Review – The A Word: Episode 5

The A Word: Episode 5


There’s two episodes left and I’m still hopeful that this family can manage some level of acceptance before the end of the series. After this penultimate episode, is that hopefulness misplaced?

Based on this episode it might very well be. The episode opens with a police car happening on Maya and co picking up Joe from his early morning wanderings, which to be fair is quite a reasonable thing for a police officer to do. This then snowballs throughout the episode as it turns out Maya is not in the country legally and either needs to leave voluntarily or be deported. Despite efforts from Allison to blackmail the chief of police, Maya chooses to leave voluntarily.

Meanwhile Allison and Rebecca manage to start to repair their relationship a bit whilst Allison and Paul’s relationship deteriorates even further. As Allison tries to make sure that Joe is prepared for the change of Maya leaving (and she is a bit over the top about it), Paul wants to go for the ‘never talk about it again’ approach and just assume everything will be fine. It’s a good contrast, showing that going too far either way is not good and that a decent balance between the two opposing actions needs to be found. Whether it’s due to the upcoming change in his life or because Allison keeps talking about it, Joe is finding his world more difficult to deal with and is using various strategies to help himself cope. This means we see a bit more of Joe in this episode, although quite a bit of it is under stress.

There’s a really awkward scene at the school after Joe has had a meltdown where Paul refuses to accept any help or strategies from the school such as visuals. That made me realise that despite the fact we’ve had an SLT in this series, visual supports have not been suggested at all. Considering they are a key part in helping many autistic people (myself included) in a world that can be incredibly overwhelming at times, it is disappointing for this to be the first time that they are (briefly) mentioned.

There was a moment when Allison was watching the (quite biased) documentary ‘Autism: Challenging Behaviour’ and I thought we were going to veer back into pro-ABA territory but it was dealt with quite well, showing Allison’s concerns that what they’re doing isn’t the right approach because there is so much evidence for ABA. This is the tricky thing when it comes to ABA – there is a lot of data supporting it. There’s also different ways of implementing ABA. There are autistic people who hate it and condemn it in any forms, and autistic people who went through ABA and felt it was beneficial. It can be difficult for parents to know what to do, what’s right, what’s wrong…

Paul is quite an unpleasant character in this episode, which is actually refreshing considering he’s been portraying himself as the “good parent” so far in the series when actually he is just as flawed as Allison. The worst scenes for him by far were when he was arguing with Rebecca about the morning after pill (which was Allison’s) when he just would not listen to a word Rebecca had to say and left her reduced to tears; followed by a scene where Allison has stepped in and told him the pill is hers and they are arguing over another baby. Allison doesn’t want another child, but Paul does….because he wants two children (so he doesn’t see Rebecca as his despite raising her as his) and he wants to father a ‘normal’ child. Which is pretty damn hypocritical considering how he’s been lording it over Allison so far. So the episode with him ends with him storming out and I have lost all faith that this is going to have a positive, accepting ending….almost.

Is it worth watching?

Yes and no – again it’s heavy on the family drama and light on the autism, which has been an issue since episode 2, but there are some nice scenes. The stand out one is the goodbye scene between Maya and Joe where we see that she truly accepts him for who he is and they have a great bond. Her character had a relatively small part in terms of screen time but it was so well played.

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