Abbott Elementary “Fire” Review: Far From Fine

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY - “Fire” - Barbara’s candle accidentally starts a small fire in the teacher’s lounge and a counselor suggests that she might not be handling the aftermath well. Meanwhile, Melissa rekindles her childhood dream of being a firefighter. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST) on ABC.
(ABC/Scott Everett White)

Abbott Elementary “Fire” Spoilers Ahead

Abbott Elementary Season 2, Episode 15, “Fire,” is about denying, holding on, and reminding viewers that no matter how strong a person seems, everyone gets scared sometimes. The series is always direct and a little on-the-nose with how it handles conflict, but that ultimately allows the lesson to stick the landing every time. It’s why it’s the type of show many of us could benefit from today. “Explain it to me like I’m five,” we all say it occasionally, don’t we? 

“Fire” is about a real fire and the symbolic one—it’s a picture of stress, fear, heartaches, and understanding that no one can be fine all the time. While someone like Barbara Howard might not understand the importance of a mental health day immediately, she’s one step closer in a way that will benefit everyone’s future, not just hers. Gregory proves he could be a great principal, and Janine is hopefully closer to realizing that she could use therapy too. We should also never underestimate Jacob Hill in the kitchen, and there’s apparently nothing a Schemmenti can’t do.

Abbott Elementary “Fire” and Fear

Barbara Howard in Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 15 "Fire"

“Pretending can make it harder,” Barbara tells her student at the end of the episode, and we could all benefit from hearing it. Barbara Howard is resilient. There’s no denying that fact. But it’s also a fact that even the mightiest fall. Taking the Christian approach here because of Barbara’s (and my own) faith, but when Jesus died for us, he knew that troubles would be ahead. He gave us grace for the very reason that should we fall, we’ll have the means to get back up again without having to earn something for it. And in the same way that we are given the space to pray for God’s guidance, we’re also fortunate to be surrounded by people willing to physically hold our hands through hardships. Still, we are but mere mortals, and sometimes the most challenging thing is facing our fears by saying them aloud.

Barbara, for instance, knows she has someone as incredible as her work wife Melissa by her side if there’s anything she needs. She could’ve told Melissa the truth about the health scare she and her husband were facing. But fear is a tricky little demon because it manifests in ways that make it difficult to open up. This detail is especially prevalent for a generation that didn’t grow up discussing the importance of communication and mental health as candidly as it occurs today. Sometimes, the mighty have to fall to see that it’s okay to feel the things they do—they need to deny and push back. But you could only do that for so long in a place surrounded by people who care because they’ll notice. And thankfully, Barbara taking this much more seriously than one should results in Melissa understanding that there’s something bigger that her friend isn’t saying.

Barbara and Melissa in Abbott Elementary "Fire"

The best part is Melissa doesn’t push because she knows Barbara. She goes trucking along about fire trucks and looking great to remind her friend that she’s here in whatever way is necessary. And seeing the women talk things through, however brief, is significant to show why people must say things aloud. Bravery isn’t turning our backs, running, or denying the fires, but Abbott Elementary “Fire” proves that courage is facing the truth within ourselves. 

And sometimes, that truth means we must take some time off to spend with our partners. (Or, however, one sees fit.) The way Barbara learns and accepts things is one of my favorite things about her character because it’s not only a rarity on TV but also a rarity within the Christian community. We also see this in “Egg Drop” when she chooses to see beyond how a parent dresses by digging deep into her own beliefs to find better ways of communicating and understanding others. Barbara is willing to see that the world isn’t black and white but more complicated. She has her beliefs and practices of doing things, but as I always say in my real-world conversations, if we as Christians are to believe that we’re each anointed with our talents, then why did God bless people with the resilience to be therapists? If He is the almighty, then surely, placing gifted people equipped to help us in our mental struggles was part of His plan too. We don’t question taking painkillers when necessary, but why do we hesitate to help our brains when they’ve entered spirals?

 LISA ANN WALTER in Abbott Elementary "Fire"
(ABC/Scott Everett White)

Mental health matters, and showcasing our passions and finding our voice matters. And sometimes, reading the room matters more than anything. Melissa might not be able to read the room when it comes to her kids outside, but she could certainly read the room when Barbara is concerned. She knows exactly what to do and say, which continues to make her character stand out next to Barbara. It’s why the two women are so perfect as friends.

While Abbott Elementary “Fire” doesn’t give us much follow-up from the conversations in last week’s “Valentine’s Day,” it appropriately gives us an inspiring episode worth its salt. These characters each have things to learn about themselves and the people around them. To be better as teachers as well as in their relationships, they each need to work on themselves first. Bringing in a counselor shows that the series cares about ensuring that teachers and students are both cared for and understood, giving each of them what’s necessary to feel safe at Abbott.

Further Thoughts

  • “I’m one minor inconvenience from putting this whole day in rice.” Ava remains a MOOD.
  • Gregory got to live his dream today. Good for Gregory.
  • “Someone’s trying to use cashmere and Jesus to blackmail Barbara!” I howled.
  • “Schemmentis have a rich history with firefighting. And fighting fighting.” I love Melissa forever.
  • Dramatic Gregory is my favorite Gregory.
  • “You are but a child.” We’re breaking Gregory’s heart today.
  • “I miss Ava.” Same, Barbara.
  • “She’s my rock.” OKAY JANINE, SAME. Insert crying emoji.
  • “This school is full of hazards.” “And birthdays.” God, I love this show.
  • “Son of a Bocelli, they’re delicious! Wipe the tape!” Those cookies sounded good, I would’ve tried one immediately.

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


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