Speechless-Season 1, Episode 12 (H-E-R–Hero)
This episode explored not so much another layer of the family but did answer a question that the viewers would have in their minds–what would happen if JJ’s motorised wheelchair ever broke? The reason why the chair broke and who was responsible was a hilarious reveal, however the answer was obvious, he would be given a replacement by the insurance company albeit a questionable second hand one, which kicks off the rest of the episode.
Maya trying to butter up her “insurance connection” only to find out that he would be of no use to her and having to win over a “tough nut to crack”, was a cliche. What was also a cliche was both Maya and Janet finding a way for Maya to get what she wants, through means of negotiation that was really only just short of blackmail. The fact that it was asking Dylan to throw a race was interesting and kind of balances out the cliche elements of the whole situation.
The B story was also a cliche, but I think it explored an issue that needed to be addressed. Although the exploration of JJ as a person who is more than his disability has been constant throughout the series, this is the first episode that explores this issue explicitly through the essay contest and in turn through Donald’s speech. A stranger trying to milk JJ’s disability and the apparent inspiration that comes from him for their own gain was bound to explored at one point, and I liked that we are given a red herring from Ray trying to do it first.
The highlight of the episode for me was the use of integrity in both the A and B story and how it eventually tied both stories together. Dylan volunteering to throw the race for JJ only for Maya and Jimmy to encourage her to win, which she does, and Ray telling the truth about JJ being a jerk sometimes, was fantastic as these moments both lead to realistic outcomes. These realistic outcomes of course being Janet refusing to help Maya and Donald winning the contest with his essay on JJ anyway, shows an unfair reality of life–sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t mean anything. However I enjoyed the fact that Donald’s speech led to Janet being won over and willing to help out, as the lack of integrity from both characters fed into each other and paid off for Maya and JJ in the end.
While the episode was well written and explored interesting issues, I didn’t feel that it was the strongest episode as there wasn’t a hell of a lot in the way of character development and there were too many cliche elements, it felt more like a filler to me.