Joan of Arcadia surprised me pleasantly. Instead of cartoonish characterizations and scenarios and preachiness and whatever other things that have been boring me recently with the show, we got a thoughtful and at times subtle episode.
First thing's first though -- I've been meaning to talk about Iris, or more specifically, her voice. Until this episode, I'd thought that the actress playing her honestly did have the little-girl voice, which is an indicator of childhood trauma of some kind, and given the Iris's biography (a suggestion of abuse), it seemed an attempt at dramatic verisimilitude (not quite what I mean, can't find the right term -- it's like the film Osama that stars a girl whom the director actually found begging on the streets). But coupled with the series' awareness of Iris's voice (Joan admitting to not liking it, though she never stated exactly what she found upsetting about it (could've been the "I resent her, therefore her voice annoys me" synecdoche) until the last episode where she referred to Iris as "Baby Voice"), I'm beginning to think that the actress is putting the voice on.
That part's done.
By far, the most affecting part of the last episode was Joan and Grace sitting outside. I abhor it when obvious things get spelled out for me, and this scene could've easily sunk to that level. Similarly, the understated scene where God pulls Joan's ashtray out of her bag was well done -- a lesser writer would've said, "You want me bash this symbol of my childhood??"
The hecticness of the story was a boon for the whole episode. Instead of playing out some ill-conceived scenario, the primary focus was the characters and how the reacted to each other.
And the return of Goth-o-God! I'd forgotten how wonderful he was.
Oh oh and how could I not mention the FARTING?? FARTING ON NETWORK TV IS CLEARLY THE BEST THING EVAR.