‘Abbott Elementary’ Finale: Tyler James Williams on Janine & Gregory’s Fateful Kiss

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Abbott Elementary Season 3, Episode 14, “Party.”]

Abbott Elementary‘s third season came to a close with a shocking turn of events in Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory’s (Tyler James Williams) relationship as she hosts a party for her colleagues.

The end-of-school-year celebration is carefully crafted as Janine designates different sections of her small apartment for specific people and activities. One individual who acknowledges her planning is Gregory, who clearly still has feelings for her despite being deterred from exploring things further in the previous installment.

When guests like Manny (Josh Segarra) and Olivia (Lana Condor) arrive, the tension between Janine and Gregory is further exacerbated as they continue to be unsure about where they stand with one another. As the party gets out of control, the lights go out, and Janine shares a quiet moment with Gregory in her bedroom. But just as they are about to kiss, Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis) gets the electricity back up and running.

Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and William Stanford Davis in 'Abbott Elementary'

Disney / Gilles Mingasson

By the time the party starts to die down, Janine mentions that not everyone has to leave, but Gregory exits with Jacob (Chris Perfetti), Erica (Courtney Taylor), and more. Before getting too far away from the apartment though, Jacob asks Gregory why he’s leaving, and Erica tells him that Janine rejected Manny, hinting that he is losing out on his chance to make things right.

Janine seems to feel the same because, just as she is about to leave her apartment to go after Gregory, he is knocking on her door and wastes no time initiating a long-awaited second kiss between the duo.

What does this mean for Janine and Gregory as we look ahead to Season 4? Star Tyler James Williams is breaking it down for TV Insider, below.

What is your initial reaction when you get a script like this where everyone is outside of school in this cramped apartment? Is there an added pressure to hit every beat?

Tyler James Williams: Well, whenever we leave the school, I know it’s about to get chaotic. There’s this running theme, when we’re at the school, there are things we can control. The minute we leave those four walls, all hell breaks loose. So I knew that by us leaving and going into Janine’s apartment the energy was going to be different. There were a lot of moving parts in a very small space, and I think that’s why Randall Einhorn stepped up and directed the hell out of that episode. So obviously, we knew it was going to be a heavy undertaking. I think we shot in Janine’s apartment for four days. But you’re working with some of the best people and we have a great shorthand, so we’re up for the challenge.

What was Gregory’s biggest obstacle when it came to finally connecting with Janine? Was it himself, Manny, or doubting Mr. Morton?

I think it was all of those things. We had to throw everything at him to get him to hesitate. I think being the actor, having to live in the character’s skin, I have to justify all of these reasons why he’s not just going for this. And I remember as we shot that last scene of Jacob and Erica telling Gregory to go back, I was at that place of I’m losing motivation as to why he’s not just going back in there. But I think it took all of that. It took Ava being the voice of reason, [which is] also really scary. All of that was needed to stop him. But I think ultimately the key to every pessimist is Jacob.

Chris Perfetti and Tyler James Williams in 'Abbott Elementary' Season 3 finale

Disney/Gilles Mingasson

Jacob really is Gregory and Janine’s number-one fan. Do you think having Jacob in Gregory’s corner for this situation was the ultimate tipping point?

I think Jacob is not only just advocating for them and pushing Gregory in the right direction, I think he’s also pulling strings. The fact that he has that conversation on the bus with Janine about Gregory still having feelings… I really truly believe that if we had to figure out what’s been going on in Jacob’s mind is that he’s been developing an ulcer watching this happen, and he’s actually trying to remedy this and realize that he won’t feel better until they just do this. And I think Gregory needed an advocate that was in the school for this. We’ve established that he has friends outside of the school, but nobody would really understand the situation like somebody there. So Jacob is integral to us getting to the finale. And I would say that without him we don’t get there.

Was there a sense of relief that Janine and Gregory have finally reached this point or should fans be cautious?

Well, it was nice to actually rest in the intention fully. I think Gregory’s been very in and out and I think for any actor, it’s difficult not to be all the way in on something because that’s kind of our whole job is to be fully committed. So to have a character who rode this line was difficult, and it was nice to have that moment at the door where he’s actually for the first time, fully committed to this. However, I think people see this as an answer. If anything, it brings up more questions.

Now there’s a whole bunch of other s**t we’re going to have to address. The only person who I think is aware that this might have happened is Jacob. How do we keep this quiet? No one really knows except for him. What happens in their dynamic at the school now? What is this? Are they in a relationship? Are we dating? How do you do that with somebody you’ve known for two years already? So that’s what I liked about [the finale]. It wasn’t a definitive period.

Speaking of Gregory showing up at the door. It feels like his journey this season has seen him be more assertive. What has it been like getting to explore that?

Yeah, I think that’s a big part of his journey. I think we forget that when we first come to Abbott. Gregory is around 25, he’s just now in his mid-twenties. He’s finding his footing as an adult, but I think also as a man, and I think we’ve been watching him find a way to be assertive in a different way that’s kind of calm and less neurotic. But this, to me, was a very clear step of him going after what he wants. I think initially he was very ambitious when it came to his job, but found that that wasn’t rewarding. Now he’s learning how to use that ambition for something else. So I’ve actually really enjoyed playing his growth as a man.

Gregory and Janine have their second kiss at the end of this episode. Was there pressure to up the ante after delivering a pretty iconic first kiss in Season 2?

Yes. Oh my god, we’ve talked about it so much. We just have to keep finding a way to reinvent this wheel and make it different. So we talked a lot about how do we make this one different. How do we make this one feel different? How do we make this one feel like this is a paradigm shift for them? And that’s what makes this collaborative process so great. It was a combination of conversations with Quinta and Randall in the camera department and then getting in there and pitching different ways to get it done. I’m amazed when it always comes together because we’re always so concerned that it won’t. But it was a source of anxiety for some time. We wanted to make sure that we landed it and we did it right. We wanted it to be fulfilling.

What would you like to see for Gregory and Janine as the show continues into Season 4?

Thankfully, they’re both very professional people who enjoy doing their jobs in a professional way. Incorporating feelings has made that difficult, but now these feelings are out in the open. I really want to see how they navigate, how much of their personal life comes into the workspace and vice versa, and how much of the workspace comes into their personal life. What’s the balance? Because you’ve always known each other in a professional sense and now you’re getting to know each other in a deeper romantic sense.

Abbott Elementary, Season 4 Premiere, TBA, ABC

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