"For Such a Time as This"

A review by Jenni:

This was an episode on the TBAA "Faith" collection so all my commentary is based on that version.  The DVD says this episode is titled "For Such a Time as This" though other sources say "Such a Time as This."  ETA: The Season 6 boxed set says "Such a Time As This" so who knows!

What I love about this episode:

This is one of those episodes that makes me realize anew how ahead of its time TBAA sometimes was.  I sometimes forget that prior to this episode, I had no idea about the crisis in the Sudan.  If someone had asked me what "human trafficking" was, I'd have probly thought it had to do with congested cities and streets.  ER got a lot of attention for highlighting the devastating situation in the Sudan.  And I'm glad it did.  It was able to capture the story in ways which TBAA, two hours earlier and geared towards families, could not.  But I don't think too many people realize that TBAA brought attention to it 3 years earlier.  I think it's wonderful that the cast and crew of both shows looked into this tragedy and the hope that could spring from it.

I like how this episode was set up.  I think sometimes when we hear about global crises, it seems too big to be stopped, too far away, etc.  By making this more of a family drama, it all seemed more real and immediate.  It's horrifying as an adult to see the images of abused women and children and to hear about a girl being raped by her "master."  (The very term gives one chills.)  But to frame it by having a mother asked by her young son what "sexual chattel" means...  How could a parent ever answer that?  It brought home that these things touch us all.

I could relate to how action and reflection is prompted by Sam's (the deceased brother's) role in this.  There are family members that passed on before I was born that I sometimes think about.  How would our lives be different had they lived on here?  And I could relate to how the memory of that person can inspire us and change us and help us to do great things.  Sam here certainly left an amazing legacy.

Completely random but in the face of all this, I suppose I needed to have a few shallow thoughts so... the angels all have wonderful hair in this episode!  Seriously, they all looked really great.

As for the Sudanese Sam, I've always loved what Thomas says about how he misses him even without knowing him.  While we may not use those words, I think that yearning is a very common human experience.

I totally choked up when that lil girl donated her silver dollar that she'd just shown off so proudly and then wrote 50-1= 49 on the board.

Sometimes I watch TBAA and wonder how it is the angels, and maybe especially the AODs, haven't gone completely insane.  They just see so much hideousness.  But then I remind myself that they're so intensely linked to the Father.  And watching this episode, I thought of something else, too.  I saw such hope in the children's willingness to help.  Seeing things like that has to play a part in keeping angels both sane and happy.  I imagine something like that can wipe out a lot of painful memories.

I love it when Kate's all freaked out about the reporters seeing her husband donate money to Thomas' project and tries to stop him.  But he doesn't back down one lil bit.  James is really a great character.

Speaking of James, I love what he has to say about how we can change the world in so many ways.  Even in lil ways like helping a neighbor.

I thought it was really good that TBAA didn't take the easy way out by just painting the candy making guy as some heartless lunatic.  Oh, I definitely think he's not a super human being.  But by having him explain about how gum arabic from Sudan impacts his business, they highlighted how complicated and inter-related life has become.  What Kate wants to do isn't simple.  For TBAA to depict otherwise would have been wrong and naive.

Monica gets a lot of great quotes in this like "God is truth.  He doesn't compromise," which is good news for anyone who has ever had to compromise on their youthful dreams.  This episode really keeps it real, too, like when Monica says "It is not always easy to do the thing that God asks of us."

I couldn't help but be struck and feel a lil guilty with the line about the freedom many take for granted.  I'm not saying we should be passive and never speak up against the government or politicians.  That would be wrong.  But when people are flipping out, it may be a good time to take a step back and realize that you have a life of freedom that many people can only dream of.

And now my favorite quote, also delivered by Monica: "You are the one...  And I'll let you into a little secret from Heaven.  Sooner or later everyone is the one.  They just have to say yes when the time comes."

Finally, I still get goosebumps when they start playing Wayne Watson's "For Such a Time as This" and we see the people being freed.

What I didn't love about this episode:
It's just upsetting.  The photos and the introductory scene were much more difficult to see than I remembered.  There was a part where a young girl fell that just got me.  But it had to be upsetting.  What happens when people are treated as less than the children of God they are IS upsetting.  So this is a case of my supporting the decisions TBAA made in shooting this even when I don't love seeing it.

Lingering questions:
How do parents' manage to laugh at their kids' super lame jokes?  I hope I develop that trait if I have kids...  Cause right now... I do not have it.  Of course, I'm thinking mostly of adults telling lame jokes.  Maybe it's easier with kids.

Watching this, I found myself wondering how life is treating the little boy who played Sam.  He'd be a teenager or even 20 now.  I hope his life has been happy.

I was a little thrown by the candy guy telling Kate that the government said slavery didn't exist in the Sudan.  The U.S. government said that or the Sudanese one? 

Not to be a downer but when people really do go free slaves... do they have someone escort them back to their homes?  Watching this I couldn't help but be concerned that they might be recaptured and victimized without protection.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew looks really wonderful in that white shirt.  That being said, it's a little hard to get swoony about someone who is cataloging atrocities.  I couldn't help but think, though, that I was so glad Andrew was there.  Not simply because I know he'd give it his all and present those people's story in a compelling, compassionate way that cries out for action.  On top of that, I couldn't help but think it was healthy for him to be able to do something proactive.  I don't think it's much of a stretch to think Andrew's been called to slaves in his official capacity.  For him to work on helping them, in this life, was a good thing all around.

Something about the way he tilts his head when he gives Monica the photos devastates me.

This episode would be so lame if I was the senator.
Andrew: Please look at these photos.
Me: Umm... ummm...  Yes, sir.  I mean Dearest and Loveliest.. I mean...  Of course, I will.
I couldn't tell him no.  And the senator manages to do it twice!  And I especially can't say no to earnest, passionate, troubled Andrew. 

After the senator leaves them on the curb of the party, Andrew pats Monica's shoulders.  Yet another example of Andrew being the first to initiate physical affection.  It's adorable and makes me sad.

Andrew's pretty quiet for the remainder of the episode.  But I am so glad he got to see the people be redeemed.

Random thoughts:
Music: "For Such a Time as This" by Wayne Watson.  And earlier some guy is playing guitar at the ambassador's party.

In the intro, Martha Williamson talks about struggling to write this episode and then hearing Wayne Watson's song and pulling over to jot down all the images that filled her mind.  I really liked that anecdote because writing is often like that for me, too.  I can be totally stuck but then just the right song can open the flood gates.

It's totally awesome that this episode was played for the Senate and House of Representatives.  Ms. Williamson suggests that the entire series may have existed just for that moment.  I don't know that that's the case as other episodes certainly saved lives, but I'd definitely like to think it was part of God's plan for the series.

I found myself thinking about what Monica said about Kate doing this one good thing.  Sometimes I find myself completely thrown by people who do these amazing, heroic acts that save many people yet in their personal lives engage in things I find abhorrent (adultery often).  It makes me sad.  Yet, somehow it also highlights how amazing and beautiful that lifesaving act is.  Like no matter what you've done in your life, everyone can have that one moment of grace and beauty.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
As I mentioned, I watched the DVD version so I don't know.  However, if someone watched the Hallmark version and thinks something was cut and would like me to check into it, lemme know.

Further on down the road:
I still feel guilty for even noticing that white shirt given what's going on.  But gosh John looked amazing.  And I love the wordless meeting of the two men and the unspoken understanding.

"Show and Tell" is another thing that I have a hard time believing Monica didn't know about given some previous assignments she's had.  Oh well.  For that matter, how was she so unaware of human trafficking?  I mean I get that she's only been doing caseworking for 5 years but she's supposed to be like 5,000 years old.  Actually... I think I'd have a lot easier time with Monica if they hadn't outed her as being so old.  That made some things a lot more difficult to overlook.

This makes me want a kitten...  I've always been more of a dog person but that lil thing's so darn cute and portable. 

I don't know why but I feel like the Sudan photos and footage are much more vivid now.  But I can't imagine anything about the film has actually changed.  Maybe it's just watching
on a TV from several feet away versus a computer screen a foot away.  It's much more upsetting.

"All it takes is one person to make a difference."  Thomas quoting his daddy.  So true.

I still love that James still puts the money in the jar despite the Senator's request... or order I guess it was.  Gotta love the rebellious carpenters of the world.  ;-)

I could never be a politician...  I think I'd wind up so disheartened and guilty feeling.  Maybe I'm too trusting but I believe a lot of them do intend to keep the promises they make... but then they discover how massive and unmovable the machine can be.  That would destroy me.

The whole gum arabic part makes me want to go off the grid and go live in a hut and eat out of my garden lest I inadvertently support some horrendous practice.  But I know that's not realistic.  I think it's good and right to buy fair trade coffee and such but it would be easy to get completely neurotic and that doesn't help anyone.

I know this is petty and it probably would have halted the scene oddly to fix it but... it bothers me that Kate gives the slave trader her locket *with* the photo in it.  I think it's awesome she sacrifices the locket but it makes my skin crawl to think of someone awful like that having a picture of my kid.

A Word from Travis:
This opening episode is so sad and poignant and still speaks to what’s happening in the world today as it pertains to slavery. Martha Williamson asserted in the commentary, some of the extras played themselves who bravely re-created being slaves. I wish this moving episode was the season 6 finale. The only part of the episode that bothered me is, at some points, the husband’s anger towards his wife seemed very over-the top. Maybe if this were a two part episode, the story could’ve stretched out more and maybe the husband anger in certain parts of the story would’ve seemed more justified.

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(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.)