Everyone might die in a fiery explosion of nuclear radiation in this week’s episode of THE GOLDBERGS, “The Day After The Day After.” Or I guess technically it’s the day after the day after The Day After, but details! Okay, so spoilers: no one dies in a fiery explosion of nuclear radiation in this episode, but the show does do a good job of mixing the historical references with the funny and heartfelt this week.
In an unusual but delightful change of events, this week gave us Beverly and Murray in separate storylines but equal screen time. Gotta tell ya, Murray and Beverly are just about the most beautifully chaotic characters I’ve seen in a sitcom and I could literally watch anything these two were in. Seriously, you could have them knitting in an episode of the Scandinavian sensation, Slow TV, and I’d still watch. In fact, let me go grab some popcorn while I daydream about that. Honestly though, Beverly mentioned something about Murray taking her dancing in this episode, and frankly, I’m pretty disappointed that wasn’t actually part of the plot line.
Also in this episode, Adam has his first kiss! His immediate reaction afterwards is absolute gold. And every subsequent time he gets kissed the profuse ‘thank you’s’ left me in giggles. What a great way to depict a first kiss. It’s a joke I won’t kill here by trying to over-explain it.
It’s that one time a year that Beverly cares about the most – Mother’s Day – and the kids are so excited to torture Beverly by pretending they don’t actually remember what holiday is coming up. It’s super silly because, come on, who is honestly that naive, but then again, this is the type of character joke that The Goldbergs thrives off of, and it works. It’s really funny watching Beverly come up with new antics to try and “subtly” hint at the upcoming holiday. Murray recognizes what’s going on, though, and quickly shuts down the kid’s fun. So the kids admit to Beverly that they know Mother’s Day is around the corner.
Around the same time, the very bad TV movie, ‘The Day After,’ is airing. The school has warned all the students not to watch the movie, so naturally, everyone does. Except, it’s not enjoyable, it’s just terrifying, demonstrating what would happen to a small town and it’s residents in the event of a nuclear fallout. Because this is 1980-something, the Cold War is a very real thing (let’s be honest, the Cold War is still kind of a very real thing), and everyone is terrified. The school holds an assembly to calm the students’ worries, but it only amplifies them when the teachers admit their own terror. Jackie, however, decides there isn’t any time like the present and kisses Adam. Adam is, of course, forever grateful. Jackie also invites Adam to her family’s lake house with her and her parents the next weekend. In order to go, Adam sets about wooing Beverly with a cheesey Mother’s Day gift.
Barry is also moved by his fear after ‘The Day After,’ and starts making plans for a pretend bunker that will never be built, and deciding who of the JTP members will be allowed to live inside it. Not everyone will fit, so the group has to pick the most useful people. This backfires on Barry, however, when the JTP realize that Barry has no useful survival skills, and Murray takes Barry’s place as leader of the JTP in the case of nuclear fallout.
Adam and Erica, meanwhile, are at odds, as both are trying to woo Beverly over with cheesey Mother’s Day gifts in order to manipulate her into giving them both what they want. In Adam’s case, he wants permission to go to the lake with Jackie and her family. In Erica’s case, she wants permission and an acceptance check to go to Emory University, which is in Georgia and really far away. Erica tells Adam he’s going to have to find another gift to give Beverly because Erica is going to sing Beverly a song in order to get permission to go to college. Adam blindsides her, though, and gets to Beverly first. But after Adam has Beverly all nice and buttered up emotionally, Erica swoops in with a double-blindside and asks Beverly for a check to secure her spot at Emory, effectively using Adam’s one granted wish he’d worked diligently to get out of Bevelry.
Murray sees that Barry is truly upset and scared by the movie ‘The Day After,’ and realizes he can’t jokingly go on letting Barry think he’s become the apocalyptic leader of the JTP. So Murray sits Barry down and has a heartfelt moment with him to ease the anxiety Barry has about a possible nuclear fallout. It’s a touching moment between the two.
Adam, meanwhile, triple blindsides Erica by making another movie to terrify Beverly into changing her decision about Erica going to college at all. This backfires in a major way when Erica confronts Adam about it in front of Jackie, and Jackie breaks things off altogether with Adam. In order to mend the relationship between Erica and Beverly, and help Erica get permission to go to Emory, Adam makes yet another movie for both Erica and Beverly. It works, and Erica gets to go to college! Erica also helps Adam out by talking to Jackie and convincing her not to break things off with Adam. He’s still not going to the lake house, though.
All’s well that ends well as the Goldbergs discover that ‘The Day After’ not only terrified everyone in town, but also in the nation. Even President Reagan watched the movie and decides to change his policy on building nuclear weapons. Pretty neat little historical tie-in there at the end.
Season 4, Episode 22 (S04E22)
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor