly–expanding to be more inclusive of disabled students–but with this come more challenges, and Brunson again is mindful in her script of the wins and losses inherent in taking on what often feel like insurmountable challenges for teachers.

As expected, Abbott Elementary’s season 2 premiere is as warm and witty as ever.

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!


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