So this episode peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion, this time, JJ’s independence–both in the present and in the future, but I’ll get to that.
The A story of JJ “cheating” on tests was interesting but not spectacular. I liked the reveal of JJ’s cheating consisting of Kenneth giving him the answers, as well as the reveal of the teachers letting everything slide with him, however I felt that the outcome was predictable. Yes JJ was acting up and would have doubts, but we all know that he’s intelligent and would therefore pass at the end.
I felt that the B story was solid and I loved that it eventually led to the peeling back of the metaphorical onion. I found Ray’s interest in going to a careers fair to find out what type of careers make the most money, and the way in which he goes about it, hilarious. I felt it was smart on the writers’ part to have Ray sucked into a pyramid scheme as it makes him learn that he’s not always as smart as he thinks he is, especially due to his age and lack of life experience. What I enjoyed the most about this plot was Jimmy stepping up as a father by rightfully scolding Ray for his apparent greed and for revealing to him why he has a job rather than a career. Jimmy’s story, especially emphasising that he needed something “solid now, not great later” is something that a lot of people, especially college graduates such as myself, could really relate to.
While I found Dylan’s inadvertent trend setting by wearing the luggage that Jimmy brings to the careers fair humorous, the joke of it in itself fell flat and didn’t really add anything to the episode.
What I loved the most about this episode was the end, not because I wanted it to end, rather that every element of the B story paid off beautifully in the last few minutes, and peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion. I didn’t see the reveal of Ray wanting to make a lot of money to support JJ, and the fact that both he and Dylan worry about JJ’s future coming. I felt that the whole family discussing the possibilities of JJ’s future was both heartbreaking and realistic. What was equally heartbreaking was the fact that JJ’s joy at proving his independence at school was taken away from him by overhearing his family making assumptions of his future independence.
I loved the writers’ choice to have JJ runaway like a typical kid and the fact that the episode ended on this note unexpectedly turned it into a two-parter, which was a good twist.
Overall this episode was mostly flat but later turned into a great first part of a two-part episode.