Speechless S3E19 Review


Last week, Jimmy and Maya realized they need to be more financially responsible -- not only to JJ to help with his SSI situation (as he received and spent about a year's worth of backpay, but he had neglected to report his earnings from his part-time supermarket job), but also to each other regarding their own mounting debts and the looming specter of bankruptcy -- and they decided to give up their status quo (of trying to find little moments of fun for themselves) so they could focus more on their work. Easier said than done, as it turns out: This week, Maya's difficulty keeping her temper in check -- previously addressed in eps like s2e8 "B-I-- Bikini U-N-- University" (when she got a taste of what Jimmy goes through at the airport letting people "walk all over [him]" and realized she just doesn't have his "flair for being emasculated") and s3e13 "F-A-- Fashion 4 A-- All" (when both she and her pal / partner Melanie ended up having to apologize for many of the fights they'd picked over the years) -- poses a very real threat to her and Melanie's clothing line.

After Maya lashes out at a banker for questioning her "rosy" projections, causing the business to lose out on a loan offer, Melanie (Sarah Chalke) finds a potential investor -- Blair, an old business-school friend who inherited a fortune after losing his parents in a plane crash -- and with her and Kenneth's help, Jimmy teaches Maya a way to control herself so she doesn't screw up this deal. As he explains, "When you work a dead-end job like mine, you learn a thing or two about licking boots, or you die"; later, he gives her his lucky laser pointer from his days as an architecture intern in graduate school, and she thanks him for his "lessons on dullness" (what he calls "professionalism"). When Blair first arrives, he reveals that he and Melanie had dated before marrying other people but is now (like her) divorced; this makes Kenneth insanely jealous but ultimately it's Maya who snaps, after Blair suggests the ladies switch out their own sons with professional models on their poster.

After Blair leaves (with Melanie and Kenneth following), Jimmy calls out Maya for blowing a big chance and not taking her job seriously: Around the time they had JJ, he left his promising career to take an airline baggage-handling job that he knew would support his family; and now that she has the luxury of pursuing a personally fulfilling career (creating designer adaptive clothing) mostly on her own terms yet doesn't seem to appreciate it, while he continues to miss getting to do work he actually cares about, he's understandably infuriated. His speech makes for one of the most powerful moments he's had all season; and what follows is one of his loveliest scenes yet with Maya, as she admits he was right and apologizes, adding, "I never considered that while I was chasing my dream, you were getting left behind. But we're gonna change that, Jimmy -- you have waited long enough." While the show's first two seasons each had an episode near the end that touched on Jimmy's architecture background for maximum emotional impact (he opened up to Ray about his sacrifice in s1e19 "C-H-- Cheater," and enjoyed an opportunity to design additions to a neighbor's home in s2e17 "A-C-- Action"), this time -- especially now that Maya has her business and JJ may be leaving home for college soon -- it looks like he might finally be able to pursue his dream again in earnest. (The closing-tag reveals a video resume Maya has made for him with the kids and Kenneth.)

Meanwhile, JJ gets his first lesson in compromise with his girlfriend. As he tries to show her the adorable prom-posal video his family and Kenneth helped make for him, Izzy (Kayla Maisonet) declines his invitation -- she worked on the Prom Committee and is still upset that her idea for a Grease theme was rejected in favor of a "heaven" motif (suggested by a member whose mother's frozen-yogurt shop the rest of the committee loves). JJ insists she go with him anyway, and his pushiness angers her; but despite his threat to find another date, he tells his siblings he might as well join in her "protest" plan (she wants to have a viewing of the movie with some friends) because it's taken him so long to find a girl who likes him, he's not going to mess that up over "some dance." This bothers Dylan, who feels her brother shouldn't have to give up what he wants ("prom-comise"); Ray suggests taking someone else to the prom, and Dylan agrees, hatching a plot to make Izzy jealous. Even Maya gets involved, helping them address and send the prom-posal video to several of JJ's celebrity crushes; and he quickly receives an acceptance from Cassidy Chambers (actress-model-singer Bella Thorne), a child star-turned-"immediate serious thespian."

On the way to the school, however, Cassidy admits she could use some of JJ's insight about the disability experience for a film she's working on... that sounds hilariously awful in every conceivable way: She plays a would-be dancer who gets hurt, ends up in a wheelchair, and considers suicide before she's miraculously healed; it's no wonder, then, that she has a wheelchair dance troupe following her around in protest of the project. During the prom, Ray and Dylan see that Cassidy and JJ have no chemistry, but they have them pose for some pictures to post on social media where Izzy will find them; when the plan works and Izzy is on her way, Dylan and Ray confess of their scheme to Cassidy but JJ chooses to stick with her, wanting Izzy to actually see them together in person, and Cassidy (in a fit of newfound "woke"-ness) gladly goes with whatever JJ wants because "I, the able-bodied person, am no longer making decisions for the person with a disability!" Unfortunately, Izzy does see the pair when she arrives, but rather than confront them she retreats to a closet in the Drama room; the DiMeo siblings go after her, and JJ admits he should've gone with his original compromise... but then figures out a new, better one. Later, after Dylan convinces her to return to the prom, Izzy learns that JJ has realized just how much her Grease idea meant to her when she finds him dressed as Danny Zuko...

Musical Moments: ...And "You're the One That I Want" by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starts playing (Cassidy sings along, wildly off-key, and the wheelchair dancers that had been protesting outside join JJ and Izzy on the dance floor); earlier in the episode, Kenneth sings "Fly Me to the Moon" as JJ first asks Izzy to be his prom date.

Next Week: Maya and Kenneth clash over JJ's needs, while JJ gets into some mischief with Dylan and Jimmy in "ON THE R-O-- ROAD A-G-- AGAIN."

Grade: 10/10. The A-plot that lends this ep its title is utterly delightful -- Ray and Dylan are great siblings to their big brother, JJ/Izzy continue to be sweet, and while I don't recall having seen Thorne in anything before, I thought she was a total hoot as the ditzy yet well-meaning Cassidy -- but it's the B-plot that packs real emotional punch as it points Jimmy and Maya toward a new life.

Bonus: A couple articles about Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox -- which was completed earlier this week, and might possibly affect the renewal chances of both Speechless (co-produced by ABC and Fox) and its Fox-produced TGIF mate Fresh Off the Boat as they're now fully owned by Disney/ABC.

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