Abbott Elementary fans have been waiting for a number of crucial moments. We were all waiting for Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory (Tyler James Williams) to kiss—thank goodness we got to witness that a few episodes ago, though we’re still waiting for them to date. We’re still waiting for Ava’s (Janelle James) online thrift store to become a real thing.
For the past few episodes, we’ve also been twiddling our thumbs in anticipation of meeting Janine’s sister Ayesha (Ayo Edebiri). Finally, in this week’s episode, “Teacher Appreciation,” Ayesha arrives in Philly. Off the bat, things are tense—Ayesha begins her visit by ditching her bags at Janine’s apartment to go hang out with other friends.
Luckily, Janine’s smart enough to call in reinforcements in the form of Jacob (Chris Perfetti) and Gregory. An awkward romantic interest and the corniest guy in town—definitely a good idea to bring these two in for backup. She enlists them in a board game night, where there’ll be no Settlers of Catan but instead “Drought,” a fictional high-concept game that involves pouring real sand into players’ hands and stripping them of water. (If you couldn’t guess—it’s one of Jacob’s favorite games. Go figure.)
Most of the episode is spent fighting; if we’re not watching beef between Ayesha and Janine, we’re watching the entire school fight over two 76ers tickets from the district. While the 76ers war plays out in big team meeting settings, with plenty of room for humorous asides, the feud between Janine and Ayesha is a more intimate, earnest argument.
It’s a level of seriousness we really haven’t seen before on Abbott Elementary, especially not with Janine. The pair get into it outside of Janine’s apartment at game night (while Jacob continues to pour sand into Gregory’s hands). Though we don’t get the full story, Ayesha seems to have abandoned Janine in Philadelphia while their family was going through a rough time. The pair eventually make up. There are board games waiting upstairs.
Still, Gregory seems intrigued by Janine’s personal life. After the pair storm out of the apartment together, Jacob raises his eyebrows at the situation. Gregory agrees—something’s up, and he wants to know more about what happened with Janine’s family. Seems like he really, truly, wholeheartedly cares about her—how sweet.
Though the sisters make up and all is right in the world (Ayesha even visits Janine at Abbott), clearly, there’s a darker side to Janine that we haven’t seen much of in past episodes. In the episodes to come—or rather, seasons, as the sophomore season will be wrapping quite soon—we’re hoping to get more answers on her backstory. Perhaps Gregory will get to the bottom of things at an intimate dinner, over some wine and a nice meal.
Since Janine and Ayesha have settled their past, too, does this mean Ayesha will return in future episodes? Edebiri would make for a fantastic recurring star on Abbott Elementary—if she’s not too busy filming The Bear, that is.
Abbott Elementary airs every Wednesday night on ABC at 9 p.m. ET, and is available to stream on Hulu the next day.
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