The reason "Unbecoming Jay" seems to exist is to showcase Whit Hertford's pitch-perfect delivery and comedic timing. "Jay Smouse has become one of our favourite AIO characters", the Odyssey Team tweeted just the other day. Out of all the characters introduced since the show's hiatus, fans have reacted most enthusiastically towards Jay. He's gone from being Vance King's sidekick in "Target of the Week" to seemingly replacing Vance King altogether. Between appearing on the Odyssey Scoopcast and being one of the few characters to chit-chat with Chris, I wonder: does Jay Smouse deserve all this attention?
Many have said Jay is a much better character than Rodney ever was; however, after listening to "Unbecoming Jay", I wonder if there's a chance Jay might go down the same one-note road. What makes Jay such an attractive character is that he isn't restricted to being "that evil bully"; his actions aren't nearly as predictable as Rodneys' were. Jay is better fleshed out and more three-dimensional. As long as they keep rotating his role between evil sidekick ("How to Sink a Sub"), empathetic human ("The Green Ring Conspiracy"), cunning manipulator ("Unbecoming Jay"), and just one of the gang ("The Amazing Loser", "The Malted Milkball Falcon"), he'll be just fine. I felt like a lot of questions were raised about Jay and his relationship with Uncle Wally in "The Green Ring Conspiracy" that I hope the team doesn't continue to repeatedly create episodes like "Unbecoming Jay" that rely solely on Jay tickling our funny bone.
That said, I'll admit that the episode wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining without Jay being a manipulative brat. Oh sure, Andy Pessoa and Abigail Revasch give fine performances, and the awkwardness between them worked well; however, it was really Jay who stole the show. Another fun part was seeing Barrett trying to juggle his friendships and repair misunderstandings. While part of me wonders whether the storyline could have been brought to a whole new level using adult characters, I think these kids carried the episode well on their own.
Episodes about making new friends don't always work as a full episode. Who here really thinks that we will hear from Cindy again? Was she simply brought in to no longer be heard of again? Despite the fact I somewhat enjoyed her personality, my instincts say yes. However, we often don't really know the importance of introductory episode until much later. Jimmy's first episode with Lawrence Hodges, for instance, would've seemed awkward if Lawrence never showed up on the show again. In a way, since so much focus is on Barrett making Cindy feel welcomed, the episode's strength will depend on whether it was worth the audience's time to welcome her.
I'll come out and say that "Unbecoming Jay" is a perfectly fine episode. It's applicable and somewhat fun. I don't have much against it. If I needed to criticize something, I'd say the episode is, at times, a little cheesy and the storyline doesn't seem important enough to warrant being the focus of a full episode. Furthermore, I'll probably have to remind myself of this one in a few years; maybe, however, that's only because it has the misfortune of airing between the superior "How to Sink a Sub" and "Childish Things".