Spoilers ahead for the Season 9 premiere of The Goldbergs on ABC, called "The Goldbergs' Excellent Adventure."
Although The Goldbergs wrapped Season 8 back in the spring with a finale that was as funny as could be expected from the hit ABC comedy, there was an element of real-life tragedy due to the passing of George Segal, who played Pops from the very beginning. Segal died just a couple of days before filming finished on the eighth season, so the plot of the story didn't have time to acknowledge the loss. Instead, The Goldbergs dedicated the full Season 9 premiere to saying goodbye to Pops (and George Segal), and it found the perfectly bittersweet way to do it. And it involved an homage to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, in true Goldbergs style.
"The Goldbergs' Excellent Adventure" actually picked up some time after Pops died and was cremated, but it quickly became clear that the family wasn't handling the loss well. Beverly was lashing out at her friends (and confirmed that Pops died of natural causes rather than a car crash) while refusing to go walking with them, while Erica was refusing to talk about potential wedding venues. Barry was seemingly furious that Pops left him a pen while Adam got the Super Bowl watch, and Murray just wanted everybody to hurry up and get through their mourning.
So Murray recruited Bill to create a scenario to get the family to move on, which involved forging a letter from Pops' attorney to say that he wanted his ashes scattered. Instead of that simplifying the situation and the family just spreading the ashes by the tree in the yard, it turned into an elaborate quest to find Pops' favorite place. This led them from the race track to the jazz club to a diner, and introduced the friends he'd made along the way, as well as establishing how proud he was of his family.
There were flashbacks to some of Pops' best moments, and when the truth came out and the family admitted that they weren't handling the loss of Pops well, Murray came out and confessed that he's handling it the worst of them all because he hasn't been able to face it at all, because he misses Pops too. Then Adam revealed why the pen that Pops left for Barry was so significant, sharing that it was the pen he used to write all the letters to their grandmother while he was away during the war, always promising he'd come home safe to her. And by the end, Adam revealed that he knew Pops' real favorite place, and it turned out to be a tree after all.
Beverly revealed that Pops said that everything beautiful in his life "took root and blossomed" at that place, where he'd proposed to his wife all those years ago. And let me just say that there was not a dry eye in at least my house by the time Beverly was even halfway through the explanation! Erica decided that under the tree is where she wants to get married, and Adam ended by quoting Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure with "Be excellent to each other and party on."
And so the healing began, with Beverly joining her friends for walks and ready to take over Erica's wedding planning, Adam and Barry teaming up, and the family sitting down to watch one of the home movies featuring Pops. Plus, after the screen flashed a message reading "DEDICATED TO OUR POPS, GEORGE SEGAL" and flashed back to Pops happily playing his banjo, there was a tag of the whole family in track suits.
"The Goldbergs' Excellent Adventure" managed to pay a heartfelt tribute to both the beloved George Segal and Pops that definitely had its sad notes, but still served up the laughs. What better way to send him off, especially with a whole episode dedicated to him? The show definitely delivered what it couldn't at the end of Season 8, despite the tribute that was released at that point, and I would say it was the perfect way to start Season 9. The season will continue with new episodes on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC in the fall TV schedule moving forward.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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