Speechless S3E2 Review

"L-O-N-- LONDON (Part 2)"

By the end of Part 1 of the s.3 premiere, Maya's dad still hadn't learned her real motive for coming to see him -- she needs a loan to buy the house from which she and her family had been evicted a month or so earlier (now on the market again after its buyer has backed out). Not wanting to ruin their newly rekindled bond -- nor to prove Martin right in his fear that he would only ever see his daughter again if she wanted something from him -- Maya schemes to get the money while avoiding telling the truth, but unfortunately, she makes the mistake of reassuring Ray that she's already been promised the money and then warning him not to thank his grandfather ("It's a British pride thing").

Much of this plot plays out during a family reunion Martin has quickly organized. In light of the s.2 Thanksgiving episode -- in which the image-conscious Ray was willing to do anything to impress his mom's pretentious mother (from gleefully bingeing her favorite show, a "less-fun Downton Abbey" drama, to having his then-girlfriend pose as his sister) while brash athlete Dylan couldn't even be bothered to learn a bit about soccer for the occasion -- I found it rather ironic that Dylan would win over her distant relatives with little-to-no effort (primarily through her striking resemblance to a beloved, deceased family member) while Ray wouldn't be able to connect at all. Even so, it's his turning to Martin for advice and taking the suggestion to be "gracious" too literally that leads to him spilling his parents' secret -- which in turn leads to Martin calling Maya and Jimmy's bluff (when they lie about the eviction just now happening during this London trip, rather than being the main reason for the trip in the first place) and forcing Maya to make a difficult choice between love and money.

As the DiMeos ponder this dilemma back at their hotel room, Maya's stepmother, Frances (Liz Robertson), comes by to reveal that Martin is actually broke and she doesn't want his renewed relationship with his daughter to be based on a lie. Maya then confronts her father, claiming she'd rather take his money and cut him out of her life; but in a quietly satisfying moment (after all the rising tension that preceded it throughout the episode), the pair ultimately decide to drop their game and just be straight with each other.

Meanwhile, as Kenneth tries to make the most of this trip by seeking out a "whirlwind romance," JJ offers to be his wingman -- but he has an ulterior motive: Since the school district will no longer pay for Kenneth's aide services once JJ graduates, JJ wants to be able to offer him something as a friend so Kenneth will still want to spend time with him. But while they may not have their post-high school plans figured out just yet, Kenneth (in a lovely little scene) gives JJ some much-needed reassurance that they'll always have their friendship, no matter what.

Speaking of friendship... I had a good feeling Jimmy's punk fandom (which I've discussed elsewhere) would come into play at some point during these London episodes, and it finally does when he finds a kindred spirit in Rowan (Adam Campbell, formerly of Great News) while visiting a pub: Beyond similar musical taste, they both feel like "ineffectual waste[s] of space" (Jimmy's still down on himself about losing his family's home, Rowan has recently been laid off and reduced to working for his father-in-law) and lament their lack of adult male friends (as life gets "in the way"). After they attend a show at a punk club where Jimmy had played some 20 years earlier with his old band (whom I'd been wanting to know more about since the middle of last season, when Maya mentioned them in s2e9 "S-T-- Star W-- Wars W-- Wars"), Jimmy spends the night at Rowan's place and accidentally leaves his phone there; later, when returning to retrieve the phone (and introduce Ray and Dylan to his new friend), Jimmy is dismayed to learn that Rowan isn't quite as "friendless" as he'd let on. With his kids' encouragement, though, Jimmy makes the effort to reconnect with his own friends / former bandmates -- which ends up giving him a bigger "win" than he ever could've imagined as they, upon learning of his housing situation, offer to put up the money to help out their old buddy.

Musical Moment: To celebrate the DiMeos moving back into their house, Jimmy and his band reunite to perform a punked-out cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."

Fun Facts: Minnie Driver (Maya) and John Cleese (Martin) previously played an alliteratively named daughter-father duo (Lorraine and Lyle Finster) on Will & Grace; the young-Jimmy photo at the punk club is actually John Ross Bowie with his '90s band, Egghead. (Not-so-fun fact: Despite starring a Brit who still has a considerable following in her native country, Speechless has yet to find a home on UK television.)

Next Week: Maya fears for JJ when he decides to celebrate Halloween by attending an outdoor rave in "I-N-- INTO THE W-O-- WOODS."

Grade: 9/10. I found Part 2 a little shorter on laughs than Part 1, but longer on sweetness and heart; I especially look forward to JJ and Kenneth navigating their last year at Lafayette High and starting to think about their future plans, and of course I'm always down for more insight into Jimmy's punk past, plus I also hope to eventually see more of Maya's delightful dad now that they're back in each other's lives.

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