"Forever Young"

A review by Jenni:

Thematically, there are so many reasons I should not be watching this episode this weekend.  I know it's going to end with sobbing.  But... there's one incredibly lovely reason to watch this episode.  So I am.  For him.

What I love about this episode:
Well, gotta love Gregory Harrison's dedication.  Three episodes as three different characters!

"It's easy to talk the talk.  Walking the walk is hard."  Amen, Tess!  I was just talking to a friend about how much it bugs me when someone complains about something and then when a means of remedying the situation is dropped right in front of them... well, they can't be bothered.  Not the same as the situation here but the message applies either way: walk.  Yeah, it may be hard but it's the right and honorable thing to do.

We're not even at the opening credits and already we've seen more of Andrew than we had in the entire THC version of "Tea."  Yay.

I'm really not getting why people are so bothered by Don bringing up Kimmie in his speeches.  But I guess it's good that TBAA explored that plot because I do know that people can get weird when you talk "too much" about the deceased.  So I like that they acknowledge this.  But I still think those people writing the evaluations need to be more compassionate. 

Stacey alone in the park at night breaks my heart.  Such a sad, poignant sequence.  Maybe made more so by the fact that right before I started this DVD, I was out on my swing... staring at the moon and thinking about my own lost loved ones.  They do seem closer outside.  I don't blame Stacey for wanting to stay there.  But I do see how love of the dead can sometimes conflict with love of the living.  It's a tough topic to talk about and I'm glad TBAA took it on.

What is it about grief that completely screws with your sense of time?  While I can't say I've ever flashed back to the past and carried on a conversation with a person who passed on, I completely lose sense of time.  A day may seem to last forever and an entire week passes by in a whirl.  At one point I woke up and thought it was 1999.  Really scary considering I'm living in a different house than I was in 1999.  Sequences of events get jumbled.  Anyhow... I just think TBAA so often did so well in depicting aspects of grief that just plain don't get handled or even acknowledged very often.  No wonder so many people turned to it during times of heartache.  It's validating.

I'm glad Monica returned to apologize to Don for not hearing him out.  Always nice when her and I agree on her being wrong!  ;-)

Don's focus on the last exchange he had with Kimmie is also so truthful to me.  I don't know why but it just seems like it must be human nature to try to remember that last moment and either savor it or somehow try to rework it.  As if we could somehow change what was already done.

That would have to be so terribly, terribly hard to have heard your child's dreams and know they won't come true...  Even as a non-parent, I find it so devastating.  I have to believe that somehow all those people who wanted children but died before they had them get to be parental figures of sorts in Heaven.  This episode really hits on so many of the deeper elements of grief.

This poor little boy...

Grieving together can be so, so hard. 

There's something supremely comforting in the idea that God can accept a curse or a scream of the type Don made as a prayer.  "He would rather you pray to Him honestly than not at all," Monica assures him.  Beautiful moment.  "God hears you when you call to Him.  And He knows what no one else does.  He knows that you cry here alone at night in this room.  He knows the agonizing pain that you feel." 

"And He says... I am strength where you are helpless.  I am peace where there is pain.  Let Me wipe away every tear and hold you."  Monica again.  So beautiful.

The end is so touching.  I knew someone whose organs ended up being donated.  Coincidentally, next week is the anniversary of her death.  It's partly why I was nervous about watching this episode.  But seeing this reminds me that parts of her live on and gave new life to so many people.

For a while, it looked as if this may wind up being TBAA's de facto finale.  I'm so glad it wasn't but if it had been I think this is a strong enough episode that it wouldn't have been an awful note to end on.

What I didn't love about this episode:
That guy who heard Don's speech is a jerk.  Near as I could tell, Don only brought Kimmie in near the end.  And why would her being dead make the example any less poignant?  Does he think when a child dies the parent loses the right to talk about them? 

While, by and large, I think this episode does a great job of depicting grief, I wish they'd given Monica more justification for thinking Don is suppressing his anger and that this is the cause for incorporating Kimmie.  Maybe it was in the file.  But as the episode is written, it's easy to think she's basing this solely on the talks he gives.  That would be unfortunate as I think it's perfectly reasonable and healthy that a person would want to talk more about the deceased after their death.  Before their death, you can talk to them or about them in a far different way.  After they're gone, talking about them becomes so much more important.  It's your way of keeping them alive here.  Anger may have little or nothing to do with it.

Lingering questions:

Where did Tess go?  It's kinda sad that Tess disappears for 25 minutes before I notice but if Andrew's gone for 5 minutes I start to get anxious...  Okay... I totally figured she'd surface at the end but really... where did Tess go?!?!  Apparently to the Hallmark Channel cutting room floor.  See the last section...  Still... odd that she's not in the final scene unless I just missed her.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Love the lovely angel and his leather jacket...

The scary thing is if some guy looking like John Dye showed up at my place and called me by name and said he was an angel as he does with Dorothy... I'd probly promptly invite him inside.  Stranger danger, what stranger danger?  ;-) 

Oh... in the kitchen when Andrew's head bows and the flashback becomes his...  The look on his face.  I hate it.  But I love him for it.  I can remember when I was younger, some part of me would sometimes get really mad at Andrew.  I used to think he should intervene and so what if he got in trouble for it.  If he was sent to the Netherworld but a life was saved... well, wouldn't that be worth it?  But then what?  All the most sensitive AODs would wind up in the Netherworld.  And people like Kimmie wouldn't have the best and most loving with them when they died.  Andrew did what he had to do and he did it bravely and selflessly.  And I was just a stupid kid to ever think otherwise.

And at that point I paused the DVD to run for a bit.  And then when it showed Andrew crouching near Kimmie, I just had to shut it off for a while.  Now I have more chai and I'm going to try to get through the rest.  He's just so lovely and that's never more obvious than when he's juxtaposed with someone so brutal and violent. 

I think the reasons episodes like this are so hard for me now... and they were always hard... was somehow it made me feel better to think that no matter what evil people did... no matter how many cruel people there were in the world... there were also people who would take a stand against them.  Not because they had to.  Not because they were forced to.  But because it was the right thing to do, the loving thing to do and they chose it.  And Andrew was consistently one of those people on TBAA.  And John was consistently one of those people in life.  So when he left this world, I felt less safe.  But I have to remind myself that dead does not equal powerless.  It doesn't even really equal dead.  If I can so easily believe that John's living more than he ever did before, it's not such a stretch to believe he's helping even more than he did in his mortal life.  Thank God for him. 

Andrew cares so deeply for his assignments...  And I love that John didn't even need to speak to express that. 

And now we're at the scene I've been both dreading and longing for.  Stacey meets Andrew in the park. 

"God created you to live in the real world.  That's where He wants you to be.  Not here."  It may surprise some that I love that quote from Andrew.  Yes, I love slipping into fantasy as much as the next person.  But I do have a sense of when it shifts from being entertainment to all-out escapism and a failure to confront real pain.  Cause confronting it is the only way to heal.  Inventing alternate scenarios and pretending the trauma didn't happen can't last.  But it's just still really surreal to me that the person whose death most made me slip into Stacey's brand of escapism is the same one who said "Stop it."  Because the turning point came for me when I was reading something John wrote for the TBAA book and he spoke of how we don't really talk about death.  And I realized that by holding onto some half-baked fantasy in which he wasn't really dead, I was turning my back on everything he taught us.  I was doing exactly the sorta thing he wanted to change.  And that was wrong and I needed to stop.  And I did.

I hate seeing her pound on his chest and being angry at him.  I know Andrew understands.  And I know it didn't actually hurt John.  It's not like she hit that hard.  But still...  Maybe it's just that I know I probly woulda reacted just as Stacey did and I feel really bad about that.

It's so lovely how he rests his chin on Stacey's hair and strokes her hair and assures her Kimmie was never alone.  Never alone...  I think those two words pretty well sum up why I cared so much about this guy and still do.  I'm not sure a person really can ever totally get over the person who helped them recognize that God never lets any of us be alone.

John is just so amazing in all ways in this episode that I was overwhelmed.  His physical appearance, stunning as it is, became the least attention-grabbing aspect of him cause his spirit and his compassion were just sooo vibrant.  But as this episode winds down... just gotta say that he looks so cuddly and adorable in that sweater.  And I always thought he was so devastatingly handsome in long coats.  So wardrobe-wise... fantastic episode for him.  But, again, it's his soul that is most lovely.

Random thoughts:

Music: There's some music playing in the background at Robintino's.  Reminds me of what we hear in local Italian restaurants.  I wonder if it's the same CD in every one of em.  ;-)

Scenes Hallmark cut:
- Unfortunately, they cut a few seconds off of Andrew's initial meeting with Dorothy.  After he says he's an angel, Dorothy responds with "Oh... an angel?  As in..."  Andrew replies "As in messenger from God.  Look, we don't usually like to spring this on people all at once but, frankly, Dorothy, I'm a little short on time."  He looks so apologetic.  Adorable.  Dorothy sizes him up.  Then it goes to Gloria and Justin in session.

- After the session in which Gloria tells Justin that he can talk to her but there's no rush, they show a large office building exterior.  You hear Tess saying "Now I know it's a shock and I know it's hard to understand but it's true.  I am an angel."  Then you see the lady who got Kimmie's eyes.  Apparently she is a barista.  She starts praying in Spanish and sprays whipped cream onto the counter in a panic.  Tess shakes her head and smiles.  She tells Rosalinda to calm down and assures her that a visit from an angel is a good thing.  Then it goes to Stacey in the park assuring Kimmie that there aren't men's and women's jobs.

- They also cut into Stacey's imagining/memory of herself and teenaged Kimmie.  After Kimmie frets about not getting her dream, Stacey tells her that at her age she dreamed of having a dog named Bo and a husband named Rick... or vice versa.  She laughs then assures Kimmie that what she was wants at 17  isn't what she'll want at 27.  So basically THC just cut the Rick/Bo line.  Weird.

Further on down the road...
Kinda rather be writing but... I feel like I'll feel outta sorts if I don't finish this season this weekend.  After this, I'm going on hiatus possibly until after Holy Week.

Ya know, the more I think about it, I wish they'd addressed the obvious psychosis going on with the mom.  They addressed it as a matter of grief but when hallucinations enter into it, I think it's more than that.  Oh wait...  Is it just supposed to be her remembering actual past conversations with Kimmie?  Now I'm confused...  Given the aborted high five, though, I think she is hallucinating.

Scratch what I said before...  It's a little freaky to think this could have wound up being the final episode.  I think it's powerful but, boy, I would have hated to end with such a sad episode.  Then again... it's not like the finale was very cheerful.  Still... this is more realistically heartbreaking.  I'm not super concerned about Jesus getting framed for a building explosion.  But intimate violence is very real and devastating.

That shot of Andrew right before the flashback to Kimmie's death still gets to me so much.  And then when he's crouching there almost crying...

I love when Andrew holds Stacey but, again, this lady really seems to have some significant mental health issues.  You can't just say "Stop it!" and have them snap back to normal.  Maybe the writers didn't intend for us to think she was mentally ill... just willfully choosing to hide out in another reality in a manner similar to, say, RPGing.  But that just plain isn't how it comes across either in the dialogue or the acting.  So it's just worrisome as I think it feeds into the mentality that one can just snap themselves out of depression and psychosis when that isn't the case.

Sigh... my quibbles aside... Andrew's "She was never alone..." really gets to me. 

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