Photo: ABC

Speechless didn’t quite pack the same punch with “M-A— MAY-JAY” as it has with the last three new episodes, but it was still a perfectly solid offering. It also gave Kenneth some great material and any time that guy gets to shine is a thumbs up.

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The gist this week is that J.J. wants to go to camp this summer instead of spending his vacay doing everything with his mom. In typical Maya fashion, she does not take this well, but of course eventually realizes that J.J. needs to try things like this, whether it’s “successful” or not—because the real success is trying at all. It’s a bit sitcom-y; Speechless is usually able to pull off a more complicated A-plot with the deft writing. But Micah Fowler and Minnie Driver really sell their scenes (as always) and it makes it more palatable.

The best part is what gets her to realize J.J. should go to camp is that he dislocates his knee falling out of his chair and needs surgery, which sends Kenneth into panic mode. He’s just not prepared for what minor accidents can mean to his little buddy and it’s adorable watching the “rookie” freak out.

There’s also a nice tie-in to the C-plot. I definitely appreciate the way Speechless can interweave the DiMeo family members’ various shenanigans. This week it’s that Jimmy realizes the place he can impress his fancy friend Dane is none other than… the hospital, which is both hilarious and also makes perfect sense. Of course the DiMeos would be hospital regulars and Jimmy would definitely be the most popular among them because he’s so friendly and likable. That tracking shot of him greeting everyone was outstanding.

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As I said, it was a perfectly solid episode. It didn’t pack the emotional punch of the last few weeks, but they can’t all be home runs.

Stray observations

  • “They warned me about the crazy. No one prepared me for your heart.”
    Has a more accurate observation of Maya been uttered on the show?
  • Honors modern dance? What kind of public high school is this?! I mean, I went to a great public high school and that sounds completely absurd to me.
  • “Ray, I’ve done a pretty good job so far of staying out of your shame radius, but the splash zone on this one is just too big.”
    If I start a band, “Shame Radius” is near the top of the name list.
  • Speaking of Ray and Dylan, I liked their plot this week, but it just adds to my feelings of needing more Dylan exploration. As a bit of a tomboy growing up, there comes a time in a teen girl’s life when you can no longer beat the boys—or even just keep up with them. Obviously this is a bit much to resolve in one episode, but it would have been interesting to dig into that a little more. Ray is a boy, he’s older and he’s got about five inches on Dylan, so it’s not a huge surprise he’s a faster runner than she is. But that could have been a huge deal for her, ripping away her identity and all that—which the show briefly mentioned but never really got into. I realize Speechless isn’t really about Dylan and her issues, but I do see unexplored potential with her character all the time.
  • “I am so sorry, I didn’t get it. Don’t send him to camp, protect that child! Lock him away! I judge you for letting me near him, you don’t know me! Who am I? Some groundskeeper you met off the street!”
  • “Darling, you will do whatever you want in your heart. Your body doesn’t get a say.”
  • “So we’re eating steaks that were intended for mothers who have just given birth? This. is. awesome!”
  • Next week’s episode (and finale, sniffle) is titled “C-A— CAMP,” which is great. I hate when shows drop threads from one episode to another, so I can’t wait to see the family sending J.J. off to camp, and hopefully Season 2 will kick off with flashbacks to his camp adventures.

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