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April 20, 2023

Tensions run high at the Franklin Institute in 'Abbott Elementary' season finale

Two fan favorite characters finally reveal their true feelings in an episode that was filmed at the Philly museum in February

TV Abbott Elementary
gregory janine abbott elementary Eric Liebowitz/ABC

The Franklin Institute became the backdrop for a highly anticipated conversation between two fan-favorite characters on the season finale of "Abbott Elementary"

The Season 2 finale of "Abbott Elementary" had fans' hearts pumping faster than the beating of the giant heart at the Franklin Institute.

Philly's favorite sitcom ended its 22-episode second season with students and staff of the fictional school taking an overnight field trip to the Franklin Institute, which became the setting for a tense conversation between teachers Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory (Tyler James Williams). 

The episode, titled "Franklin Institute," was the first in the series to be filmed in Philadelphia, with production taking place in February at the iconic local science museum.

Spoilers are ahead for Season 2, Episode 22 of "Abbott Elementary."

During their night at the museum, Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) shows off her Philly prowess when she butts heads with a museum volunteer from out of town, and Ava (Janelle James) scares the students into thinking their teacher Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) is an alien.

The real drama reaches a head when Janine and Gregory finally talk about their feelings.

All season long, the show had been diving deeper into the will-they-won't-they relationship between teachers (and "just friends") Janine and Gregory, with the tensions reaching a boiling point in Episode 16 at a teachers' conference when the pair finally kissed.

By the time the field trip to Franklin Institute rolls around, Janine and Gregory are both single but are still not on the same page. Gregory hopes for more-than-friends with Janine, who feels wracked with guilt and not ready for a relationship especially after being called "selfish" by her ex, who happens to be Gregory's friend Maurice (Vince Staples).

After avoiding Gregory throughout the field trip, Janine finally agrees to speak with him beside the giant heart, because where else would a pair of Philadelphians define their relationship? For the first time, the fan-favorite duo admit to having strong feelings for each other. 

Despite this, Janine tells Gregory that she does not want to hurt him and would prefer to focus on herself for a while, and the two walk away from the conversation remaining friends. The end of the episode seems to hint that Gregory is ready to move on to new beginnings.

According to initial reactions posted to Twitter, fans are less than thrilled with Janine and Gregory choosing stay just friends, even if it's only for now.

Brunson explained the choice to end the season, and the chance for a relationship between Janine and Gregory, this way to Variety.

"Hearing to her face that someone found her selfish, because she’s such an overthinker, it immediately becomes a race to not harm Gregory, or harm this thing that she thinks is going to be very special," Brunson said. "To me, it’s small, but it’s big to her. She looks at Ava as selfish; she doesn’t want to be there. But if she is, she needs to deal with it and not hurt anyone ever again, especially Gregory."

Thankfully, "Abbott Elementary" has been renewed for a third season on ABC, so the slow burn between Janine and Gregory has more time to simmer or fizzle out. Until then, fans can stream all episodes of "Abbott Elementary" on Hulu.

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