Switched at Birth Season 2 Review “Uprising”

Switched at Birth Season 2 Episode 9 Uprising (3)

This week Switched at Birth took the opportunity to break from normal programming and broadcast a story told entirely in ASL – the first time this has been attempted to such an extent on mainstream television. What transpired was something a little bit special, not only because of what it represents, but because of the events that took place in the episode.

I, and others, have complained about the show’s apparent reversed prejudice in recent weeks but, by having this episode be told entirely from Daphne’s perspective, the issue is sidestepped. What we are told here is what Daphne thinks, believes and perceives, to a certain extent, and a lot of fascinating issues are raised. As you can probably tell from the episode’s title, ‘Uprising’ is about the mission to save Carlton, as Emmett, Travis and Daphne rally the troops and interrupt the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

The press are there because Kathryn had invited her contacts in an attempt to prove what deaf kids could do when educated in their own environment, and Emmett asks Bay to create some protest art for them to use. Using the real-world example of the Gallaudet University protests as inspiration, they stage a sit-in and make demand the survival of their school. Whether they’re successful isn’t really the issue, as we’re much more interested in how the characters feel about these questions, and the show thankfully doesn’t pull its punches.

With all of this going on, I forgot to talk about the format of the episode. Aside from the first and the last few moments, ‘Uprising’ is devoid of all spoken dialogue. This is the major point of interest, of course, but never comes across as a cheap gimmick. We’re asked to walk a day in these kids’ shoes, as Melody says, and, aside from the incidental music that intermittently intrudes, the show is totally silent. It’s a bit of a slog for those who aren’t used to reading subtitles but then, even this is something the deaf have to deal with every day.

Faced with being shoved back into the harsh world of mainstream school, it’s understandable that most of these kids are desperate to keep their world intact. Daphne, who is the leader of the uprising and the one who keeps it all together, has more right than anyone to discuss what this would mean, since she lives with one foot in both worlds. Travis and Emmett, on the other hand, have always been the most secure in their beliefs that mainstream teenagers (and people in general) are cruel and uncaring folk who seek only to make their lives hell.

It was important for the show to have Travis voice these opinions, as well as his desire to keep Carlton 100% deaf, as we already know and like the character. If it had been Natalie, or even Emmett, it would have had much less impact, and his tension with Noah only adds to the power of this crucial debate. As Noah rightly points out, he is hard of hearing, so how deaf does someone have to be before they fit his criteria? These are issues that need to be brought up, so we should all applaud Switched at Birth for attempting to do that in an episode that’ll already attract more attention than normal.

What did you think of the episode? Will the students’ actions save Carlton? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below?