Saturday, May 29, 2004

Joan of Arcadia - "Silence"

what is faith, love, virtue unassayed
Alone, without exterior help sustained?
John Milton, Paradise Lost, IX.335-336

So I'm here writing a belated review (though I should probably use that term loosely) because someone googled for it, and hell, I do have thoughts on it so why not share them if I can remember them.

God's visitations are wasted on teens, or generally stupid people. Keeping in mind that Lyme disease can be deadly, it still seems that Joan's sudden loss of faith occurred arbitrarily. Do hallucinations explain away all the apparent coincidences that have circled around her consciousness? Granted, Joan's of weak mind at the moment which probably predisposes her towards the conclusion she makes, but the way this episode was executed -- showing God's visitations with the rest of the Girardis in what is presumably the objective, non-hallucinatory world -- firmly grounds the audience on the side of "God is real." It's a curious decision to say the least to show how Joan's doubt from the outside (meaning that we the audience don't share those doubts) since it left me questioning Joan and why God would bother with such a dense girl.

Returning to the Milton, then: one of his main positions in Paradise Lost was in favor of proof, that is, exposing oneself to undesirable things such as lack of faith -- imagine if one acknowledges and weighs arguments against the existence of God, yet in the end retains belief; and then consider a person who ignores and denies the existence of that contrary evidence. "[T]he knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue" (Milton from his essay, "Areopagitica" pg. 729 (Merritt Y. Hughes, ed. John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose, New York: Odyssey Press, 1957)). Milton contends that the former's faith is stronger, because it's been tested and proven to be of worth. While it's fairly obvious that God is putting Joan through this crisis of faith as an assay, she's failing quite miserably. Two opposing Gods appear to her, and she blindly follows directives from each without thinking them through, which is why her involvement in the three-legged race infuriated me so much.

That's one of two major things that I remember thinking about the episode, the other being the Grace/Luke ugh argh PUKE resolution. I'm too lazy to see if I already called her a sell-out, but Grace harboring yet suppressing feelings for Luke debases her character in my esteem, because rather than being her own person with her own set of self-defined of desires and principles, she chose to hide her feelings to maintain her credibility. She all but admits to being a superficial Anti whose modus operandi is purely to stand against the mainstream, and, even though it's more consistent a type vis-à-vis high school and teenagers, her character loses the depth that Becky Wahlstrom's been able to build up so far. In short, ABRUPT COP OUT. BOO HISS.

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