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Speechless – N-E-New Y-Years E-Eve

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By: Taylor Gates

 

The DiMeos are adjusting to life with Pepper, their family dog. Although Pepper learned how to do many useful tasks in his service dog training, it is apparent why he got kicked out of the program as well—he doesn’t do these things when commanded, but rather whenever he feels like it. Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) thinks his unwillingness to play by the rules makes him fit right in with the family

 

JJ’s (Micah Fowler) physical therapist Joyce (Liz Cackowski) teaches him how to dance for his New Year’s Eve party. She also pressures Kenneth into spending the with her, reminding him he’s cancelled the past several times they’ve made plans. Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) and Maya (Minnie Driver) have a night out set up as well, but Maya is anxious about leaving the kids.

 

Ray (Mason Cook) and Taylor (Sedona James) are going to hang out on her friend’s boat unsupervised. Justin (Lance Lim) tells Ray that this obviously means Taylor wants to get intimate with him, which makes Ray incredibly nervous since he is inexperienced.

 

JJ’s wheelchair malfunctions, which makes Maya want to stay home even more. Ray quickly volunteers to stay home instead, uncomfortable which the romantic boat ride with Taylor. Having overheard his conversation with Justin, Kenneth tells Ray he should be honest with Taylor, as staying home and surrounding himself with people would be a dumb idea. Ray tries to play things cool, saying Kenneth must’ve misunderstood—he’s totally ready to take his relationship with Taylor to the next level.

 

Maya and Jimmy drive to the store to get party supplies, as Maya is adamant about staying home with JJ. Though Jimmy is empathetic, he thinks their resilience in their marriage is something that should be celebrated. His comment causes Maya to have a change of heart, and she drives to a bar instead.

 

Dylan (Kyla Kenedy) is offended that Pepper seems to like everyone more than her even though she’s the one who wanted him in the first place. She dedicates her New Year’s Eve to bonding with him. She climbs up to the roof to test him, relieved when Pepper manages to get up there and “save” her.

 

Ray invites his astronomy club friends over to play board games in order to set a sexless environment around Taylor. However, when Taylor’s friends show up uninvited they are quick to flirt with the boys and ruin the wholesome mood. Though this discourages Ray, it excites JJ, whose night goes from disappointing to promising. One girl, Maddie (Ashley Liao), doesn’t realize he can’t speak and rants about how her boyfriend treats her badly. She thanks JJ for being such a good listener and gives him a kiss.

 

Maddie’s boyfriend Xander (Curran Walters) shows up, threatening to beat up JJ unless he begs for forgiveness for kissing his girlfriend. When JJ still doesn’t say anything, Xander says that JJ called his bluff. Xander says that he doesn’t deserve Maddie but it’s not too late to start trying. Maddie is flattered, thanking JJ for helping improve her relationship. Other girls start flocking to him after that, seeking wise advice.

 

Jimmy takes Maya to a place that looks similar to where they spent their first New Years together in New York. He orders a huge, flaming cocktail for them to share, saying they can call a cab to take them home. Maya is determined to go big or go home, getting wasted and doing karaoke. Later, Ray calls a very drunk Jimmy to say that the power is out. Although Jimmy is too out of it to process anything, Maya snaps back into sober mom mode immediately, telling him where the flashlights are and saying they’re on their way home. Jimmy realizes that Maya tricked him into thinking she was much worse than she was. Maya drives the van home while Jimmy sulks in the passenger seat. He’s angry that she faked being drunk, but Maya thinks it’s a good thing she stayed sober in case something came up.

 

Kenneth lies to Joyce, saying Maya and Jimmy begged him to cancel his plans in order to watch the kids, and Joyce is less than thrilled about being dragged to the DiMeo house. Kenneth and Ray spend their nights trying not to be alone with their dates. Finally, Joyce and Taylor confront them. When Ray admits he sometimes gets insecure during Taylor’s public displays of affection, she tells him she wishes he would’ve been honest with her from the start instead of trying to avoid her. Joyce, however, is angry that Taylor is being so forgiving, demonstrating how to kiss on Kenneth. Kenneth is shocked by how good she is. Taylor tells Ray it’s fine if he wants to slow things down, but instead he kisses her and nervously asks how he was. Taylor assures him he’s promising but has a few pointers, which excites Ray.

 

When they get home, Maya is impressed that the figured things out for themselves. She tells Jimmy that they do deserve to let themselves go sometimes and makes a pact with herself to do just that. Everyone gets their New Years kiss—Maya and Jimmy, Taylor and Ray, JJ and a random girl, Dylan and Pepper—except for Kenneth, who is now pining after Joyce.

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