Joan of Arcadia (“Night Without Stars”)

Season 1, Episode 15
Date of airing: February 13, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.9 million viewers, 6.9/12 in Households, 2.8/9 with Adults 18-49

Hold on a minute here… Joan and Adam were not dating? It would explain why nothing serious happened after their first kiss, but I would have expected that the two were an item and had a status with each other after that, whether they were hanging out with each other or not. But it looks to me like both Adam and Joan have been unable to move that relationship forward themselves, making me wonder if either of them is actually capable of functioning in a relationship, or having the might to open that gate and step through it, or even know how to be in a relationship. It’s kind of similar to how Luke wasn’t able to go through the unlocked gate in the previous episode with Glynis and instead repeatedly smashed into the locked gate with Grace, knowing that he wouldn’t have to change too much by going into a relationship. And I know it from myself, too, so I can completely understand that Joan and Adam decided to not take the first step (or second, since the first step could be considered the kiss), and now this is where they are. Joan is all by herself not getting any action, and Adam is with Iris, with the writers having created a character with another dark and emotional back story to also keep Joan and Adam apart, because they can’t just be lovers after just one kiss. Iris hopefully sticks around though, and not just because the writers were able to create the opportunity for a friendship between Joan and Iris, while both were jealous of the other’s friendship with Adam.

On the floor and having fun.

Joan working with the kids almost seemed minimalistic as a task from God, since it was obviously only a task to bring Iris to the fold and have her open up, as well as have Joan learn something about emotional and physical abuse parents give to their kids (and also bridge the gap to the problem Luke had with Kevin in this episode, which is a toned-down, but similar issue). God apparently has a reason for doing that, which means Iris was the focal point of Joan’s “mission” in this episode — and this after I believed at first that there could have been a kid in the group still taking abuse from a parent at home, and it was in Joan’s (and Iris, maybe) hand to save that kid, with assistance from the Arcadia police department, just so JOAN OF ARCADIA can be like JUDGING AMY for a hot minute. It turns out the writers didn’t want to go that deep and it was all about Iris, and that gets me more interested in the character. At the beginning she was obviously introduced to be the obstacle in Joan and Adam’s romance, but halfway through Iris was given depth and a history that doesn’t have anything to do with her being an obstacle for the eponymous character of the show, and that shows the writers have been thinking about how to circumvent cliches and other stereotypes while breaking the stories. Besides that, I loved seeing that Joan had to accept Adam and Iris together, as it was none of her business trying to break the two apart, just because she was the one liking Adam first. It shows courage and growth when Joan proves she can live with the two being together while also dealing with her own feelings for Adam. It shows she is anything but the parents of the kids she was working with.

But yeah, if it weren’t for God’s task in this episode, one might be a bit confused by Luke’s story. All of a sudden he is angry, and all of a sudden he loses a few brain cells with important chemical info in them, and I don’t quite believe this was all just because of Kevin’s sudden successful reign in his young adult life, as well as continuation of Kevin’s superior brotherhood against his younger sibling. Thinking about it a little longer, it does make sense that Luke would grow mad and angry, now that he has to hear how Kevin is back being the douchebag asshole he must have been before the accident, but I still think that Luke’s anger came out of nowhere and only served as a plot for this episode alone, when Luke could have been generally angry about the world and all. He doesn’t seem to have thought about his future lately (does he want to be a scientist, an inventor, an engineer, an astronaut, a chemist or something?), he does have a bit of women trouble himself, he is still the nerd in the family and school who isn’t being respected or listened to, and then there is the thing with Kevin. Maybe Luke’s anger should have been gradually introduced in the show over the course of two or three episodes, just to bring more sense into the plot and have it look realistic. But hey, Luke finally has a real dramatic and emotional arc, so that’s something.

Now its Iris’s time to cry in front of the camera.

Kevin on the other hand wasn’t really that interesting in this episode. He was on a date. He had fun. He obviously had sex. He is on cloud seven. I guess now it’s time for the big crash, because it’s usually what is supposed to happen at this point. Kevin can’t be happy like this for more than two episodes or his character is going to become one of the boring ones.

And the rest of the episode? Will has PTSD (took him a long time), and Helen has to learn how to be a proper art teacher — solid stories that made their characters worth-while, but nothing really that threw my socks off. I’m glad that Will realized that he wasn’t himself when throwing words at Helen, but realizing that at the end of the episode kind of made for a waste of the story, even if the PTSD aspect after the hostage situation had to come sooner or later (and I hope it isn’t getting served to the trash immediately after this episode). I’m also glad that Helen realized she still has to learn how to be a teacher, but I was hoping for it to be a bigger story. I was however amused by her efforts to not criticize her students’ artworks, after she made the promise not to do exactly that. I wish my art teacher would have done that when I was in seventh and eighth grade, because it would have helped me out greatly.

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