"Here I Am"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

It made me want to go to an art museum.  That's gotta be a good thing, right?  I'm not going today, can't.  But now I probly will keep that in mind for the next "I'm bored, what should we do?" day.

I loved the talking video installation.  Okay, not the installation itself.  Frankly, it freaked me out.  But we have one somewhat like it and now I feel better knowing others are also subjected to such art. 

I love Andrew's two definitions of art: "Art is a human being's attempt to explain his soul to the world," and "Art is God's way of expressing Himself through human beings."  Neither definition is perfect but they make you think... much like art itself.

"A simple decision could change a life forever."  A simple quote from Monica but one that's so true.

It was meaningful to me that this episode was set in New York City and had to do with themes like what's left behind after loss, the unseen scars tragedy can leave, the importance of being there for each other, and that we all can leave something beautiful behind us when we leave this Earth.  For a while this morning, I thought it seemed odd to be updating a web page on the anniversary of 9-11 so I didn't plan to do a episode watch and review.  But I kept feeling pulled to this.  I'm glad I followed that pull.  Cause beyond the usual sadness that comes with this anniversary, I'm having some personal issues and watching this helped with both.

I actually really liked Antonio's painting.  I still don't consider abstract art a personal favorite but I do appreciate it more now than I did when I was younger.  It reminded me of looking out at the sea as the sun rises.  And spotting a mysterious island in the distance.  And heading to it and wondering what I'd find there.  I definitely prefer it to that dog one that he later seems to value more highly.  I couldn't stand that one! 

"Sometimes God asks us to do things that we don't understand."  Monica says that to Antonio and it's another example of a quote that isn't particularly enlightening but just so true to life.

I relate far too much to Constance lamenting that she spent far too much of her life cleaning.  I have a feeling that when I'm dying, I may have that thought.  Although cleaning is also how I de-stress so hopefully I'll remember that at least sometimes there was a point.

"Whether life is long or whether life is short, you never know what's gonna come next."  From Andrew to Constance.  Today that had special meaning to me.  When tragedy strikes, after the grief begins to subside, I hope it reminds us to seize the day and keep living.

Antonio's painful story reminds us all not to let grief blind us to the immediate pain of those around us who need us very much.

I don't think we can ever be reminded enough of the scars war leaves on our veterans... even scars we can't see.  Bud portrayed that sacrifice of mental well-being so well.  Incidentally, I couldn't help thinking of the Tour of Duty Season 3 Christmas episode when he was remembering.  I could just see Doc Hock cradling that child and trying to drawn out the gunfire with Christmas carols.  The massacre Bud describes is even worse to imagine and I thought that episode was tough.

"It's not safe to be a friend of mine."  Mr. Asner breaks my heart with that line read.

I just love that this episode has such an equal division between the three angels.  Especially in the uncut version.  Why couldn't it have been that way more often?

"He knows the art you create is your way of calling Home to the Father and saying 'Here I am!'"  I love that quote from Monica.  I bet a lot of artists would, too, if they heard it.  And it's a great example of how well the angels listen and mold responses according to the individual.

I love that Andrew assures Constance that her son is her masterpiece.  It reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the film Millions which also has its fair share of heavenly beings.

Monica's skirt was way cute.  Yep, real profound statement there!  But I did admire her style.

"I'm not talking about religion, I'm talking about God!"  Tess is awesome when she says that.  I loved it when TBAA made it clear
that the two were not the same.  Cause some bad things have been done in the name of religion.  But God was not behind them.

Morgan was awesome.  He gives me hope for the future.  He was so studious and sensitive and not afraid to speak about how he feels.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Why's Monica have to be so stupid sometimes?!?!  I don't actually believe she's a stupid person.  But some of the stuff she says... Augh!!!  Why leave actual flowers to view pictures of them?  Does she really think all art mirrors current reality?  Cause I can't exactly step away from "The Last Supper" to go see it live.  I can't go visit Chagall's lovers.  I don't get the same feeling on a starry night as I do looking at Van Gogh's painting of the same.  I'm afraid if I was in an art gallery and heard an actual person say that, I'd have to fight the impulse to scream at them.  It wouldn't be so freaking galling if not for the fact that she's already had assignments in which art of some sort mattered.  "A Joyful Noise."  "Breaking Bread."  "Portrait of Mrs. Campbell."  "Birthmarks."  "A House Divided."  How could someone who supposedly worked with Richard Bunkall be a complete twit about art?

Andrew, dear, you are not nor have you ever been the angel of death.  You are an angel of death.  Seriously, that grates on me every time an angel uses "the" when it should be "an."  I don't see why this was so difficult for the writers.  AOD is an occupation.  If you ask a doctor what they are, I doubt many if any say "I am the doctor."  It's just misleading.  It's not like humanity has some desperate need for there to be only one angel of death.  True, sometimes people talk that way.  But that's no reason to keep up the charade.  I mean what if Person A meets Andrew and is told he's *the* AOD and Person B meets Adam and is told the same... then Persons A and B meet and wind up discussing their experiences.  That could get weird if they're both insisting they met *the* AOD and it's obvious the individuals they're describing aren't the same.

I feel bad saying this but... the painting of the lil girl freaked me out.  I thought she looked like she was plotting.

I don't like that Monica lets on like the trio is staying for Bud's party but then they disappear.  I'm fine-ish with them disappearing without a good bye normally.  But not when they've let on like they'll linger.  That's just rude.

Lingering questions:
I found myself considering Monica's question: Is art art if not seen?  Her initial observation about art may have been as dumb as a box of rocks but that's an intelligent question.  I would say yes.  But simply because I think it's impossible for art NOT to be seen.  I mean you'd figure the artist at least would have to see it.  Or if they didn't, that still leaves God.

Along the same lines: Why do we create art?  Is it merely to say "Here I am!"  Is it to get a reaction?  Both?  I think, for me, it depends on what it is.  While I don't consider what I write art, writing is an art form so I imagine some of what I feel applies to artists.  Sometimes I write just to exorcise inner demons so to speak.  In some of those cases, I definitely don't want to get a reaction cause I don't want it seen!  But in others... yes, definitely.

Seriously no one saw Antonio with the knife except Monica (and Morgan at the very end)?  Wouldn't you think that woulda been noticeable to people passing through?  Especially when he first had it raised and Monica was struggling with him?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew talking about art.  Andrew describing the world as a "kinetic sculpture."  Who talks like that?!?  Awesome people!  I think one of the things that drew me to Andrew was that he seemed cultured but not elitist.  He was as comfortable square dancing as doing the tango.  He could be happy eating a hot dog in a baseball park and yet be comfortable in a tux in a fine restaurant.  And he never talked down to people even though he's really intelligent and could probly pull it off.

Andrew loves the Impressionists.  Their works makes him "feel warm."  Aww.  I like it when he feels warm.  Good trivia bit, good to remember for a future story, too.  But I like it cause, again, it brings out how thoughtful Andrew is.  And how he really takes in beauty and creativity.

I was really struck by Andrew telling Constance he knows her inside out.  Some part of me was thinking it'd likely seem creepy to have someone tell me they knew my biostats.  But he said it all with such care and tenderness.  What I took away from it was a feeling of "You are not alone.  You're never alone.  I know the fear and pain you feel and I'm there with you."  Plus, I'm having an epilepsy flare up and I don't know why it's gotten so bad after going away for so long.  So it's kinda comforting to think maybe someone, somewhere knows what's going on in my frazzled brain even though I don't.  And it's also comforting to think that if I have to get more tests, someone will know all of that, too.  And I just had a friend go through cancer treatment and I like thinking that someone paid attention to all that she experienced and was told. 

I really love it when Andrew closes Constance's hand in both of his.

"God didn't go to college, either."  I love it when Andrew says that!  It's just the perfect example of him knowing what to say and then saying it with such good humor and affability that I can't imagine not feeling at ease with this guy.  I think he has a good way of looking at things.  He's not bashing education.  Andrew finds it to be a good thing but he recognizes that faith is what gets ya through life.  Not a degree or an A in AP Biology.

Random thoughts:

Music:  I actually didn't pick up on anything.  That seldom happens.

At the risk of sounding like a grouch... I have to kinda agree with Bud that those kids shouldn't have been set up where they were.  Gifted does not equal well-behaved necessarily.  And the paintbrush thrower proved that.  I'm all for kids in an art museum but if they have ink or paint... put em in another room.  Our museum has a space for just such field trips.  I mean it's not even just cause of brats.  I've been painting before and sloshed paint by accident.  It happens.

This movie made me want to watch Up.  Thanks, Mr. Asner.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-They cut a Tess and Bud scene right after Andrew tells Constance he's an AOD.  Tess approaches Bud as he gazes at the painting and quotes Kipling's "The Conundrum of the Workshops."  She tells Bud that she had him pegged as a Kipling man and suspected he was military.  They talk about the painting.  Bud explains that he likes it cause he feels like the girl is looking right into you, knowing you're there which he says no one else does.  (This would likely be why the same painting creeps me out.  An AOD seeing into me I can handle... but not a strange lil girl.)  Tess asks if she was right about the military, Bud says yes.  She guesses Vietnam.  Yes.  She asks if he saw combat and he says he doesn't discuss it.  Tess tells Bud he picked a good place not to talk much.  Then you hear the repeated sound of a bike horn.  Bud excuses himself to look into it.  Turns out the gifted children are honking a horn that's part of an installation... the one with the talking man.  Bud gets them away which you do see in the THC version but without context.  It's what you glimpse right before Antonio tells Monica that he was driven to paint the yellow and black canvas.

-THC did away with about a minute of Andrew and Constance.  As they walk through the gallery, she says that seeing all the beautiful, happy people hurts.  Andrew says he's sorry to hear that.  Constance explains that it makes her think of all the stuff she shoulda done different: being less serious and laughing more.  Andrew reasons that she never had it easy.  Constance explains that she'd get upset if a dish broke or a glass got spilled.  She stresses how you're not not to cry over spilt milk and yet...  Andrew continues to try to help her not be so hard on herself by reminding her that milk costs money and she knew she didn't have it to waste.  That's when she makes the mopping v. dancing remark which is where THC starts.

-At odd moments I kinda thought certain shots and pans of the gallery were only in the CBS version but I can't be positive. 

Further on down the road...
So I was really excited to watch this episode but then ended up taking a two week hiatus from watching TBAA cause I was writing for JABB.  And then I got to a difficult part and needed a little light and gentleness.  So... here I am.  First, a little background.  I'm pretty sure I've talked about this elsewhere in the Episode Guide but it feels appropriate to mention it here, too.  Late 2010 was a difficult time for me.  I can't really pinpoint any one thing that went wrong.  There was stress at work.  A co-worker died tragically.  Things just seemed very, very off and not right.  But then, at some point on January 10th of the new year, I felt a lightness settle around me.  I actually took the time to sit and watch TBAA beyond my usual one-per-week review.  So I watched this episode and "A House Divided" and felt such peace.  It felt like a page had been turned and all would be well.  Then came January 11th, 2011...  That was when news of John Dye's death broke.  I was devastated.  I worried that I'd never be able to watch TBAA again and feel the peace I had felt the day before.  I thought about how HIA and AHD would be the last episodes I would ever see with full happiness.  Then, as the days progressed, I discovered that I could still feel immense peace as I watched the show.  I don't know that I can say I feel more peace now as I watch it.  But maybe it would be accurate to say I feel a richer peace.  When Andrew talks about his Home, I know he's speaking of a Home where John now resides.  I don't feel sad for John any more.  Oh I still feel sad for those left behind sometimes.  But I know, some day, we'll all be Home.  And I won't need to park myself in front of "Here I Am" to feel peace any more because There I'll be.  Probably pestering Joshua but I think He can handle it.  ;-)

Appropriately enough, I was writing a JABB story on January 10th, 2011 which I then abandoned because it was too sad to deal with in the wake of John's death.  And the story I'm taking a lil break from right now?  Same story.  I finally decided it was time to finish it.  But first I'm watching this!

Seriously from the first note of score on... this episode is so soothing to me.  I want to live in it.  Barring that, I want to go to an art museum.

Okay, Monica does seem pretty dense at the start but I'll give her props for wearing an awesome skirt.  I just don't see how someone lives 5000 years with no appreciation for art.  There's the thing itself, in this case flowers.  Then there's interpretation of the flowers, that's the artwork.  There's value in the act and product of the interpretation.  I can go stare at a starry night sky and that's great.  But it's probably not going to tell me anything about my fellow humans.  But Van Gogh's "Starry Night" just might.  Not to mention historical art.  I can't be witness to the horrors of the bombing of Guernica.  I have to rely on Picasso for that.  I can't just go on over to Paris and study the Moulin Rouge myself.  But Toulouse-Lautrec did.

I have that Monet painting as a dress and I wear it when I need a little emotional lift... because of this episode.  :-)  A print also hangs in my living room.  It's gorgeous.

It still astounds me that they let children with paint into the museum...  Our museum has special rooms for that.  They're away from the galleries... wisely.

Giancarlo Esposito is great in this.  I think I watched a whole season of Once Upon a Time without realizing he was the Mirror.  The two portrayals were just so different that I didn't make the connection.

I also decided to watch this episode today cause it seemed appropriate for Mother's Day.  Constance is a great character.

I wonder if Andrew intended to say Constance's name that first time or if it was a slip?  Sigh... I love the way he takes her hand in both of his.

I don't paint but as Antonio's talking about how he *had* to include elements in his paintings, it reminds me of how sometimes I'm writing and feel compelled to include something without really understanding it.  Then, eventually, it all clicks into place.

I feel like in some ways both TBAA and PL were kinda informed by Vietnam.  It's weird to realize that most of the shows on now are about people who weren't even born then.  At least it seems that way.  I can't remember the last time I watched a show and Vietnam came up.

I still don't understand when exactly the angels can be forceful.  Monica physically stops Antonio from slicing up his own painting.  Wasn't it his free will to do so?  Why can she intervene there but not at other times?

I'd like to think Antonio ended up being a sort of mentor to Morgan.  Of course, it would probably have been mutually educational experience.

It still bothers me that Monica lets on like they're going to have cake but then they just leave.  Still... it's a great episode.  One of my favorites for sure.

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