"In the Name of God"

A review by Jenni:
My first Season One episode here!  I wanted to watch this one before Halloween cause the first time I ever saw it (original air date) was a lil before Halloween.  So even though it's not really a Halloween episode, it's always seemed like one.

What I love about this episode:
Della Reese's singing.  Her vocalizations at the start are beautiful and "If I Can Dream"is one of my favorite songs on TBAA.  It's just beautiful and Ms. Reese performs it so well as Tess. 

I think this episode is one that's even more powerful with the second and repeated viewings.  It's just painful to watch the opening scene in the car, seeing Tess so excited to see Timmy, and knowing how that's going to work out.  No matter how many times I watch this I still get a sense of foreboding each time.  I think that speaks pretty highly of the episode if I still get nervous even though I completely know what will come.

I think it's great that TBAA could have the same actor play both Satan and a gospel singer.  Kudos to John Schneider for that one.

I like that TBAA highlights how the Bible can be used and abused by hate groups.  In truly ridiculous ways yet they get people to believe it.  I mean Frank/Satan sounds like an idiot with his stupid Adam/man/blood in the face thing.  But it's a good example of how these types stretch Biblical passages and words into something unrecognizable yet attractive to their audience.  It's good to be aware of that sorta stuff. 

I think Sam's great in this!  Although I do wonder why he introduces himself as the "angel to be named later" and in the very next scene reveals his name: Sam.  With that build up ya kinda expect something multi-syllabic at least!  But it's endearing to watch he and Monica enjoy their coffee and get to know each other.  I get the feeling that Sam's much more coffee-friendly than Tess.

I also love Sam's reaction to Jerry.  It's not really sarcastic and it's not mean.  But it's pretty darn amusing and puts Jerry right in his

The way they shot the scene featuring Tess' song is amazing.  Juxtaposing Tess wandering the Netherworld with first Monica
making a bed and the Klan with their white sheet and then the nurse wrapping Joanne's arm with someone wrapping a cross... chilling.  It's really an amazing display of destruction versus creation.  And then ending with the image of Tess bathed in a ray of light... beautiful.

I like the Netherworld.  I'm not sure why I just think it's a cool idea. 

Sam's line about checking the Bible and verifying that it does NOT say "Vengeance is mine and Tess'" still cracks me up.  But I really love his line about if you can't find the love then "let God love through you." 

I still get goosebumps watching Monica, Sam and Jerry walk so purposefully to Tim's place.  And then they meet up with Tess.  They all look amazing.

The flashback scene with Tess' and Timmy's good bye scene is incredibly touching.  It's also really sad, of course, when compared to an older Tim. 

I'm amused by Monica playing stupid and Sam going along with it and making Satan look like a wimp.  It's funny and gratifying.

One of my absolute favorite TBAA moments is right here.  Tess tells Timmy that God loves him and then she redirects her attention to Satan and tells him that God loves him, too.  Think about that.  It's amazing.  Whatever you've done it can't equal that dude.  And God loves him!  That line more than any other in TBAA screams "unconditional love" to me.

And then it ends with a hug between Tim and Tess.  It's wonderful.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Not a big deal by any means but Monica says something about it being unusual to get sent back to the same place.  It just doesn't veg very well with later episodes when the angels repeatedly visit Chickory Creek and wherever it is Joey and Wayne, the Prescotts ("Flesh and Blood" and "Full Circle"), and the Jessups ("Tough Love" and "The Last Chapter") live.  But then TBAA was on really shaking ground when "In the Name of God" aired so the writers can be excused for not having planned seasons ahead!

I find the news segment after the car bomb jarring.  It looks cheesy and the change of film or camera type or whatever it was kinda pulled me out of the episode. 

Speaking of jarring...  I'm not saying this episode shouldn't have used the N word as I think the writers had a purpose.  But it's very upsetting to hear it on TBAA of all places.  Especially coming from children!  And Tess' face...  It's almost too painful to watch.

I find John Schneider's make-up very off-putting.  Which, of course, makes sense given he's playing Satan and the devil shouldn't seem cuddly.  But he kinda looks ill, IMO.

Lingering questions:
When Tess almost gets into a wreck she curses "Sunday drivers and it's not even Sunday!"  I've never heard of Sunday drivers.  I wonder where the phrase comes from?

I wanna know more about this Celestial Force One that Monica guesses Sam is a part of.  What do they do? 

I'd love to know how long Tess, Sam, and Satan have known each other.  I kinda got the idea that Satan and Sam may have even known each other before the former's fall.  Cause Satan greets Sam by name.  That'd be a story...

What's Satan's last line?  It kinda sounds like "See you Sam" but I can never tell for sure.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Umm... it's nice that Sam helps Tess out of the caddy right before she goes to the Netherworld?  That's chivalrous?

Sorry.  That's all I got.  I just don't find anyone in this episode very swoon-inducing.  Although I'm sure Andrew woulda looked totally righteously smoldering had he walked to the Hall of Patriots with Tess, Monica, Sam and Jerry.  Adam coulda pulled it off too.  Nice imaginary visual.

Random thoughts:
I think this may have been my introduction to hospices.  I don't recall hearing the word before this episode.

When I moved a little over a year ago I constantly thought about this episode.  I woulda done just about anything for Monica's "paint a room in a minute" trick!

Tim's back story makes me think of Tom Mula's play Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol.  In that Jacob begins to turn into his cranky, mean-spirited self after his mother dies and he's left with his abusive father.

I commend Joanne for keeping so calm about Nosy Jerry Next Door.  I have a nosy, peeping (thankfully only once that I know of when I caught her) neighbor myself and was not that calm...

This episode makes me wonder about what relationship angels have with their apparent race.  Because I would guess that Tess isn't technically black nor Andrew technically white.  I mean if Monica's right in "Clipped Wings" then their human forms could change at any time so Andrew could end up Indian in appearance and Monica visually Brazilian.  With memories of seeming to be a blonde guy from the Southern U.S. and an Irish lady.  And Monica was African-American for a while.  But not really... or was she?  Would they still identify as their previous apparent race or their current one or both?  It's mind-boggling.  And it makes me wonder about it all being a human construct, anyhow.  Maybe they relate to everyone equally no matter what they look like/seem to be? Because Andrew seemed just as much at home at a Protestant pulpit as he did in a synagogue so religious affiliation apparently isn't an issue so it'd make sense that ethnicity isn't either.  Then again if they can relate so well no matter what they look like, why turn Monica black?  I swear I did not just introduce this topic so I could talk about Andrew on a page for an episode he's not in.  I really do wonder about this stuff. 

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.)