Props to absolutely everyone involved in this episode in any way. The last episode of network television I can remember finding this gratifying and uplifting aired on November 22, 2000 -- and I got even more out of this. Props also to cat, who supplied me with an allusion I needed, and can always be counted on for help.
Joan's sleeping when suddenly the wind blows her curtains around, and she senses a presence in her room that makes her awaken instantly and sit up. She sees Rocky standing at her door; as soon as she wakes up, he turns and walks away. When he gets to the stairs, he sits down and quietly bumps his way down on his bum. Joan follows, asking at the top of the stairs, "Rocky? Rocky, is that you?" She comes down. She finds him at the bottom of the stairs and asks what time it is, and what he's doing there. Rocky: "Looking for you." Joan: "If your mother wakes up and finds you gone, she is going to be worried sick." Rocky: "She knows I'm gone. What times does the paper get here?" Joan doesn't know: "Early. Why?" Rocky: "I'm in it. Page fourteen. Metro section." Joan asks with a trace of amusement, "And what'd you do to get in the paper?" He says he has to go, and walks out the door. Joan: "Wait! Let me drive you home." There's an odd amount of yellowy light coming from outside. Rocky says, "No. You can't take me." Joan: "Well, at least borrow a coat." She walks over to a coat rack with a narrow rectangular mirror in the middle of it. When she glances in the mirror, she sees Adam, who says softly, "So long, Jane." She gasps, "Adam!" The door slams behind her and she wakes up -- for real this time -- with a start, breathing heavily. Hmm. Joan sees dead people.
She goes downstairs, where her father's watching the news of the corruption investigation with the sound fairly low. The anchor mentions that the charges involve city council members, judges, the mayor's office, and "highly placed business leaders." Man, I'm surprised he's not getting death threats. As Joan bends down beside her father, the anchor is reporting the mayor's characterization of Will as a "disgruntled malcontent" -- as opposed to the gruntled kind, I guess. (Can you be a gruntled content?) She asks what's happening. Will shuts the TV off and says, "Nothing I didn't expect." He asks why she's up. Joan: "I had kind of a weird dream." He puts his hands on her shoulders and asks, "Koala bears?" She says she hasn't had the koala bear dream since she was five: "Evil...koala bears...in hats. Ecch!" Hee! Koala bears seem like alternately sweet and malevolent little marsupials to me. Will says he'll tuck her in. As they walk upstairs with their arms around each other, he asks what she dreamed about. Joan: "Boys in mirrors." Will: "Maybe this is one of those dreams you shouldn't tell your father." Joan giggles: "Like Orlando Bloom in a Speedo?" Will: "Now I'm going to have a nightmare." Credits. Orlando Bloom? Eek. Wouldn't have thought he was her type. And a Speedo? That is so many kinds of wrong, I don't know where to begin. (It probably doesn't help that, since I've never seen him in anything except Lord of the Rings, I'm picturing him as Legolas in a Speedo.) Even I don't want to see Keanu in a Speedo. They're just so...crude. And scary. Bring on the koala bears in hats!
Kevin wheels into the kitchen, where the rest of the family is getting breakfast, reading the newspaper on his lap aloud to all: "'Chief Girardi's courage in confronting the corruption that has plagued Arcadia for years cannot be underestimated. He should be treated as a hero, not a pariah.'" Joan finds this odd and asks, "One of those flesh-eating Amazonian death fish?" Luke: "That's 'piranha.' A 'pariah' is an outcast, one of the unclean." Joan asks Kevin for the Metro section while Will points out that the last time they wrote an editorial about him, he was called a racist. Kevin points out that Rebecca called him a hero after the abduction at gunpoint. Luke adds, "Yeah, and after Joan's psycho gunned-up prom date." Except that wasn't a prom, was it? Luke's usually more precise than that. Will complains, "Your boss never gets it right. I wasn't a hero either time." Joan sits down in the dining room with the paper and some juice. Helen: "She got it right this time: you are a hero." The phone rings as Joan reads to herself: "Page fourteen...obituaries..." Will answers it while Luke puts his bowl in the sink and says, "Okay, listen, family...when Grace gets here we have to knuckle down for the science fair, so if you people could just keep it down..." Kevin: "Then you could make out with her?" Luke says Grace kissed him once as a political statement: "I don't expect it to happen again." Kevin laughs to himself. Suddenly Joan is crying and saying, "Oh, my God...I don't believe it...Rocky...Rocky died." Frink: "Once again, so much for the ignored youngest child." Helen and Kevin come into the dining room to see what's going on. Kevin asks: "That little kid you babysat?" Luke watches from behind the pass-through window. Helen strokes Joan's back as she sobs that his funeral is today. Will walks up, oblivious, since he just got off the phone, saying he has to go into the office. He asks what happened; Joan tells him. Will and Helen glance at each other, probably wondering what manner of bizarre behaviour this crisis will presage in their daughter. Helen whispers, "I'm so sorry, sweetheart." Joan seems on the verge of collecting herself when a fresh wave of grief hits her and she puts her hands over her face. If you're thinking you might need some Kleenex at this point, you'd be well advised to go get some. This is the tip of the iceberg.