Speechless–Season 1, Episode 9 (S-L-Sled H-O-Hockey)

This episode again pulled back another layer of the ‘onion’ of the aspects of a special needs family. Their special needs child playing competitive sport.

JJ’s desire for the thrill of competition is understandable, even more so when people patronise him and constantly let him win. Jimmy’s own overprotective nature is hinted at when he takes JJ to the ice rink only to show him how to play a dated arcade game, however it was a nice segue to introduce the viewer to the world of sled hockey. I read online that Micah Fowler plays sled hockey in real life and I personally enjoy when writers’ incorporate parts of their ‘real life’ into a show without going over the top.

What I personally enjoy about this A story was the fact that the roles were reversed between Jimmy and Maya. Maya is known to be overprotective and fight for JJ’s rights to have the same experiences as everyone else, it was nice to see that Jimmy play that role for once especially as we haven’t seen him do so overtly. Again another part of this layer of the onion is Maya reminding Jimmy that as their parents they have to encourage JJ more than anyone as the world will try to discourage him, again showing with subtlety another painful reality of a life with a special needs child.

I felt that the two subplots of Maya and Kenneth in the First Aid class, and Dylan and Ray finding a crawlspace in their bedroom were a little weak on their own, however they both filled the episode nicely.

While Episode 2 focused on the development of trust between Maya and Kenneth, this episode showed more development in their relationship with Maya feeling threatened over losing Kenneth. I found Maya’s efforts to relate to Kenneth a little cringeworthy, however it paid off in the end with the sweet moment of Maya giving Kenneth a drawer in the bathroom and allowing him to shower in the house. Maya seeing Kenneth naked in the shower earlier which prompted the drawer-giving and Ray popping his head out of the shower curtain to comment on their bonding, were hilarious comedic moments.

I did enjoy the discovery of the crawlspace by Ray and how he turned it into his sanctuary, Dylan discovering it and wanting it for herself was predictable, however the discovery of her reasons for wanting her private space were believable. While Dylan is a great character, it is very rare we see a softer side to her and more importantly, as a character who has inner struggles, in this case self-consciousness as the only girl who has to share a room with her two older brothers. The ending of this subplot was sweet but predictable.

Overall this was an enjoyable episode, however it felt flat in comparison to the previous episode.


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