Joan runs out to see that Steve's backing his pickup out of the parking lot. She screams, "Ramsay!" She runs for the vehicle. Behind her, Adam's just run out of the school to see all this. Joan stands right in front of the truck and holds up her hands to get Steve to stop, which he does, though I kind of thought he was prepared to run her down. She opens the passenger door and says, "I told them what happened! You won't get expelled!" Steve snarls, "Just forget it!" Joan begs him to come back inside with her. He screeches, "Leave me alone!" Joan jumps into the truck, and he peels out. Adam, who's watched the whole thing, runs back into the school.
Will and Toni are working late, going over Roebuck's material. Toni says he wasn't exaggerating: "Kickbacks on construction contracts eight years running, council members and judges taking bribes, city inspectors, the mayor." Will: "I hate to say it, but we may be in over our heads on this." He notices Toni's face and says, "You don't have to be a part of this, Detective, but if you're going to step away, you should do it now." His cell phone rings and he answers it, saying right away, "Helen, can I call you back?" Then he listens and says he'll be right there in ten minutes. He gives Toni the number of his FBI field rep in Chicago -- Victor de la Cruz -- and tells her to call him: "Get him everything tonight. Tell him we're putting ourselves in his hands." She takes the number and says, "Okay. I got it."
Sirens and lights as Will and a uniformed officer pull into the school parking lot. Helen and Adam come running out; Helen says, "She's in his truck!" Will asks what happened; Adam says Joan ran after Steve and jumped in his truck as he was leaving. Helen tells Will he may have been drinking. Adam: "There's this place that he hangs out at sometimes -- I think I can get you there." Will: "Okay, let's go." Helen gives Will an anxious look, and he assures her it's going to be okay. Will, Adam, and the officer take off in the two cars as Helen stands there, prematurely aging some more.
Joan and Steve arrive at some junky-looking spot surrounded by torn chain-link fencing out in the woods. He stops the truck and gets out. Joan follows, asking, "Where are you going? What, you're just not going to talk to me? Listen! I know -- you have to believe me when I say that everything's going to be okay. I can't tell you how I know that, I just do." Steve barks, "Just stop talking! I'm trying to think." He stops, bending over to unlock some huge metal trunk. Joan want to know what there is to think about. Steve is very tearful and upset: "You don't understand! I just got expelled!" He opens the trunk and starts extracting and loading a semi-automatic gun, which Joan can't see yet. He continues, "That is the one thing that can't happen! Now my stepdad's gonna kick me out and I'll have to call my real dad, which is something that I never, ever wanna do. He'll say some BS about how he's not surprised and make some excuse why I can't stay with him, which means this is it, I am done!" Joan: "Can't you just tell your dad that it was my fault?" Steve turns around and points the gun at her and shouts, "No, it is not your fault! It's Price!" ["I'd just like to say good on the writers for having Steve blame that martinet Price and not himself." -- Sars] Joan's good and scared now. Steve keeps gesturing with the gun: "He's been after me since the seventh grade -- well, now he can go to hell!" Joan is whimperventilating, but manages to control the onset of hysteria to ask, "What are you doing?" He looks at the gun, which is still pointed at her, and asks, "You know what my record is?" He walks a little distance away and faces a makeshift shooting range, with some broken bottles sitting on a fence. "It's twelve hits in fourteen shots." Okay, so we've established that he's a much better shot than, say, Mulder. He fires, and the first bottle explodes. Joan shrieks a little and says, "Okay, wait, wait. You shouldn't, like, hurt anybody or yourself..." Steve: "Quiet! You have to fire between heartbeats." He shoots off another couple of bullets. Joan: "This wasn't supposed to happen -- you weren't supposed to get expelled!" Steve stops shooting and says, "Don't worry about it." He turns to her, "I still had a pretty good time." Joan isn't convinced this counts as a "good time." Steve: "Oh, sure it is. See, the way I see it, high school is war. You're the first person to be on my side." Joan carefully takes a couple of steps toward him, saying, "But it wouldn't -- it wouldn't be like that, if you would just...let people see, like, your whole spectrum." Steve shouts, "All people want from me is a creeped-out, psycho gun freak, so that's what I give them!" Joan, tearfully: "That's not who you are! That's not who anyone is!" Sirens and lights indicate Will's arrival -- and I'm sure Adam's had an interesting time deciding what and how much to tell her father about Steve -- and Steve asks, "You want to take off? Just the two of us, right now?" She asks, "Where are we gonna go?" He says, "I don't know, we'll just go. Come on!" Dude. Seriously, you will go 300 feet before her father shoots your tires out, if not your brains. Get a grip. And not one with a handgun attached.
While Joan is pondering this, she sees her father and Adam get out of the first car; Will's holding up his gun. He says, "Put your hands in the air!" Steve turns around like greased lightning and has his weapon drawn on Will. Joan shouts, "Wait!" Will tells him to drop his weapon. Steve: "No, you first!" Will tells Joan to get in the car. Joan: "Dad, listen...I can explain!" He tells her again to go to the car. Steve screams, "I didn't hurt her!" Will decides -- interestingly, after the situation he found himself in in the last episode, although of course the uniformed officer has a gun on Steve, too -- to put his gun down on the hood of the car and start carefully walking around the long stretch of fence toward Steve. Will tells Steve to put down his weapon and then they can talk. Steve sobs, "You're not gonna listen to me! You already got your mind made up!" Will: "You stole my daughter and threatened her with a gun -- yeah, I'm drawing some conclusions." Steve says he didn't steal anyone. Joan: "He didn't, Dad! I went with him!" Will says, "Joan!" in a way that means, "Shut it, girlie." He keeps walking slowly toward Steve, saying, "Now, you wanna shoot me, Steve? Is that gonna make it better?" Steve: "Maybe!" Will promises him it will end Steve's life as he knows it: "I don't think that's what you want." Steve shouts, "What do you know about me?" Then he screams, "You don't know anything!" Joan covers her face and gasps some more. Will, still steadily advancing: "Let me tell you something -- and you're not gonna believe me until you're older -- this will end. This...hell you're living through right now is mostly made up of things you had no control over. But this next place that you end up...that's gonna be all you." He's much closer to them now, only a few feet away. Steve sobs, "Well, maybe I'm ready to go to hell, 'cause it can't be any worse!" Joan begs, "Steve, don't!" Will: "You hear that? My daughter sees something in you. Now, that counts for something in my book. Are you telling me she's wrong, that there's not something worse saving in there?" Steve doesn't answer, but his resolve might be weakening a little. Will: "Now come on, son -- let's you, and me, see tomorrow." Will's practically inches away now, and Will just gives him a puzzled, encouraging look: "Come on." Steve sobs a bit and drops his hands to his sides. Will gingerly reaches for the gun and Steve hands it over, crying. Will puts his arm around him as they walk toward the car, saying, "Attaboy. It's all right." And then: "Hey, is that my tie?" Hee. Laughter through the tears, always welcome. And a good thing too; my exclamation point is nearly gone from my keyboard, and I can't remember the last episode that didn't make me cry. Which is okay. I'd rather cry than cringe. I just wish we'd gotten at least one reaction shot of Adam in there, although from a direction/editing point of view, it probably would have seemed stuck in, and it's better the way they did it. It's also interesting to me that both Helen and Will tonight had to give the "it won't always be like this, it won't always be this awful" speech to two different boys, neither of them their own.
Helen's sitting in the living room, reflecting and worrying. Joan and Will arrive home, and Helen says to Joan, "Okay. Start talking." Man. You see what I mean by patient and reasonable? If I'd pulled shit like that when I was sixteen -- twenty-two years ago -- you could open the front door of my parents' house now and still hear them yelling about it. Joan, petulantly: "Why? You're not going to listen to anything I have to say." Helen: "Oh, this is not you mouthing off, Joan. This is you explaining why defied everything your father and I specifically said!" Kevin wheels in behind his mother. First time he's been in the whole episode; I almost forgot about him. Luke shows up, too. Joan: "What about Price? It's 'cause of him this whole thing started!" Joan turns to her father, who says, "We said no cars under any circumstances -- there were no exceptions to that!" Helen: "It wasn't Price who pulled a gun on your father!" Will: "Do you have any idea how seriously you could have been hurt tonight?" Joan: "I'm sorry." She sighs and puts her hands to her head. She adds, "This whole -- this whole thing has gotten way out of hand." Helen: "So what do we do now? Is it back to therapy, or what?" Kevin and Luke are quick to put the kibosh on that, and Joan and Will look similarly enthused about that idea. Helen: "Okay, we will do this the old-fashioned way." Beatings? "You are grounded, young lady." Geez, that just doesn't seem like a very big punishment to me. Helen starts up the stairs and stops, turns, and shouts, "And as for everybody else, if we could just k