“Recess” – Lost Leader (EPISODE REVIEW)
When a plan to retrieve a lucky baseball bat fails for the Recess gang, TJ blames himself for it going wrong, vowing to never be a leader again, but Gretchen, Vince, Gus, Mikey, and Spinelli can’t come up with a good plan without him.
TJ’s distinct role has always been the leader, so seeing the poor guy beat himself up about it is sad, we know he really is the best leader for this rag tag team, but sometimes the smallest hiccup can make someone feel insecure. TJ has always been the selfless hero too, so of course he’d immediately blame himself, especially when his failed plan resulted in a casualty, it makes sense that he’d be this angry at himself.
It is fun seeing what kind of plans that the gang come up with themselves, each one failing to see the drawbacks if their wild ideas, but it’s the flawed logic in their suggestions that highlight TJ’s importance. When it boils down to it, the gang need TJ for his clever imagination, as their strengths aren’t suited for leadership, they all have their own talents or skills. TJ knows how to find the right balance of possibility and creativity, plans that make sense yet retain a child’s imagination.
You maybe wondering why this lucky bat is so important? Well, you see, the gang’s rival Lawson bets that they can’t retrieve the bat, so much so that he’s willing to challenge them to a game the next day. This makes the mission more than just a simple rescue, it’s a race to outwit the cocky Lawson, thus adding tension to the need to find a plan.
However, the gang do come to the humble conclusion that none of them are born leaders, graciously accepting the truth, and they instead focus on helping TJ. The gang put on an intentionally ridiculous heist for getting the bat, each kid doing something hilariously stupid as part of their fake heist, while they all pretend to act like TJ is useless after all, and this makes Teen finally realise how hard he’s been on himself.
While this is technically reverse psychology, it’s all done out of love, plus the gang do end up confessing their true intentions by the end. Sometimes, we do need our friends to make us see how silly we’re being when self blaming, and that our guilt is really actually uncalled for when someone else puts it into perspective.
The episode concludes, by saying that just because we make a mistake when doing something we are usually skilled at, doesn’t mean that we are completely bad at it, it’s only human. This is a terrific lesson for perfectionists to relate to, teaching that high standard results can’t ALWAYS be consistent, as even the best of the best can miss the mark, and expecting 10/10 every time is unhealthy.
Interestingly, this was the last ever episode of “Recess”! Three straight video films kept the franchise alive shortly after (two of which were technically just feature length clip shows), but this was the last episode of the actual TV show, and I think it’s nice that the series concluded with an episode that reminded fans why TJ was so important.
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