That Was the Cringiest Episode of ‘Abbott Elementary’ Ever

Was anyone else wincing during the entirety of this week’s episode of Abbott Elementary? A double date and the worst book club ever just plagued the teachers. No one makes it out unscathed. Well, except for maybe Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis), who always manages to end up on top.

We’ll start by highlighting the lesser of the two evils, which would be the new book club helmed by new school librarian Roz (Cree Summer) and Ava (Janelle James), who has just gotten back into reading. (In the same way that some TV characters have Letterboxd profiles, I’d like to see Ava’s Goodreads account.) This month, the book everyone is reading is Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

Everyone has a motive, heading into book club: Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) wants to spread the good word of the Bible, and Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) wants to prove she’d survive in an apocalypse. Jacob (Chris Perfetti) wants to prove he’s smarter than Mr. Morton (Jerry Minor), although he wasn’t invited even though Morton was. Ava and Roz, for the most part, just want to host the damn book club.

Everything goes haywire, leading the group to divide into several different factions who have to prove they’d survive in Butler’s fictional futurist world. Conspiracists Melissa and Mr. Johnson team up, along with unsuspected duo Morton and Barb, and Ava saddles up to Roz, who she suspects to be the smartest reader in the room. What exactly are they teaming up to do? Pretty much nothing: They just want to see who can last the longest after hours in the school gymnasium.

Ultimately, the three hottest heads in the school—Melissa, Barbara, and Ava—spend the entire night in the gym trying to outlast each other. Now, imagine what they’ll do when they read Lord of the Flies!

Although Jacob has been barred from book club by Ava, at least he has better plans for the light: He’s going to go on a date with Avi (Karan Soni), as well as Gregory (Tyler James Williams) and Avi’s paramedic friend Olivia (Lana Condor). Olivia, an over-enthusiastic doctor, has a lot of similar attributes as Janine (Quinta Brunson)—she seems perfect for Gregory.

ABC / Disney / Gilles Mingasson

But Janine herself is at the same Philly bar as the double daters. Gregory is thrown, spending most of his time zoning out and staring at her from across the room while the other three chat. Olivia grows less and less interested with Gregory—which is a bummer, because she’s really fun! I’ve ranted about the guest stars this season, but Condor is one of the best; hopefully, she’ll be back soon. Sorry, Janine and Gregory shippers.

Alas, there’s little hope for Olivia and Gregory, who are over nearly as soon as they begin. Gregory is so distracted that he drinks out of a ketchup bottle instead of his beer—things are rough. When Manny (Josh Segarra) appears at Janine’s table and sits on the same side of the booth as her, Gregory loses his mind. He stands up and shouts in the middle of the bar, attracting attention from everyone.

Oh, Gregory. What have you done? The only thing that could stop this train crash is a piece of duct tape pinned to Gregory’s mouth.

There’s really no choice for Gregory but to approach Janine’s table at this point, seeing as she’s now staring him down. Somewhat fortunately, happy-go-lucky Janine doesn’t seem to mind that Gregory is acting weird. Really, this makes the whole thing a little more romantic—Janine always gets Gregory, no matter how awkward he’s acting.

A photo including Chris Perfetti and Tyler James Williams in the series Abbott Elementary on ABC

Chris Perfetti and Tyler James Williams

ABC / Disney / Gilles Mingasson

That said, Gregory really stumbles into the point of no return as he prods Janine and Manny about why they’re here together. He can’t stop blabbering on about how he’s on a date and how it’s so funny that Janine is also on a date—but Janine only laughs in his face. A date? Manny was just deleting Janine’s district email. That’s all this was. Not a date!

Olivia is tired of Gregory at this point, so he’s lost his chance with two women on this night. Somewhat surprisingly, after everything goes down, Jacob ends up the happiest: He’s having a great time with Avi, who loves how messy Gregory is. There’s nothing like a good debrief after a wild night out, and it sounds like Jacob and Avi have a lot to gossip about—it might be even better than book club.

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