Most Speechless episodes contain a well-blended formula of laughs and heart grabs, and this episode was no different–except for one anchor moment that caught us by surprise and left us reeling with feels. “Speechless” is like all sitcoms in that it values the sentimental and the comedic, but the general trueness-to-realism makes what could seem “cheesy” all the more effective.
This week, J.J. is getting “shipped” by pretty much the entire school. Multiple students continue to approach him and, with a dash of condescension, tell him he should date the new girl with cerebral palsy. Of course, the two are mutually uninterested in actually dating, but they decide to pretend to, with the plan of winning everyone’s affections and the honors of homecoming queen and king (then, of course, breaking up once the awards have been nabbed). Not only is the chemistry as actors perfect between the two–Nora and J.J., who are dubbed “Jora” quite quickly–but Nora’s sarcastic tone reads perfectly and her character is a fresh new addition that will hopefully stick around. It’s also a needed social commentary on the patronizing way that special needs people are categorized and labeled against their will, and expected to only associate with each other, even in an extremely personal and sensitive realm such as dating.
Of course, the episode wouldn’t be complete without showcasing our dear, obsessive Ray, who spends most of the episode trying to research 401k’s and future housing plans with the equally anal Taylor. The fact that two 14-year-olds are so intensely focused on managing their finances and adult responsibilities obviously is not impressive to Maya and Jimmy, the polar opposite, who take the two mini-golfing and watch them continue to overthink and overanalyze every move (when Jimmy hits someone with the ball, he mocks Ray and Taylor with Maya: “Oh no! What would we do if he sues? What if they take Ray’s college fund?”)
However, that heart-tugging moment that defined the episode was Jimmy’s revelation to Maya that he can’t go to Las Vegas or even a casino because of the guilt he feels about leaving Maya alone that night to get the news about J.J.’s cerebral palsy as a baby. Maya, who’d never been aware of this connotation he had with the place, is shocked. It’s another tic on the scoresheet for Jimmy, who has displayed again his good-heartedness and healthy conscience; his development as the flawed but loving father is now fully fleshed out.
Dylan’s storyline this episode was probably the most generic and expected–trying to convince the school to bring pranks back, and teaming up with some baby boomers on campus for a reunion–and one particularly annoying moment was when one of the naked old men ran across the football field (although that might be tied to the fact that I’m in the profession and I just KNOW no one in their right mind would earn themselves a sex offender registration over something as trifling as a high school reunion prank). Next week, we can look forward to more consistently silly shenanigans from our crew and warm vibes, all wrapped into a show with a larger purpose.
Season 2, Episode 6 (S02E06)
Speechless airs Wednesday 830 PM on ABC
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor