Speechless 2x15 "U-N--Unforgettable P-A--Pain"
This week on Speechless, Ray deals with the aftermath and heartbreak of his breakup with Taylor, JJ makes a new friend, and Kenneth teaches Jimmy how to take back the “Alpha” position in his household.
Ray has been inconsolable ever since he admitted to Taylor that another girl kissed him and she broke up with him. He can’t eat, he can’t sleep, he just lays on the couch wallowing in misery. Taylor texts that she’s on her way over to pick up her hoodie, and Ray doesn’t want her to see him like this, but he’s too weak from lack of eating to make it to the shower. “If only this family had experience showering somebody,” muses JJ. The family snaps into gear, quickly getting a near-catatonic Ray showered and dressed. He’s still a bit pale, so Dylan throws some blush on him and gets him looking normal again. Just as he’s about to open the door to Taylor, Maya notices shampoo suds still in his hair, so Jimmy frisbee-throws a trilby hat onto him from across the room. Success! The sweatshirt return goes smoothly, but Ray is even more distraught afterwards, because Taylor was distant and unfeeling. “What about our love, Taylor?” Ray laments to his family. He walks down the hall, crying, then returns with black all around his eyes—I guess Dylan put mascara on him as well as blush.
The only thing that makes Ray’s heartache less is writing songs about Taylor, even though it’s been a week and he’s driving his family up the walls with his constant angsty singing. Maya decides it’s time for him to get out of the house, and holds his “wallow box” (a shoebox filled with things of Taylor’s) hostage until he agrees to go out and have fun with her. She takes him to a tech store in the mall, and offers to buy him a drone, which they’ll return after a few days—retail therapy, DiMeo-style! Ray has been wanting a drone for a long time, so he agrees, looking slightly less miserable.
He then suggests they go to a different mall (“The fancy one with all the soap stores? Blegh, your day,” says Maya), but he’s got a scheme. He asks Maya if he can just window-shop on his own, and she agrees, but when she notices him taking the drone and the wallow box with him, she follows to see what he’s up to. Once inside the mall, she spots Taylor, who works at one of the soap stores, and hears Ray’s song, “Unforgettable Pain,” being played. She looks up and discovers a portable speaker rigged to the drone she just bought Ray. To save him from the inevitable humiliation his plan will bring, Maya knocks the drone out of the air with a hat, grabs it, and runs off, with Ray chasing after her.
Ray catches up with his mother at their car, and she tells him that since Taylor has moved on, he needs to be strong and move on too. But Ray doesn’t want to move on—he wants Taylor to take him back! He knows he and Maya are incredibly different people, and that she would deal with the breakup in an entirely different way than he wants to, but he wants to beg for Taylor to take him back, and he doesn’t want his mom to tell him that his way of dealing with it is wrong and hers is the only right way. He wants her to support him. “So you want blind loyalty?” Maya asks. “Well then, we have more in common than you think.” She apologizes for pushing her ways on him, and helps him execute his plan to get Taylor back. He takes his guitar into the shop where Taylor works, gives her an impassioned speech about how he’ll do better if she gives him a second chance, and just as he starts his song, Taylor throws something at him. She’s upset by him causing a scene in her workplace, and pulls a fake tree aside to reveal Maya, whose presence she is also not happy about. Maya drags Ray out of the mall before things get too ugly, but Ray is actually thrilled by Taylor’s anger, since he thinks it means she still feels something and that there’s a chance for them to get back together.
Jimmy realizes that there are things around the house that have been fixed up, and asks Maya about it. She tells him that Kenneth has been doing it, as it turns out he’s pretty handy, but Jimmy isn’t sure how he feels about that. Then Kenneth brings Pepper, their dog, home from the dog park, having learned all sorts of new tricks and commands, but Pepper won’t respond to any of them when Jimmy says the commands. “You stole my dog,” he accuses Kenneth. “You took him like you take everything—you’re training my dog, you’re fixing my stuff—go get your own mediocre life!” Kenneth realized that his own “natural Alpha-ness” is bothering Jimmy, so he decides to teach him how to be the Alpha, starting with his relationship with Pepper.
Step 1 of being an Alpha: eye contact. “I always feel like you’re looking at my knees.” Stand tall, and speak with authority. Jimmy adjusts his posture and tells Pepper in a deep voice to roll over, with no results. Kenneth is still coming across as the pack leader, so he tells Jimmy to humiliate him while his dog watches. Jimmy admonishes Kenneth for standing on the couch, eats before letting Kenneth eat, and orders him to get the paper. None of it seems to work, so Kenneth tells Jimmy to berate him, and make stuff up if he needs to. Jimmy starts off with “Kenneth, you’re bad,” but ends up spilling the truth as he goes on. “You spend all day, every day with my son—now if I want to find out what kind of day he had, I have to ask Kenneth! Forget the dog, give me back my kid, man.” Kenneth feels terrible that Jimmy feels like he’s losing touch with his son, and tells him that Jimmy just has to say the word, and he will back off and give Jimmy space with his son. Jimmy thanks Kenneth, then notices—Pepper sat!
JJ hits it off with another student in one of his classes, named Aaron, and they bond over classic film references. Aaron texts to ask him if he’d like to go see a new movie together, but JJ tells Kenneth to text back that he can’t. Kenneth asks him why, and JJ explains that on one-on-one friend outings, JJ feels like he becomes less a friend and more someone to take care of, and he doesn’t like feeling like a burden. Outings like this never go well, and the friends don’t often seem to think all the extra work is worth it, so it’s easier to just never do them. “It’s all fun and games until there’s dog poop on the wheelchair tire,” he finishes. Maya offers that one of them could go with him, but JJ doesn’t want to do that—having a parent or other adult along on a one-on-one friend outing is embarrassing. Dylan then has the idea that she could go with them and make sure everything goes smoothly, and JJ agrees to the plan.
JJ and Dylan get to the theater early, and Dylan immediately goes to file a complaint, because, as she says, this ain’t their first rodeo. She lists off a list of accessibility violations that the theater probably has—the accessible bathroom stall is out of order, the wheelchair seating has all been sold to people without wheelchairs, the lift is filled up with boxes (side note: I love how Maya’s British-ness has rubbed off on her children to where Dylan called the elevator a lift), and the staff are patronizing and unhelpful. The employee admits that that all sounds true, and they set about fixing it. But just about the time they get everything ready, Aaron arrives and tells JJ that they’re showing Goodfellas in 35mm in a theater 10 blocks away, and JJ agrees to go to that instead. Aaron pulls up a ridesharing app to get a ride to the theater, but when Dylan has him hit the accessible button, there are none to be found. So they walk instead, with Dylan trying to make all the issues they encounter seem like they’re her fault, like when they come across a dumpster blocking the sidewalk and she says it’s hers, apologizes for leaving it in the way, and heaves it out of the way so they can all pass.
The trio encounters a section of broken-up sidewalk, and JJ suggests they just go to the other side of the street, despite the curb being high and there being no ramped areas to drive down. He makes it down onto the street, but then it starts raining, and they have to find shelter so the rain doesn’t short out JJ’s wheelchair. When Aaron asks if that’s why they’re waiting under an awning, Dylan claims that she just likes to stand under awnings in rainstorms. She runs off to find some plastic bags to cover them so they can finish their journey, but Aaron and JJ go ahead without them. JJ makes it all of 2 feet out from under the awning before his wheelchair shorts out. Aaron starts pushing the wheelchair, despite it being very heavy, but then he rolls it right through a pile of dog poop. JJ is embarrassed by everything that’s going wrong, and demands that Aaron just leave, not even letting him push him under the awning.
Dylan returns with some garbage bag ponchos and cleans the dog poop off the wheelchair tire, telling JJ that this part is a drag, and that he just needs to learn to walk. The two grin, then Dylan expresses her disbelief that Aaron had just ditched JJ like that. JJ explains that he told Aaron to leave, because “he was just putting up with me.” Dylan can’t believe that JJ drove him off, saying, “I can move all the dumpsters out of your own way, but I can’t move you out of your own way. It doesn’t matter if the world is accessible if you’re not.” JJ agrees that he should talk to Aaron, so since he can’t move with the shorted-out wheelchair, Dylan runs off to find him. When she returns with Aaron, JJ tries to explain that the day hadn’t gone the way he’d wanted. But Aaron thinks he’s talking about Aaron annoying him with his constant movie references, not realizing that JJ has also been feeling like an annoyance and a burden. JJ decides to give the friendship another shot, and since his wheelchair is still unuseable, Aaron finds a grocery cart and pushes JJ in that to the theater, with Chariots of Fire playing in the background. Hauling him out of the cart at the theater, Aaron cries, “I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!”
Aaron gets JJ settled in the theater just as the credits roll, but the two decide to go to movies together regularly. As JJ says, “I think this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.” It can be hard to find friends who are willing to work through the extra effort it takes to go out with you when you’re sick and/or disabled, but as JJ learns, the solution isn’t to just pull away and not ever go out with friends. I still sometimes feel awkward or self-conscious going out with friends when I need to use my wheelchair, because it does complicate things, but I’ve been so lucky to have friends who have taken my illness completely in stride, which makes up for the friends I’ve lost. I’m really glad to see JJ learning that there will be people who know that friendship with him is valuable enough to deal with the complications wheelchair usage can cause, because so far he hasn’t really had any close friends outside of his family, and disability is often isolating enough without pushing everyone away. Also, it made me laugh that “poop” was a word that JJ uses frequently enough to warrant its own space on his board!
I also liked having Maya and Ray address how dissimilar they are, and spend some time bonding over that. Ray wanted to handle his breakup with Taylor in an entirely different way than Maya ever would, but after she listened to him and heard his side of the story, Maya helped him do what he felt he needed to. I don’t know if Taylor will forgive Ray or not, but I hope she does. He made some bad choices in trying to make her jealous, but he has a good heart.
And I can only imagine how having an extra man essentially join the DiMeo family would complicate family dynamics—Kenneth has a very big personality, and spends more time with the family than Jimmy does, in a lot of ways, so it was something that needed to be addressed. This show has always had a good balance between the ridiculous and the realistic, and Jimmy’s realization that he was feeling like Kenneth was edging him out was a good thing to address.
- Ray: “Ever since Taylor left, food has no taste.”
Jimmy: “All the more reason to eat your mom’s cooking, am I right?”
*Maya smacks Jimmy*
Jimmy: “Fine, hit me, but ADD SALT.”
- Kenneth: “Are you ready to be the Alpha, Jimmy?”
Jimmy: “I’m not sure.”
Kenneth: “More confident!”
Jimmy: “I’M NOT SURE.”
- Maya, brandishing a digital meat thermometer at a tech store: “Is this a bitcoin?”
- Maya: “We’re DiMeos, we don’t beg! We pretend we never cared in the first place, and then we spread rumors that they breastfed till they were twenty-one!”
Speechless airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on ABC.