Wednesday, September 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Abbott Elementary' - Janine Hopes the Grant Can Help Abbott Compete with the New Charter School in 'Wrong Delivery'

ABC's Abbott Elementary - Episode 2.02 "Wrong Delivery"

After Janine gets a look at the new charter school down the street, she becomes determined to fix up Abbott and make it just as good. Gregory goes out of his way to avoid Barbara due to an awkward situation with his personal life. Ava takes to the school library to host a "Shark Tank"-style pitch to decide what to do with the rest of the funds from the grant.

"Wrong Delivery" was written by Brian Rubenstein and directed by Randall Einhorn

The staff at Abbott Elementary are always trying to do what's best for the kids. They are trying to make things work despite their limited resources. They've struggled for years. They know the various tricks to make this environment more productive for learning. Those small victories have to be satisfying enough. And yet, the sting of what they don't have only becomes more prominent with the opening of a new charter school. Addington Elementary is just down the street. The building itself was built around the same time as Abbott. It too used to house a public school. But now, it has been reinvented. Everything comes across as new and nurturing for everything the students deserve. Seeing all of this only makes Janine want to fight even harder to improve Abbott. Her students are just as deserving as the kids elsewhere in the city. She wants to make a difference. And yet, her desires have to be approved by people who don't have the same passion as her. Something as simple as painting a wall must be approved by the school board. She saw the power of students learning in a bright and inviting environment. That matters. Meanwhile, the Abbott building is falling apart. Of course, it should be noted how the lack of oversight doesn't always produce the best decisions. Ava couldn't ignore a teacher kicking a student. That required her to actually do her job. She had to step up and fire her. And now, that same teacher is back in the classroom for the charter school. The people in charge don't care about background checks to ensure they are hiring the best. The teachers at Abbott may see the charter school as the better version of the lives they have. It's different. It doesn't inherently have to be better. Both schools still have an impact on the community. The charter school can afford to have the mice driven from the building. It's not long until the creatures swarm the Abbott cafeteria. It's not some grand mystery as to how they got there. It's not some elaborate scheme to make Abbott look worse in comparison. It's all about the structures of a community failing to realize the effect they have beyond the walls they control. Janine talks up the importance of having a computer in the library. It will boost reading scores for the students. That can represent Ava as doing a good job in managing this facility. She already believes she's the best and deserving of more power. She may ultimately get it because she knows how to make things special and unique. That's the lens through which she examines everything. To her, it's all about getting Janine to be less annoying. They find that balance at the conclusion of this episode. However, the comparisons and rivalry between the two schools will continue.

Janine actually got what she wanted for a brief moment too. It was fleeting though because she wasn't living in the reality of what Abbott actually offers. Barbara and Melissa know that any money that comes in must be funneled to the basic resources. That's the way in which this school can function. It's never enough to implement all the changes they deem necessary. It's simply what they can make happen. They fought for this grant. They helped students feel included in this environment. The teachers have already lifted their students up and made a difference in their lives. They don't always receive that appreciation and recognition. It's always elusive. Part of that comes from Ava. She doesn't care how her teachers are doing. She just wants them to make her look good. They have to constantly appeal to her ego in order to convince her of anything. That doesn't always work either. Mr. Johnson dreams of being the James Bond of custodians. That's the investment he pitches to Ava. It means so much to him. It's nonsensical to everyone else. He's not deserving of these resources. And yet, Ava still sees the value in a water ice truck. That's enough to make at least one day special. Abbott has something the charter school doesn't. That inspires a new round of jealousy. Ava makes that happen because she listens to her teachers. Sure, old calendars still have to cover up decaying walls and windows have to be opened a specific way. Abbott will always be struggling. It still offers plenty to be inspired by. That's rewarding too. It's a lesson Janine continually has to learn. That's been the basis for a number of plots already. That's who she instinctively is. She's young. She's still looking for how to leave her mark on the world. Sometimes, that can be as simple as comforting a friend after a breakup. The fellow teachers provided that for her. She knows what Gregory is going through. He could only delay the end of things with Taylor for so long. Of course, neither of them are the ones who say it. Barbara actually does so. That's funny. It reinforces how everyone needs to stay true to who they are. People could absolutely correct Barbara when she confuses certain actors for being Black. She is still understood despite that confusion. Similarly, Gregory needs the confidence to approach his personal life the same way he conducts himself in the classroom. He sees himself as straightforward and honest. Janine appreciates that about him. He doesn't need to be performative in a calculated way. That works elsewhere. It's not who Gregory is. It's better to let these confrontations happen and let the fallout be whatever it is destined to be. Some of those emotions may linger. Melissa has animosity with her sister that extends beyond them working at rival schools. It's still ultimately healthy to address these issues and recognize the freedom that comes afterwards.