A review by Jenni:
I watched this and "Written in Dust" on the same day, this in the
morning and "Written" in the evening, and noted some parallels.
So this review contains references to "Written."
What I love about this
I really like the phenomenon of creative sentencing. And this
episode gives a perfect example of it: don't punish a slumlord with a
fine or a few days in the slammer. Send him to live in his own
slum! It's perfect justice! And in the episode it's better
still since the idea comes from a child. I love that whole "and a
child shall lead them" theme.
like that this episode comes down hard against making excusing for
one's own bad behavior. Jake tries to defend himself by
references his (as he tells it) tough childhood. But Monica,
Tess, etc. won't have it. That's great! Sometimes the lack
of accountability people have these days frightens me. And too
often other people let em get away with this sorta
irresponsibility. But it ain't happening in this episode!
Saul's prayer heard through out is really haunting. I love
it. It obviously has a lot of impact on Jake but I also think it
was symbolic of how we're all haunted by our pasts and the loved ones
who have gone before us. And just as Jake attempts to drawn out
his father's voice, so sometimes do we try to drown out the memories
that haunt us.
I really like that Andrew appears to Jake as an answer to Saul's
prayer. The idea that God would still have that prayer in mind,
it's not surprising but it's nice to have reiterated. Especially
I love how this episode builds up a parallel between Jake and
Tyler. First, they both have ill fathers (Jake eventually loses
his). They're both financially enterprising, they go to the roof
to dream of getting away with their families. Jake even says
Tyler reminds him of himself. I think these two characters stand
in for wider similarities between two communities. This theme of
shared culture shows up in "Written in Dust," too. While there it
was mostly Jewish people and Native Americans, here it's Jewish people
and African Americans.
those same lines, earlier in the episode Saul chastises Jake for using
a derogatory name towards black kids. He then reminds him that
brothers." Tess later drives this point home by singing "Go Down,
Moses," an African American spiritual with roots in the Hebrew
Scriptures. It demonstrates that for over 100 years these two
groups have shared something. It's one of my favorite TBAA music
moments. When Jake interjects "Eliyahu" into the song it's even
more poignant. And *then* all the people join in. Music
and prayer unites them. It's just... goosebumps.
This episode has some wonderfully dramatic shots through out! I
can't even list them all but pretty much all of Andrew's and the shot
of Tess singing on the staircase and the pinpoint of light through the
door after Michael is shot... wow. They give me goosebumps at
those moments, too.
Like "Written in Dust," this episode seems to have more dramatic music
than usual and it really stood out for me.
What I didn't love about this
I'm a lil creeped by
Tess informing Monica that God has a special kind of Passover planned
for Jake. It kinda makes it sound like Michael getting shot was
part of the Divine Plan. I prefer TBAA when it says that violence
and hate are not God's doing but He can bring good outta both.
Now, maybe that's not what Tess meant. Maybe Jake simply being at
the slum during Passover was what was originally going to make it
special. But once the idea crept in my mind... it makes me
wonder. Monica does later say that hate is the reason Michael was
shot so maybe that wasn't part of the original plan.
Where did Jake's sisters go? There are two at the table in the
flashback scene yet neither appear to be at Elaine's Passover dinner
with Michael and Lisa. Maybe they moved?
Parts that made me feel
Andrew looks so regal when Jake first sees him in the apartment where
Saul died. I don't quite know why but... wow.
When Andrew tells Jake about how Elaine always thinks of Saul when she
sees a Sabbath candle, for some reason that gets me. And maybe
God just told Andrew to say that but I kinda get the feeling Andrew
knew. Like he still keeps tabs on his assignments and their
families even decades later. I love that idea and it seems like
him. Just watch "Sign of the Dove."
I have a thing for guys in long coats. Andrew has a long coat in
this. I already have a thing for Andrew. So Andrew in a
long coat... Then turn it into Andrew, in a long coat, having
Jake flee from him... Obviously I feel terrible for Jake weeping
over Michael. But how terrible for Andrew to have someone flee
him as if Andrew himself wanted to kill Michael! So... Andrew, in
a long coat, being mistaken for something evil, and having a human (who
he loves cause he's an angel and that's what they do) flee him... what
about that doesn't make me want to throw myself at him?
And when he looks kinda shadowy on the street and like he'd really
rather not be
there... Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" starts running
through my head. Then I feel worse for Andrew who maybe does
lonely road." And then at the end... he walks alone into the dark
night... MAJOR concussion moment cause I really do want to jump
into the TV and run after him and walk with him.
On a happier note, I'm so relieved for everyone involved (including
Andrew) when he walks away from the door Jake and Michael were
behind. And Andrew's small smile suggests he's relieved,
too. Which just makes me feel even more for him.
I wish I'd been exposed to different religions more as a child. I
think it woulda been great to have taken part in a Passover seder as
the lil boy Jake's mom invites over gets to. The more we learn
about others' beliefs and rituals, the more we love and respect them, I
The angel of death actually does not appear in any of the Exodus
accounts in my Bibles. I've got "angel of the Lord" and "avenging
angel," I believe is how it's worded. But no AODs. A
theology professor once told me that's a translation issue and "angel
of death" really isn't very accurate. I found that interesting
since, prior to TBAA, my main exposure to the idea of AODs was through
"The Ten Commandments." Now I find out that maybe wasn't even
sposed to be an AOD!
I appreciate Elaine assuring the little boy that the Passover
story is about God providing for His people, I still find it chilling
from certain perspectives. Isn't it in Prince of Egypt where they
have the shot of a lil Egyptian kid and then you just see their hand
fall... dead? What did a lil Egyptian toddler do to deserve the
wrath of God? It makes me think of the Kevin Smith movie Dogma. A character in
that, Loki, is revealed to be the angel who slaughtered the
firstborn. Directly afterwards, he and a friend fall. Loki
and his buddy do some terrible things in the movie but that bit really
upset me and made me feel for them. Imagine being sent to end the
lives of children just cause
they were born to Egyptian parents!
As a Christian, most of my associations with Passover (at least prior
to college) came from the gospel accounts of the Passion. It's
typically thought that Jesus was crucified around Passover. So in
my belief system, Passover is the setting to one of the most dramatic
stories of a Father and a Son, culminating in the violent death and
resurrection of the innocent Son. Watching this episode with the
focus on Saul's and Jake's relationship and Jake's and Michael's, I
just automatically think of that other relationship. It just
makes the episode more dramatic, disturbing, and inspiring for me.
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