A review by Jenni:
This incredibly powerful episode was also the first episode to list
John Dye as a regular cast member. So it's special to me for a
What I love about this
Right off the
bat I got a laugh out of Tess being horrified at the 32 cent postage
rate... which has now shot up to 42 cents. Some of this stuff
really does date TBAA but it makes me laugh so I'm not complaining.
Tess sounds like me when she's griping about junk mail and how all it
does is waste trees. Amen! Lately I've been trying to fight
back at direct mail groups and if I didn't think I'd get sued I'd
attach an audio file of Tess' junk mail comments to each C & D
email I send those companies and organizations.
I've been really impressed by Elliot Gould's performance in this for a
long time. Prior to seeing this episode I only knew him as Ross
and Monica's dad on "Friends." He's sooo different as Max.
I wish TBAA had done more historically themed episodes. I often
found the ones that incorporated the past more moving than the ones set
solely in the modern day. This one is incredibly powerful and I
still get chills thinking back on moments from "Beautiful Dreamer" and
I love the interaction between the angels when they're debating opening
God's mail. Andrew and Monica are so conspiratorial. And
even Tess admits to being curious. It's cute to see them all
acting so playful and curious.
In one of the flashbacks you see Max's dad buttoning up the boy's shirt
and rolling up his sleeves. Then he smiles so bravely and
lovingly at Max. This moment makes me consider how many brave and
selfless parents gave their everything to try to make the hell that was
the death camps as livable as possible for their children.
The way similar visuals or sounds lead into the flashbacks is
particularly powerful. While no one ever brings up PTSD, I would
guess Max has a form of it. And sounds and sights that recall
aspects of the trauma are often triggers for PTSD episodes and
memories. So that struck me as a very realistic transition into
The shot of grown Max laying under the cot in jail is
heartbreaking. I think that may have a little to do with PTSD
also. Regardless, it was a quick but powerful way of showing the
pull that time in his life still has on Max.
I am so glad that Max angrily asks Monica if his family members
had a purpose. Because before he said it, I thought it. So
I am very grateful that the TBAA writers didn't just let Monica's
statement that Max has a purpose rest at that. She assures Max
that they did have a purpose but terrible free will intervened.
It's what makes the exchange work for me. I also like that when
Max asks where God was, Monica's answer is "weeping for His
children." Because there's no way TBAA was going to be able to
explain the Holocaust. No one can in a completely satisfactory
way. Genocide defies reason. Instead they opted for showing
that God was still bound to those people and that He felt sorrow.
taken Andrew's direction to "Go back" to heart. In the
episode, Max finds his faith and his peace by going back to the last
place he saw his father and felt God. Since seeing this episode,
I've often thought of Andrew's words and tried to go back to vital
times in my life to find answers and encouragement as I go
forward. It's good advice, I think, and a beautifully done scene.
Max getting his shoes back was a perfect way to end this episode, in my
opinion. The look on his face and that stirring music...
powerful. I keep using that word but so much of this episode is
What I didn't love about this
I'm annoyed by Monica saying she wished she's been there during the
Holocaust. The line would have been more palatable to me if it
had been longer. Like "I know it must have been terribly
difficult but I wish the Father has assigned me so I could have helped
those brave people and reminded them of His love, even in the midst of
such hate." Simply saying she wishes she'd been there strikes me
as flippant. Not only that but as worked up as she gets just
working with Max... could she have really handled that?
It bugs me that Monica gets that accusatory tone in her voice when she
asks Andrew if he's there for Tanya. Does she think Andrew loves
the prospect of taking abused kids home? The way Monica sounds
you'd think she thinks Andrew's personally responsible for Tanya's
Really Monica just annoys me a lot in this episode. I want to
stomp my feet when she and Tess are discussing Max and Monica makes the
"What heart?" comment. I'm glad Tess scolds her. She
deserves it. She has a horrible attitude. And it's
hypocritical. She gets upset reading Tanya's letters and acts
nasty to Andrew and Tess. Max survives genocide and she can't
understand how maybe that could make someone a little cold or
fearful? Shame on her.
An actual non-Monica gripe: Does anyone else find it a little weird
that the police are investigating Tanya's disappearance and instead of
keeping the apartment as a crime scene or at least impounding her
furniture and belongings they just get trashed? I would think
they'd at least want to keep her desk and its contents for a
while. Unless the property owner trashed it without their
What do you think was in the letter Andrew was carrying into the post
office during his first scene?
What exactly is a steamer? Monica tries to order a "nonfat
steamer with hazelnut." Lattes, mochas, fraps, caps, espresso,
etc. I know. Never was clear on the steamer thing.
I wonder why Max could see Andrew? Did Andrew expect him to or
was he surprised to find a boy still there? Maybe Andrew was sent
simply to smile and bring a loving aura to Max after all the terror and
hate he had witnessed that day.
Parts that made me feel
I know I've said this before but Andrew's really cute with kids.
He's adorable helping Tanya to mail her letter.
Even after Monica rails at Andrew about Tanya, he still sets his hand
on her shoulder to comfort her. Whatta guy. Too bad Monica
doesn't realize what a good friend she's got. Stuff like this,
though, makes me wonder what show the shippers were watching. If
this were a romantic relationship it would be a very uneven, borderline
I get chills when Max shouts at Monica that she wasn't there in the
death camps and an off screen Andrew says simply "I was."
Andrew looks good in a
fedora. But that entire scene is just sad.
Andrew utters a couple statements in the jail scene that, for me,
express how and why I've come to believe in angels of death.
First, he says "I didn't bring it [death], I just helped them through
it." Then he adds "It was a privilege to witness such
courage." The former is important because I don't believe AODs in
any way cause death. Their first duty is to help people make the
transition. The second statement, and Andrew's recollection of
Max's father's death, speak to what I see as their second duty: forming
memories and bearing witness to those memories. Without Andrew,
Max would likely have never learned of his father's final moments and
prayers. In a way, as angel of death, Andrew serves as a bridge
between the past and present. He delivers the lessons of the past
into the present. And that's one reason why I love this character
and hope there are real angels like him.
Tess knew Ben Franklin. I'm just making sure to note all these
lil bits of trivia since one never knows when it might prove useful
to the Episode Guide
photographs used on this
page are from "Touched by an Angel" and
owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water
Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)