A few thoughts on the Speechless season finale coming up just as soon as I turn one of my Ray traps into a coyote trap…
I thought I had said most of what I had to say about Speechless season two in this column about last week’s episodes. Then the finale ended with this dedication card…
…and, well, let’s just say the dust in the living room became overwhelming for a moment or three.
For those of you who don’t know, Speechless creator Scott Silveri was inspired to make the show by a lifetime of experience with his brother, who had a much more severe form of CP than JJ’s. The series is a comedy first and foremost, but it was also a loving tribute to Gregory Silveri, and “N-O– NOMINEE” was a wonderful summation of the show’s key themes, and an ideal episode to dedicate to him, a few months after he passed away.
As I wrote about last week, season two worked very hard to not only define J.J. apart from his disability, but to make him painfully aware of how hard most people find it to focus on him and not the wheelchair. “N-O– NOMINEE” brought this all to a head with visits to two film festivals that had accepted his horror short: one that only wanted him there as a nod to diversity (and a bit of inspiration porn), the other that really liked the film and had no idea of the physical capabilities of the kid who made it. It’s become a cliche of stories about people battling adversity to conclude them with the hero being applauded by a roomful of people (it was one of the few things I disliked about the book and movie versions of Wonder), but it worked here both because J.J. was (mostly) being applauded for reasons having nothing to do with having CP, and because — as this terrific show always so smartly does — it diluted the sentiment juuuust enough with a lot of comedy, like Kenneth and Ray stealing food, and Maya finally being excited that her son can enter a building via the garbage ramp.
The applause and that callback to the pilot episode were both the kind of thing you might see in a series finale rather than a season-ender. This is ABC’s best comedy right now, but the network has a lot of good comedies, and not all of them are probably going to return next year. I desperately want this one to come back, but in the event ABC makes the wrong decision, the film festival scene, and then the glimpse of the DiMeos and Kenneth sleeping under the stars after being evicted from the house, would make for a more satisfying conclusion than many bubble shows get.
Some other thoughts:
* The show sometimes trends a bit too much towards things working out okay for the DiMeos no matter how sloppy and reckless they are, so I’m glad they weren’t able to improbably get a loan to buy the house at the last minute. If the show returns, though, I wonder if the writers will find a way to crowbar them back into that house, if only to save the expense of having to build a bunch of new sets. Plus, now that Jimmy has found Dylan’s little Narnia nook behind the closet, it seems a waste to only give them the one sweet scene together there.
* In that column last week, I joked that Mason Cook had grown tall enough to play point guard for a Division III school. Little did I know that the finale’s other subplot would involve Ray discovering a hidden talent for drawing offensive fouls that would get him a spot on the Lafayette basketball team. (Jimmy expressing his disapproval for this was the latest example of how John Ross Bowie can wring a laugh out of the most straightforward of lines.) I’m of two minds about where the show left things with him and Taylor: on the one hand, he was being more of a self-destructive fool than usual around her of late; but on the other, Ray having a girlfriend who was both out of his league and a perfect match gave the show license to dump on him in so many other ways, because his life overall could never be that miserable with Taylor around. I hope we haven’t seen the last of her.
What did everybody else think?