"Famous Last Words"



A review by Jenni:

Just chai tonight.  Too much food earlier for dessert.  TBAA is reward enough!

What I love about this episode:

I have my opinion on the death penalty, of course.  And, selfishly, I would have liked TBAA to have upheld it.  But the more level-headed part of myself very much appreciates that they presented a story of love and redemption without alienating people by choosing a side on the issue.

The conversation between Tess, Monica, and Gloria when the latter two enter the jail is interesting.  Tess really lets Gloria have it and it's kinda jarring to hear Monica refer to her as "ma'am" at this juncture.  Makes ya wonder how often they all had to fake formality.

Sean Patrick Flannery impresses me in this.  I'm used to seeing him play really good, upstanding types.  Granted, my exposure to his career is limited.  But this is a far cry from Powder or young Indiana Jones.  Although I guess he was awfully questionable in Boondock Saints which I've also seen.  Quite a varied career.

I like non-linear storytelling.  So I appreciate how this is done with flashbacks that don't even go in order.  That second one in which Daniel gets whipped is awful to behold.  It gets me that people thought this was a soft show.  Nothing easy about this one.

Whe
n is an adult getting emotional over their childhood toy NOT tear-jerking?  When Daniel smells Alonso... gah.  The TBAA writers did have a way with teddy bears.

"Childre
n live what they learn."  Powerful statement from Delroy's mother.  The cycle of violence is something we should never forget and I'm glad that TBAA, once again, stressed this generational tragedy.

I really like that Monica assures Shirlee that God does not hold her responsible for Daniel's crime.  Because the fact is many people have terrible, tortured childhoods.  But they don't kill people.  It's a choice, not fate.

Okay, again Monica's gift actually works for me in this episode.  I like that she has to ask Shirlee for permission to see her truth.  She doesn't just barge in.  And I like that we don't know what she saw til Daniel does.

"Ya know, death isn't the end of anything."  Thank you, Andrew.  Those sorts of lines got me through a lot of pain.  And they'll get us all through this.

"As long as there is breath in your body, even if it's with your last words, it's not too late.  Make peace with your mother.  Make peace with God."  From Monica.  A good thing for us all to remember.  But hopefully we don't wait.

As hard as it is to watch, I'm glad TBAA did those close-ups of Daniel on the execution table.  People should know what it's like.

The way the fish tank ties back in at the end really, really got me.

That music at the end... I think it's just studio music but it's beautiful and so sad.


Those last shots of the angels and then Shirlee are so poignant.

This episode makes me think anew about how big a deal last words are.  I never really gave it much thought til this year.  When John died, I just had to know what the last
things were I wrote to/about him.  And he inspired my last words to one of my grandpas.  I'm so grateful to him for that.  And to the TBAA writers, too, of course.

What I didn't love about this episode:

Eeek.  Andrew going through the bars kinda creeps me out.  Even though he looks adorable.

Monica wearing a sleeveless top and knee-length skirt in a prison is idiotic.  It's an adorable outfit but really!?

Why couldn't Tess just put her hand on Andrew's shoulder or something when Daniel talks about him "missing the best part" and he looks so troubled?  Yes, I know I'm projecting but still...  And Andrew was invisible.  Kinda forget about that.  I have a feeling that had I known Andrew, I woulda been often seen seeming to rest my hand on air.  Or leaning on air.  Or hugging air.  Or wrapping my arms around air's leg to keep air from leaving...  I have no pride.  ;-)

Lingering questions:
In the intro on the "Faith" DVD, Martha says that they had to wait to do this episode because the theme of a man on death row was considered too dark.  I realize much more of this is set there than "Sins of the Father" and "Seek and Ye Shall Find" but those are still pretty dark.  I wonder how they got those through?  ETA: Yeah... this is way darker.  I forgot how much they showed of the execution.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew standing behind bars just makes me wish he'd gotten that murder trial episode...  John woulda acted the heck outta it.

Gah, I loved his voice.

OMG!  Daniel just called him a "lousy angel."  Grrr.  Lovely angel, more like i
t.  I'm glad Daniel calls Andrew "sir" at the end.

Inappropriate giggle when Andrew tells Daniel "You and I are stuck with each other."  Andrew's fond of saying that in Dyeland.  In a much cozier manner, of course.

He looks beautiful studying the sunset (thinking of his Home?) outside the prison, looking back to it even as he speaks to Daniel.  But the scene kinda makes me sad.  Makes me think of Mother, Mother and how much Jeff was gonna miss his sunsets.  I hope John can see em real good now.

I love that our darling, guileless boy is cheered by Daniel asking for Alonso.  Andrew, being who he is, would never guess there was a hurtful motive behind the request.

The whole time Andrew's talking about the trial after death and how your sentence depends on what you do in life... I just kept thinking that John's "sentence" must have been all sorts of awesomeness and beauty.  And I like to think part of it was that he got to see how many lives he saved and will save.  And how many hearts and souls he helped heal.  And how many children learned of God's love from his lips. 

Random thoughts:

Music: There's some country music playing in the cafe during the first scene there.  Can't make lyrics out but it's a woman singing.  I wish I had whatever program it is they have on cop shows where they isolate certain sounds.  In the next diner scene, there's another country song.  Male vocalist, I think.  All I could hear was "on a clear and sunny day."  There's a third song once Gloria takes over for Shirlee but, again, can't make anything out.  There's a gorgeous piece at the end that I suspect was shot just for the show.  I wish I could find it.  All I could really make out is "shares your tears and then you will find your way."

Cool.  I was just pondering on the JABB YG whether the TBAA writers wrote as a group or divided up episodes and largely worked alone or in pairs.  On the DVD, Martha says a bunch of them sat down to write this.  Yet it's credited to Brian Bird so that probly means many were group efforts despite only one or two writers named.

Oh...  And she also says they were writing it on September 10th, 2001.  Geez.  Who among us hasn't wished we could go back to that day?

Gloria starts reading Capote's In Cold Blood here.  Just might be good to know shoul
d someone choose to write another book-themed JABB Jeopardy category...  FYI- She reads like a vampire.

I would be so creeped out if I had to be that guard lying on the execution table as they did their test run.

Again, I know I'm projecting...  But I started bawling when they showed the people praying outside the prison.  I'm not saying they're wrong at all.  Daniel deserved prayer.  Everyone does.  But it hurts to think that murderers get these prayer groups while innocent people die by the millions with no one to pray over them, no one even realizing they're going to die.  I just hate that people can just slip away like that.  It's almost like I envy those nuns.  They got to do something. 

Scenes Hallmark cut:
- I dunno.  I watched this on the DVD.

Further on down the road...
Ha.  Earlier I started thinking about The Young Indiana Jones and wondered why that suddenly popped back into my head.  I knew I was gonna be watching this and musta just done an unconscious Sean Patrick Flannery filmography shift.

If it wouldn't be weird, Andrew would make a good priest.  Although, actually, if he can take on a Protestant pastor role ("Crisis of Faith") then I guess an assignment as a Catholic priest wouldn't be a stretch. 

Sigh... it makes me sad that Andrew totally thinks he's gotten through to Daniel when Alonso comes up but then no...  A few seconds later he realizes Daniel hasn't changed.  It must be so hard to deal with humans sometimes!

Delroy's such a sadistically awful person.

I have a really hard time believing Daniel was sentenced to death for a murder when there was a history of abuse and the victim's family doesn't seem to have pressed for it.  Then again the justice system doesn't always make sense.  This from the folks who brought you rapists getting off with time served and the like...

Kinda rethinking my decision to watch this one right before bed...

It just boggles my mind to even think of being in the position of the people watching the execution.  I'm not sure that I would want to be there if I was the victim's family.  Seeing someone die is something one can't forget.  And while I believe there's hope of Heaven for anyone, I'm not sure I'd really be helped by hearing someone who murdered my loved one talk about being there.  I believe if they are then it's only because of God's grace and thus I'd rather focus on God's side of it and not even really think about them.

This musical piece at the end is so beautiful...  I wish we knew who it was singing.

A Word from Travis:
I saw this episode recently after loaning one of the inspirational collections of TBAA from the library. This episode touched on so much issues. Delroy may have emotionally and physically abused Daniel, but that didnít give him a right to kill his father. I feel so much compassion for Shirlee as she did the best that she could to be the best wife and mother that she knew how to be. Shirlee lost both her husband and her son to death but Iím glad she was able to find closure in the end, in the dark light of tragedy. Shirlee is reminiscent of so many mothers whoís made so many sacrifices for their family and sometimes has to deal with unappreciative children or children who arenít aware of how much their parents sacrificed for them.

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