Season 1, Episode 20
Date of airing: April 30, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.6 million viewers, 5.2/10 in Households, 1.9/7 with Adults 18-49
In which Grace will turn into a literary genius, because apparently in this show, everyone finds their thing ever before Joan does, since Joan hasn’t come to the realization that “not giving up” is a thing as well, and it has been her thing ever since God came to her. Although no one knows how much failing Joan did in the past, and how many times she decided to not give up, which is why God decided to come to Joan for minor and major tasks.
Anyway, this episode was good enough. I am getting a little tired over the fact that Joan always thinks God’s tasks are for her own development, when she had to realize by now that Joan is the focal element of people’s lives changing for the better, while sometimes nothing changes for Joan herself. I was annoyed by Joan wanting to find her thing with the yearbook, trying to force herself to a talent, just so she can keep up with all the other students around her. I guess that made for a better moment between her and Adam at the end, before the drop of the very colorful copies of Grace’s poem, but realistically speaking, Joan should have realized her talent a long time ago, and having her still act like a ten-year-old girl who wants to have that one specific thing seems just a little bit out of character. One can only hope Joan knows now what good she is for, and how good she actually is in what she is doing, and that she will never have to question any one of God’s tasks ever again, let alone believe that they are for her own good. Sometimes they are (getting some extra money in her wallet with a job is a good thing for her), but she should have realized by now that God’s tasks are here to help other people, too. Maybe someone should tell Joan that she is going to be a great social worker one day, and most of the times those people are heroes. You just never know, because no one seems them as important people in this society.
I also think that Helen’s disappointment and sadness in Joan not following the JERRY MAGUIRE moment of stepping out with Helen was a bit too much for me, but here I believe that the writers added it, due to the fact that the episode came in short. Kevin obviously had no story in this episode, showing up twice or thrice to react to Joan’s life, just to roll away a minute later, and for whatever reason that happened, the writers needed to replace his storyline with something else, hence Helen’s disappointment. I don’t even know why she believed that she would lose Joan, just because Joan happened to stay with the yearbook project, instead of blindly following her mother into the unknown and unexpected. It’s sort of in contrast with the moment Helen mentioned that she isn’t allowed to make decisions for the yearbook team, let alone influence them to make certain decisions. Yet here was Helen, trying to influence Joan into leaving the yearbook team for her own sake, which was a failure. So, Helen wasn’t allowed to influence the yearbook team, but when she really wanted to do so (with Joan), she was unable to? I don’t really see why that is the message of her character arc. It’s a great conflict, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little weird that Joan would follow one rule and then just throw it to smithereens.
The rest of the episode was a bit forgettable. I was glad to see that Iris is still part of the show and that the writers didn’t just retcon her out of existence, now that Joan and Adam are an item, but the way the writers handled Iris’s existence during this hour was a bit lame. Although I have respect for the girls to not go all bitchy and furious on each other, just because of a boy, one could have thought that there was a premise behind Iris and Joan’s love for the same boy. The two girls are way too nice to each other, especially after what happened. And still, Iris’s back story has not been made use of ever since her crying moment episodes ago.
Meanwhile, you could think that both Kevin and Will didn’t have a story in this episode, because maybe you forgot they were ever in this episode. Will’s story of catching a husband giving money to an assassin should be major for any other CBS crime procedural, but JOAN OF ARCADIA being the successor to TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, it’s a crime plot almost entirely forgotten, as soon as you have grown some distance to the episode. I did however realize that the writers have recently begun to create police procedural stories for Will that have him reflect on his own family, like he elevator birth making him think how he could ever miss the birth of his own kids. And now the premise of a husband hiring a killer to murder his wife, which makes Will think twice about how screwed up some people’s marriages must be. But yeah, Kevin didn’t have a storyline, right? Is he still looking for feelings inside?
Instead, that amount of screentime went straight to Luke, who sort of got a mature way to develop his character. That thing with Friedman was pretty good, and I appreciated it, as Luke’s story didn’t happen to be about love, but about friendship. It’s a premise JOAN OF ARCADIA hasn’t dived into much lately (basically, only Joan and Grace are friends right now, but not even their friendship is being defined by friendship things), so it’s about time for the show to go down that route again, especially since it seems too real. Hanging around with your girlfriend too much is apparently a real syndrome, and sometimes you just need distance. Hanging out with the buddies might be the right kind of treatment, before any relationship gets sour.