"Death in the Family"

A review by Jenni:

Gonna admit that, while I mostly feel calm, I'm a lil apprehensive about watching this episode.  I remember next to nothing about it and am a lil afraid of being caught off-guard by something.  But I have my biscotti, tea, and Andrew.  So I'm sure it'll be fine.  Here goes...

What I love about this episode:

Wow.  I'd forgotten that the boy was shot by Frank as he was calling the police for help.  That's some powerful stuff. 

The way tragedies, for right or wrong, almost immediately can morph into some sort of campaign or crusade seems pretty spot-on.  And I like that, even with depicting that, the writers don't let either side devolve into caricature.  I think Rev. Davis would be an easy character to mess up.  And, in fact, I find myself a lil leery of him simply because it can be so hard to tell when someone is genuinely upset by a tragedy and when they're simply using it to further an agenda... an agenda that might not be wrong but still... personal tragedy as public campaign can get sketchy.  So one scene I particularly like along those lines is when he's praying and Tess is watching.  You can tell he wants to do what is right but is deeply hurt by the violence and racism in his community.  The line "I have no more cheeks for them to slap" is heartbreaking.

"I think prayer is the best thing a person can do."  A quote from Monica to Mrs. Griffin in response to her saying all she can do is sing and pray.  I like Mrs. Griffin's line, too, because it's so true for me.  Music and prayer have turned out to be the two things that help me most when I'm grieving or worried.

I love what Tess says about looking for a church that knows how to really worship God.  I wonder if she ever found it...  I find myself looking for that, too.

This episode seems a little prescient.  I feel like I could be watching something someone wrote in the wake of the AZ shootings with all the discussion of how words either can or cannot inspire unbalanced people to dangerous action.

"I believe that all things, even something terrible like what has happened [to Jamal] can be turned into something for good when people who love God ask Him to change their circumstances."  Another quote from Monica to Mrs. Griffin and one I hope to God is true.  I believe it is.  But sometimes it's hard to see the good.

Wow.  See, this totally does seem really appropriate to right now: "Whatever the world is telling us to do... I think that God wants us to stay together and keep on praying."  When Monica's talking about how no matter what she and Mrs. Griffin believe, they both love and trust in God and need to stick together... that's the message this country and, really, the whole world needs right now.  We need to not get so bogged down in details and just be decent and loving.  And if we could also hold hands... that would be nice. 

I like what Andrew has to say about how racism starts.  It's like "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" without music.  I also like how he goes onto say that the Father doesn't blame children who are taught prejudice but that we need to, as adults, do something and be responsible.

I really love when the trio reveals themselves and Monica tells the Reverend that *we* are all in this together.  Big fan of whenever the angels include us in their group.

Also a big fan of aerial shots of glowing angels.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Maybe this is meant to make Frank seem especially unhinged but when Frank is fighting with his wife he asks her "You think I killed that kid on purpose?"  The boy wasn't dead...  It seems to me like a mistake either in the writing or like the director or someone should have caught it when Mr. Baio said it.

I feel like the angels needed to be in it more.  At points it felt more like Law and Order.  But, then, I'm also just clingy about the angels right now... more so than usual.

Lingering questions:
Have we seen this church before on TBAA?  That stained glass window looks very familiar.

Watching this, it seems to me like there's a fine line between trying to change things to honor someone impacted by tragedy and hi-jacking a tragedy to further your own cause.  How do you know when you've crossed the line?

This could be the crush and/or sleep deprivation talking but am I the only one who, when someone rather rudely asks Andrew who he is, wants to scream "He's a son of God.  An angel!  So sit down, shut up, and show some respect,"?  I imagine that would not thrill Andrew...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew saying "I will never get used to the sound of a gun firing" makes me love him even more.  No matter what, our Angel Boy never became immune to violence which, while it sounds somewhat like a good idea, would just be tragic.  I hate the idea of a blase Andrew.  Wouldn't be Andrew.

That being said... with these episodes I barely remember, I sometimes get so desperate looking for Andrew, worried that he'll hardly appear, that I will mistake random people for Andrew.  Once the guy was African American and I thought he was Andrew.  So I totally thought the second shooter in the opening scene was Andrew in a ponytail (which I realize, time-line wise, makes no sense).  That's just sad that I'm that desperate.  Thankfully, I only had to wait about 2 seconds more to see actual, thankfully gunless Andrew.  It's not that I think Andrew should never have a gun.  Cause he's right about police officers needing to be prepared.  But I know he doesn't like em.

Gah, I love his long coats.  Well, him in them.  I'm sure the same coat slung over a chair would do nothing for me.

Poor love desperately trying to get Frank to listen to him...  It makes you wonder how many times Andrew just stands around pleading and is ignored.

Something about just seeing Andrew's shoulder and then his face through the curtain after Frank's son is hurt just makes me sad.

I wish Andrew could be my conscience...  Okay, scratch that.  That could get really awkward, really quick.  But for some reason I really like Andrew confronting Frank and saying "It was *my* voice" that told him about the baseball in the yard, etc. 

I burst into tears when Frank asked Andrew where the angel was when his daughter was killed and then Andrew, looking so sad but so dedicated, said "I was there."  It was a poignant moment years ago but now even more.  Because this was the man I imagined being there so often when bad things happened.  But, in my head, he was never the one the bad thing happened to.  So it remains hard to realize that, in life, something bad happened to him.  Moments like this... they're still beautiful but really, really hard to watch.

"I was holding her spirit."  I just really love him in that moment.  "And now the Father Himself is holding her."  And then... I feel some peace.  Cause now the Father is holding John.

Random thoughts:

Music: Mrs. Griffin hums a hymn that Monica says is one of her favorites but I couldn't place it.  At the church, right after Andrew and Frank enter, they sing what I can only assume is called "Walk with Me, Lord."  They also sing "Amen" there but it's not the lyrics I recognize from Harry Belafonte.  Same tune, though.

I just need a moment.  This may be difficult to read.  Monica's quote about terrible things turning into something for good made me think again of how many TBAA quotes have helped me in first accepting and then coping with Mr. Dye's untimely passing.  And I sometimes wonder if the cast and crew also has these quotes flicker back into their minds.  Or maybe even his family and friends who surely watched.   Even for me who never knew him, I sometimes hear the words and watch the scenes now and think "My God, how could anyone have ever thought it would be his death we'd need to apply those words of comfort to?"  Or just random lines sometimes seem almost... seering.  Like there's a moment in "Mother's Day" that's just so raw and blunt that, even though I don't otherwise love that episode, has stuck with me.  It's when Audrey stares at Andrew point blank and tells him to come back when he's lost a child.  Who would have ever thought the man standing there would be that child?  It's just hard because, on one hand, TBAA gives me a lot of peace.  But, on the other, there are moments that are just plain cutting now.

I think, were I an AOD, the things that would probly force a career change for me would be bereaved parents.  That, to me, is one of the single cruelest realities in the world.

This episode does smack a bit of irony given the Isaiah Washington debacle back when he was on Grey's Anatomy.  I never watched the show so didn't really follow the whole controversy but remember the gist of it.  I hope he came to be in a more tolerant place if, indeed, things were said that shouldn't have been even thought.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-There's a scene after the one in which Andrew takes Frank's badge and gun.  It begins at his home with the phone ringing.  His wife answers.  Clearly it's a reporter because she angrily tells them they have nothing to say.  Her little boy asks about the call, sensing it's a reporter.  Frank enters.  He greets his wife then asks why the little boy is home from school.  The kid explains that he was worried about his dad.  His wife says that everyone was talking (which led me to believe *she* chose to keep the kid home.)  The boy asks his dad "It was an accident, wasn't it?"  Frank takes him over to the couch and Frank says "Yeah" then flashes back to the shooting.  Then it goes to Mrs. Griffin entering the hospital and the Rev. giving his statement which THC has.

-Augh.  I saw this coming.  The editing seemed sloppy after the scene of Andrew visiting Frank's home.  Turns out it's cause there was more to this scene.  When the next segment starts, Andrew is seated in the living room.  Frank is pacing around, ticked about the address mix-up and kinda threatening his absent informant.  I don't think Andrew is buying it.  Frank insists that he even wrote down the address.  His wife asks where the note is.  He says he's not sure, he either stuck it in his pants' pocket or tossed it.  Andrew glances over at the laundry basket where Frank's jeans are visible with a corner of paper sticking out.  He says "Well, maybe it'll turn up somewhere" but keeps mum about the note.  Andrew tells Frank that he coulda checked the address before getting the warrant.  Frank shoots back that he's been trying to get the guy for over a year.  He tells Andrew that he doesn't know what he's got to do but he needs it all to be over.  Andrew stands and says "Frank, I got a feeling this is just getting started."  Frank looks downcast.  Then they go to the scene of the Rev. praying as Tess looks on.  It's not like Andrew did anything momentous in the scene but there were some nice shots and... he's Andrew.

Further on down the road...
So since I am nominally Catholic, I felt like I should join in for Pope Francis' call for a day of prayer for Syria.  And then I realized I haven't lit all my holy candles since I did memorial rosaries... something I started when John died and I found myself without the usual rituals (wake, funeral, etc.) and the rosary was pretty much all I had.  So then that made me want to watch TBAA.  So I am.

"Wear their knee bones to dust praying" is an interesting, gripping turn of phrase. 

Andrew's coat while he's interviewing Frank is cool.  It's kinda mottled looking.  I like it.

I can remember when TBAA was on the air, round about Season 5 some fans... myself included... were bothered by Monica crying in practically every episode.  While I still think there are a few spots where it seems overdone, being older now I'm fairly confident I would tear up and maybe even outright cry at a lot of the same times.  So there's that.  She's still ridiculous in "Netherlands" to me, though.  And I actually seem to be more bothered by her behavior in that episode the older I get.  Anyhow, I've concluded that a lot of my anger towards Monica stems from the fact that she was my favorite character for the first two seasons.  More than that, she was my role model.  So it just made it really aggravati
ng when she became so uneven and inconsistent in the later seasons.  I love how gentle and compassionate she is at Jamal's bedside with his mother.  But it's dampened because I know her selfish abandonment of a dying little girl in "Netherlands" is coming.  Maybe it's a life lesson.  Our heroes will let us down... that was just a major letdown.

 Oh...  I still love that image of Andrew through the curtain.

Sigh... I like Andrew's brown, fuzzy lined coat even better.  Sigh again...  "I was holding her spirit."  That part's so beautifully sad.

I still really like what Andrew says about how God doesn't hold a child responsible for being taught prejudice... but that we do become responsible for it as adults.  I think that's key.  Because I do feel pity for those who grew up in toxic, hate-driven religions.  But unless they're living in a compound and completely cut off from the wider world... I do believe that at a point they become morally responsible for their hate speech and will have to face whatever consequences come of it.

I miss that "Amen" song.  We used to sing it at one of my former churches.

And... this episode reminds me of a recent, still controversial, event and resulting trial.  But I'll leave it at that.  Another reminder of how timely TBAA can still seem.

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