"Children of the Night"

A review by Jenni:

This is the first episode I wrote one of these for.  I guess cause I have strong feelings about it.  If you're on the YG you likely know that.  ;-)

What I love about this episode:
First, I like the idea of this nontraditional family (the street kids) being helped out by another nontraditional family (the angels).  The fact that there were four main kids and four main angels just seemed kinda nifty. 

This may not be a big issue but I thought the costuming was really interesting.  The kids kinda looked like escapees from RENT which seemed a bit appropriate.  Artists living on the edge, bonding together, distrusting everyone else.  Tess' diner even seems
a bit like the Life Cafe.  TB standing in for AIDS.  Of course, the RENT characters weren't homeless and even the youngest was at least 19.

I really love the acting in this episode.  For the most part it's so quiet.  Della Reese is lovely as a very sedated but powerfully maternal Tess.  I want to be in that diner of hers!  And while I have my issues with Monica, I can't help but admire her devotion to China here.  Roma Downey makes lines that I otherwise raise my eye brow at sound good (more on that later).  Alexis Cruz did a fine job even if a certain line he was given just may be the worst line ever written for TBAA in my opinion (more on that later, too).  But this is JABB so ya know I'm gonna go on mostly about John Dye as Andrew...

He is awesome here.  Again, it's that quietness.  There's so much in it.  While Andrew has some great lines here, it's more often the silent moments and his facial expressions that get to me.  While I'm all for a computer bashing here or a weepy prayer on a stair case there, it's like JD didn't even need that physical and verbal stuff to get Andrew's emotional state across here.  That's not to say his line deliveries weren't great.  When he walks into the diner and then says the line "His name was Steven..."  Punch me in the stomach that's painful!  But not as painful as the look that then appears on his face.  I dubbed it "ancient grief."  In that moment you can see that not only is Andrew remembering Steven but countless others who he has taken home before their time.  Another such look is writ across his face for most of China's death scene up through Monica's fleeing.  At the very end his face cracks and it's just... major concussion moment.  And his gently stroking China's face... I want to believe in someone like that.  In fact, that's precisely why I believe in angels of death.  It's important to me that someone's last memory of earth be one of tenderness and love.  Andrew certainly brought that here.  His little smile as he comforted China reminded me of the lyrics "Smile though your heart is aching/ Smile even though its breaking."

As for the Andrew and Monica dynamic... this is a classic example of Andrew shelving his own grief to comfort Monica.  It's beautiful but really sad.  I can't blame Monica for being as upset as she was.  One would hope later she'd have checked in with Andrew about his own grief but... I kinda doubt it.

Finally, I just love that TBAA had the guts to take on so many tough issues through out its run.  Drug use, homeless kids, and child prostitution definitely are not easy topics. 

What I didn't love about this episode:
What the heck was Rafael thinking!?!?  Each time I watch this episode he seems a lil more offensive.  I'm talking about the scene where he first meets the kids and greets them as Doc, Sleazy, Junkie, and Happy.  I'm not sure on Happy but I know the other three are accurate.  I mean I can get talking tough so the kids will trust him and relate to him.  But there is something gravely, terribly wrong with an angel, even in jest, referring to a child prostitute as Sleazy.  The fact that he thens follows it up with telling the kids that if they see anyone ripping him off they should "bark like a dog" just makes it worse.  Way to dehumanize people, Rafael!  As much as I love this episode, I think it houses the most poorly written scene in all of TBAA.  This becomes more obvious after China's death when Rafael urges Monica to read the beginning of her journal.  Does that mean Rafael knew China's original abhorrence of becoming a prostitute?  And if he did and he *still* used the word Sleazy...

Unfortunately for Rafael, Andrew just makes him look even worse.  Because Andrew is so quiet and so gentle, this abrasive, rude Rafael sticks out even more to me.  Here's Andrew dirty, sweaty, greasy, likely itchy, and feeling who knows what else kind of discomfort.  And Rafael is the one that gets to snipe at people?  His comforting Monica after China's death was nicely done but couldn't get me past my anger from the earlier scene.

My next "gripe" is actually also a testament to Roma Downey's solid acting.  Because the lines I'm going to talk about sound good and beautiful when she says them.  But the more I thought about them they struck an off note with me.  It's when she comforts Ally about going back to her family and apologizing to them.  Except Monica keeps saying he/him meaning Ally's father.  I think it would have been much more powerful to stress the whole family.  Yes, Ally's father needed to apologize to her but she needed to apologize to them all.  Not just him.  Ally's poor mother has been cheated on and then her daughter runs off.  I don't think Dad deserves so much special focus.

Finally, why does Monica so often seem surprised that Andrew's on an assignment with them?  Maybe it's just me but it sure seems to happen often enough to no longer be a surprise...

Lingering questions:
I would have liked to have known more about the kids but there was nothing in particular that screamed for an answer.  Although I do wonder if Rafael got called out for the "Sleazy" thing... 

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I don't know that swoony really covers this.  From the moment we see Andrew under the newspapers I don't so much want to swoon over him as abscond with him.  But that would be wrong, I know...  I feel so bad for him when Doc tells him he's bad news.  Ouch.  In general, I want to hug him in every scene from the park bench on.

Random thoughts:
I'd watched "Tour of Duty" earlier so it was a lil surreal for me to hear Andrew talking to Doc.  I kept picturing Doc Hock.

Also, I got a mental image of Kyle Chandler as a sorta "Angel Resources" angel.  Like Human Resources at offices.  This was right after I decided I wanted to abscond with Andrew.  He informed me that while my care and concern were appreciated, absconding with angels of death was frowned upon.  Darn.  But it was in a Gary from "Early Edition" type of voice so that was nice.

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