"The Face of God"

A review by Jenni:

In a way, I fear this episode.  Though it's not fair, I see Gloria's coming as the beginning of the end.  And that's a prospect I find even sadder now.  Here's the thing about TBAA and me: I loved the message "God loves you!" and it was always great to hear it.  Thankfully, I had other outlets for hearing it.  Andrew was the novel one.  Andrew was the one who represented what my religion and life path hadn't successfully given me.  Andrew was hope and safety and never being alone and finally making some sort of sense in the world.  In my mind, he receded a lil more with Gloria's coming.  It's highly possible that was just the misguided view of a distraught girl.  But I guess I'm afraid of finding out my younger self was correct.  So here goes...
What I love about this episode:

I like that TBAA took on such an edgy topic.  They even, briefly, took on the destruction of embryos aspect of some science and voiced both sides: destroying a life, saving lives.

I'm glad that Monica stresses that Dr. Conover would be creating a human being if she went through with the cloning.  Because I believe that whole-heartedly.  Clones would be no different than us, should be no less free, and should enjoy the same rights.  (Unfortunately, they falter on that message near the end.)

"In the service of life, sacrifice becomes grace."  Monica quoting Einstein.  I like it.

Historical flashback episode!  Andrew in period clothes!!!

Einstein and Tess make me smile.  Not even one of history's greatest minds can get stuff past her!  Plus, it's fun to think how Tess may have reacted had he asked her out!  Ha!

Maybe I was just dreading the terribly sad people pleading their case to Dr. Conover.  The bereaved parents are heart wrenching.  But I do blanch at Dr. Conover suggesting they'd be replacing the child they lost.  Nobody I know has ever felt like a hole in their heart and soul is filled by having another child, friend, lover, etc.  The newcomer may help with the grief.  But they won't make it go away.  In any case, I appreciate that TBAA showed Dr. Conover as not being some sorta monster.  When she chokes up in the park, you can tell she has compassion along with ambition.

As sad as that sequence is, it's the lil boy who comes in about his grandpa who has been stuck in my head all these years.  Maybe cause I'd lost my grandpa a couple years before this.  Not to Alzheimer's.  But he'd lived through the Depression so I guess I saw myself in the boy.  Not that I would ever want to clone my grandpa cause he wouldn't be my grandpa, just some guy with the same body.  Which brings me to...

I'm glad Monica comes out and expresses this idea to Dr. Conover.  *This* is why I'm against cloning.  Not because I fear the clones but because I fear us.  I fear the expectations we would put on them to be their "originals" to borrow a term from Never Let Me Go.  Think of how difficult it was for Aaron in HDYSF? to live up to his athletic and admired brother.  Now imagine if he looked exactly like the elder son, had his genes only, etc.  Yikes.  Poor kid.  (The "spare parts" thing does scare me, too, but again that's fear of us... not them.)

There's an increased poignancy now in the dying Einstein quoting Ecclesiastes to Andrew.  How often has that run through my head in these months?

Something just occurred to me.  This episode suggests there are scenes between members of the trio that we never saw that might have been really sweet and affectionate.  Can't we assume that Andrew originally told Monica the story that she's
telling to the doctor here?  Maybe there really were many, many more tender moments amongst the trio than we realized!

The scene of Mr. Aramaki giving Einstein the cherry blossom branch makes me tear up.

The "thought experiment" is harrowing to watch and impressively done. 

Poor Sarah.  Sometimes I really wish God had clarified the "be fruitful and multiple" thing cause it has caused so much pain.

Whatever I think about the character, Gloria's creation is beautiful and I remember feeling very moved by seeing an angel being born.  It is a gorgeous sequence.

"God not only created you but He loves you."  Monica to Sarah... the standard message which never gets old.

"He sees the ache in your heart."  Monica again.  I always liked the lines that assured us that God is with us even in our pain.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Don't like Einstein smoking in Andrew's presence.  He doesn't like smoke.

I do think Monica's argument that Einstein not wanting to prolong his life means he would be against cloning is an extremely weak one.  While I agree with the premise, there's a real disconnect in her reasoning.  I'm glad Conover doesn't buy it.

Poor Gloria.  Her first outfit is pretty blah.

Sorry but I still think a cloned person would be a "miracle that God creates with love."  Again, I don't think we should clone.  But Monica's lines after Gloria is born totally feed into my paranoia that clones will be degraded and treated poorly.  Goodness does not come from how one's conceived.  Good people have been born of rape.  Surely God did not wish for the rape to happen.  But He still created the soul of that child with love.  Thus, even if cloning is immoral, the child would be a miracle of God.

Lingering questions:
Am I the only person who doesn't feel the need to angst out over cloning?  Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should do it.  But this whole "OMG!  What is it?!?" thing strikes me as ridiculous.  We are more than our bodies.  Clone my body and my soul and spirit still remain with me and with God.  My assumption would be He would create a new soul for the new body just as He always has.  Lovingly.

Would a clone of Einstein really be Jewish?  I know he would have Jewish heritage.  But if he didn't embrace any of the tenets of the faith, would he be considered Jewish?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew in period clothes!!!  (In case you didn't catch my enthusiasm above.)  Two episodes in a row!

Ha!  Ha!  It is real!!!  In Dyeland stories, Andrew sometimes drawls -or and -er words and I couldn't remember if I'd taken that from John Dye or just made it up.  But he totally says "Professor" with an adorable accent when he meets Einstein.  I had to rewind.  Twice.  Okay, three times.  And it totally sounds like "Professuh."  Swoon...

"Andrew has a special way about him."  Yes, Monica, you are right!

He just smiles and nods a lot when with Einstein.  I love his voice but that's pretty darn cute.  (He also chuckles some in a scene THC cut wherein he is as adorable as always.)

Andrew's quiet recollection of this world's tragedies always gets to me.  John Dye could really express a lot in what he didn't do or say.  See the scene with Mr. Aramaki.

He looks so beautiful bathed in light.  And when he closes his eyes, soaking it in...  Okay, so I teared up a bit.  But they were "glad for him" tears.  Maybe John's riding a beam of light as I write.  He did seem to enjoy speed and heights.

Random thoughts:

Music: Didn't pick up on anything but the score at parts is very reminiscent of "Liberty Moon."

You can tell I'm not a science person.  The idea of having access to a part of the brain of someone I admire (or really anyone's brain) totally freaks me out.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
 -They cut a scene that begins the segment after Sarah interviews Noel's parents.  Monica is back with the lamb, crying and cradling it.  Tess approaches and asks her what's wrong.  Monica tells her the assignment is so confusing.  Tess says "But that's what angels are for: to unconfuse things."  Monica protests that she just doesn't understand all the implications with cloning.  Tess responds that she knows that and that Sarah doesn't understand them, either.  Still crying, Monica explains that bioethicists are meant to help scientists weigh moral issues but "Angels aren't about morals and ethics.  We're about love and the truth.  And I just don't know what the truth is yet."  Tess tells her "Then start with love, baby" and pulls her into a hug.  Then it goes to the playground scene.

-Augh.  I had a feeling they cut some of Andrew's and Einstein's scenes.  They cut right into the middle of one!  After Andrew tells Einstein it's an honor to meet him (which THC keeps), Einstein chuckles and says "A handsome young man like you on a splendid spring day like this... you should be outside, Andrew, frolicking with a fraulein."  (Boy, we could find *a lot* of volunteers for the fraulein role...)  Andrew bows his head and chuckles adorably.  He then tells the professor that he understands that he needs an operation.  Einstein responds that they'll open him up and finding old bones, foolish ideas and such and that his days to frolick are "kaput."  He goes onto explain that his pipe and "the nurse"... who Andrew identifies as Tess... are the only pleasures he has left.  Andrew smiles cutely at this.  Einstein describes Tess as a divine creature but when it comes to smoking "she's one tough cookie."  Andrew laughs at the "divine creature" description but tells Einstein that Tess is trying to save his life.  Einstein asks "What does it matter, my life?"  Then Andrew goes into the Theory of Relativity which is where THC resumes the scene.

Further on down the road...
So I'm watching this on a Saturday morning because I want to write a story involving "Netherlands" which necessitates rewatching "Netherlands" but, quite obviously, I need to rewatch this first.  Also, I feel lazy today.  :-)

I seem to have a lot less trouble with cloning than the angels.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't think it's a good idea.  But if it happens then I'm not gonna get all weird about relationships.  The clone is not his or her mother or father.  If the adult sheep carried the lamb then she is the lamb's mother.  That they have the same genetic material is immaterial.  Suppose I was a clone of my mother and she then carried to term the implanted embryo that was me.  Yes, I will look like her and there will be other similarities, maybe even very strong ones, but my environment will be different and thus I will be different.  I won't be her.  And not just cause of environment...  I just don't get why some believers suddenly decide to be materialists when it comes to cloning.  Do they honestly think that if someone clones someone, they can somehow block God from giving that person a unique, personal soul and spirit?  Don't sell God so short!  Books like Never Let Me Go don't terrify me because of the cloning per se but because of how the "regular humans" treat the clones.  From the POV of God, I don't think the clones and the others were any different and so the "regular humans" wound up with a whole lot of blood on their hands.  And here's a little scientific truth: some species can already clone via a process called parthenogenesis.  Sometimes the resulting offspring share the full genetics of the mother.  They are truly clones.  And yet this happens without human involvement.  I can't imagine that God set such a process in place with the thinking that the resulting offspring wouldn't really be itself.  And I also can't imagine that He believes His naturally occurring clones are individual creations and yet ours would be soulless re-runs.  God seems to repeatedly have plans for those conceived via means He didn't entirely approve of (Hullo, Ishmael!) so I'm not going to agonize about clones.

All that being said, talk about replacing a child is disturbing.  So on psychological grounds, I am against cloning because I do think it'll lead to screwed up beliefs and expectations.  But the "Who is this?!" question isn't real to me.  My issues: Would we harvest organs?  How many embryos would be discarded?  Would it be possible to clone someone without their permission or knowledge?  Why conceive children this way when we have so many children already on the earth who need parents?  How would looking exactly like a parent impact the child?  Would parents, even unconsciously, expect the child to be someone else and behave towards them in a negative way... even subtly... if they are not that person?  In essence, I'm against cloning because I don't trust my fellow humans to not speak and think flakily like Tess with the lamb.  And I include myself in that. 

I still agree that Monica makes a poor argument when she links Einstein choosing not to have surgery with cloning.  That's a pretty big leap.  Maybe Einstein is also against IVF.  Maybe he finds surrogacy deplorable.  Maybe he doesn't think we should be working on neuroprosthetics.  They're all artificial and he didn't want to artificially preserve his life ergo he is against all of the above... well, at least if you're willing to accept logical fallacies as truth which sad for you if so.  I would like to think a real ethicist would know better how to argue their point without making false analogies. 

How does someone who made a hero out of Einstein not know that he suffered?  From him: "My pacifism is an instinctive feeling, a feeling that possesses me because the murder of men is abhorrent. My attitude is not derived from intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred."  And yet he ends up contributing to the atom bomb.  How could any reasonable person hold these two things together and not intuit that some suffering had happened? 

Their reproduction of the bombing is still chilling and disturbing.  Well done... 

I'm still iffy on whether a clone of Einstein born to Sarah would be Jewish.  I thought Judaism was traced matrilineally?  But then I guess even that comes down to whether you think Sarah is the mother or Einstein's mother is.

Sigh...  Andrew is so lovely in this final scene with Einstein.  Gorgeous lighting, too. 

And here’s Gloria’s creation.  It is so beautiful.  I just wish I didn’t feel like God is using a baby angel as a prop.  “New angel, please stand here while this Irish lady speaks to the scientist about you.  Because I’m just phoning it in these days...”

On the plus side, I still really love the Einstein scenes.  TBAA featuring historical characters was generally a good time.

Back to the Episode Guide

(The 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.)