Monday, April 18, 2005

"Pleased to meet you/Hope you guess my name"

Joan of Arcadia has taken an interesting theological turn. If you haven't been following the show, there have been some highly-dramatic and borderline-WB-like storylines, including Joan's sweet-natured artist boyfriend Adam's infidelity, and their messy break-up. Well, in a fit of...something, Adam goes hiking, gets lost in the woods in a nasty rainstorm, and everyone, including an angry-but-still-concerned Joan, looks for him. At the end of the ep, Joan is talking to "God"-in-park-ranger-form, when Adam comes out of the woods, accompanied by a guy in a red hoodie. Everyone is relieved to see Adam, and the guy with him says something like "I knew there was a reason he wanted me to go hiking today!" Then Red-Hoodie exchanges a surprised and untrusting/uncomfortable/bristling look with G-i-p-r-f. Joan notices the exchanged of unkind glances, herself surprised since (up to this point) she's the only one who can see "God"'s various avatars. (I think, though I may be remembering wrong, she asks 'God' who the guy is, and he says "Another connection." But that may be from another scene.)

But when Red Hoodie shows up, you start hearing the unmistakeable intro to--that's right--"Sympathy for the Devil" by the Stones. And when he's referenced at the end of the ep, the song plays over the credits. So what's going on?

Earlier in the ep, "God" tells Joan that all of the trials and struggles she's suffered up to this point, sometimes as a consequence of pursuing His directions, have been preparation to make her stronger for the next set of difficulties. He's been using small problems as a training ground for larger ones.

Looks like Red-Hoodie is the one to usher in the larger ones. CBS lists this as the description for next week's season-finale, entitled "Something Wicked This Way Comes": "God tells Joan that the last two years were a spiritual boot camp for her greatest challenge yet, pitting her against a man with a sinister agenda."

So, Red-Hoodie is to be her nemesis. An agent of evil pitted against her, to foil her attempts at doing God's work.

This is a big step for the religiously-themed series. Up to this point, the show has dealt with issues of personal responsibility, choice, and living and functioning in a broken and sinful world. Aside from a few scattered "inclusive" comments, the theology of the show has been pretty much sound. Yet it still looked at "evil" as part of human nature, a byproduct of being imperfect and human.

Now, it appears that spiritual warfare may be addressed on the show, to some degree. The concept that evil isn't just something that comes from within man, but it can also be prompted from without.

If the show carries over into another season (something not entirely certain yet), and it addresses these issues in the same way it has dealt with tough spiritual questions up to this point, this could be the show to watch next year, in terms of finding nuggets of spiritual truth. (Granted, it could also crap out into New-Agey mysticism or modernist white-wash, but I think it's highly unlikely, given the show's track-record.)

So. Just a heads' up. You should check out the season finale Friday night. Lemme know what you think.

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