1×17 No Bad Guy

….. by TeeJay

Cute. In the girls’ locker room, after PE, Joan’s wearing a dark pink pair of panties and a kinda old-fashioned looking undershirt. When she gets in a verbal battle with a couple of snooty girls, one of them snaps a cell phone picture of her in her undies. Uh oh! Of course the next day it’s all over school. Major embarrassing moment.

In the school hallway, Grace quips, “Can I just say, I sort of pictured you the matching bra-and-panties type.” (Uhm, Grace, what are you doing picturing Joan in her underwear?) Can I just say, I hate how they have Adam walking through the shot with his arm slung around Baby-Voice’s shoulders? Of course Adam got the panty shot by e-mail too, just like every other student at Arcadia High. “I deleted it, like, immediately,” he assures Joan. Yep, this is a nightmare, all right.

Baby-Voice dares open her mouth and utter words in this scene. Everyone except maybe Adam wishes she didn’t. Or maybe even Adam. We’ll get to know why in the very last scene of this episode. What’s interesting is Adam’s take on Ghandi: “He went around naked, and he’s, like, an icon.” Uhmm….?? Oh-kay.

What I forgot to mention… the pic they snapped of Joan happened when she was trying to defend a Quaker girl and her hat. And Joan meets Quaker girl again when God tells her to join the school orchestra. Joan at percussion? Uhm… that’s a no-go.

Ah, okay, this is the episode where Helen exhibits some of her paintings. It looks like a fairly popular opening, and Helen’s a little tipsy. Apparently, she drinks when she’s nervous. Some of the Arcadia High students are also milling about, including the Girardi kids and Adam and Iris. There’s one funny moment here that I love. Joan is looking a kind of twisted, abstract picture that reminds me of a mixture between Picasso’s Guernica and Magritte’s Les Jours gigantesques. And she goes to Luke, “Do you think that’s me?” Luke tells her, “Hey, guess what? Copernicus called, said the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Sarcastically, Joan answers, “Oh! What a coincidence, because the dork police called, and they said they want their leader back.” Kevin, who joined them a second ago, touches Joan’s back and goes, “It’s official, I don’t miss high school anymore.”

Next morning, Helen has to read in the paper that some the pompous jerk style editor, Andy Reese, from Kevin’s paper trashed her exhibition to bits in his review. And Helen is devastated. The family tries to reassure her, but they’re not having much success.

AP Chemistry. I can see—oh, let me look—at least ten glass flasks with liquid chemicals in them. They’re all red, blue, green or yellow. Aaaaaank!! Do your research, people. I mentioned this before, but I just can’t help the nitpick here. Liquid chemicals are rarely colored. Okay, sorry, back to the story.

In the hallway, Adam, Grace and Joan are discussing ways of getting back at the two chicks who took the Joan-in-her-undies pic viral. Adam has a really cool idea. “I could whip up a cartoon. Kind of be like a social satire.” Joan asks, “You’d do that for me?” Adam looks at her, serious now. “I’d even sign it.” Aw, that’s sweet. They decide to meet that night to concoct something humiliating in return for the photo girls.

Back at the house, Joan finally does as God suggests and goes home to help out. And, oh, here we go! If I had to name one really really really stupid thing, like the stupidest thing that Joan ever did, it would have to be this one. Because you just don’t stick your foot in the washing machine. Ever. No big surprise that she ends up with a sprained ankle when the machine starts up with her foot still in it. There’s only so much empathy Joan gets from me on this one.

Fifth period art, Helen has to face the crowd, meaning her class. And she’s terrified because of that critic’s article. However, she’s in for a big surprise because all her students tell her that the critic “is a wipe, yo”, as Adam puts it. He tells her the guy’s a total poser and that Helen shouldn’t listen to anything he says because he knows nothing about art. Helen is flattered and tells everyone that you need to press on, even if other people say what you’re doing is crap. Yeah, that’s life for you sometimes. Can’t always please everyone… Haven’t we all learned that lesson at one time or another?

During a break, the subdefectives (plus now omnipresent Baby-Voice) meet on the stairs. Joan is having the hardest time using her crutches and almost pokes Adam’s eye out with one as she’s trying to sit down. They’re still working on coming up with a scheme to get back at the photo girls. And it’s cute how Joan puts her injured ankle on Adam’s drawn up knee, and he doesn’t tell her not to, or to remove it, or anything. Just sits there with her foot on his leg like it’s the most normal thing in the world. I love that.

When they talk about retribution, Iris tells Joan, “The beauty is that your friends do it for you.” Joan looks at her. “I’m your friend?” That’s news to her. “You’re A’s friend. I’m about A.” Joan thinks out loud, meaning Baby-Voice, of course, “Do you have to talk? Is there, like, an off-switch?” Both Iris and Adam stare at her. Not a nice thing to say. Adam tries to salvage the situation. To Iris he says, “She’s joking.” Iris gets that she’s not. “Yeah. Ring-ring. That’s my life calling.” She leaves. Adam’s gaze on Joan is not a happy one. “It’s just… her voice,” Joan tries to defend herself. She removes her ankle from Adam’s knee. He gets up and goes after Iris. Adam, you may not have a great taste in women (at least this one in particular), but at least you’re loyal.

Next day in school, Adam chases Joan down, tells her the “good news”. Friedman apparently hacked into Angela’s diary (one of the photo girls). And apparently, Friedman did the same thing they did, he e-mailed it around the school. Of course Angela is furious. Well, missy, an eye for an eye. The subdefectives look on in glee as Angela and Friedman get in a mini-row in the cafeteria about what Friedman did.

And the humiliation doesn’t end there. Iris gets up and starts to read out loud to everyone around from Angela’s diary. It ends in disaster because Angela happened to share her innermost fears about her mother suffering from breast cancer. And no one realizes just how personal these thoughts are until they’re read out loud for everyone to hear. Angela leaves in tears. Everyone else is just shocked. They didn’t mean for this to happen.

What follows now is one of the most tender and beautiful Adam/Joan moments of season one. It’s definitely up there along with scenes from Jump and the dance scene from Recreation. It’s evening and Joan, in her cute pink checkered flannel pajamas, is making herself a huge sandwich in the kitchen. There’s a knock at the door and she tries to hobble over on her crutches. She gives up halfway, drops them and just hops to the door on her good leg. Standing there, in the rain, is Adam. “Adam? It’s late.” Adam doesn’t seem to own a watch, or have any sense of time, because he asks, “It is?”

He follows her into the kitchen where Joan plops in one of the chairs, putting her injured leg up onto the kitchen table. Adam wants to talk. But first and foremost, he’s worried about Joan, because he asks her if her ankle hurts. She tells him that it’s not so bad anymore, that you get used to it. Yeah, I can confirm that from experience, although I only ever had a really bad sprained ankle once. Knock on wood.

They talk about Angela and her mother. Neither of them knew about it, and Adam feels bad and guilty. Joan tries to deflect the guilt and blames it on Friedman, saying he was behind the whole thing. But Adam sets her straight. “Jane, we were.” Joan says they’ll apologize, that should be enough. Adam’s not sure.

He wanders around the kitchen and sees Joan’s humongous sandwich. He points at it. “Wow, this is the most awesome sandwich I’ve ever seen.” Joan tells him to have it. “Bored with it already. It’s too much chewing.” He sits down at the table across from Joan with the sandwich, not touching it. With the cutest apologetic smile, he says, “I’m not hungry.”

They both chuckle, there’s an awkward, silent moment before Joan asks him why he’s here. He just shrugs, breathing out a long breath. “Iris is a good person,” he finally volunteers. Joan tells him she knows that. “It’s just that her voice… It drives me crazy.” Adam says it’s her real voice, but then admits with a small laugh, “It drives me crazy too.”

They both smile at each other, somehow at ease but at the same time a little uneasy. Adam—gently, carefully—lifts the slipper off of Joan’s bandaged foot and starts fumbling with her bandage. It’s such an incredibly intimate gesture that says more than words. Joan watches him wordlessly for a moment before she asks, “But you love her?”

He looks her straight in the eyes for a few seconds, then frowns in confusion, never stopping with the fumbling. Does he? “I like her a lot,” he admits. “And you want me to like her too?” Joan asks him. She searches out his eyes, afraid he’s gonna say yes. But he doesn’t. “No,” his voice is just above a whisper, almost shaky, “But I want you to like me.” They both look like they might be about to cry. Joan recovers and swallows. “Adam, I don’t just like you.” He, too, swallows the huge lump in his throat and they both end up smiling at each other. In a gentle voice, he says, “Yeah. Yeah, me too.”

Lovingly, he puts the slipper back over Joan foot. They said everything they needed to say. He leaves with the sweetest, “Goodnight, Jane.” Joan watches him go, a tear rolling down her cheek when he’s gone. Adam walks out into the rain. What a beautiful, magical way to end this episode. This is one of those times where I’m reminded why I love this show so much.

Trivia (by TeeJay):
There’s something memorable that I remember from a PopGurls interview that Chris gave in 2004 that was about exactly that last scene of the episode. Here’s what Chris had to say about it:

People gushed over the final scene between Joan and Adam in “No Bad Guy.” What did you think of the scene?

I thought it came off extremely well. Jim Hayman directed that episode and he did such a great job at taking the necessary beats in that scene and holding them – there’s a lot of silence between the lines that played a really strong subtext to everything Adam and Joan were feeling, and I feel like that’s what really pulled on everybody’s heart strings. Adam and Joan looking at each other – seeing it in their eyes even though they’re not saying it all completely.

It was a really emotional scene, and out of all the ones that we filmed, it’s probably the most emotional because it carries the weight that will end up affecting these two characters for as long as the show goes.