Abbott Elementary – Season 2 Episode 15 “Fire” Recap & Review


In Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 15, a fire in the teacher’s lounge causes the school to be briefly evacuated.

As Ava decides to run away from the disaster, Gregory takes over as interim principal to handle the situation. The fire chief informs him and the teachers that it was Barbara’s candle that caused the fire while she stepped away to take a call.

While Melissa pesters the firefighters outside, trauma counselor Janet Elton arrives at Abbott to offer help to any students or teachers who might be shaken up. She asks after Barbara, who insists that she’s fine. Janet and Gregory, however, can tell that she’s burying her feelings about the incident.

When Gregory tells Barbara she has to go to the mandatory fire safety meeting, she initially refuses. No one got hurt, so she just wants to put this incident behind her. But Gregory insists she attend.

During the meeting, the fire chief tells the teachers that open flames are a hazard to be avoided. This upsets Barbara, who has been lighting candles for 20 years. Teachers engage in nonsense at Abbott all the time; but she does one wrong thing and she’s punished for it?

Melissa follows Barbara as she storms out of the fire safety meeting. Finally, Barbara confesses that her husband Gerald’s health has been poor. The doctor told them today that she’s in the clear, but she’s been so stressed. All she could do was light her candle and pray.

Janine and Gregory ask Barbara if she wants to talk, but she doesn’t want to–until a scared student comes to her desk. Barbara tells a student it’s okay to feel scared about the fire. Pretending can make it harder. She gets scared and upset too, and that’s okay.

Barbara then admits to Janet the fire was a result of stress. Janet tells her she can write her a day off, and Barbara accepts.

The Episode Review

“Fire” is far from a filler episode, as we get some valuable insights into Barbara’s character. However, it doesn’t hit the notes that usually make Abbott Elementary such an enjoyable show.

The comedy writing falters, leaving mediocre gags like Jacob’s carrot cookies and Melissa’s fire truck obsession to do the heavy lifting. Even the emotional arc written for Barbara doesn’t hit as hard as it could, as it leads to her connecting with a stranger and a student rather than one of the main protagonists (aside from an entirely too short conversation with Melissa).

It’s always a gift to see Sheryl Lee Ralph show off her acting chops, however. Hopefully she’ll receive better material to work with in the future.

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