In this episode, JJ's classmates (the upperclassmen) are excited about the annual bonfire on the beach, a tradition after the big football game.
|[Image is: Kids gathered around a fire at the beach at sunset]|
JJ can't go to a bonfire on the beach, since, as anyone who uses a wheelchair knows, chairs and sand don't mix. He makes a joke to the kids at lunch, to hide that not being able to go, actually is a big deal. He goes home, let down, and nods at the flyer in his pocket, which his mom finds and reads. She says "You can't go to this," and then takes it upon herself to talk to the principal, who cancels the bonfire on the beach.
Instead, they have an extremely subpar bonfire in the gym. The kids decide that if they really respect JJ, they'd treat him like anyone else, and be angry that he caused them to miss out on the bonfire. Kenneth says JJ's mom shouldn't interfere but JJ admits later he did want her help. In the end, Mom helps him get his friends back by faking that the opposing football team tied him to a goal post.
My biggest issue is that JJ is seeming more and more like a prop as time goes on. In this episode, he was blatantly used as a "snowplow" to move the family's garbage at their old house. When Mom accidentally leaves off the word "bathroom" from his communication board in favor of words like "Kanye," it's played off as a joke. (Only Mom knows the substitute phrase JJ will use when he needs to use the restroom. This is a huge red flag and a dangerous situation, because Kenneth has made clear he absolutely will always help JJ in this way, but he can't if he doesn't know JJ needs to go.) Kenneth is talking more as his own character, which is fine, in and of itself, but JJ is often left silent in the background. Kenneth takes it upon himself to speak for JJ in situations, but not interpreting what he is saying. More often now, Kenneth is just assuming what JJ might want to say. Not to mention Mom's suggestion for getting JJ's friends back is super objectifying and more than a little worrisome.
I was hopeful that the bonfire could be moved to a location where everyone could attend. Instead, no one got a bonfire and it was made out to be JJ's fault.
Come on, Speechless. I want to keep liking you. But you're making it really hard.
Did you see the episode this week? What were your thoughts?
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