TV Review: Girl Meets World (3×01-3×02) “Girl Meets High School”

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Part I

“We are going to own this place,” Riley and Maya declare, right before being paralyzed by crippling self doubt and fear of their taller classmates at Abigail Adams High School. Their fears are realized when a trio of seniors come by to make them stay in “The Hole,” the landing of the first floor staircase. The trio claims that they’re bullying them because they heard Maya say, “We were kings.” Lucas freaks out because he can’t protect them in their current environment.

Cory’s class: this week, Cory is talking about Abigail Adams and how the entire Adams family needed to stick together in order to survive a scary new environment. Get it?? Well, new class addition Marley is unimpressed by Cory’s thinly veiled life lesson. Apparently our regulars aren’t even listening to his advice this week, because they’re fighting about how best to handle the bullies. Riley, and by extension Maya, think they should stay in the hole because clearly the seniors are trying to teach them something. Lucas gets mad at Riley for having more faith in the seniors than in him and declares that sometimes she’s just too much for him. Lucas, Zay, Farkle, and Smackle all exit the hole.

Topanga’s Cafe: Riley and Maya realize how serious the situation is when none of their friends show up at the cafe to do homework that night. The trio explains that they hang out at the cafe all the time, but Riley and company were far too self-absorbed to notice. They explain that they put them in The Hole so that they would slow down and pay attention. Maya is unimpressed. “I don’t believe in you, but I do believe in her–thanks for coming, I hope you find another project,” she says. Farkle arrives to explain why everyone is upset, but it doesn’t move Riley. She plans on going directly back into The Hole, and she hopes that their friends will join. They don’t, and this episode closes with Riley crying in her parents’ window.

Auggie is about to start second grade, but not before Ava comes over with a pre-nup for him to sign that entitles her to everything and Auggie to the empty boxes in which everything came. Luckily, lawyer Topanga stops Auggie from signing the contract and gets Ava to spill about her latest scheme. Her parents are fighting more than they ever have and decide to get a divorce. Ava is worried that it’s her fault, but Cory assures her that it happens when people fight. When Ava’s father leaves, Maya assures her that it’s normal to blame herself, but that it’s not her fault. She advises Ava to stick by her best friend.

Part II

The second part of “Girl Meets High School” opens on Riley and Maya still in The Hole, discussing their loss of friends and how much Riley has been crying. “I hope Lucas has a VERY BAD day,” Riley says. Maya reaffirms her loyalty to Riley by stating, “I’d rather be a fool with you than anything without you.” Meanwhile, Lucas and Zay are overconfident in going out for the football team, while Farkle and Smackle are overconfident in going out for the Abigail Adams Society for Intellectual Advancement. They all get their butts kicked, physically and mentally. Lucas, Zay, Farkle and Smackle meet up to discuss their predicament. Lucas and Farkle insist that they can’t go back to Riley and Maya because they abandoned them and therefore don’t deserve their friendship.

Cory’s class: Cory teaches a lesson about the Alamo and how the sacrifice of those patriots was for the greater good of Texas’s future. Good news, no one is ever going to wrangle Cory’s disrespect for history’s timeline. The life lesson in all of this is you’re only as strong as the cause you’re fighting for–you can either stay massacred or realize that the battle has just begun.

Riley’s Window: Riley blames herself for going too Riley on this one. The trio comes to visit, because apparently they know where Riley lives now. I think these kids are creepy and obsessive. They explain that they also started as a group of six, but they took off on their own while their three friends took their time. It changed their friendships. “We just wanted you guys to be together–your safe place is each other.” It’s nice and all, but I still find it weird that they’re so obsessed with the three of them. The only thing I’ve liked about these three is that they mirror Riley, Lucas, and Maya’s situation and explain that they’ve never decided.

Topanga’s Cafe: Riley and Maya apologize to their friends for not realizing that something happened to them, while the rest of the gang apologizes for abandoning them. Riley and Lucas agree that they all need to stick together, since they’ve never gotten hurt that way. Over in Cory’s class, he reinforces this lesson, asking each kid how they’re going to meet their current challenges. He insists that they can’t get by based on the successes of their past, instead they must stick together and do good. The kids take his lesson to heart and leave The Hole together. The seniors look on proudly and ask them to pass the legacy on one day. Please, please don’t.

“I should just be able to stay home and eat cheese,” Ava insists, moping at the Matthews. Never have I identified more with a character on this show. To make her feel better, Auggie introduces Ava to his imaginary dog Scruffles. At first Ava thinks the situation is ridiculous, but quickly throws herself into the game. She tires of it eventually, but recognizes that while Scruffles is imaginary, her friendship with Auggie is very real.

Unfortunately, Girl Meets World did not have a strong start to the third season. Creating a hurdle that splits the friends at the beginning of high school makes total sense, but the setup was absolutely not executed well. Being banished to The Hole was a ridiculous problem to have, and those seniors just came off as weird and obsessive rather than wise. There are a multitude of other problems that could have come up between the six kids that didn’t involve a bunch of nosy upperclassmen. However, the way they handled Ava’s reaction to her parents’ split was good, especially how they brought Maya in to talk to her. Here’s hoping the next episode of Girl Meets World is more good than bad–and that we never see that trio of seniors again.

Boy Meets World Throwback Factor: HIGH–the exact re-creation of the Boy Meets World credits gave me so many nostalgic feelings, as did Maya’s “We were kings!” declarations and Cory’s plea that the kids go out in the world and “do good,” a la Mr. George Feeny.

Episode Rating: 4/10.

Bri is a 25-year-old born and raised in the swamps of Jersey. Just kidding, she lives at least twenty minutes from those swamps. She’s a publishing professional that moonlights as a writer. She enjoys going to concerts (anything from Rooney to Springsteen to NKOTBSB), roadtripping, and complaining that she truly belongs in the 1950’s, the 1920′s, or the 1980′s depending on her mood. She definitely owns more books than she should and reads every chance she gets. If you stop hearing from her, it’s because the book piles have fallen over and smothered her to death in the night. You can contact her at Twitter: @bri_lockhart