“Abbott Elementary” - Episode 9 Review

Story posted December 5, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Izzy Charboneau.

This week’s episode of “Abbott Elementary” highlights another bad part of the American public education system: the substitute teacher shortage.

In the cold open, we learn that Ava (Janelle James) has been selling face masks that stay cold for 11 hours as a side hustle, and is using the fridge in the teachers’ lounge to store them. Because of this, Janine’s (Quinta Brunson) lunch gets left out on the window sill in the sun for hours.

After eating the bad sandwich, Janine is out sick the next day, and Ava is tasked with finding a substitute for her class. Because of a substitute teacher shortage she is unable to find a sub, so she ends up watching Janine’s class.

Janine, who is totally sick at home, calls Ava several times and tells her there is a binder with very specific directions for a substitute in her desk, but Ava tells the students that they don’t need to do any work and that Janine will figure it out when she comes back on Monday. Gregory (Tyler James Williams) tells Ava that she needs to do something with the students, so she tries to, but it doesn’t go well.

After this, Ava gives up a little, asking Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis), the janitor, to watch the class. Mr. Johnson, much to Gregory’s chagrin, takes that time to teach the students that a colony of lizard people is living underneath the Denver airport.

After seeing this, Gregory pulls Ava aside again, telling her she needs to step up and that the routine that Janine has established for these kids is important. This is especially interesting because this shows Gregory’s ability to handle the things Ava deals with in her job, which she only got over him because of blackmail.

Between scenes at the school, we also see clips of Janine at home, and we also see that Gregory has sent her a nice message checking in on her, which is exciting for people who are looking forward to the slow burn relationship between the pair.

After Gregory’s encouragement, Ava really tries to do what Janine asked, and realized that the directions in the binder weren’t so dumb. When she realizes she needs to print new spelling tests, she uses her own fliers for her face mask business to print them on, and she gets the students through the day.

While Ava was learning the value of Janine’s organizational skills, Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) and Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) are learning the value of Janine’s relentless optimism.

When Janine doesn’t come to school Friday, another teacher, Tasha (Taylor Garron), is in the teachers’ lounge and says that she usually isn’t because someone likes to talk too much. Melissa and Barbara agree that Janine is a little much, and they join in on poking fun at her.

This really upsets Jacob (Chris Perfetti), as she is his close friend. When he finds out that Melissa and Barbara have invited Tasha to lunch, he is particularly upset, as he knows they have repeatedly told Janine that she can’t go to this restaurant with them.

When the three ladies come back to the lounge in the afternoon, they find ants and Tasha leaves immediately.

Jacob takes this opportunity to scold Melissa and Barbara, reminding them that Janine would handle the situation immediately instead of leaving, and tells them that they miss her.

When Janine comes back Monday, she is greeted immediately by Gregory, who gives her a drink with electrolytes to help her feel better after being sick. This is another sweet moment between the two, so fans of this pairing have really gotten a lot this episode.

Melissa and Barbara are also excited to see Janine, who sees that the coffee maker is broken and immediately jumps to fixing it. The women say they missed her, which she is happy to hear.

This episode was a really sweet addition to a trend that we’ve been observing in this season: Ava actually being kind of good at her job. At the end of the first season, we learned that her job may be in trouble, so showing that she actually does care about her job is really special.

It is also really nice to see some of the other characters being appreciative for Janine and her antics, because her caring nature is the biggest part of her characterization.

Rating: 4/5

Izzy Charboneau is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email