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It would have been hard for Speechless to top the last new episode, “C-H— CHEATER!,” but “R-U-N— RUNAWAY” was a solid follow-up.

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The first key point to its success is that it picks up right where the last episode left off. To paraphrase the inimitable Dowager Countess, it’s so disappointing when all the action happens off stage, so it was nice to see J.J. actually express his feelings to Kenneth—and major kudos to the “getting J.J. up the stairs” scene, because that was kind of amazing.

Secondly, I definitely expected J.J.’s return home to go a lot differently than it did, but I should have known Maya would be turned up to 11 trying to make it up to J.J., so it’s perfectly keeping in character for her to help him run away from his family, like any other kid might try to do if they got their feelings hurt.

Which leads to another thing I really appreciated—the pairings basically stayed the same as the last episode. I feel like not only did Maya and J.J. have some unfinished business, but Jimmy and Ray did too, so getting them to put on their robes and break down their walls was a nice continuation of the architecture conversation that made for such a beautiful and heartbreaking ending last episode.

But the best part was the montage of J.J. talking to Lee at the casino. That was so wonderful it made me tear up a bit. It’s also exactly what J.J. needs. His family can rah-rah him all they want, but it’s not the same as someone who understands what he’s going through telling him that things can be OK. It’s also even better that J.J. can see that Lee is living a good life, especially that he has a lovely girlfriend by his side.

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No, having a cute girl on your arm is not the end-all, be-all, but to any teenage boy who feels awkward or different, it’s reassuring to know that you can grow up and find someone who loves you, and J.J. is no different than any other awkward teenage boy in that regard.

In fact, it would probably do Ray a world of good if Maya could find a little grown-up Ray and show him that things will be OK for him too. Though, come to think of it, Jimmy is kind of that guy. He was probably a lot like Ray as a teenager and he landed Maya, so…

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Anyway, J.J. learns a valuable lesson from Lee—he can’t let his mom do everything for him, no matter how much easier that might be. It’s another good thread to continue from “C-H— CHEATER!”. In that episode, J.J. was caught relying too much on Kenneth and his teachers giving him too much help or leeway in school. Now Lee tells him not to let his mom give him too much help in life.

I hope this is something that continues over the last few episodes. J.J. should definitely be trying—and sometimes failing—to do things for himself, because that’s the only way he’ll ever truly be independent. And it’ll be fun to watch his family try to deal with that, especially Maya. No mother wants to sit back and watch their child struggle, but sometimes you just have to, which should make for some solid material as Speechless closes out a great first season.

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Stray observations

  • There are so many things about Kenneth I want to see more of, starting with “The Grim Leaper.” What an outstanding college basketball nickname. I wish we could see the writers’ room rejects before they landed on that one.
  • Is it asking too much that Lee reappears at some point? I’d love to watch his friendship with J.J. blossom, plus he was really funny. The taser gag was pretty great.
  • Dylan has been kind of off doing her own thing these episodes and that’s fine. It’s tough to fit her in and the writers have done a good job of finding her things to do that are funny, not too distracting and very in character. My one request, though, is that I feel like she’s the most under-developed of the three children as a character. We’ve had such great stuff with Ray and J.J. lately, so I’d love to get some meatier Dylan storylines in these last couple episodes.
  • “It’s in my eye! End this! Just get a gun and shoot me in the face!”
    The “eating a pepper as penance” thing was a little much for me, but Ray’s gag at the end was funny enough to make it worth it. Mason Cook is a champion screamer.
  • Ray: “I want a robe.”
    Jimmy: “…….. what? … Like a lady in a lotion commercial?”
    Ray: “No, like a boy in repose.
    Hey, nothing wrong with a good robe. I recently lost mine and it was awesome and it is irreplaceable and I miss it so much. SO MUCH, you guys.
  • “Good luck finding a wife who’s as good a mom as I am.”
    We should stitch that on a pillow.

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