2×01 Only Connect

….. by SisterDebMac

Joan sits on a bench in the park with a placid expression on her face as she watches an elderly woman feed a small flock of pigeons. Soon, her attention wanders to a man doing Tai Chi, and then to a girl jumping rope. But this isn’t ordinary people-watching. To me the music cue in this scene has always indicated that Joan’s supposed to be eyeing the crowd with a little bit of suspicion, scanning for God—indications are negative at this time.

Adam enters the picture, stage left, with a fat stack of books balanced atop his messenger bag. Was he looking for Joan, knowing she was freshly returned from summer camp? We never learn for certain, but this particular pile of books says YES.

He’s a hell of a lot happier to see Joan than she appears to be to see him. In fact, everything that follows between them feels awkward. He barely gets a hug, and she cuts him off when he tries to tell her how much he missed her. Instead, she presents him with a weird-looking lamp that she made at camp. And this is a lamp only Adam could love. It’s so reminiscent of some of his sculptures that I’m betting the JoA staffer who constructed his stuff made this thing too. But of course he would love it, because it’s from Jane.

Interestingly, even though things are not exactly going Adam’s way in this scene, he smiles more here than I think we saw in all of S1 combined. And he has started over with his haircut once again and he’s looking mighty fine, I must say.

The smiling ceases when Joan refuses to accept Adam’s newfound belief in her assertions about God. That’s what all those books are, you see. He has been reading about other people who talked to, or had visions from God, and he’s now convinced that Joan is one of those people. But Joan insists that she is not and never was. She says her illness (Lyme Disease) is gone and after much therapy with Dr. Dan, she is not crazy anymore.

Oh yeah? Then why does she seem to quake with fear that at any moment some stranger will approach her and reveal Him or Herself to be God?

“You seem so different,” Adam tells her with disappointment in his voice. Yes, she does, my boy. Now she really is a little crazy, despite her protestations to the contrary. She’s completely paranoid. Because no matter how much she will try to fight it, God is still with her. (Click here to watch this scene.)

I love this scene. Adam is still as Adamy and lovesick as ever, even as Joan tries desperately not to be who she was. She fails miserably as we’ll see later in this episode. She’s still exactly who she always was—and still totally oblivious to the depth of Adam’s feelings. He loves her so much that he set aside his own fear and doubt and embraced the idea that what she told him about God is true.

He believes her. Think about that statement for a second. Adam truly believes, against all reason, that Joan talks to God. Wow. How different would their relationship—and this show—have been if only she’d allowed him to do so?

The credits. Have to mention the credits. This episode welcomes Chris and Becky to the hallowed grounds of inclusion in the show’s opening montage. Woohoo!

The AP Chem gang from S1 has moved into AP Physics this year, still under the tutelage of Ms. Lischak. And she’s far more excited about it than the kids are. Grace and Luke are now make-out buddies with a confidentiality agreement. And Adam may be thinking along those same lines, too, when he asks Joan to meet him on the roof after school. She throws cold water on him immediately, saying she has to work. He thought she had quit her job, but she says Dr. Dan advised her to continue working. Adam is visibly disappointed, grumpy even. “You know, Dr. Dan might not always be the final authority,” he says. If only Adam knew how right he is! And bless his beautiful soul, he just keeps trying to convince Joan that seeing God is not nuts.

He reads a couple of accounts to her of others who have had similar experiences from one of his books, but Joan quickly cuts in with a terse, “What do you want from me?” She says that she likes where she is and doesn’t want to go back. “I just wanna be a normal couple now. You remember normal?” she asks. “Not really,” Adam grumbles. Right again, bucko. Another great A/J scene.

Joan continues to insist to everyone who will listen that her little “issue” is over and done with. But finally, Mrs. Landing-God appears and throws her delusion of being delusion-free into chaos. Joan refuses to even talk to Her, but her panic is clear.

Cop plot. Chewy eats. (And for those who don’t know by now who Chewy is, we’re talking about Det. Carlisle here, who eats whenever we see him on the screen, hence the nickname. -TeeJay) Will gets notice of the Bakers’ lawsuit. The kid who wrecked the car and paralyzed Kevin wants $$$ for emotional damages. I mention this only because it’s cool that they set up this plot in episode one, it will continue throughout most of S2.

Similarly, they set up the whole Helen/Father Ken/Lily thing in episode one. I love them!

Back to the Sub D’s walking down the hall at AHS. Friedman mouths off and gets a nice in-unison smack upside the head from Grace and Joan. Adam looks mopey in the background. Joan and Glynis bond over how “hot” physics is. Adam is not so enthusiastic. “Jane, you can’t get all happy about science. It’s totally gonna mess up our dynamic.” Um, huh? What dynamic? They’re AP students, for cryin’ out loud. He wants them not to take the class seriously? What’s the point of being in AP at all then? Maybe he really means that it will screw up their dynamic if she chooses science over faith. Hmmmm…

Next, Adam announces that he may have to drop the class anyway, ostensibly because he won’t have time to study with his job and all. Joan tells him he can’t do that. He says, “Well, I was only taking it because of you, and if you’re gonna be all weird about it—” Damn, dude, what are you really trying to say? We don’t get to find out though because Grace lashes out with a remark about A/J doing the “pukey couple thing”. The conversation then gets diverted to a round of Grace vs. Friedman. It heats up quickly before manly-man, Luke steps in to defend his woman, getting so intense about it that it weirds out the whole gang.

Then Joan is distracted by someone who looks very much like Goth-God from the back, walking down the hall. She gets a sick feeling and Adam reads it on her face, asking her if she’s OK. She claims she is. He seems unconvinced as she bolts. Friedman makes a cuckoo clock noise and this time everyone gives him a shove in unison. Even Adam. God, I love this slightly bolder S2 Adam—up till about 2X19 that is.

LittleGirl-God shows up when Adam is forced by his job to stand Joan up at the park. Joan still won’t talk to Her, walks away from Her.

Dinner at the Girardis’ is strained and silent. Everyone is dealing with their own particular load of crap—except Kevin. He tries to make conversation, but no one is biting. As usual, Joan thinks it’s all about her. Probably because she’s obviously torn by what’s still happening to her. Still fighting hard to deny it.

Mrs. Landing-God appears again at the bookstore, just in time to see Sammy’s wife go bonkers. God explains to Joan that she has just seen a glimpse of what real madness looks like. It’s a brutal, heartbreaking scene. Gets me in the gut every single time.

Later, Joan is confronted by CuteBoy-God. Since it’s this particular avatar, Barbara Hall has written the scene to play like Joan is breaking up with God. It’s absolutely priceless—as is His God-Wave under the flashing red hand of the Don’t Walk sign.

While I love this episode, and I’ve written far more about it than I expected to, it always leaves me feeling like A/J are not a couple anymore at all. And it seems to take a long time for them to start feeling like they choose each other again. Or at least it’s a while before she chooses him. Adam never waivers in his devotion. But he also seems to be tiring a bit of how complicated things always are with Joan. I remember being worried about them the first time I saw this one. And I didn’t like that at all.

Fortunately, things get better over the next few episodes. Slowly.

I don’t know any. Do you?

Thank You Mary Steenburgen Moment (by Deb):
The whole episode falls under this category. She’s wonderful here, with her adorable spiritual confusion. She clicks right away with Constance Zimmer as Lily, just as she did with David Burke as Father Ken. Mad props to the wardrobe department for putting her in all those lovely shades of green. And I love her hair!