Cold open: Jack is furiously writing, attempting his philosophy treatise that he believes will destroy Miles for good. However, the rest of class is very bored. Anthony, at least, is coming around to Jack’s style of teaching: “Can we at least do a Miles Mission?” Jack suggests they take naps while he works. He asks if anyone has any lullabys, and Victor comes up with a bizarre original one.
Miles calls Jack, and aside from the subtle showing off of the fancy people he parties with– Flava Flav, Bill Nye, and at least one Sex Pistol– seems a lot friendlier to Jack than Jack is to him. Is this rivalry one-sided, or is Miles a phony? He offers to set up a meeting with his publishers after most places Jack sends his manuscript reject it, mostly for being too dark (as one might expect for a philosophy treatise about death). But a tossed-off line about “100 smiles in your pocket” catches their attention, and that’s the book they want. Jack tries to crowdsource ideas for it from the class, which goes hilariously poorly. Then he hears Helen on the PA: “Every frown is just a smile you’re looking at the wrong way.”
Jack invites Helen over for dinner to pick her brain for some ideas, then feeds her coffee. The ideas get increasingly bonkers.
The B-plot with the teachers is slight again, but they are pretty fun performers, particularly Lyric Lewis as Stef. Principal Durbin is trying to update everyone’s emergency contacts, because another teacher suffered an accident at home. Stef’s contact is Mary, but Mary’s is Michelle, which upsets Stef. They have a little tiff over it until Mary explains that Stef often expects her to do things without her agreement, and also that if she was in a real emergency, Stef would probably be right there with her, making her a poor emergency contact. “Remember the last time we almost died?”
Back in the classroom, Jack explains why he’s taking the money to write the smiles book, and his students rightly call him out on selling out. Jack takes the meeting, but can’t bring himself to sell the smiles book he doesn’t believe in, continuing to insist the publishers are a bunch of fedora-wearing middle aged frat bros. In the end, Jack comes back to class with no book deal– and discovers that the students have read his philosophy manuscript and really like it. And I don’t know what that expression Glenn Howerton does at the end is, but we haven’t seen it on Jack’s face before, and I think he’s actually surprised with his own satisfaction at reaching the kids.
This wasn’t the funniest episode of the show, but whatever, I like the cast enough that even less amazing episodes work for me, and I’m not gonna stop watching anytime soon.
- Colin wants to hear more of Victor’s weird original lullaby.
- Colin also gets the funniest moment when Jack asks the class what makes them happy: “Okay, an African-American, a Mexican-American, and a honky walk into a bar–” Jack: “Nope, we’re not doing this.”
- The B-plot does provide a great line from Durbin, regarding the emergency contact of the teacher who had an accident at home: “Turns out it was her ex-boyfriend… and current stalker. He already knew. Not a good guy.”
- The best of Helen’s increasingly unhinged suggestions for 100 Smiles in Your Pocket: “If you can escape the womb, you can escape anything.”
- Heather Watch: Only one line this week, but she gets a title drop: “It seems like you’re selling out, boss.” (It’s the second week in a row she’s called him “boss”; I think it reaffirms that she’s more on Jack’s wavelength than any of the other students.)
- In response to Jack’s continued insistence that the publishers are a bunch of fedora-wearing middle-aged frat bros: “No one here is wearing a fedora.” Jack: “You are a fedora.”
- Jack gets a smash-cut from the publishers’ offices to another chalkboard diagram of what happened: “So I was able to pee on Eggleston’s building, I popped an intern on my way out. There’s a warrant for my arrest out in New York.”
- Too bad Jack can’t go back to New York for a while, because he refers to Toledo as a “dead-end hell-town.” As the students remind him, the day before he called it a “dried-up turd-town.”
- “Why is Miles getting to hang out with a Sex Pistol? I wanna hang out with a Sex Pistol.”
- For anyone else who’s struggled with this: Miles Leonard is not to be confused with Meyers Leonard.