2×03 Back to the Garden

….. by SisterDebMac

As the Girardis deal with the Bakers’ lawsuit, everyone is a little on edge.

Grace questions Joan about her status with Adam after their tiff at Judith’s party. Joan says she knows she was out of line and that she’s sworn off parties. Grace says her dad heard about Judith ending up in the hospital and he thinks Grace is being corrupted by the heathen schicksa. Joan goes on to speculate that Judith just felt out of place, so she acted out. Grace reiterates the seriousness of what Judith did to herself. Grace would know, so you gotta give her that one.

They run into Judith hanging out with the losers by the school’s bleachers. Joan tries to excuse her behavior by saying she’s just trying to make friends. Grace opts for a less dangerous activity than hanging out with Judith, like running with scissors.

Joan asks Judith why she’s at the “super-loser hang-out”. Judith, puffing away on a cigarette, says it’s the only smoking section. (Schools still have those?) Judith then goes on to encourage Joan toward more bad behavior, like skipping class to go for Big Gulps and sneaking into the movies. Wow. On the bad kid scale, she’s kinda tame. Well, except for the whole binge-drinking thing, and… well, you’ll see later in the season.

God pops up then in the form a school custodian, planting a tiny tree. Wait, sorry, God doesn’t pop. There’s no popping. God is simply there to give Joan another cryptic suggestion that she’ll find her next assignment in AP Physics, for which she is already late.

Yay! A Helen and Lily scene. Love them!

Physics class. Joan walks in late. Adam cannot take his eyes off her. Sigh. Joan asks him what Lischak just said to her, and he quietly, honestly smiles and says, “I wasn’t listening. I was looking at you.” Joan melts. Grace is horrified. Adam continues to stare. Friedman sticks his proboscis into the conversation to ask where “his” Judith is. Joan tells him the kiss at the party was a joke. “You sweet, naïve child,” he says.

As class goes on, Adam still watches Joan, rapt. Grace makes a joke about Friedman never getting laid and Adam laughs in a whisper (how does he do that?), smiling at Joan. (Chris Marquette opening credit shot alert)! Joan’s really paying attention to not much of anything until Lischak calls on her for ideas about how to study indeterminacy. “How are you going to handle the assignment?” “Assignment?” Joan asks. That sounds familiar. She fumbles, thinking back to God planting the Charlie Brown Christmas tree by the bleachers. “We could plant a garden,” she suggests, “in the rankest part of school…” Lischak likes the idea. “What did I say?” Joan sighs rhetorically. Adam looks completely flummoxed. Was he still too distracted to hear it, or is it just a totally whack idea?

Gym class. Coach Keady runs the kids around the gym. Joan asks if Adam and Grace are going to help with the garden. She asserts that Judith will help too. Grace and Adam balk, and Adam points out that Judith has been truant for days.

Grace peels off to talk to Luke. They get in a mini-row.

Joan begs Adam to help with the garden. He’s putty in her hands. He caves. Seems he’s really feeling the reconnection they made at the end of the last episode. When Joan spots Adam for some sit-ups, she leans all the way forward on his knees. It’s such a cute, couply thing to do. Guess she’s feeling it too.

Bookstore. Adam has arranged for a co-worker to cover his shift at the hotel so he can work with Joan on the project. She’s really happy about it, planting a big kiss on his lips, and you can hear her inhale, just breathing him in. Love the way he mumbles, “ummmmhmmm” just as she’s going in. That voice! Savor this sweet, giddy moment folks. Just trust me.

Too bad Sammy #2 has to stick his nose in and break up the moment. Joan apologizes, saying she was “just happy”. Adam looks back over his shoulder at her after they separate. Awwwwww! Poor boy. He’s so in love. So in love. Sammy #2 tells Joan to “try not to mate” during work. Shut up, Sammy!

Suddenly, Joan decides to acknowledge what I’ve been saying, what I’m sure she and Adam have been feeling for weeks. They hadn’t really been in the groove the way they were before. She says working together on this project is making her feel that they’re in it again. He agrees.

Then there’s Judith. Just in time to disrupt a sincere moment. The look on Adam’s face says it all. So much for the groove. Judith confesses to skipping the whole school day to hang out with Danny, who had his parent’s convertible. Adam points out that Danny has been in the tenth grade for 3 years. Judith blithely agrees that he was kind of a moron. O…kay, Adam seems to be thinking. But he plays along and helps Joan fill Judith in on their assignment. Judith poo-poos the whole idea. That bugs Adam. He asks Joan why she lets Judith treat her like this. Joan basically tells him to butt out. Judith gets defensive and accuses him of being jealous of her relationship with Joan.

Once again, Adam has had enough of Joanith. He bails on the assignment. All Judith has to offer is more encouragement toward bad behavior for Joan, and she stalks off when Joan tells her she can’t ditch work.

Joan, out by the bleachers, talks condescendingly to God’s little tree. OK, that was a weird sentence. God approaches in the form of StonerGod—one of my favorite guest avatars. He’s really cute and has a great voice. No, not Adam-great, but still. He encourages Joan to get the garden going and walks away with a God-Wave.

Adam walks briskly up to Joan at her locker. “Hey,” he says with a smile. She warns him that she’s caked with fertilizer. “Aw, I don’t care,” he replies, turning her around for a hug. Yeah, since when did Joan being stinky ever stop him? He brought her a sandwich because she missed lunch. So. Damn. Cute. (That’s a very odd shirt Adam is wearing, by the way.) He apologizes for fighting with her and Judith, but he’s getting tired of the way Judith rags on him. Joan confesses that Judith blew her off too. She explains that she just really wanted them all to be close friends. She says it much more colorfully, of course. Adam tells her he just can’t work with Judith. (And I decide that I really like that odd shirt.) He’s really glad Joan’s not mad at him for not wanting to work on the project.

But then he says something that will become the theme of Adam/Joan in S2: “It feels like there’s so much stuff coming at us lately. Like we’re the indeterminate thing.” Yes, honey, it’s called growing up. Joan makes him laugh with a joke about planting Impatience, “but they take as long as everything else”. I think they’ll both learn a lot about impatience this season.

Judith hangs out with the super-losers by the bleachers, watching Joan toil in her patch of dirt. One of the loser squad plants his ass down on some of her flowers. Judith laughs with the other losers. Joan and Judith get into an argument and Judith is really cruel, bringing up Joan’s “hallucinations”, calling her a nut job. But you can tell she really regrets going there as soon as it leaves her mouth. Sprague Grayden plays Judith so wonderfully conflicted in this scene. Just watch her eyes, it’s all there. And Amber is fantastic too. We finally see some humanity in this one-girl wrecking crew called Judith Montgomery. The loser squad destroys all of Joan’s hard work in her patch of dirt as they leave the scene.

Luke pushes Grace to have more of a relationship than their make-out agreement. Here, we learn that Grace has an actual secret that she keeps from everyone. Of course Adam would know what it is, but he would never violate her privacy. And I don’t think anyone ever asks him about it either.

Joan and Helen talk about the night of Kevin’s accident as they all start to put their thoughts together for their depositions. Helen’s really struggling with the memories the lawsuit keeps dredging up.

Joan runs into Judith “inside the building” at school for what must be the first time in a few days. Judith apologizes rather brusquely for her behavior toward Joan so that you don’t really get the sense that’s she’s actually sorry. But she softens as she confesses that she misses the way things were between them at camp, when it was just Joanith. Now, she has to compete with Grace and Adam for Joan’s attention. Basically, she’s already declared defeat with the Sub D’s, saying that she blew it with them in her first week. She says she’s never been able to keep friends, and that her “shrink parents” have already written her off. Joan tells her to forget the past, right now they’re still friends. Judith can’t accept that. She’s already thinking down the road to the next time she screws up. She says Joan will cut her loose. She says she doesn’t do alone well. Nope. She’s got serious abandonment issues. Just as she and Joan make a breakthrough in being honest, Judith gets scared and walks away. Friedman tries to mack on her. She very coolly runs him right smack into a door.

Kevin meets Lily. Brazen as she is, she encourages Kevin not to sit idly by and allow his parents to handle the lawsuit while sheltering him from it like a child.

Grace and Luke show up to help Joan with her patch of dirt. The losers still taunt them. Grace backs them down with a quietly powerful stare and a very simple, “You so don’t wanna go there, dude.” She and Luke help Joan clean up the mess that has been dumped there.

Next morning, Judith walks along the track to the bleachers and finds Adam there, cleaning up garbage once again dumped by the loser-squad. She offers him a cigarette and he utters one of TeeJay’s favorite lines: “No thanks, big fan of the lungs.” She asks what he’s doing there. He says he just wanted to see Joan’s garden. She wonders why he didn’t wait to go out there with Joan. He says it would be weird if she was there because they always did these projects together. This is “the first time that we’re not.” At first he denies that it’s because of Judith, but he knows it’s plainly obvious. He even whispers, “Sorry,” when he admits it. So totally Adamy—apologize for being a normal person.

He asks Judith to help him clean up but she just declines and walks away. I still don’t get her.

Joan finds Adam in her garden with a couple of small sculptures he has made for her. Joan asks about the one with the long orange and yellow protrusion coming out of it. He tells her, “Oh, it’s a gnome. They live under the earth and guard the buried treasure. This is his fire spear.” There’s dreamer-boy. Off Joan’s look, he offers, “I had a serious Dungeons and Dragons habit. I’m better now.” The voice, the smile, Joan’s giddy, “Thank you,” as she kisses him. It’s so cute. The losers groan at them to get a room. Joan and Adam separate.

Watch the way her hand slides down his chest as they turn from each other. That’s one of those tiny, instinctual flourishes that you can’t direct. Well, you can. But then you light it and shoot it too close and make it anvilicious and ruin it. It’s always better when actors discover these moments themselves. Maybe Chris and Amber were directed to play it a bit like before, when Adam and Joan were just blindly in love. Or maybe it was on the page. Who knows? I’d love to read the script and find out. (Anybody got a copy?) In the meantime, I will ascribe praise to Chris and Amber for the looks and the touches. The small ones anyway. The ones the camera was not manipulated to create. Those that connect the actors to one another in the moment.

Kevin bursts in on a meeting with the family’s lawyer, saying he needs to be part of the fight against the lawsuit.

Lischak takes the class out to see Joan’s garden. And it finally looks like one. More or less. Luke has written the paper to go along with the project that will explain their hypothesis. It’s sweetly poetic. Even Lischak appreciates it as such. Adam stands behind Joan doing another very Adamy thing, fidgeting with his hands. Both his rings are there now.

Here comes the bulldozer! The construction crew wants to plow everything under to build new bleachers. Judith goes all Tienamen and steps in front of the bulldozer. The class comes a runnin’. Glynis declares Judith a Heroine Goddess. Friedman says, “That’s my girl.” The crew won’t budge. Judith won’t budge. The class starts chanting, “Judith, Judith, Judith!” Watch closely, Adam does not participate. It’s barely on-camera, very subtle. Finally, the foreman of the crew just picks up the little trouble-maker and moves her aside. The class cheers for her. Adam again, does not join them.

StonerGod shows up again. Thank you! Joan leaves the others to go up onto the bleachers and talk to Him. He tells her that Judith was planting flowers she knew would still bloom even if they got bulldozed. Deliberately. “So what I was growing…?” Joan asks. “Grew,” He answers.

God walks off with another God-Wave and Joan watches the Sub D’s chat it up with Judith. Adam is in on that, at least. Joan takes a long step off the bleacher bench and embraces Judith.

It’s a rather hopeful ending after a difficult adjustment by the everyone. Good episode.

Click here to watch selected scenes from this episode.

This episode marks the first appearance of Adam’s sexy thumb ring.