This episode was a solid one as everyone split off perfectly into their subplots.
The episode kicks off with the family (except JJ) celebrating JJ’s last IEP (Individual Education Program), which includes music, merchandise and a mysterious person in a bear costume that everyone mistakes for Dylan, until she walks in the room.
The episode then switches focus to JJ and Kenneth at school where Kenneth voices disapproval of the green zipper jacket JJ is wearing. JJ asks Kenneth to zip it up but refuses, so JJ surprises himself, Kenneth and the viewers by zipping it up himself. As JJ was told as a child he wouldn’t be able to use zippers and never tried since, this achievements leads to his confidence growing, to the point where takes control of the IEP meeting, and later growing to overconfidence where he ends up losing his wheelchair to the janitor in a poker game with the staff. Kenneth helps him out, reminding him that he lost due to stupidity not disability, and that it’s good to be confident but he needs to know his limits. The subplot and the episode ends with Kenneth and JJ being the school janitors at night, with Kenneth revealing they’ll be the night janitors for the next six months, in order to get the wheelchair back. I enjoyed this subplot as JJ learnt an important life lesson on his own, but the writers made it entertaining rather than preachy and clingy.
The B story uniquely ties in with the A story as Maya chooses to focus the attention and devotion that is normally reserved for JJ on Ray. Ray, being just like Maya, relishes the attention until it predictably spirals out of control. True to character, Maya acts like a psycho and Ray comes to the realisation it’s gone too far, coming to a head during his Driver’s Ed lesson where he tells Maya he can’t be a replacement for JJ and she has to find something else to fill her life. Towards the end of the episode, JJ and Ray start to come up with an IEP for Maya for the year. Although the outcome of this subplot was predictable, I appreciated how it tied in with the A story and how it explored the relationship between Ray and Maya, especially Ray standing up to her.
The C story revolves around Jimmy and Dylan. Dylan discovers that her bedtime is earlier than her peers and she demands to stay up late like the others. During this time, Jimmy reveals that he needs to turn his brain off at night, which is why he shoots beanbags through a hole, flies paper planes, build a tower of plastic cups and performs magic. Dylan drinks coffee to stay up late with Jimmy, which leads to her losing sleep and falling asleep in the classroom, which Dr Miller informs Jimmy of. This predictably leads to Jimmy giving Dylan decaf to trick her into sleeping, which Dylan tries to protest, but ultimately ends up surrendering into sleep. While the outcome of this subplot was predictable, it was quite an endearing one.
Overall a solid episode with endearing moments between each family member and a variety of fantastic one liners.
-To celebrate JJ’s last IEP, Maya did the following:
- Made up a celebratory song for Jimmy to sing and the kids to dance to.
- A T-Shirt with the words “IEP Battle Royale: Miller vs DiMeo” with Dr Miller’s and Maya’s heads photoshopped on to boxers’ bodies.
- Got a bear costume for Dylan to wear, only someone else showed up in it.
- Got balloons, inflated them and put them on the ceiling for them to drop down.
-Mr Powers doesn’t care that JJ is playing poker with the staff or that the staff play poker on the school grounds.
-JJ managed to turn zipper into an insult.
-The A and C stories connected momentarily when Jimmy sees the janitor cruising around the school in JJ’s wheelchair, whilst at the school at Dr Miller’s request to find out about Dylan sleeping in class.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “At 5′ 10” and an age she hasn’t even disclosed to her husband, give it up for the hero of the IEP, Maya!” (Jimmy to JJ when singing the celebratory last IEP song)
- “It is with great pride that I say to all of your suggestions…we will look into them.” (Dr Miller to JJ)
- “When God closes a door he annihilates one of our children.” (Jimmy to Maya when Ray dramatically describes his bad day after Maya points out JJ not needing her as much)
- “Are you Ellen DeGeneres’ exclusive online content? No? Then why are you talking to me during my free period.” (Mr Powers to Kenneth)
- “How are things at home?” “Well you know, my dad drinks more than I’d like and mom’s just kind of checked out…oh you mean my current home.” (Dr Miller-Jimmy)
- “I can do business with the janitor…I know his price.” (Kenneth to JJ, after JJ asks for Kenneth’s help in getting his wheelchair back from the janitor)