Sunday, March 14, 2004

Joan of Arcadia - Requiem for a Third Grade Ashtray 

Steps were taken, art was made, food was prepared, and Kevin's hopes for recovery were rekindled by the usually inauspicious arrival of a pull-my-finger joke.

Joan is horrified when Cashier God at a convenience store tells her to bring home milk. She's really horrified later on when Goth God tells her to go home after her last class and look in on Luke, who is home with a nasty flu. Back at the convenience store, Grace is horrified by something she's requested to do via cellphone, so she spouts off about hypocricy and throws the phone into the convenience store dairy case. She has a great facial expression when she brings the milk to the counter at Joan's request. Sort of put upon yet resigned to her fate.

Joan is also horrified that Helen plans on sacrificing Archie, the ceramic ashtray turtle she made in third grade, on the altar of art. She rescues him from the to go pile. Will and Helen are astonished that Joan thought to pick up milk the night before. By their reaction, you'd think she announced that she had picked up 5 gallons of fresh pig's blood.

Turns out the lesson of the day is about kids taking steps toward adulthood and responsibility, and about parents accepting the adults the kids are becoming. It was very nice, actually. Grace, in her quest to avoid her family's religion, has put off her bat mitzvah for three years. Her father is now using the sick grandma card to get her going. "You can't fight a rabbi when he pulls out the guilt." She figured she'd just go and piss off the teachers by advocating for a Palestinian homeland, and she continued the horrified-fest when her father expressed pride at her questioning the meaning of religion and our place in the modern world, "in the spirit of Talmudic scholarship." She and Joan have a nice bonding moment on the stoop as they realize that their relationships with their parents aren't as easy to predict (and/or manipulate) anymore.

Joan, in her quest to "help out" has found herself facing a series of conflicting obligations. She eventually sorts out her priorities and gets them all done, but in the meantime Helen has come home to Luke fever-ridden and sitting in the dark (Joan was out getting fuses), the kitchen a mess (Joan made a full dinner, with meatloaf and extensive salad items), and no Joan (she was picking up Luke's chem notebook from Grace) or Kevin (he was at a secret medical test) anywhere. Helen has a hissy fit when Will comes home, contemplates quitting teaching, then takes out her frustrations on Joan when she gets back with the fuses and notebook. This time Joan doesn't resort to the time-honored angst and retreat tactic, but states what she was doing and why, and that she now has to go take Luke's spacecamp scholarship essay to the post office or the universe will fall apart (okay, a little teen angst).

By the next day, emotions have settled, and at Goth God's quiet prompting, Joan goes to the art room and quietly offers up Archie as her price of entry to adulthood. Helen isn't going to quit. They have a nice adult conversation in which Joan reveals that she may have failed her chem test, Helen says that's too bad, Joan is shocked at the lack of anger, Helen says that Joan has learned the skill of punishing herself. Helen then shares that she's been cranky from lack of sleep, due to constant worrying about teaching and whether she's good enough. They also bond over food preparation, as Helen loves what Joan did with the garlic for the meatloaf. Joan reveals that she roasted it, as she learned from watching Iron Chef.

The show wraps with Joan having prepared dinner again, with everyone sitting together (although Helen is a few minutes late).

In the B1-story, Will and Toni bust a cubicle guy for embezzling, but end up stuck in the elevator with a woman who proceeds to give birth. Turns out Cubicle Guy has three kids who were home delivered, so he walks them through it. In the most bizarre line of the show, when they've gotten out of the elevator Will asks Cubicle Guy "what a father of three is doing embezzling money from his own company?" First, embezzlement usually involves an inside job. Second, what does his parental status have to do with his criminal activites?

In the B2-story, Kevin has an EMG done to determine if his nerves are "waking up," as he had a gaslike feeling, which he hasn't had since the accident. The tests say no, but the medical folk say if it happens again, it could be neural regeneration. At the dinner table in the last scene, Kevin asks Luke to pull his finger, and proceeds to rip a big one. He then repeats his nifty trick a few times, but only he and Luke (who he filled in about the secret test) understand the significance.

Notes:
-Cashier God was just phoning it in. No, really, he retrieved Grace's cellphone from the dairy case and called Joan. Joan's cell even played When the Saints Go Marching In, and the caller ID said "GOD."

-Food is a central theme to this series. Whenever she goes to Grace's house, Grace's dad is eating dinner and Grace isn't home. Good vibes at the Girardi house are indicated by dinner together, while bad vibes are accompanied by skipped or individual meals. They bond over food preparation. Plus Joan and Grace's ritual sharing of the sandwich.

-Rebecca is "on hold."

-I loved Goth God's kilt.

-Glynis is becoming a tad co-dependant.

-Luke and Glynis are planning on attending Space Camp together! I want to go to Space Camp.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:17 AM