1×23 Silence

….. by TeeJay

The last episode of the first season begins with a particularly weird and somehow freaky dream of Helen’s, where there’s policemen at her door to inform her about Kevin’s accident, who then turn into clowns. Suddenly she’s in a church, and in the row behind her is CuteBoy-God, in His brown corduroy jacket and His slightly arrogant way. He turns into Joan as He’s talking to Helen, asking her to keep an open mind. As Joan-God walks away, Helen calls after Him/Her and then she wakes up from her dream. Roll title theme.

Next morning, the Girardi kids are in the kitchen. Joan is dabbing some sort of ointment on an itching rash on her leg that she doesn’t know where it came from. Kevin quips, “Legs are overrated. Take it from an expert. You can still get laid.”

Helen tells the family about her dream. “It’s just that God was in this corduroy coat and then he turned into Joan.” Joan gives Helen a look. Corduroy coat? That sounds familiar. She asks, “Brown corduroy coat?” Helen says, “Yeah. Very handsome.” Joan asks, “Short, spiky hair?” So Joan’s been having the same dream, Helen asks. Yeah. Sort of. Except it was not a dream. In the meantime, Will gets called to a hostage situation at work.

At the last day of school for the year, Joan’s rash gets worse and it keeps itching. Grace asks if she’s contracted an STD already. And it seems like everyone knows that Joan and Adam were in the hotel room together. Doing certain things—that of course they didn’t do. Adam runs past with an armful of overdue library books he has to return, so they don’t exchange more than a few words.

Joan says she doesn’t feel so good. Sweaty, dizzy, nauseous. Does it have to do with her rash? In the bathroom, Joan obviously just did some vomiting, rinsing her mouth with water. In the corner of the room, she sees twin girls in black dresses, one of the weirder incarnations of God. Twin-Girls God tell her that sometimes it’s hard to believe what you see, so she has to trust the world behind her eyes, that people trust God even in the silence. And then the two girls melt into one and Joan comments, “Very Matrix.” Twin-Girls God tells Joan to go to the doctor, that she’s sick.

The hostage situation at the police station turns ugly as the hostage taker accidentally shoots his mother. And Will witnesses the whole thing.

Joan has another strange God vision when Luke, Grace and her go to the last day fair where Vice Principal Price asks Joan to do the egg race with him. Joan agrees after God gives her a hint that she should.

At the same time, Helen seeks spiritual guidance in church, where she runs into Father Ken, whom she tells about her God dream. Of course Father Ken can’t explain why she dreamt about God and asks the all important question: Do you want it to be Him?

At the school fair, Joan has one leg bound to Price’s leg while they race and balance eggs on spoons. Twin-Girls God appears again, insisting she go see a doctor. Price suddenly has green lizard eyes as he asks her who she’s talking to. Joan asks him, “Are you the devil?” As Twin-Girls God tells her, “Learn to see in the dark,” she falls to the ground, unconscious, as her friends and fellow students look on.

She wakes up in the hospital, mumbling things that don’t really make sense. Kevin, Luke, Grace and Adam are sitting in the waiting area. Kevin can’t reach either Helen or Will on the phone and everyone’s worried and a little high strung. Adam thinks out loud, saying, “She thinks I’m gonna dump her.” Luke comments, “Very classy move, dude. Friedman explained it, post-copulatory discard. It’s my sister!” Luke threateningly stands up and Adam does too. They’re just shy of a fist fight, it appears. Grace jumps up and stands between them. “Primates! We are here for Joan, a little restraint.” They sit back down.

Luke can’t leave it alone, he asks Adam, “So, are you dumping her?” Adam replies with a vehement, “No. Okay, that’s insane, why would I ever?” Grace tries to diffuse the situation by cracking jokes, but it’s not really working.

At the same time, Helen is lighting a candle in church when a breeze whips through and makes the flames flicker. She has a feeling. She whispers, “Joan,” like she knows something’s not right. Very quickly, she leaves.

Will’s already at the hospital, but not for Joan. He walks into the room of the mother who was shot. He doesn’t really get it because she didn’t have a heartbeat when she was transported out of the station by the paramedics. She tells him that her son is innocent and that they should look into his girlfriend.

Joan has been moved to a room in the hospital (and why does she get a single room, wouldn’t they usually put her with someone else? The Girardis must have some medical insurance!). And she starts seeing God, but not only one incarnation, suddenly they’re all there. LittleGirl-God, TV-God, Mrs. Landing-God, Smoove-G-God, Goth-God. And they’re telling her that she’s having a crisis of faith.

In the hospital, Will runs into Helen by chance, but neither of them know about Joan yet. Helen says she’s there because she had a feeling (didn’t she bother to check her cell phone voicemail?), Will is still there because of the hostage situation. Then Kevin finds them and tells them about Joan.

While Joan is still talking to the God avatars in her room, they are all silent. Joan rants on about how she never wanted any of this, how she’s always given her best, but the avatars stay silent. She wants an explanation, encouragement, anything. But they are not forthcoming.

In the waiting area, Joan’s doctor explains that Joan is suffering from Lyme Disease caused by a tick bite that could have been lying dormant in her system for a long time—months, possibly even years. She says that it usually manifests in moodiness, extreme changes of behavior, scattered thinking, lack of concentration, even hallucinations. Sometimes people are misdiagnosed as being mentally ill. Grace can’t help but comment, “This is clearing up a lot for me.”

Joan will be treated with antibiotics and kept there overnight for observation. Luke asks if the symptoms will go away after that. The doctor says that she’ll be herself again, whatever she was before. And Adam suddenly realizes, “Well, I didn’t know her before. I like her now.” He’s afraid that he fell in love with a Joan who wasn’t really Joan. With a worried look in his eyes, he asks, “How different will she be?” No one has an answer for him.

In her room, Joan admits to the still silent avatars, “I never liked any of you. Especially,” she points at Goth-God, “you.” She raises her voice, “Okay, go on, leave! Dump me like Adam did. Please go!” They all leave out the door, and Joan sits up. “Wait! Are you really leaving? You can’t just abandon people.”

Just at that moment, Helen and Will walk in. And Joan tells them about the people they just saw leaving and that they’ve been driving her crazy. But of course Helen and Will didn’t see anyone, so they’re both worried. Joan really is having hallucinations, and Helen explains to her that she might have been seeing things because she’s been sick for a long time. Joan realizes what that means and she starts to cry. “Sick? It was never real? I’ve always been sick?”

In the hospital hallway Will runs into Mrs. Washington, the mother, again. She keeps insisting that he take care of her son getting a fair trial. Will promises he will.

Adam wants to see Joan and walks into her hospital room, but she’s asleep. Helen is sitting on a couch near Joan’s bed and Adam sits down next to her, a troubled look on his face. He explains that the others went home, asks if he can sit with Helen. She invites him to, tells him Joan’s gonna be fine. In a quiet voice, he says to Helen, “You know, I was never gonna dump her. I was avoiding her a little. It got too hard, I got scared.” Helen tries to reassure him. “These are intense feelings, Adam. Processing them at your age…” He looks so sad, no one should look so sad. “She saw me at the bottom, Mrs. G. Crying, complaining, scared. How’s she gonna forget that?” “She won’t,” Helen tells him. “Neither will you. It’s called a bond.” Oh, I love it when Helen gets all motherly on Adam.  (Me too!  Love her! -Deb)

Meanwhile at the police station, Will is told that Mrs. Washington died of a heart attack right after he interviewed her in the hospital. But she couldn’t have, he saw her in the hospital right before he came to the station. Didn’t he?

A while later, Adam is still in Joan’s hospital room, waiting in a chair next to her bed, still looking so miserable and troubled and worried. Joan wakes up and sees him there. She asks him, “Have I been acting crazy lately?” and he answers, “Not to me.” She suddenly realizes that there was this whole thing about him avoiding her, so she asks right out, “Are you dumping me?” “No,” he tells her immediately. “No, of course not. I just wigged out.” He gets up and sits on her bed, touching her legs, trying to explain it to her. “I’ve told you things, things I’ve never told anybody. And these things in my head, you know, I keep them to myself, and it makes me feel crazy. When I say them to you, though, you know, I don’t feel that way anymore.” His voice is so low and shy and he breaks out in the sweetest smile when he says, “You don’t give me that thousand yard stare.”

Joan tells him the doctors think she’s been having these hallucinations because of her illness and Adam tells her not to worry, she’s gonna get better. “That’s not the point,” Joan says. “Something’s been happening to me for a long time, I need to say it out loud to someone I trust.” Adam nods. “Say it to me.” Joan wants him to promise he will believe her, and he does.

She doesn’t quite know how to say this, so she just comes out with it, “I’ve been talking to… I’ve been talking to… God.” There’s a pause, Adam smiles. “In your dreams?” She shakes her head. “In your head?” She looks at him. “I kinda see Him. He just started coming around. He always looks different. Sometimes He is a She. It’s scary and annoying.” The look on Adam’s face isn’t betraying his unwillingness to take her seriously. How could he? She’s been hallucinating. But Joan goes on, “But the thing is, when I obey, things turn out okay. I mean, I see things, I understand things, I feel like I get the point.”

She knows he’s having a hard time believing what she’s saying, so she tries to show him an example. “When I gave you that picture, God told me to give you a gift. I got confused, I thought it was about sex, but it turns out it was just that little gift. When we looked at it, it was like you and I were going to the same place in our heads. Didn’t you feel that?”

He’s tearing up, just like Joan, but he doesn’t know how he can tell her what he’s feeling, what he’s thinking, because he is fully aware it’ll destroy her in her fragile state. “Didn’t you?” she asks again when he doesn’t say anything. The look in his eyes says it all. “Adam, you have to believe me,” Joan pleads. “If you believe me, then I know it’s not crazy, but if you don’t…” A tear slips down her cheek and Adam’s silent but sad look is on her.

“You promised,” she whispers. He takes her hands in his, finally saying, “I believe that you believe it. They say that the infection stays in your system a long time and it makes things look crazy. You know, sometimes when I’m doing my art, I get these visions…” Nice try, Adam. “Never mind,” Joan tells him absently. She turns around with her back to him. He can only whisper, “Jane…” but she doesn’t react. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then? Jane?” Still no reaction, so he gets up, kisses her head and leaves. A tear falls from her eye as he does.

Luke walks Grace home, and she tells him he doesn’t have to do it. Luke babbles a lot, and Grace says she likes the quiet when she walks. Luke babbles on, and Grace suddenly turns around. “Why did you give me that rock?” Luke explains it was a gesture of friendship. Possibly courtship. Grace thinks that’s ridiculous. That she has a reputation. “I’m anti.” Luke asks, “Anti what?” She explains, “What have you got?” He doesn’t buy it. “So you’re never gonna fall in love?” She looks at him. “I’m never even gonna fall in like. And I’m certainly not gonna be courted by some rocket-head geek.” Luke has a good point when he asks why she cares so much when she’s anti. He starts babbling again, and Grace yells, “Look, I am not into you, got it?” “Yeah,” he says and then they just melt into each other, kissing.

In Joan’s hospital room, Will comes back to his wife and daughter and Will and Helen have an honest talk about faith and God. And suddenly Joan wakes up and chimes in, “He isn’t real. You were talking about God. He isn’t real.” But after Will and Helen have fallen asleep on the couch and Joan is also asleep again in her bed, CuteBoy-God walks in and lightly touches her forehead. Not so unreal after all.

And thus ends this episode and with it season one. And what an ending it is, because we were left hanging with that tiny tingling doubt in our minds that maybe what Joan was seeing wasn’t so far fetched, that maybe her God assignments hadn’t been real after all. And it would take the US viewers about four months to find out, as the show went into its summer hiatus with this episode.

When we look at Adam and Joan, they’ve had quite a journey this season. From the very beginnings of a mutual affection that neither of them wanted to admit to themselves, to the cruel self-denial when Adam went out with Iris to a sort of happy ending there at the late mid-season when they both finally gave in to their feelings for each other and sealed it with a kiss on Joan’s front porch.

But then, that last episode put a bit of a dark shadow over them again, with Adam not ready to believe Joan about talking to God and her expectation that he would. Another tone of discord that would leave the viewers hanging for few months.

Looking a little closer at Adam, we saw him come out of his shell with Joan’s help, opening up to her like he hadn’t opened up to anyone in a long time. The wounds over his mother’s suicide were starting to heal and we only just saw how he was starting to believe in himself, how he was building up more self-confidence. We saw a wounded, shy soul slowly beginning to grow into a sweet, lovable young man.

And I want to say again: Kudos to Barbara Hall for giving us such an interesting character in Adam whom we grew to love, and kudos to Chris for breathing life into him and playing him into our hearts to get stuck there to this day.