Speechless – S-I-Silent Night
By: Taylor Gates
Dylan’s (Kyla Kenedy) snake escapes its cage once again, crawling into bed with Maya (Minnie Driver) and Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) in the middle of the night. Dylan promises to get rid of it later that day as long as she can get a dog for Christmas. Maya quickly forgets her anger at the snake, joining her campaign to get a puppy. Though Ray (Mason Cook) wants one too, he knows that their lease doesn’t allow them. However, there is a loophole—a service dog. The entire family pressure JJ (Micah Fowler) into allowing it, but he refuses since there are people who actually need them.
Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) is in a bad mood from his grocery job. Their store is giving away free turkeys to people who spend over $100, but some customers are stealing other people’s receipts in order to get them. Jimmy decides to do just that, which disappoints and infuriates Kenneth. Kenneth says if he sees him at his store again, he won’t hesitate to confiscate his receipts. Jimmy attempts to sneak around and gather more turkeys, but Kenneth sabotages him, closing lanes right before the store closes so he doesn’t have time to check out.
When he sees Jimmy searching through the dumpster to find receipts, he asks him why he’s purposely trying to make his job harder. Jimmy admits he just wanted to get thirty turkeys to give to his employees, as that’s what his dad used to do. He didn’t want to tell Kenneth the truth because he was afraid he would think it was stupid. Kenneth says he understands unfulfilled holiday dreams—he’s always wanted to be an office Santa Claus. Kenneth goes to Jimmy’s work dressed as Santa to deliver turkeys to all the employees.
Ray bonds with Taylor’s (Sedona James) mom Melanie (Sarah Chalke), complimenting her on her Christmas cookies and how good she looks for her age. She tells Taylor that, before she and Ray start making Christmas plans, she wants to meet his parents. Ray begs Maya to be charming instead of combative, and she promises to be on her best behavior. When she finds out who Taylor’s mom is, however, she gets furious. Ten years ago at a special needs moms’ event, Melanie lied about an application deadline for a school that would have been perfect for JJ. Because of that, JJ didn’t get in and her son did.
Maya lies to Ray about being sick and having a bad premonition about meeting Melanie. He seems to take it reasonably well, saying he’ll figure out an excuse. The next day, though, he invites Melanie over without Maya knowing, completely springing the meeting on her. Maya confronts her, saying she broke the sacred bond between special needs moms. Melanie is adamant she did no such thing and storms out.
Ray tells Maya that she was overdramatic and needs to let her grudge go. Although it will be hard, she needs to apologize to Melanie out of love for Ray. Maya agrees, telling Melanie she is sorry for being rude. Melanie doesn’t graciously accept the apology, which confuses and irritates Ray since he himself rarely gets apologies from her. He tells Taylor he hopes their relationship can withstand this but refuses to stand around and watch his mom get unfairly dumped on. Maya appreciates Ray standing up for her. Though Melanie forbids Taylor from seeing Ray, she sneaks to his window in the middle of the night. Ray is excited that he’s a bad boy now.
Dylan goes against JJ’s wishes and writes a letter asking for a service dog. She begs him not to be mad at her, but he promises she’s going to feel his wrath. In order to get JJ to forgive her, Dylan takes a vow of silence to try and better understand what it’s like to be him.
Dylan’s not talking ends up being a perk at school. Her teacher gives her an A on her oral exam about civil disobedience and her classmate takes her silence as a non-gossiping stance, inviting her to Aruba with her family.
To make it up to JJ, Dylan buys him a camera he wanted with the money she saved up this summer. She goes Love Actually on him, using giant poster boards to explain how she can’t truly understand how he feels, but she can try to hear him better. She was going to use her money to play a prank on Ray and make him think he was shrinking, but this seemed more important.
JJ wakes the DiMeos up early on Christmas morning to watch his first completed film project. It’s a short, impactful video about what it’s like to be him and how it feels to try and communicate with the rest of the world. In it, he thanks the family for listening to him even though they can’t hear him, reassuring them that he’s always listening to them too. He pushes a button and a dog comes running into the room. It’s not a service dog, but it is a family dog.