This is the first episode that explores both sides of independence in the DiMeo family–JJ’s independence from his family and the DiMeo family’s independence from the concessions they have to make for JJ.
The A story of JJ’s day of freedom and the special treatment that he and Kenneth receive was well done. The exploration of special treatment, and the joys and power of it going to Kenneth’s head was bound to happen at some point, and the outcome of something going wrong was inevitable. Fowler’s facial expressions were brilliant and provided the perfect opportunity to showcase his acting chops, as this is the first time we see JJ angry.
This particular development of JJ and Kenneth’s relationship when it comes to boundaries needed to be explored and was done with the right amount of realism without being preachy. I loved the ending of this story with JJ driving like any other 16 year old boy who has never driven before, I would like to know how he managed using the accelerator and the brake, however since the use of his legs and feet haven’t been directly addressed, I can give it a pass.
Like the issue of boundaries in JJ and Kenneth’s relationship, the DiMeo family dynamic without JJ’s presence was bound and needed to be addressed at some point. I found the fact that they all constantly felt guilty about having fun without JJ to be predictable, but I did enjoy the paintball scenes and the discovery of how Maya’s charm affects those around her.
I felt that all of their guilt and Maya’s inability to have fun, perfectly showcased the effects that having a disabled family member has on the dynamic of the remaining able-bodied family members. I especially loved the paintball scenes, as it was great to have scenes in a location outside of the family home and the school, and Maya’s declaration that she broke her arse at the ice skating rink, as it was one of those hilarious one-liners that you don’t see coming.
I felt that this episode was the best so far, as this is the first episode where both the A and B stories interweaved seamlessly but were also solid as independent stories.