In The A Word episode 4, an impromptu attempt to win Joe some friends leads to a breakthrough moment for Alison, but how long can it last? Maurice and Louise come to blows over Joe, while Rebecca turns to Eddie for relationship advice.
Just when you think Alison can’t be any more self-involved and less concerned for those around her, turns out – she actually can. After a failed attempt by her and husband Paul to force Joe’s school to skip their usual procedures for dealing with children with special needs, Alison takes on a parent reader role and decides to stand for school governor. Just the thought is enough to send chills down the spine, even if you don’t have kids in the village school. Or any kids at all.
Having found Joe playing (of a sort) with fellow ‘non-popular’ kids Bill (who’s deaf) and Ramesh (who’s Asian), Alison invites Joe’s new chums over for a sleepover. It’s fascinating that Bill’s mum is as filled with anxieties over her own son’s allergies as Alison is about Joe’s autism. Perhaps they could set up the world’s most dysfunctional support group. Alison and Paul are unable to just let the boys get on in their own way and try to enforce their own “fun”, with predictable results. The evening concludes with Joe throwing up everywhere.
Having caught a bug, Joe spends the next day at home with Alison. Experiencing what Nicola calls “The Fever Effect” – a theory that a child on the autistic spectrum being ill can result in a temporary change in personality – Joe spends time looking through old photographs and recalls his memories of his grandma. Alison – lacking in any form of reflection or understanding as usual – believes he’s been ‘cured’ of his autism. So elated is she, that she even agrees with Paul that it’s time to try for another baby. Her elation doesn’t last and as Joe’s fever passes and he starts playing Pulp songs again, Alison begs Nicola to get her the morning after pill.
Alison’s teenage daughter, Rebecca, has to deal with a mother obsessed with her other child while being rejected by boyfriend Luke after their ill-considered night of sex. Rebecca may be 17-years-old, but she is much more mature and understanding than her mother. “All children matter, but not as much as Joe” she tells Alison to put on her school governor application. At least Rebecca is being seen and heard by others around her while the feckless Luke rejects her. Eddie may have frightened Luke off with his threatening supermarket trolley antics, but at least he offers an ear and a shoulder to his troubled niece. Even grandad Maurice can see in his own cack-handed way that Rebecca needs someone to talk to.
Maurice is forced to examine his relationship with music teacher, Louise after he’s ‘outed’ by Nicola, who catches him sneaking out of Louise’s house at daft o’clock in the morning following a night of passion. Unable to deal with son Eddie letting him know it’s ok for him to move on, Maurice questions the fact that he’s “making toast under another woman’s grill” with Louise. Like his daughter, he’s unable to take any advice from anyone. He does, though, have a breakthrough of sorts as he takes Rebecca to see her dad. It’s a moving moment from an emotionally constipated bloke.
Setting up camp in the town called Denial this week is Joe’s dad Paul. Oblivious to (or ignoring) Alison’s delusion about Joe being “cured”, he sacks his project manager (and former girlfriend) Sally thinking he can set the gastro-pub – excitingly (and I use the word quite wrongly) called The Fellside – without her help. He is unable to deal with learning that Rebecca has had sex and continues merrily in the belief that he and wife Alison are planning another baby even as Alison is popping the morning after pill. He even utters the horribly crass (and patently untrue) line that as Eddie doesn’t have kids, he wouldn’t understand the challenges of being a parent. Oh, spare us!
It’s no wonder that Luke tells Rebecca he can’t deal with her family. With only two episodes to go, will Alison ever learn from those around her who are much better at dealing with her son’s autism than she is? For Joe’s sake, we hope so.
Written by Peter Bowker, Director Peter Cattaneo, Producer Marcus Wilson
For more news and gossip on The A Word take a look the dedicated Facebook page.