Abbott Elementary “Valentine’s Day” Review: Signs and Timing

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY “Valentine’s Day” – On Valentine’s Day, the Abbott teachers discuss their relationships and plans for the holiday. Janine finds out one of her students has a crush on her and when turning to a colleague for advice, she inadvertently learns a secret about another teacher. Elsewhere, Ava sits in on Jacob’s Black History class after receiving a complaint, when “Abbott Elementary” airs WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST), on ABC.
(ABC/Christina Belle)

Abbott Elementary “Valentine’s Day” Spoilers Ahead

Love is in the air during Abbott Elementary Season 2, Episode 14, “Valentine’s Day,” but like a romance novel, we’ve still in the first few chapters. The show’s return from hiatus comes with many revelations, but not the ones we’re hoping for. Still, with this much longing (and not acting on it), along with the natural growth characters are going through, there’s no doubt about the fact that the show keeps getting better and better.

As the teachers prepare and share their Valentine’s Day plans, Ava sits in on a lesson then three with Jacob’s students, initially to see how a white teacher handles the Black History curriculum after a parent’s complaints. And in every way where it matters, despite the angst in this episode, it’s somehow even more hopeful than the winter finale, “Holiday Hookah.” Timing is everything, and as one of the critical themes in Abbott Elementary’s “Valentine’s Day,” it’s imperative to note that just because something looks dismal, it doesn’t mean that cylinders aren’t turning on the inside.

Valentine’s Day Signs

QUINTA BRUNSON, TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS as Janine and Gregory in Abbott Elementary "Valentine's Day"
(ABC/Christina Belle)

Thanks to Gregory’s (and Janine’s) shared best friend, Jacob, a tremendous revelation comes to light here. It’s hard even to call their relationship a slow burn when it took The Office’s Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly much longer to get together. (Don’t even look at me about Suits’ Harvey Specter and Donna Paulson. And surely, SVU fans would have something to say about 23 years.) But what we’re getting with Janine and Gregory are perfectly timed signs that showcase how exemplary they are for each other and how wrong they are for their current partners.

Interestingly, we can’t even call them “partners.” Not yet, anyway. Mo’s gift might’ve been expensive, but what’s the point if it’s not something Janine wants? And despite the thought Gregory undoubtedly put into the Lego flowers, it’s different from what Amber has interests in, which is ultimately why Gregory and Janine are so good together because even though they’re both blissfully oblivious to how the other feels, being together requires no effort.

Abbott Elementary "Valentine's Day" Janine and Gregory

As teachers, they’re constantly in each other’s orbit in a way outside partners won’t understand, and as friends, they don’t even realize how often they rely on each other. Finding the seamless comfort they have around each other isn’t something that can be replicated elsewhere, and it’s not something people can go off and search for. It’s about the right time, the right place, and the right person. It’s about trusting your instincts to know that when it’s meant to be, it’s going to find a way. And so much of the beauty in their relationship is that it’s all mutual. They aren’t workplace playful rivals like Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago were. They also aren’t like Parks and Recreation’s Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope

The progression of Janine and Gregory’s friends-to-lovers relationship is one of the best things on TV right now because it comes to light right in front of our eyes with a gentleness that’s so endearing that it makes it all the more distinct. It’s why we’re all itching to see them together, isn’t it? It’s why every part of their story works, even when it feels like threats are elongating their endgame further. It’s all about the work Quinta Brunson, and Tyler James Williams put in to show us that Jacob (and myself) could write essays about the longing the characters aren’t acting on.

Ava is… Growing?

Ava Coleman in Abbott Elementary Season 2, Episode 14
(ABC/Christopher Willard)

Ava Coleman is the biggest conundrum on TV right now, and Janelle James does a brilliant job of showing us why. She doesn’t want to dance to the beat of anyone else’s drums, but if she has to—if she sees that it’s what she needs, she’ll do it. She’s so undeniably selfish at times, but there’s simultaneously so much in her that shows heart, and the first signs of it are in “Step Class,” as well as in this week’s Abbott Elementary’s “Valentine’s Day.” She’s not a character who should ever change, and it’s clear that the series has no plans to do so. But gradual growth is incredible, like what we get in this episode.

Jacob can be a lot at times, but Jacob Hill tries to do the right thing more often than not, which is why having him be the one to get through to Ava works. The sheer reluctance to learn anything from him, along with Jacob’s genuine efforts to ensure that he recognizes his privilege, makes the episode much more enlightening for both parties. There’s progress to be made, still, but we’re headed in the right direction, that’s for sure.

Abbott Elementary’s “Valentine’s Day” is the best kind of return to the small screen because, more than halfway into the season, it knows where it wants to go and what to do with itself. All the stories matter to each of the showrunners, and understanding character journeys correctly to do better in relationships is undoubtedly of the utmost importance.

Further Thoughts

  • I’m not allergic to real flowers, but I’m going to need that flower Lego set.
  • My relaysh is sensaysh!” 
  • “I’ve never heard you utter a word and now you bust out ‘umbrage!'” I. HOWLED.
  • “I mean we’re only best friends!” Are you, Jacob? Are you?
  • THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF LONGING FOR SOMEONE AND NOT ACTING ON IT. I just wish Jacob and I went to grad school together.
  • “I know what it is!” Mr. Johnson revealing it all was everything in the break room.
  • “I love you.” “I love you too Barb!” Melissa being so lovestruck over Gary that she doesn’t notice the real message is actually the cutest. I love it here.
  • But also, Mo, of all the colors available, silver is what you went with??!!
  • Remember when “Fundraiser” revealed things about ribs and Gregory and Janine and we still don’t know? Yeah, I think about it too.

Now streaming on Hulu or ABCWhat are your thoughts on Abbott Elementary‘s “Valentine’s Day?” Let us know in the comments below.


Leave a Reply