Joan of Arcadia
Do The Math

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At school, the math teacher is handing back test papers as the bell rings. He returns Joan's with the remark, "Struggling upwards from the ooze, are we, Miss Girardi?" Joan excitedly says, "I just totally got into this whole ratio thing --" He dismisses her: "The bell's already rung." Dude, that's harsh. Most math teachers -- hell, most teachers of any kind -- would probably be happy to see some improvement from a student, and even happier to see some actual enthusiasm for a subject. With the exception of Ms. Lischak, though, the teachers at Arcadia High seem to be a particularly jaded and indifferent bunch. I'll bet the other teachers talk shit about her. Joan shuts up and wanders out, her spirits dampened. Iris is alongside her, saying, "Hey." Where's Adam? He's in this class, too. Joan brightens up again: "Hey! Can you believe this?" She points to her paper. Iris, ignoring Joan's mood: "C. Bummer." Joan looks slightly hurt: "Plus. C+." Iris asks if she can talk to Joan. Joan agrees. Iris: "I know you and Adam are friends, and I'm not trying to interfere or anything --" Joan asks if this is about last night: "The turntable? I'm really sorry, I just -- I needed to listen to this record…" Iris: "Just be straight with me, that's all I'm asking. Is something going on?" Joan lets that question hang there and they keep walking, both mostly looking ahead rather than at each other. Joan finally replies, "Look, Adam's my friend. I needed someone to talk to. You have friends like that, right?" They stop. Iris: "Yeah, one. And I'm going out with him." She walks away. Well, that's one of your first problems right there. Joan's shoulders sink as she sighs. Her phone rings and she answers it ("Joan's Pizza"). It turns out to be Uncle Richard.

At dinner, her mother asks how her geometry quiz went. Joan's mind is elsewhere so it takes her a moment to answer her mother: "C+." Helen says that's terrific. Will begs to differ: "A C is not terrific." Joan: "Plus. C+." Kevin gripes, "How come when I got a C in trig it was, like, a major crisis?" Luke explains, "Sexist assumptions about gender and mathematics." Man, don't even get me started. I know I said earlier we'd get into it, but if I begin telling you my experience of being shortchanged mathwise throughout school and how I coulda been an architect, we'll be here all night. Luke adds, "Which, by the way, Glynis is a stunning exception to." Good ol' Glynis. Will she ever make an appearance in the Girardi household? It seems odd that Luke never has her over. She already knows his mother, probably, and it's not like their house is anything to be ashamed of. Plus Luke has a cool room. I know, I know, Mageina Tovah's busy playing a whore on The Shield and all. I also know I've slagged her, but that's only because the writers make her play a caricature. I want to like her. Bring her back, make her a whole character. Perhaps she and Luke could have some religious differences. Well, I suppose the odds are, with her last name, that she's probably also of Italian Catholic extraction. Odds are also good she has the same cosmological perspective as Luke. Well, maybe she could start pressuring him for sex or something. Anything, as long as she's not being chicken-like. Geez, how desperate am I? Suggesting Luke/Glynis storylines, when I really think he'd be more interesting with Grace.

Anyway, anyway. Joan blurts out, "Dad's brother called me today." Whoa. You might want to at least yell out a warning before you drive the whole rig right off the road. Will looks like he's not sure he heard her right; Helen looks concerned. Will asks what she said. Joan laughs a bit: "Richard called me today." Kevin: "Who?" Will and Helen exchange troubled looks. Joan: "Our uncle Richard. Dad's brother." Luke: "Half." He winces a bit, I guess because this remark reveals his complicity but he can't stand the inaccuracy, and continues, "He's a half-brother." Will: "You dragged Luke in on this?" Joan: "Don't you think we all had a right to know?" Helen: "Honey --" Joan: "Were you planning on…lying to us our whole lives?" Well, yeah, probably. Wouldn't be the first or last time that happened in a family. Will says softly that he never lied to Joan. Well, now…I'm sure, as an altar boy, Will must have been exposed to the idea of sins of omission and sins of commission. He also claimed Richard was a distant relative, though I suppose he was speaking metaphorically. Whatever. Joan points out that Helen lied to her face the other day. Helen defends herself by saying she was respecting Will's wishes. Joan, with a measure of gleeful indignation: "About lying to us!" Will: "You had no right, Joan." Joan: "This is my family, too. My history. I know you didn't want us to find out, but…he's a part of who you are, Dad." Will: "He's not any part of me. Richard -- it's been years and years. None of this matters." Joan insists it does: "I saw the pictures of you two!" Will, who's been very calm until now, gets a little more upset as he tells her, "You shouldn't have gone looking --" Joan: "For what? Things in my house? Remember the one with you and Richard on the bike? You must! You saved it! I know having a brother is not that great…" Shot of Luke swallowing a retort. "But the way…you looked together…" Will replies, "There's a lot…" He looks at Helen, who seems distressed but also relieved this is finally out, and at Kevin, who just has a dark look on his face. Will reminds Joan of what she already knows: that his father abandoned his mother, his sister, and him when he was six. He tells her that her grandfather had a whole second family, and Richard was his other son: "I used to go there when I was little…when everyone felt…civilized about the mess he had made." Joan's listening to this with watery eyes, as her father's voice becomes louder and more emotional. "But then I grew up. And I started looking at his new family, and seeing everything they had…and what we had to do without." Joan, tearfully: "That was so long ago." Will hollers, "A kid doesn't like to feel replaced!" Will strives to keep from crying but fails. Joan, who really and truly doesn't know when to shut it, says, "He said, if you wanted to talk…" That pushes Will over the edge, and he gets up from the table and goes upstairs. Helen follows him. Joan stares toward her father's seat while Luke stares down at the table. Kevin gives her a WTF? gesture with his hands. And then we go abruptly to commercial again.

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Joan of Arcadia

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