While this episode is once again Jack-focused, it also shows a vulnerable side to him, and when his students see it, they decide to step up and save the day.
Whitlock High has invited a local Toledo hero, Greg Miller, for a motivational speech. Greg apparently lost a toe in an attempt to climb Mount Everest, then went back and finished the job, and now tours giving motivational speeches about “finding your personal Everest.” (Complete with dumbass banner, “VIc-toe-rious.”)
Oh, and it turns out Greg was Jack’s high school bully, and since high school never ends, of course Greg is going to bully him some more. Jack tries to keep it a secret, but then Victor overhears them in the bathroom (and, for the record, Greg has a lot of insulting words for the students and faculty of Whitlock High).
It makes sense that Jack was a nerd in high school, of course. I mean, not even Dennis Reynolds was the golden god he thought he was, and Jack grew up to be a philosophy professor. But after Victor overhears him and can’t resist divulging to the rest of the class, Jack (whose earlier threat of murder didn’t have the impact he hoped it would) tries to spin it that he wasn’t bullied. He’s just mad that Greg is a liar. (Okay, I managed to get this far into the review without using “Pimple Butt,” but I can delay no longer.) Unfortunately for Jack, most everyone else at school, including the usually-reliable Durbin, is smitten with Greg.
Jack does some digging, but so do the kids. They find some old yearbooks, and with them, confirmation that Greg is a jerk. But they also find out just how much of a nerd Jack was. Marcus lays what is probably the most devastating– if also funny and accurate– line to that effect. “You played oboe. I play oboe. We’re o-bros!”
Jack’s first foolproof plan– getting a copy of the manifest of climbers– fails, but it shows the kids with their own eyes what a bully Greg is, so they team up to come up with their own plan– which involves getting Greg to help Marcus overcome his fear of tennis balls, while stealing Greg’s toe– leading him to melt down on stage at the assembly and get booed off.
And then everyone joins in on the group hug with Jack. Even though those are just a Jack and Anthony thing. Aww.
In the B-plot, the teachers and Helen decide to take back their power– for the teachers, this means never apologizing for anything; for Helen, it means asking for a raise– except she doesn’t actually want a raise, her devotion to the school being such that she wants the school to have the money. (Durbin knows this, and he still budgets money aside for her raise every year.) The Helen story is fun– after Durbin asks her what she would want if she won a prize on a game show, and she responds with a collection of Visionair luggage, he sets up a Price Is Right-style curtain reveal for that luggage– but it’s only hers if she agrees to the raise.
The teachers’ behavior escalates out of control– first from not apologizing for taking the last banana, to not apologizing for accidentally throwing a Sloppy Joe onto Dave, to Michelle’s adventures in dominating the hallway, which include both throwing coffee on Dave and kicking over a student on crutches. I really thought this plot would have ended with a smash-cut to Durbin disciplining them, but instead it just kinda ends.
Still a good episode, particularly as it concerns Jack’s continued growth and bond with his students. Jack actually opening up to the kids when he thinks they’ve betrayed him is a nice touch. He certainly wouldn’t have been willing to do that at the start of the series. Or most of season 1, at the very least.
- Sorry this is so late. I actually did see it on time, I just couldn’t finish the writeup in time. And then three days passed, and here we are. (Plenty of room for you to leave your thoughts, at least.)
- Durbin is sadly, easily impressed by Greg. “We went out for Shock Tops last night! I’d never heard of this beer!”
- “Well, I was the most popular donor there at the clinic, so, you know, the odds of these lovebirds being related is very high.” Got a lot of questions for Helen about that one.
- Speaking of, Helen’s story at the assembly deserves a lot of unpacking. “
- I can’t let Durbin’s Shock Top fascination end there: “Have you seen their logo? It’s an orange with a Mohawk. I looked him up. His name is Wedgehead.”
- Jack still isn’t ready for group hugs. “Ah, a lot of teenage smells happening.”
Not much in the way of GIFs, but a couple of memorable moments– my favorite was telling Jack “We’re gonna help you, Chief. Because you were bullied.” Even Jack’s protegé can’t abide his denial.