"The Birthday Present"

A review by Jenni:

Vanilla caramel cappuccino, lemon cake, and Andrew.  Perfect evening!  I'm feeling much better about this episode than the last one cause I clearly remember Andrew in it and he was in the promo a lot.  Also, it's not "Manhunt" which is up next.  I know I like that episode but am pretty sure it will make me hysterical.  And I don't need that tonight.  Here goes...

What I love about this episode:

I think they got grief down really well.  I can totally relate to feeling ambivalent about death.  Even under the worst and most tragic and unexpected of circumstances, I still can't help but feel that the person who died is a whole lot happier in Heaven.  Even if they didn't seem to have enough time here.  Cause they're with God and surrounded by only love and beauty.  But it is devastating and heartbreaking to be left behind.

I have my issues with Tess.  But she was always really wonderful with frightened kids.

I just really like this idea of a ride-along as part of Gloria's training.  It makes sense.  I imagine you could learn an awful lot spending the day with an AOD.  Course, I'm totally jealous.

I love it when Tess tells lil Sarah that she's never been bad a day in her life.  She needed to hear that from an angel.

Really diggin' Andrew's history of the human view of death.  I have to be honest and say it's a lil hard to hear given the circumstances.  But cultural thanatology has long been an interest of mine so...  I'll take it where I find it.  And I think he's onto something about how we create afterlife fantasies because we can control them.  God knows I've been spending a lot of time doing that lately...  But I hope at least some of mine aren't completely fantastical.

Ha!  I totally forgot that Grams' "date" Alex was Alex Trebec.  Cute.

Also cute?  Andrew calls her "Grams."  Almost as amusing as when someone calls him "son" despite his being epically old.

I love the moment when Grams realizes her arthritis is gone.  It is comforting to think of the moment when those we've lost realize how limitless they are.

"You know that with God, all things are possible."  Maybe not the most original quote from Andrew but it never hurts to be reminded.

I love it when Monica assures Chuck that Grams knows he loves her.  I'm counting on the same.

While I agree that Chuck really shoulda taken some time off... I do kinda agree with him.  At times sticking to a routine and trying to keep distracted has been the only way I could cope.  So I think that's a very natural reaction they depicted.

Tess role-playing to help Sarah is pretty great.  I think that can really do a lot for kids.  And us adults.

Angel screen time-wise, this is a really well-balanced episode.

As much as Gloria sometimes gets on my nerves, she did provide a good excuse for some great moments.  Andrew and Monica (mostly the former) correcting her after taking the gun is a powerful moment.  Even angels have to teach their younger set really, really tough lessons.

"Every human being touches the life of someone else.  Sometimes without even knowing it.  And before they leave this world, they each have a chance to leave something behind to say 'I was here.  I mattered.'  They leave children or wisdom or love or sometimes a little turtle.  And in a way, it's like they never really left."  I love that quote from Gloria.  And I think we all know who it makes me think of.  Not so sure about the turtle but he left a generation of children who got to hear about God's love from him.  And a whole lotta love and wisdom.

What I didn't love about this episode:

It seems odd to me that Maureen was still in her hospital robe and bald when she left with Andrew.  Maybe she actually liked being bald so that may make sense.  But who would choose to be in a hospital robe?  It doesn't make much sense compared to Ilena in "Hearts" who instantly had a nice dress and looked radiantly healthy.

Lingering questions:
Do most humans really get born and die in hospitals as Monica says?  I'll buy that most people in industrialized nations do.  But the total majority?  I dunno. 

Sometimes I just really wish I could ask the angels some questions.  Maybe cause I need the answers for myself.  And one thing I'd definitely like to ask is how do you handle seeing and hearing of so much child abuse when you can't have children?  Cause that is one of the hardest things for me to grasp: that hateful, hurtful people get these bundles of joy and love when others who would be awesome parents do not.

Andrew makes a couple vague references to Hell which brings back the old question for me...  If someone goes to Hell in TBAAverse, does an AOD escort them?  Cause I am really not okay with Adam, Andrew, or Henry being in Hell.

Can you seriously order a gun via mail?  Majorly disturbing...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
His smiley loveliness in his first scene is beautiful.  Oh...  And he's reading Ecclesiastes.  I forgot he did that here.  I've thought so often of his reading of it in "Crisis of Faith" since John died.  Sometimes I still really can't believe his time to die came...  But now he knows how loved he was by so, so many.

This crazy person had to rewind when Andrew took Maureen's hands in his cause I thought it was all sorts of adorable and kind and beautiful. 

I'd wanna be like the Eileen Andrew refers to during his ride-along... holding Andrew's hand and watching my last sunset.  And I love how he laughs recalling Mr. Pontier wanting to play Parcheesi.  Not as nice as the sunset thing but still... quality time with Andrew.  :-)  I like the folks who like him.

I agree with Gloria...  It's wonderful that Andrew cares about his assignments so much.

"People really face death the same way that they faced life.  For some that means a lot of fear, a lot of anger.  And they'll curse God with their last, dying breath rather than just accept His mercy.  And for them their final journey is not so good.  But... for the ones who make peace, you know, to watch their bravery and their strength, their faith... it humbles me.  And it inspires me, I think, to be a better angel."  I love that for two reasons:
1.  Good advice.  Be the second category, not the first.
2.  It's so Andrew!  So often he'll turn a negative statement into something optimistic.  And then to humbly stress how it touches him...  Very Andrew. 
Glad he didn't mind it being written down.  Cause I wrote it down!

I just wanna hug him when he's sitting on the couch with Gary and clearly so disturbed.  When he closes his eyes... poor love.

Aww...  When he's upset he runs his hand *over* his hair when it's short...  I never noticed.

In this episode we have a scene that I think really stresses why I always thought Andrew was the best angel.  Because even when I wanted him to do something drastic... even when I was angry at him that he didn't... he never turned from his Father's will.  I imagine that, like Gloria, he would have very much liked to have taken Chuck's gun.  But he knew that would be denying divinely gifted free will.  He obeyed God even when it hurt.

Giggle.  I love it when Andrew feigns pride as he does at the end.  Although I do happen to think Gloria really did learn from the best!

All Andrew's outfits in this are great but that black shirt at the end is awfully fetching.  As is his smile as they watch the baby.

Random thoughts:

Music: Poor Sarah sings "London Bridge" while in the shelter.  Tess hums "Rockabye Baby" to Sarah in the shelter.

Weirdly, I was thinking about the chicken or egg conundrum (which Gloria discusses in the opening scene) right before I started this episode.  Which makes me think I definitely have these episodes tucked away somewhere in my brain even though when I consciously strive to remember them, I can't.

Unlike Grams... I must admit I do like some frozen dinners a lot.

Grams' nickname for Robby is "Mr. Turtle."  Might be good to know at some point...

Scenes Hallmark cut:
- They cut a tiny bit off of the scene in the bunker when Robbie is loading the gun.  He ponders aloud how to load it.  Then they do a close-up for a few seconds of him inserting the bullets.  It then goes to him creeping into the house which THC has.

- There's another small cut after Robbie is hit.  Monica volunteers to take Chuck home which THC has.  Then right after that, we see that Robbie's father is leaning against a tree in a stupor.  As Robbie's body is loaded into the ambulance, the cop approaches the father, extends his condolences, and says that he knows it's a bad time but he has a few questions for him.  He asks if they can go inside.  The dad doesn't respond but turns towards the house and the cop follows.  Then it shoots to inside the house which is where THC resumes.

- Probly the most substantive cut comes when Tess is humming the lullaby.  As you hear that, you see Chuck staring at his turtle necklace at his home.  Then it goes to the father sitting at his kitchen table.  He picks up the phone and calls 911.  He tells them "I want to report a missing..." then cuts off when he notices the smashed lamp.  He says he made a mistake and never mind, hangs up, says "Sarah, where the hell are you?" and crashes on the couch.  THC keeps that last bit but cuts the phone call entirely.

Further on down the road...
Oh so Gloria got a lot of education apart from Monica.  That's good to know.  Maybe a "Joshua" type helped her then.  Yeah, I'm really desperate to make sure Gloria had some quality God time during her "infancy."

I keep meaning to fact-check if most humans die in hospitals.  That makes me sad.  And it probably depends on how accessible hospitals are.

"You are.  You're here."  I love that the nurse says this to the woman in mourning.  It was important she know how much that meant... just to be present. 

I so love this scene of Andrew talking in such detail about his assignments.  Sigh...  I also love what he says about how they inspire him to be a better angel.  I like to think the angel/human relationship has some reciprocity. 

I miss the days when one could have camaraderie with a postal worker.  Now it seems like we have a new one every day.

Ha.  I just realized that Gloria calls Grams "Mrs. Grams."

This depiction of the kids' father is really disturbing.  It would be easier if he was just awful all the time.  But in the better moments, like at their dinner, you can see one reason why the kids might not have spoken up.  Sometimes things were good.  And probably every time they thought maybe they'd turned a corner.  And remembering those good times would make it so difficult to speak up.  Which is all the more reason why the rest of us need to speak up when we witness things.

Every time I watch this, I'm surprised that Robby gets hit.  I always remember it as he accidentally gets shot.  I dunno why.

I really like how Andrew explains Chuck's behavior: he doesn't want to die but living hurts too much at the time.  I've heard a number of people, over the years, say stuff like "Suicide is so selfish."  I hate that.  Sure, we can probably find some examples of truly selfish suicides.  But, for the most part, I think people are so mentally unwell and in too much pain to realize the implications of their actions.  To be selfish implies understanding of what one is doing to other people.  And I just don't think that's always there.

I do feel for Gloria when she steals the gun...  That would be so difficult to understand when you're so young and new.

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