1×22 The Gift

….. by TeeJay

The episode starts out in the school hallway. Friedman, Luke and Glynis are trying to sort out their study group problems because of the fact that Luke and Glynis aren’t “squeezing the produce anymore”, as Friedman puts it. A few feet behind them, Adam and Joan discuss how Adam fell asleep during class and the teacher threw an eraser at him. Joan tells him, “I know 19 th century Europe can be kind of a snooze, but you were snoring. You know, like the Three Stooges, with the little ‘weeee’ at the end.”

Adam explains that he’s just really tired—studying for finals, taking the job at the hotel. Joan tells him he could have waited with working more hours at the hotel until the summer, but he says that the pay is good and they would have given away the job otherwise. Grace interrupts, asking when they’re gonna study for Chem. Time’s a rare commodity for everyone right now, so they’re trying to squeeze it all in.

On top of everything, Helen comes up and asks Adam for his sketches for the final sculpture project. He hasn’t had time to take care of them yet. But Joan asks her mom to go easy on Adam, bend the rules a little and let him hand them in later. Helen says she can’t make exceptions for him. (Deb – I love how he turned her around and pulls her away when she glares at her mom for that. It’s not scripted.)

Joan walks Adam to the hotel. They both regret that they have so little time, and Adam’s job will be full time in the summer, he will have to work a lot of nights. They kiss before they separate and Adam walks into the side entrance of the hotel. (Deb – And again, they have this adorable unscripted moment where they glance adoringly back at each other after they part.)

Joan rounds the corner, and there’s French Waiter-God. He gives her a new assignment: Give Adam a gift.

Of course Joan is clueless as to what to give to Adam. During PE, Joan and Grace try to discuss this. Grace doesn’t get why she would want to give Adam a gift so badly so early in their relationship, but Joan says he needs one. When Joan asks Grace for suggestions, she says, “He used to like slot cars and smurfs.” Yeah, great, that helps. Joan suggests a new backpack since Adam’s is kinda ripped. Not that great an idea either. (TeeJay – Since when does Adam use a backpack? We only ever see him with his red messenger bag, don’t we? Deb – Yeah, that’s a blatant error by the writer that no one caught.)

Kevin is asked to cover his first court case for the paper. He’s putting a lot of effort into it too.

Joan asks Luke to help find a gift for Adam. Luke also thinks it’s way too soon for the gift thing. He tries perusing the internet for Joan to help her find what Adam might like to have. The computer suggests an electric sander or a Garfield night light. Joan leaves, saying, “I’m meant to die alone.”

Next day, Joan walks Adam to the hotel again. She very casually tries to pry some information out of Adam as to what items he might be missing in his life. One suggestion of hers is an organizer to write down his notes and appointments. “No, I just write my stuff on scrap paper,” he tells her. Okay, so no organizer. She asks him what he would like to have if he could have anything in the world. His answer is kinda clueless but also incredibly sweet. “There’s not much I want, really. Except you.”

She asks him to pretend it’s Christmas and he got a puppy. He then asks her, “You want a puppy?” She goes, “No, they poop all the time.” He gets fed up with her weird suggestions. “Yeah, look, I’m kinda late,” he says as he walks up to the hotel. He turns around before he enters. “Cha, I’m such a thud, I only have a dollar, I need something to eat. Can I borrow some money until—”

She interrupts him. “No! But you can have it.” She takes a ten dollar bill out of her purse and gives it to him. “Ten dollars. It’s a gift from me to you.” At first he smiles. “I’ll pay it back.” But Joan insists. “No, no, I don’t want it back, it’s a gift.”

He gets angry all of a sudden. “I can buy my own food!” This really offended him. Joan can see that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to want to give him money. “I know,” she tries to explain. But he just won’t hear it. “I’m not a charity case, Jane.” He thrusts the money back into her hand and walks into the hotel. She starts to run after him. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to be nice.” He turns around. “Nice? Nice?! Nice is what you get from a stranger!” Oh dear, what has she done? “I’m sorry, it was really stupid,” she tries to apologize, “Here, you can pay me back.” She still wants him to take the money. He walks away without it. “Yeah, I’ll just get something at home later.”

Joan is left standing there, all stricken and clueless. That didn’t go very well. (TeeJay – And I’m left sitting here, thinking about how poor Adam has to work all night on an empty stomach. Aw.)

Joan runs into Rich Lady-God who tells her to find what Adam needs. Her next opportunity to find that out is the next day in school when they sit down in an empty classroom to study History. They both apologize for what happened before and they sorta make up. Adam explains that he finds History with all these wars and treaties really lame. “The only thing cool about the 19 th century was the art scene in Paris. I mean, that was the place to be.”

Then he realizes he forgot his notes in his locker, so he goes back to get them. His messenger bag is lying there open, all inviting. Joan hesitates a moment, but can’t resist the opportunity to peek in the bag for some clue that might help her figure out the right gift for him. First thing she looks at is his sketchbook. It’s empty except for the first few pages with a few doodlings. She digs deeper in his bag and finds a condom. Whoa. Is that what he wants? Adam comes back with his notes and she plops in her seat, not knowing what to think.

Joan confides in Grace that she found the condom in Adam’s bag. Joan doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do. They never talked about sex, her and Adam. And it’s clear that she’s not ready. Grace then asks a simple question. “Do you love him?” Of course she does, so she answers, “Yeah.” Guess she knows what that means.

Next day in school, Adam comes up from behind at the lockers, gently pushing her hair aside to give her a very soft kiss on the neck. She’s all bothered by the physical contact. He asks her why she didn’t meet him on the roof. She explains she was in the library, studying. She pretends she forgot about meeting him. He can feel she’s not quite herself. “Are you avoiding me, Jane?” he asks. And the saddened look on his face just makes you wanna hug him right there on the spot. She tells him they’ll meet on the roof the next day since he has work later today. He just whispers, “Sure,” before he walks away. She goes after him and plants a sweet kiss on his lips, giving him a hopeful smile. He smiles back, but you can see he’s not quite consoled about the whole avoidance thing.

Next thing she knows, Cute Boy-God is standing at one of the lockers. She quips, “Great, you have a locker now. What do you keep in there? Wrath?” He talks about being scared of getting too close, explains He just asked her to get to know Adam better.

This episode is maybe also the first milestone for the Luke and Grace relationship. Because while Joan is still struggling to find a gift for Adam, Luke has already bought a gift he wants to give to Grace. It’s a geode, and Grace is absolutely stunned. She never knew that Luke saw something in her.

At the hotel, Adam is shampooing a rug, dressed in a green hotel uniform. Suddenly Joan is standing in the doorframe. “Jane, what are you doing here?” he asks, surprised. She enters and closes the door behind them. Things are more than a little awkward and Adam asks if she wanted to study or something. She didn’t bring any books. Duh. She comes clean and tells him she went through his bag and found the condom.

He suddenly gets it. Well, kinda. (Deb – And his reaction is so adorably mortified. Really, one of my favorite things in the ep.) He explains they passed them out in health class. She asks him, “So you haven’t thought about… us?” Of course he has. He’s a dude. “Well… sure,” he admits. (Deb – Again, adorably.) He then sits down next to her on the hotel bed. “Is that why you’re here?” She looks at him, tears forming in her eyes. She really doesn’t know what do with it. “It just seems like we’re supposed to get closer.” They lean in for a very passionate kiss, but she pulls back, crying suddenly. “Guess I’m just a little afraid,” she admits. She questions if this is really the right thing to do. “I’m just not sure if we do this, what the ripples are going to be.”

They sit in silence for a moment before his voice comes up, all scared and teary. “I don’t wanna lose you,” he sobs. Why would he be afraid of that? But he explains it through tears of his own. “This job, I had to take it early. My dad hurt his back, he can’t work.” Joan’s appalled. “You should have told me!” “What difference would it make?” he asks. “Because then you didn’t have to go through it alone.”

She asks him if his dad is gonna get better, but Adam doesn’t really know. He gets up, puts some distance between them. “It just always seems that there’s something that gets in the way of what you hope for.” She tells him that’s not true, but he explains in a teary voice, “My mom dies, my dad gets sick. I fall in love with you.”

“How is that bad?” she asks. “Are you gonna stay with me if this is what my life becomes?” He kicks the carpet cleaner. (Deb – Not scripted.) “Running this thing for the rest of my life?” She had no idea he has all these burdens to carry. “Is that why your sketchbook’s empty?” “Before I met you, I was barely getting through school. I’m not some struggling artist in Paris, I’m a 16-year-old kid in Arcadia who has to work to buy his dad pills.” She looks at him. “Adam, you believed in yourself.” He shakes his head. “No. You believed in me.” He sinks back down on the bed next to her. “And it felt good. But I need something more now. I need something real, something I can hold in my hand.” She is stroking his shoulder, whispering, “What? Anything. I’ll give you anything you need.” He gives her another kiss and tells her he needs to get back to work.

Joan suddenly has an idea when she runs into Rich Lady-God again. Back home, she asks her mother who the artist from 19 th century Paris was that her History teacher mentioned. Helen and Will wanna know where Joan has been all night and why her cell phone was turned off. She tells them she was with Adam. In a hotel room. Of course Will immediately gets the wrong idea. Well, the right idea, only he doesn’t know that it didn’t actually happen. Helen says, “You were alone with Adam in a hotel room and you love him?” Will adds, “And he was shampooing the rug? I’m a cop, Joan, this is when I start reading you your rights.” (Deb – One of the funniest scenes of the season.)

Helen sends Will upstairs and tries to give Joan the sex talk. Joan insists that she did not have sex with Adam, but that she thought about it. She says it turns out sex isn’t what Adam needs. Helen is so relieved. “Adam is such a nice boy.” (TeeJay – Yeah, wait until a year later, Helen…) Helen then tells her the French artist she’s looking for is Rodin.

Next day in school, Joan meets Adam on the roof. He was afraid that she wouldn’t come, but she tells him she was just finishing something. She hands him a framed black and white picture of a young man and a woman at a dinner table in a restaurant, looking very 19 th century. “For you,” she says and explains, “Rodin. He was a sculptor, like you. He needed to support his family by being a bricklayer, and this is his girlfriend, Rose. His house in Paris is a museum now, it’s filled with all the stuff he made.”

He looks at her, appreciating the sentiment. However… “I’m not Rodin, Jane,” he says. “No,” she smiles at him, “You’re Adam Rove. And you have what you asked for. Something real you can hold in your hands. It doesn’t have to make sense. We don’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

They both look at the picture and “La vie en rose” starts playing. The camera pans into the picture and Rodin and Rose melt into Adam and Joan in 19 th century attire, sitting in the restaurant, him sketching her in his sketchbook. The camera pulls away again and the picture morphs back into Rodin and Rose. Joan and Adam look at each other, share the moment. Then they pull closer and re-enact Rodin’s The Kiss as the vocals swell and the camera moves up to look at them from above.