Joe starts a new school while his dysfunctional family continue to not deal very well with him or each other in the second episode of The A Word, series 2.
If episode 1 of the new series of The A Word gave us what was possibly the longest night ever, episode 2 gives us possibly the longest school drop-off ever as Joe has his first day in his new – special – school. Why the only specialist unit for autistic children in the Lake District is miles away in Manchester (94.5 miles to be exact) is not explained, however the journey does give us an insight into Joe’s routines and his autistic traits as he deals with that thing that causes the most anxiety in an autistic child: change.
Max Vento as 7-year-old Joe is quite remarkable here as a little boy experiencing significant distress without having the means to properly articulate it. The adults around him are once again rubbish at dealing with it, with the exception of his new teachers and Nicola, who recognises that change is a big deal for Joe.
Joe’s mum and dad, Alison and Paul, deal with Joe’s behaviour in their own separate ways. Alison starts to see her son in a new light. There are some genuinely moving scenes during her and Joe’s daily school runs and there’s one scene with her in a record shop that hits the ‘That was a bit weird’ button. Meanwhile, Paul sees what could be a possible future for Joe in his new waitress Sophie’s son, Mark.
Alison and Paul are not the only couple going about things separately here. As Rebecca and James have what is possibly the world’s most depressing engagement party/leaving ‘do’ it’s clear that they’re not necessarily on the same page. Also struggling to find common ground this week is our former favourite couple Eddie and Nicola. Can Nicola’s dad Vincent succeed in his plan to fix their marriage to atone for the failure of his own?
Talking of favourite couples, our latest favourite pairs (not sure we can call them actual couples) are unreconstructed caveman Maurice and son Eddie and Maurice and music teacher Louise. The scenes between Maurice (former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston) and Eddie continue to produce some laugh-out-loud moments – watch out for the Crunchy Corn Flakes scene. Maurice and Louise may not be a couple, but they do have to come together in this episode to deal with the reason that Louise doesn’t want Ralph to work at Maurice’s brewery. Which leads us to our final favourite pair, David and Pavel, Maurice’s philosophical Polish employees, whose small scenes are proving to be a weekly treat.
Episode 2 continues in the groove it found in episode 1. It is well-written, funny and incredibly moving all at once. Having settled into a groove, The A Word is genuinely brilliant television drama.
You can watch The A Word series 2, episode 2 on BBC One on Tuesday 14 November 2017 at 9pm.
Written by Peter Bowker, Director Sue Tully, Producer Jenny Frayn