Joan of Arcadia
State Of Grace

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Deborah: C+ | Grade It Now!
Grace Under Pressure

Luke says to himself, "I'm engaging in an exploratory mission, that's all." He walks up to Glynis, who's wearing a pink turtleneck and a red pantsuit (with sleeves that are slightly puffed at the shoulder and are way too short) that I'm pretty sure Mary Tyler Moore wore circa 1974. He wishes her good luck on the debate. She stands up, and since she's on the steps, in addition to being tall already, she's about a head taller than Luke. Glynis: "Thanks! It's kind of awkward that I'm opposing Joan, but...." Why? It's not like you're going to be her sister-in-law, Missy, so don't get any ideas. Luke doesn't say anything, and Glynis asks if he's okay: "You're flushed and your breathing is rapid and shallow." Luke walks away a bit, and she comes down the stairs so that they're both on the same level. Luke just continues gazing at her, and Glynis says, "Oh." Luke: "You must -- you must be the best teacher at the Y...." Glynis natters on: "I feel it's important to have a complete grasp of the information in order to teach the kids." Luke: "Your breathing is also increasing. It has to do with restricted capillaries and increased blood flow. You know." She knows. We get a shot of their feet edging closer and closer by small increments as Glynis geeks out completely: "Uh, the hypothalamus gland processes external and intellectual stimuli which causes -- tells the body how to respond." Frink: "1001101000011010110011111001..." Luke: "Yeah, I read the Walen and Roth study...we seem to share a lot of the same interests." Glynis gets chirpy again: "Yes -- so you must know that if my heart rate continues to increase, I might get lightheaded, which wouldn't be good..." Luke: "No, not at all..." Glynis: "So I should go..." Luke: "Of course." They're about six inches apart now.

Luke and Glynis finally kiss rather urgently, and I try not to think about mother birds putting food in their babies' mouths. They finally stop, and Glynis stares at him a bit, and then makes a couple of weird panicky faces, freaks out completely, and bolts off with hand truck full of documentation for the debate. Man, she is a strange bird. Luke turns around to watch her go. And there, of course, is Grace, standing quietly in a doorway, having seen the whole thing. She gives him a wry, regretful smile, and blinks slowly, opening one eye slightly before the other. Quite a few viewers seem to have interpreted it as a wink, but I've watched it more times than is healthy, and I really don't agree. I think it's just a slight facial tic of Wahlstrom's. I think that if Grace were really completely okay with it, she would have walked past Luke with a snappy or sarcastic comment, instead of ducking back into the hallway and disappearing. I don't think she's okay with it at all. And frankly, neither am I. I think Michael Welch and Mageina Tovah did well with the material they were given, but I just don't buy that Luke was so easily swayed, nor that even if he were, this is the time and place he would choose to approach her. I don't know, the whole thing just felt a little to sitcom-y for this show.

Joan's handling the pro side of the debate all alone, having dispatched Scott to his nascent journalism career. She's at one podium; Glynis and Friedman are at the other. I suppose to be fair to Glynis I should point out that I think Joan's sweater sleeves are too short, too. Maybe that's what all the kids are wearing now: three-quarter length sleeves over wrist-length. I wouldn't know. I just think it looks bad. There are maybe a hundred audience members; Helen, Grace, Adam, Price, Luke, and Scott are all there. Joan flips through the binder Scott prepared, looking for a study she wants to cite. She flips, she speaks hesitantly, she laughs nervously, the microphone feeds back. It's not going well. She tries to continue, dropping her notes and becoming more rattled: "Psychologists at Johns Hopkins -- big, big important medical school -- have found that while increased security can also create a sense of anxiety, that the anxiety is nothing next to the sense of security which allows students to focus on their studies...." Grace interjects: "So they can grow up and be part of a system which will take away even more of our civil rights." Mr. Enfield turns around and tells her, "This is not a free-for-all. It's a debate." He tells Joan to continue. Grace shakes her head slightly to herself; Joan is even more rattled now. Joan tries to cite a statistic from Florida but her voice is getting shakier. Grace stands up and shouts, "You know, this whole debate is a joke!" Joan sighs. Friedman says quietly, "I have a very strong rebuttal." Grace continues shouting: "Like it matters! No matter what happens in this debate, those metal detectors will still be there. They will still stop us and search us!" Price asks her to leave. She turns and snarls at him, "Oh, gee, remember free speech, Mr. Price?" Mr. Enfield: "Remember decorum? Manners? Civility?" Grace: "Yeah, all the things they use to keep us down? Well, guess what? Today is about freedom!" Joan, upset: "You call what you're doing right now 'free speech?'" Mr. Enfield warns her that she's not debating Grace and advises her to stick to the rules. Friedman whispers to Glynis: "We are so going to win this debate." Grace: "That's right, Girardi! Party line. That's what it's about!" It will be interesting to learn where Grace's politics and attitudes come from. Not that she couldn't have simply arrived at them through reason and intellect, but there seems to be so much anger and emotion there that I can't help looking for other explanations, too. I sometimes wonder if she is the descendant of Holocaust survivors, or if that touched her family deeply in some way. I suppose it's also possible that she's getting marching orders from God, too -- though Grace seems even less likely to listen to something like that than Joan.

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Joan of Arcadia




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