Abbott Elementary is back with another slam-dunk episode!

Hopefully, you can forgive the pun — the basketball game intro was a great start, though. This show rarely misses, especially when it comes to its cold opens.

In Abbott Elementary Season 3 Episode 8, we explore friendships, hookups, and professional stress.

Speaking of that cold open, when Tariq said he was thinking about starting a PTA at Abbott Elementary, did anyone think he was going to?

Consider us gobsmacked when we learned that he actually did it and named himself president. Honestly, are we supposed to take Tariq seriously?

Apparently so, considering he’s the moderator at the education panel that Gregory and Ava have been invited to join.

This panel is a fun dive into Ava’s past. We’re introduced to someone she considers her nemesis, a sorority sister named Crystal. No one is surprised when she treats the panel like a competition.

That said, we know who Ava is at her core. She’s able to ground herself and remember what is really important, and that plays out toward the end of the episode when she starts taking the questions more seriously.

This proves that we were right about her character development in previous reviews. She is growing right before our eyes.

We can’t imagine the version of Ava that we met back in the early days of Abbott Elementary would be this thoughtful and mature.

In fact, early on, everyone pretty much agreed that she was the worst possible person for the principal job, and she admitted that she only had it because she had dirt on the powers that be.

This Ava is different. She’s still fun and silly, but the way she talks about her colleagues is now respectful and complimentary.

She’s not perfect — no one is — but we can see her ground herself in this episode. That’s a tool she didn’t have a couple of seasons ago.

Ava isn’t the only one with a lot going on this week. While the teachers at Abbott Elementary (plus Janine) attend a CPR course, Janine runs back and forth with Manny, trying to save her library program.

Manny is back! It was great to see him have such a big part in this episode. This character is great, and hopefully, we get to see more of him throughout the rest of the season.

While Janine deals with work stress, Barbara, Jacob, and Melissa are back in CPR class, and things are a little tense. Barbara is upset that Melissa didn’t tell her she was seeing someone.

This episode is highly quotable, by the way. There were so many great quips from everyone!

It’s a bummer to see Barbara so upset. She feels betrayed that Melissa didn’t share her dating life, and that’s such a testament to how much Barbara loves Melissa.

Their friendship is one of the best ones on the show. We’ve seen them continue to grow closer as the seasons progressed, but watching them argue about something personal proves how close they really are.

Jacob kept one of his hookups quiet, too, as it turns out. What are the odds that he was seeing the assistant CPR instructor? Philly is not a small city, friends.

Obviously, we know how tenacious Janine is, so it’s no shock that she’s able to pull off her goal of saving her library program.

She might have been stressed, but it didn’t feel stressful on the viewer’s end because we knew she’d make it work.

Still, we really enjoyed a couple of things about that whole debacle. First, Keegan-Michael Key as the superintendent was a fun surprise! He’s always hilarious (Schmigadoon! anyone?), and this role was no exception.

Secondly, this episode made some truly excellent points about community colleges. We love to see that! Janine’s totally right about how people overlook them, and it’s a real shame.

People overlook community colleges the same way they overlook public schools.


The most impactful part of the episode happened at the very end. Janine showed hesitation when she rearranged the photo of her class on her desk, and she got emotional when she discussed how it feels to be in the classroom.

Will we see Janine step down from the district position and return to Abbott? (And if so, does that mean we’ll never see Manny again?! Say it ain’t so!)

It seems like Abbott Elementary’s writers are setting us up for a big transition. Janine clearly misses her students and isn’t fulfilled in her current role.

It’s kind of heartbreaking because she has a shot at making real change from the district, but she feels torn between climbing the ladder to make that happen and returning to where her heart is.

Whatever Janine decides to do, we can be sure she’ll think through all of her options and what is best for everyone involved before diving in.

Okay, now that the emotional part is out of the way, can we talk about how hilarious Mr. Johnson is? It’s a travesty that he isn’t given more screen time.

Hello lads, I’m Bister Bohnson from Babbott Belementary, where I work as a teacher, not as a janitor, although I have immense respect for the work they do.

Mr. Johnson

Also, it really seemed like he showed up to the panel to support Ava, which is incredibly sweet if you overlook the fact that he ended up throwing Crystal a win instead.

As the episode concludes, Gregory is approached by someone who seems to hint at the idea of giving Gregory a grant for community work. Either that, or he might be suggesting that he wants Gregory to work for his organization.

It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Gregory loves the community, and he loves the connection he has with his students, so it’s hard to imagine him having to make a choice between the two. Also, we wonder what that would mean for the future of Gregory and Janine’s relationship.

That’s a wrap!

This episode gave us a couple of loose ends that we’ll be obsessing over until the next one.

It looks like we will have a bit of a wait for our favorite teachers to head back to school.

But in the meantime, you can chat with us in the comments about what you think of the season so far!

Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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