"A Delicate Balance"

A review by Jenni:

And with this, Season 3 is done!

What I love about this episode:

I've never played or participated in any kind of sport.  Just not interested.  So this episode was pretty eye-opening for me at the time.  I hadn't really given much thought about the pressure some young athletes are under.  I also never thought about how back-biting it can be.  It's just plain chilling when Rebecca and her friend are all out gleeful about their teammate's injury.  Yikes.

Those flashbacks the kids have of their dad are really well done.  Definitely pulls at the heartstrings.

Training sponsors.  Wow.  I think, because I can't really relate to this episode, I mostly like it for knocking some of my naivete out.  I had no clue such a concept existed.  I knew major athletes relied on sponsors but kids???  Frightening.  Earlier this year I read an expose about companies sponsoring incredibly young athletes.  I wish I'd kept the link.  So much pressure!  Of course, they also allow for opportunities the kids might not otherwise have.  So much to consider.  I really sympathized with the struggles Sandra faced.

"Even good memories can be pretty painful."  That quote from Andrew to T.J. really strikes at the heart of why grief can be so difficult to overcome.  Sometimes thinking back on the good times does help.  But sometimes it also makes the loss cut even deeper.  It just felt good for me to hear a character I respect say something like that. 

I actually could relate to the aspects of this episode dealing with grief.  I think the divergent ways the mother and two children grieved for the father was highly realistic and something that can tear real families apart.  Some people just need to dwell in their grief for a while, some need to escape it.  Having those two types in one family is tough.

Initially, I was put off by the use of the theme from The Young and the Restless.  It seemed like weird cross promotion.  And, yes, I know it wasn't even originally for the soap opera.  But still.  However, it was such a dramatic counterpoint to the thumping, dramatic non-music of the skating rink.  It made the juxtaposition of the graceful, practiced gymnastics routine and T.J.'s horrible fall really dramatic.

Monica calling Rebecca "little one" is very sweet.  The whole revelation scene with Monica talking about Rebecca's dad as a very current, living person touches me.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Worst hair style ever...  Okay, that's obviously hyperbole.  But what was Andrew (or the hair stylist, for that matter) thinking!?!  In my mind and in the minds of other people I have discussed this with, top notches should only be worn by men if they are samurai or Hell Boy.  Skating rink managers do not count.  Still, it's a bit disingenuous to put this complaint here because we've gotten a lotta fun outta that top notch.  So while I may not love it... I'm glad it existed.  :-)

Previous to this I watched "Amazing Grace" which had a really great supporting cast.  Here there were a few lines from the supporting cast that really just didn't ring true for me.  They just weren't very natural to my ears.  Oh well.

Lingering questions:
Does anyone know what classical piece is played during Nicole's practice routine?  It sounded familiar.  Like something I heard in Pride and Prejudice maybe.  Dunno.

The whole stopping time and people disappearing thing has long weirded me out.  Where did the crowd go while Monica spoke to Rebecca?  Or did Rebecca and Monica go somewhere?  Monica simply says "they're waiting."  I guess we have to leave it at that.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew demonstrates that devilish sense of humor mixed with faux-bravado that is all but dead by the later seasons.  So it's refreshing and cute to see here when Tess is talking about winners and he jokingly calls "Somebody call me?" Yes, Andrew, you are a winner... and not just in a joking sense.

And then he does that flip and stance and it's freaking adorable.  I had to rewind...  Sometimes I remind myself of Bridget Jones to an extent I'm not entirely comfortable with.  ;-)

And his look!  That white shirt and blue jeans... lovely.  I still think he looks absurdly like he wandered off the cover of a romance novel.  Thank God, Andrew is not a romantic hero.  But it's not terrible if he occasionally looks like one, I  don't think!

Andrew is just plain adorable when he's caring for kids.  This episode seriously makes me wish he could have kids.  Like adopt them.  He'd be an awesome, awesome dad.  Watching him with his kids would probly emotionally damage if not destroy any woman who ever had feelings for him... but it'd still be adorable.  It also really doesn't help my all out swooniness over a parental Andrew that T.J. kinda sorta looks like he could be Andrew's.  Sigh...

And he's all anti-bully, too.  Gah.  I want an Andrew.  Everyone should have an Andrew to stand up for them.  Course, then I guess no one would learn to stand up for themselves... but maybe he could help develop those skills.  Yeah, I definitely want an Andrew.

Andrew's very sweet when he comforts Sandra.  It's so sad when she admits that she's not used to having that support any more.   I'm glad she had Andrew.

Random thoughts:
I've always been a bit uneasy with the blurring of reality and fiction in TBAA.  My mind's just not sure what to do with it.  I think part of it is my thinking that if real gymnasts can speak to the angels, then by extension the angels should be real!  But these three are not.  I firmly believe angels exist... but not Monica, Andrew, and Tess.  So it jars me a bit.  Methinks I shoulda made a "Parts that unsettle me" section for these.  Oh well.

I'm sorry but every time I see Kerri Strug all I can ever think about is the Kerri and Kippy Strug skit from Saturday Night Live.  My family loved that skit!  For days afterwards you'd randomly hear someone shout "Shake it off, Kippy!"

This episode always makes me think of my uncle who is a gymnastics coach.  Particularly, I recall a period when I was younger and my maternal grandfather was very sick and in the hospital.  The paternal side of my family took turns keeping my siblings and me occupied.  I can remember my uncle did my hair in some fancy style and then took us to his gym.  We had no clue how to do anything legitimate.  But we had an awesome time bouncing on the trampoline and jumping into the foam pit.  It was definitely an example of finding a silver lining.

25 cents for a pay phone call.  Wow.  That's dated!  But then so are pay phones kinda...

When I used to tape these and before I had the internet, I never knew what the episode titles were.  I think "Leap of Faith" was my title for this.  I don't remember many.  The only other one that comes to mind is "A Single Miracle" for "Last Call."

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