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Abbott Elementary “Candy Zombies” Review: Starting Over

Abbott Elementary “Candy Zombies” Spoilers Ahead

SHERYL LEE RALPH, KEYLA MONTERROSO MEJIA, LISA ANN WALTER, QUINTA BRUNSON, TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS, WILLIAM STANFORD DAVIS in Abbott Elementary "Candy Zombies"
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

Every week, Abbott Elementary continues to be a reassuring balm that soothes the parts of us we don’t realize require healing. While the last episode, “Juice,” quietly addressed not changing things when they aren’t broken, the Halloween special nearly screamed about facing our fears. 

As we persist in getting to know the teachers at Abbott, we learn that there are versions of them inside all of us (except maybe Barbara Howard because she’s a level of greatness we might never achieve). Still, Abbott Elementary’s “Candy Zombies” is not only laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it’s clever and heartwarming as it thrusts our characters forward in growth. 

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY - “Candy Zombies” – It’s Halloween at Abbott Elementary! When a student steals a bag of candy meant to be given out to the kids at the end of the day and starts distributing it during school hours, the teachers band together to find the culprit. Meanwhile, Janine is invited to a Halloween party by an old friend and starts to reconsider her personal life on “Abbott Elementary,” WEDNESDAY, OCT. 26 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC.
(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

In more ways than one, Janine’s struggles this season are thoroughly relatable. In the first episode, “Development Day,” she needed to understand that getting through a breakup matters more than getting over it, and today, she needs to recognize that it’s scarier not to put herself out there. Melissa and Barbara, both having Janine’s back, remains faultless in the series because they aren’t holding her hand through everything, but they’re pushing her forward with gentle nudges that promise she can fall back on them.

But right now, Janine doesn’t need her work friends; she needs to branch out. She needs to accept invites even when it’s scary going places where you’ll only know the person inviting you. As someone who can be an extreme introvert, this is especially challenging for me, but it’s rewarding to see Abbott Elementary’s “Candy Zombies” address something that’s genuinely difficult. It’s not easy to make friends. It’s anxiety-inducing going places when you’ll only know one person. It’s, quite frankly, one of the hardest things to do, but simultaneously, it’s not something we ever talk about frequently. It’s hard to make friends in elementary, high school, college, and long after. Starting over, in any capacity, is always a most influential challenge, but a lot of times, it’s worth it. 

And right now, for Janine, it’s worth going to the party with Ericka, dressing up in Ava’s Marilyn Manroe costume and owning every piece of it. Additionally, it’s clear now that there are feelings for Gregory because as we watch women continue pursuing him, it’s evident that though she doesn’t exactly realize what’s happening, it stings a bit. Their friendship is special, but the reality is that it’s going to be challenging for both of them to embark on a relationship together.

Gregory and Janine in Abbott Elementary halloween episode
©ABC

There’s also something fascinating to note here as we look into their quiet conversation about how they’re both dealing with breakups. In many ways, Gregory and Janine are alike, but at the same time, they couldn’t be more different.

While we don’t see it happening for quite some time, maybe in Season 3 or 4, these quiet moments we get with them are a comforting reassurance that the two care immensely about each other. Gregory is just as concerned for Janine as she is for him. There’s trust between them, and perhaps, most importantly, they’re strengthening a foundation that relies on transparency and vulnerability. Together, they can (and already are) stronger.

Abbott Elementary’s “Candy Zombies” is a hilarious delight as it uses the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its advantage by having a kid dressed up as Thanos steal all the candy and disperse it to every student while Melissa is dressed up as Wanda Maximoff. We get to watch a tiny Mr. Johnson take on the adult version, and Jacob is the scaredy-cat in all of us, while Ava thoroughly owns her Storm costume. It also gives Sheryl Lee Ralph more brilliant opportunities to name-drop as she states only watching the Christmas parts of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Practical Magic without the witchcraft, and Hocus Pocus without Sarah Jessica Parker. 

Further Thoughts

  • THE THANOS REFERENCES WERE EVERYTHING. You get it. I AM INEDIBLE.
  • BABY THERANOS! BABY THERANOS! Let Barbara’s wrong be the new right.
  • “Don’t go to Salem. Or Boston. Just skip the whole state.” I HOWLED. Though I wholeheartedly disagree.
  • Marvin L. Winans III as Chad/Thanos owned this episode. The kid deserves all the credit.
  • Ashley and Melissa both dressing up as Wanda ??? I love.
  • “What kid shares candy on Halloween?” YES.
  • Also, I adore the fact that it was raining in this episode.
  • “I’m one of those people where chaos really affects my mood so I’m just going to call it a day.” This is the Ashley line I’m using next time to get out of work.
  • CANDY COMING FROM UNDERNEATH THE KID’S HAT WHILE HE’S DRESSED AS PADDINGTON!? LET ME BREATHE, ABBOTT. TONE DOWN THE GENIUS.
  • Melissa screaming while baby Theranos removes the “stone” from Mr. Johnson’s head. That was a cruel one, Abbott.
  • Ava actually did her job this week? It’s a Halloween miracle.

Now streaming on Hulu or ABC: What are your thoughts on Abbott Elementary’s “Candy Zombies?” Let us know in the comments below.

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Gissane Sophia View All

Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.

She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.

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