The lovely Nickelodeon collection created a mature, nuanced episode that deconstructed the chaotic relationship between its titular leads, to teach us vital lessons around atonement and also forgiveness.

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Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh” includes some that the most memorable moments in the canon of classic 2000s-era teenager sitcoms. The tale of 2 stepbrothers—goofy, bumbling geezer Josh Nichols (Josh Peck) and also popular, airheaded slacker Drake Parker (Drake Bell)—gave united state timeless catchphrases and also running gags that space still referenced this day through the bountiful online fountain of web memes. But there is one details episode—and one certain moment from that episode—that tho resonates through me, one that i can’t seem to shake off since of how it adjusted the way I perceived “Drake & Josh” and also how it controlled to expertly handle a serious problem within that silly, slapstick-heavy DNA.

In “Josh is Done,” the eleventh illustration of the show’s fourth and final season, Josh come late because that a chemistry exam after Drake forgets to drive him come school. In a fun little of physics comedy, a desperate, overly sweaty mockery begs his unforgiving teacher to let him take it the test, pleading from outside of the course as his teacher closes the blinds one through one. Drake watches his stepbrother"s humiliation native the inside, unbothered and unapologetic.

The ton of the episode shifts pretty easily after that: Drake come home and also asks Josh to bounce v him top top a bouncy ball he stole native the kid following door, but Josh, unnervingly calm and stoic, declines. The not just rejects to hang out with Drake, however renounces Drake wholeheartedly together a brother, remarking that he currently only look at Drake as just a roommate. Cue the box “oohs” from the audience.

Part of what provides this plot more compelling than the usual shenanigans Drake and Josh discover themselves in is the the personal stakes feel deeper. In almost every one of their misadventures, Drake is the one responsible because that wreaking havoc and is left unscathed, if Josh needs to save him and often bears the brunt the the blame. Even when both brothers room responsible for creating chaos, josh is still somehow the butt of the joke in the end. Through “Josh is Done,” the tables turn: Drake lastly gets what’s comes to him and he i do not care the major target the schadenfreude for once.

Initially in denial, Drake pertains to terms v the truth of Josh being “done” with him when he realizes the an obstacle of doing things on his own. Drake operation late to the movie theater because his car wasn’t fill up with gas, a chore that he relied ~ above Josh to undertake. As his stress deepens, Drake establishes a zit and also essentially spirals right into a pool of rage and also insanity. Meanwhile, Josh’s life improves tremendously without Drake: the aces his makeup exam (and is awarded full credit for doing for this reason well), it s okay along far better with his ceo Helen (Yvette Nicole Brown), spends an ext quality time v his friends, and also loses a long-gestating rash.

Even despite it is satisfying to see Josh lastly stand approximately Drake and break free from your vaguely co-dependent mold, it’s equally horrifying to watch the impact it has on Drake. He experiences a nightmarish station of It’s a exorbitant Life, where rather of seeing just how much worse Josh’s life is there is no him in it, the the opposite; life is so, so much much better without Drake. Together an audience, we space asked to identify with Drake’s pain simply as much as we are claimed to relish in it.

The episode’s scribe, Ethan Banville, whose composing credits also include other Dan Schneider shows favor “iCarly” and “Zoey 101,” delicately build this tension between Drake and also Josh towards a cathartic, devastating, and also unforgettable emotional climax. In chemistry class, josh replaces Drake v a new lab partner, forcing Drake come sit beside a mute nerd that is can not to help him. When Drake causes a chemistry accident throughout their assignment, the is shoved into a medical shower to avoid infecting himself and also others. Encountering the very same embarrassment as Josh from earlier in the episode, Drake, drenched in water and also shame, ultimately admits his immense guilt for hurting mock in front of everyone.

The generally confident, smooth-talking Drake stumbles v a heartbreaking apology, his tortured regret brought effortlessly by Bell’s performance. He takes responsibility for his actions and emphasizes the he demands Josh way more than Josh demands him. The generally unhinged mock is stunned and also silent, a reaction expressed v compelling restraint indigenous Peck. Rather than play this scene for cheap laughs, Banville provides a smart decision to let the drama the the moment unfold organically, a rare occurrence for a show as deliriously wacky as this one.

Their chemistry teacher Mr. Roland (Tom Virtue) calmly asks josh if he’d favor to pursue Drake and reconcile. Josh, still wrapping his head about what happened, declines. In the next scene, however, Josh walk reconcile with Drake at house through one enthusiastic video game of ping pong, a callback come the beginning of the episode. Again, Banville avoids watered-down sitcom clichés of characters just hugging the out and also moving on—although a gentler variation of their “Hug me, brotha!” catchphrase would’ve to be nice to see. Instead, he engages in something that is both subtle and also representative that the show’s spirit, having actually Josh forgive Drake with a wordless, discovering smile together the 2 reconnect.

In my mind, “Josh is Done” is unquestionably the ideal episode the the series, and also if i’m being fully honest, one of the finest episodes of television, period. It highlights not just the borders of Drake and also Josh’s dysfunctional antics, but grapples with the consequences of those antics. At any time Drake and also Josh—mostly Drake—landed in trouble, your punishments and also subsequent lessons were frequently temporary. Here, the punishment is way more brutal, yet the lessons feel much more earned. This isn’t to to speak you must completely embarrass you yourself in order to acquire redemption from someone you’ve wronged, but having the self-awareness to acknowledge the particular things you’ve done to hurt who is other to be valued and practiced. Together Drake learns, just saying “you’re sorry” isn’t enough to win Josh back; he requirements to suffer through what Josh has suffered v in order to obtain to the place.

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It’s a shame, then, that “Drake & Josh” never ever really returned to this kind of dramatic territory, in order to labeling “Josh is Done” through the unfortunate location of a distinct Episode. As most sitcoms tend to do, the present recalibrated ago to that is plot-centric rigid in lieu the more facility character exploration. Occasionally, the veered toward unexpected moment of poignance, like when Drake and Josh defend their nefarious sister Megan (Miranda Cosgrove) native a duplicitous teenager boy in “Megan’s first Kiss” or as soon as Josh decides to break up v his nemesis-turned-girlfriend Mindy (Allison Scagliotti-Smith) in “Mindy Loves Josh.” Thankfully, though, “Drake & Josh” take it a courageous course in challenging the relationship of the titular characters prior to it finished its run and the result is a worthwhile, meaningful examination of the little ways us hurt people and the big ways we have the right to make amends.