Questlove Finally Brings ‘Abbott Elementary’ Out of the Dumps

Gilles Mingasson/Disney
Gilles Mingasson/Disney

The second coming of Christ has arrived on Abbott Elementary: Ava Fest is back. Now named “2 Ava 2 Fest,” this year’s celebration—which is just Abbott’s Open House rebranded as a celebration of Ava (Janelle James)—plans to feature Questlove as a headliner. But after Lauryn Hill didn’t show up at last year’s festival, can anyone trust Ava to actually pull it off now?

No, of course not. But Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter), and Jacob (Chris Perfetti) are all aware of this and try to do damage control before too many parents get their hopes up. But Ava is so delusional that she thinks an appearance from Questlove is actually happening—they’re friends! They go way back! Ava almost “Yoko Ono-ed” The Roots, and Questlove owes her for not following through. He’ll show up.

Is Janine Really Leaving ‘Abbott Elementary’ for Good?

But Melissa, Barb, and Jacob are still uncertain. To put a few fires out before they even start, Jacob whips out Canva—of course Jacob is a Canvanator—to make a new graphic. “QUESTLOVE WILL NOT BE PERFORMING,” reads the new invitation for 2 Ava 2 Fest. They’ve saved their asses this time around, and to replace Questlove, Melissa promises to do a few questionable celebrity impressions to really woo the parents.

Ava is really peeved that Jacob went behind her back in making that graphic and confronts him at the festival. Did the teachers really not believe her at all? Well, they should have: Right at the end of the episode, Questlove arrives. He and Ava are great friends. Questlove performs to a less-than-packed gymnasium full of children and a handful of parents—perhaps leaving him on the invitation would’ve led to a more packed crowd.

Questlove’s appearance is full of joy because, as he takes over the stage, Janine (Quinta Brunson) also presents a huge update: She’s decided to quit her job at the district and move back to being a full-time teacher at Abbott.

Although Janine takes the entire episode to decide—and harsh updates from the superintendent (Keegan-Michael Key) don’t help the district’s case in convincing her to stay—a card from Barbara and her class is what really solidifies Janine’s choice. A handful of memos from the students telling Janine how much they miss having her around is enough to settle the debate. Janine belongs with her kids, not with a flurry of adults who fawn over new desktop computers and ring lights.

This is a great decision for Abbott Elementary—like bringing Jim back to the Scranton branch on The Office after some time away from his usual pals. Season 3 has presented some fun challenges for the Abbott family, namely Janine’s departure; now, welcoming Janine back will feel like seeing your friends back at school after a long summer away.

‘Abbott Elementary’ Guest Stars Are Ruining the Show

Ava got one major win and one major loss in this episode. Sure, Questlove came and impressed everyone, but does Janine really have to come back? It’s great to see all of Janine’s old friends elated to see her again—especially Gregory (Tyler James Williams)—but even better is watching Ava roll her eyes at the announcement. The feud is back on.

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