After three episodes revolving around a theme, this episode returns to the normal day-to-day life of the DiMeos, at least what’s normal for them.
The episode kicks off with Jimmy and Maya breaking the news to JJ that the school won’t let him graduate, mainly due to being absent to deal with his medical issues. Maya goes to the school to try and get her way and manages to make deals with all of JJ’s teachers, however Dr Miller points out to Maya that having JJ graduate early might not be the right decision for him and doesn’t allow him to.
In protest and in typical Maya style, Maya establishes the “DiMeo Academy” where she plans on teaching JJ herself and always being one step ahead of JJ with the materials. Ray and Dylan join the Academy due to embarrassing moments at school, which I’ll get to. Jimmy is a reluctant teacher at the Academy but when Maya tells him it’s a permanent arrangement, he angrily calls Maya out on her decision. I felt this was Bowie’s finest performance in Speechless as he proves to be a formidable opponent (or equal depending on how you look at it) to Maya by standing up to her and calling her out, which is something he rarely does. When Maya says she hates it when they argue, Jimmy admits he holds his tongue a lot, which is an interesting but unsurprising glimpse into their relationship. When Maya sends JJ on a field trip to college, he realises he’s not ready for it yet and quits the Academy, which I felt was the right ending for this subplot. Even though Maya fights for him, Dr Miller and Jimmy were right, it’s not the right decision for JJ to graduate right now, and I appreciated this consistency throughout the subplot.
On smaller notes or rather subplots, Ray farts in front of his classmates hence why he joins the Academy, this minor subplot actually never resolves itself, other than the fact that Jimmy mentions that Ray is returning to the school at the end of the episode. In all honesty, they really shouldn’t have bothered with this Ray subplot at all. After Dylan embarrasses herself by thinking she was voted captain of the track team and finds out she wasn’t, due to her lack of sportsmanshp, she ends up joining the Academy. Dylan ends up running for the DiMeo Academy at the track meet at the end of the episode, only to injure herself and her former track team mates carry her across the finish line. While I enjoyed her subplot, much like Ray’s, it was so minor that I question why the writers even bothered.
Kenneth’s subplot revolved around having to see his ex-wife, Robin, to get his rare baseball card collection so he can sell it to pay off an expensive watch he bought, prior to finding out from Jimmy and Maya that his job security is shaky with JJ having to repeat. While Robin is nice to him and gives him his collection back, she admits that she doesn’t view him as successful. This leads to him trying to impress her by renting an expensive sports car and a new suit, however when he tells her about his current job as JJ’s aide, she’s impressed he’s helping someone and he realises that while he’s not successful in her eyes and not rich, he has found fulfillment, which is enough for him. I enjoyed seeing this character development with Kenneth, which was frankly long overdue.
Overall this was a solid episode with a great amount of character development and a variety of fantastic one liners and interactions.
-Jimmy doesn’t like Indian food.
-Pepper is now bringing belts instead of bananas to the family and is forming a pile of them.
-Maya and Dr Miller practising for their inevitable confrontation whilst driving to the school was funny, Maya point how funny it was to Dr Miller when they run into each other was hilarious.
-In the short time that Maya was running the DiMeo Academy, she had time to have sweaters with the words “DiMeo Academy Service Animal Dropouts” on them for the whole family.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “Should I put on the theme music to Kill Bill or is it already playing in your head?” (Jimmy to Maya)
- “Hey it’s too funny isn’t it? We’re getting ready for the same fight, I’ll see you there!” (Maya to Dr Miller when the latter drives up next to her at an intersection and sees her rehearsing the impending conversation between them)
- “As the guy at the watch store said ‘are you sure you can afford this?'” (Kenneth to the family on his new watch)
- “The ex-wife who burned all your stuff?” “No, the mean one.” (Jimmy-Kenneth when the latter mentions having to see his ex-wife)
- “It really makes you wonder where the phrase ‘as rich as a public school aide’ comes from.” (Jimmy to Kenneth on the latter’s lack of savings)
- “Why did you losers vote for me?” “The answer’s in your question.” “No riddles, Barry!” (Dylan-Coach Barry-Dylan on her not being voted the track team captain)
- “Kenneth do not be beautiful…you just don’t listen, you sexy devil!” (Kenneth to himself and his reflection in his rear view mirror)
- “It turns out my ex is a gold digger and my ex doesn’t want to dig me.” (Kenneth on his ex-wife)
- “I’m standing in a principal’s office full of underwear!” (Jimmy to Maya)
- “Why is your nickname salt?” “Because salt kills slugs!” (Coach Barry-Dylan)
- “I’m going to share it with all of my social media followers” “Mom’s already seen it Ray!” (Ray-Dylan on the video of Dylan being helped across the line by her [temporarily former] track teammates)