Joan of Arcadia

Season 1 Episode 11

The Uncertainty Principle

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Dec 12, 2003 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Uncertainty Principle
God instructs Joan to ask a troublemaker to the winter formal. Will uncovers secrets that could prove unfavorable to the former Chief of Police and other members of the city's government.

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  • Joan must go to the Dance with Steve Ramsey, a troubled youth. In the end, God helps her understand how we are all connected.

    God instructed Joan to go to the dance with Steve Ramsey. Of course, Mom and Dad are hesitant because Steve is an at-risk youth. In fact, one more problem, and he will be sent to a Juvenille Detention Center.

    At the dance, he runs out of chances when he brings alcohol. Joan chases after him as he drives off in his car.

    Once Dad catches up, Steve draws a gun. Once Dad gets it away, Steven is taken away.

    The next day, Joan is very upset. Why did God put her through this. She learns that if she had not gone to the dance with him, Steven would have come back to the dance with the gun and killed several people.

    Of all the Joan of Arcadia Episodes, this one was so cleverly written and plotted, keeping the audience guessing until the end. It reveals how we are all connected and how what we do does affect others.moreless
Derek Morgan

Derek Morgan

Arson Investigator Roy Roebuck

Guest Star

Fred Koehler

Fred Koehler

Steve Ramsey

Guest Star

Alphonso McAuley

Alphonso McAuley

DJ God

Guest Star

Aaron Himelstein

Aaron Himelstein


Recurring Role

April Grace

April Grace

Lt. Det. Toni Williams

Recurring Role

Becky Wahlstrom

Becky Wahlstrom

Grace Polk

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • It is odd that no one besides Friedman reacts when Grace kisses Luke, but the fact that she goes to a dance or wears a dress would not be inconsistent with her being a lesbian. It may be out of her character for other reasons, however.

    • Though everyone at Arcadia High assumes Grace to be a lesbian, there isn't a huge reaction when a)Grace shows up to the dance, b)she shows up in a dress, and c)she kisses Luke. The only reaction is from Friedman, but that's pretty much expected.

    • Ramsay says getting Joan's phone number was easier then her address. Seems like it'd be the other way around - the Girardis are more likely to have unlisted phone numbers then an address (because of Will's position), and Ramsay knows roughly where she lives, could follow her or Luke, etc.

    • God asks Joan if he's ever endangered her. Well, yes he kinda did in the pilot - she got a job at the bookstore because of him, and almost got kidnapped or killed by a stalker as a result of that.

    • So...why does Will confront Fellowes? He doesn't appear to be wearing a wire (they never show it), and he's clearly not going to take the bribe. All he seems to do here is warn Fellowes that he's got the dirt on the city government.

    • During the conversation between Will and Fellowes at the golf area, Will says, "Now I know you cut a deal with Rowley..." but the closed captioning says, "Now I know you cut a deal with Kaminski..."

    • For some reason, Old Lady God is wearing a button that says eat more cookies for soccer, but...she's carrying cupcakes.

  • QUOTES (25)

    • Toni: This affects a lot of people, y'know? I can't help feeling like I pulled the trigger...
      Will: All we did was look where nobody else would look.

    • Joan: So what do you want me to fail at this time?
      Old Lady God: Now what makes you think you failed? You did exactly what I asked you to do - you observed.
      Joan: Hmm! And what good did that do anybody? Ramsey's going to jail, Adam hates me even more...
      Old Lady God: Observation is a more powerful force than you could possibly reckon. The invisible, the overlooked, and the unobserved are the most in danger of reaching the end of the spectrum. They lose the last of their light. From there, anything can happen.
      Joan: (sighs) Okay. Fine, I observe Ramsey, his life is still ruined.
      Old Lady God: His life wasn't the only one at stake.
      Joan: What do you mean?
      Old Lady God: (starts pointing out different students in the hallway) There's Laura Eason, ninth grader. She plays the flute. She would have been one of the first to go (gunshot sound) coming out of Orchestra at the wrong time. And Andrew Bayer - he would have tried to save his friend Lawrence DiStasi and lost his life (gunshot sound). And Gavin Price (gunshot sound), and three other students in the cafeteria. And Mr. Harvey. And Ms. Schmidt in the library. And finally, Steve Ramsey himself. And for each of these faces Joan, there are twelve more whose lives would have come to an end today - lives altered forever by you. By the simple effect of being present, by entering the light, by joining the dance.
      (Joan wipes away a tear)

    • Goth Kid God: Almost everybody has some light, somewhere. And light is always worth fighting for.

    • Kevin: So I'm guessing no second date with you and this guy?

    • Joan: You're getting really good at showing up when no one needs you.
      Old Lady God: That's your opinion.

    • Ramsay: I can't do this.
      Joan: Don't think of it as dancing - just pretend you're on fire or something.

    • Grace: I heard he has a private arsenal out in the woods where he shoots squirrels and stuff
      Joan: And you believe that?
      Grace: Ask Rove. They used to hang out. Oh, wait! Rove will never speak to you again after this. Never mind.

    • Will: Apparently, Dennis Raleigh is still collecting his Chief-of-Police salary, in Jeanne's name. And it's better than mine, I might add.

    • Grace: (to Friedman) Well, guess what, Galileo, your assumptions suck! And we'll see you at the dance! Now beat it before I give you a wedgie!
      Friedman: You can't give me a wedgie! (runs away)
      Luke: Are.. we going to the Crystal Ball?
      Grace: (hastily before running off) I must have got caught up in the testosterone.

    • Grace: You asked Ramsey to a dance?
      Joan: Luke!
      Joan: (to Grace) You didn't tell him, did you?
      Grace: I don't need to. You asked Steve Ramsey to the semi-formal. That's like a CNN headline.

    • (After Grace kisses Luke)
      Friedman: Did he just convert her from Mac to PC?

    • Luke: Do you sometimes wonder if high school will ever come to an end?

    • Joan: (to Friedman) Shut it, Brillohead!

    • Luke: (to Friedman) Why am I friends with you?

    • Goth Kid God: Have I ever endangered you?
      Joan: Well, you never told me to ask evil out on a date before.
      Goth Kid God: "Evil" is not a word to use lightly. It's only the darkest end of a broad spectrum.
      Joan: You mean like... light?
      Goth Kid God: Exactly like light. Nobody's born in total darkness. Most of you live on the gray end of the spectrum... a lie here, and there. Jealousy. Wrath. But you only get to absolute evil by doing one thing after another until eventually you're transformed.

    • Helen: As for everybody else, if we could just keep it down to one tragedy a month, that would be really great!

    • Helen: So what do we do now? Is it back to therapy or what?
      Luke, Kevin, Joan and Will: NO!

    • Grace: Whatever. Long as I don't have to wear a dress.
      Luke: Yeah, me too. (embarrassingly realizing his error) No, not that I would ever wear a dress. But..
      Grace: (enjoying the moment) It's ok man.

    • Luke: Um, did you want to take off your coat?
      Grace: Cool it horn dog! I'm not there yet.

    • Joan: (to Adam about his lunch) Is that like "your brain on drugs?"

    • Joan: Wow. Science really is like sex to you, isn't it?
      Luke: Well that's... I don't know how to respond to that.

    • Glynis: (to Joan) You're going to the dance with Ramsey?
      Friedman: That's desperate.
      Joan: Okay, everybody just take a breath. Maybe I was just trying to do something nice.
      Friedman: Good luck , that guy is seriously psycho!
      Glynis: You're just saying that because he threw you in the trash.

    • Helen: Adam Rove would have been thrilled to go [to the dance] with you!
      Joan: Hello! Do I have to brief you people every morning? Adam... hates... ME. OK?

    • Helen: Isn't it strange that you're always awake before I am?
      Luke: I like to ambush my brain before fear and reason kick in.

    • Goth Kid God: I wouldn't worry about self-defense.
      Joan: Then why the psycho mission? Because I didn't sign up for martyrdom.

  • NOTES (6)

    • This episode marks the final appearance of District Attorney Gabe Fellowes (John Getz) on the series.

    • Kevin only gets two lines of dialogue in this episode (and choruses "No" along with everyone else). And he's absent from all the earlier household scenes. Given how central he's been to the show in previous episodes, his near-absence is particularly notable here. This near-absence is probably due to the fact that actor Jason Ritter's father, John Ritter, had died recently and this episode was probably being filmed around the time of his death or soon after. The producers probably wanted to give him some time off.

    • Will won a Community Leadership Award from the Citizens' League.

    • Music featured in the episode included:
      "After All" by The Rosenbergs
      "You Move Me" by Bree Sharp
      "Cozy" by Jeff Lingle
      "Bad Day" by REM
      "Another Postcard" by Barenaked Ladies
      "When I See You" by Macy Gray
      "Prom Theme" by Fountains of Wayne
      "Take It Off" by The Donnas
      "When It Comes Around" by Reed Foehl
      "Here With Me" Mercy Me

    • New Gods: Goth Kid God and DJ God.

    • has been registered and takes visitors to the Sony Pictures Joan of Arcadia site. This was most likely done in an effort to prevent cybersquatting.