"Into the Fire"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
Watching this, I had to wonder if big time unemployment has ever NOT been an issue.  So, once again, the show seems timely... well, except for the outdated Four 9s aspect.

I have to applaud TBAA for humanizing telemarketers.  Except nowadays they're mostly computers so shouldn't be humanized.  But because of stuff like this, the experiences of people I know, and Harry Chapin's song "Country Dreams," I've always tried to be at least polite with telemarketers.  But woe unto you if you answer emails at TV stations I'm angry at.  ;-)  Although even then I try to make it clear I'm directing my ire at TPTB and not employees.

"People decide not to get married for all sorts of reasons," Monica tells Melina.  Good line although it makes me want to tack on "Like maybe they are angels.  So stop shipping.  Or maybe they're just happy on their own.  Please stop trying to set me, I mean them, up."

I don't really know enough about cults to speak to how accurate this was.  But some of the dialogue really, really reminded me of some of the self-help fads (pseudo-cults?) that come along.  The Golden Path pitches were nice enough that I could see how they'd pull people in and yet they lacked substance and seemed unhinged from reality.  This really jumped out at me when Jacob lamented how it can take half a life to reach one's ultimate destination.  For a second I thought "Yeah... and that's a bummer."  But then I was like "Wait... what!?!?  You're making that sound like a bad thing but really would anyone *want* to reach their ultimate destination half way through their life???  What would they do with the other half???"

Another good-in-a-bad-way line was when Brother David talks about how some in the audience would hear the "special calling" to join them.  That little line plays on so much of what people want: to belong, to feel special, to imagine themselves somehow more evolved than others.  So, even though I couldn't help giggling at the Golden Path people at points, I think TBAA did portray the ways in which cults nab people pretty well.

"The way to get closer to God is to pray to Him to get you through the difficult times, not to run away."  Very good quote from Monica to Melina.

I *love* that Monica tells the people to embrace good works to show their devotion to God and NOT their own deaths.  I think that's a lesson that should be heard and learned by ALL religious extremists. 

"God speaks to every human spirit that inclines to His voice."  Another great quote from Monica.

Okay, so sometimes I get turned off by Monica being too passionate to the point of cloying during revelation scenes.  However... her tearful and righteous anger towards Brother David seemed perfect to me here.  And I just really loved that dress.  :-)

I thought the image of Monica leading the children to safety, especially with Tess and Andrew then helping them out, was very powerful.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Have to say... pretty weirded out by Melina keeping her ex's photo on her desk.  If you're gonna do that, would you really then spill the story to someone you just met?  Cause I think a lot of people would find that kinda weird.

This is likely a Hallmark cut but I found it odd that Melina gets fired and then goes to the seminar and Monica's just randomly at her side without any planning beforehand.  So I either don't like Hallmark making the cut they did or I don't like the writing.  I'll see soon which it is.  ETA: Can't blame this one on Hallmark!  I figured maybe there was a cut scene of Monica following Melina to the parking lot to ask if she could join her or at least greeting her outside the seminar and explaining why she's also there.  But, nope, it's just really random and apparently written that way.

I'm sorry but I could not escape visions of Montel Williams selling crap on TV whilst watching this.  I half expected Brother David to offer cheaply painted President Obama coinage... which would be really weird to have in the 90s.  "Come buy coinage featuring this law professor!"  Or whatever he was doing at the time. 

I'm normally not protective of Monica but I seriously do NOT like that Brother David touches her face.  Grrr.

I hate Brother David.  Totally laughed when he started crying.

Brother David claims to have no doubts so Monica counters by asking him how, if he has no doubts, does he fear the state inspection?  Good scene but, for me, it highlighted one of TBAA's kinda annoying aspects: their rule that angels don't have faith.  If they don't have faith (and thus doubt) then why do they ever seem worried or even fearful?  They really shoulda canned that rule, IMO.  Their own logic here betrays it.

Lingering questions:
Abstinence for religious reasons.  Interesting topic.  TBAA only barely hinted at it in this episode with Jacob and Rebecca being married yet not staying together... something that seems standard based on the lil girl's response.  On one hand, I can see a spiritual purpose in it.  I see non-spiritual purposes in it, too.  I think our energies can sometimes be redirected in a really glorious way and absence does make the heart grow fonder and all.  And given this was a suicide cult, I guess having children to promote and expand the group wasn't important.  However, I've always wondered what's going on in the minds of some groups (including some early Christians) who are pro-absolute abstinence.  Exactly how do they see their group succeeding beyond maybe two or three generations?  If your message is so important, wouldn't you want to ensure it gets passed down through the ages?  How are you going to do that if ideally no one has sex?  Note: I am NOT talking about waiting til marriage or even sub-groups in a larger religious group that practice abstinence.  I'm talking about those (few, I think) religious groups that believe abstinence for their entire membership makes sense.  Are they all in some sense apocalyptic?  Cause that's the only way it makes any sense to me.

Another general cult question: Do any of these people, specifically ones that come from a Christian background, ever start to feel, well, like they're cheating on Jesus?  Weird wording but it's the best I could do.  Second to the murder-suicide aspect, I most despised Brother David for more or less stealing Jesus' identity.  I mean he has his followers saying he's "the only friend that matters," he calls himself the "anointed one" and "burning bush," and quotes Jesus excessively in manipulative ways.  That seriously angers me.  Someone betrayed you by keeping a photo?  Cry me a bloody river!  Jesus suffered for hours!  Not the same!  But I guess I just need to try to wrap my mind around the fact that these people aren't thinking straight and may very well think Brother David (and his real life counterparts) *are* Jesus.  But then why wouldn't they find it suspicious that he'd morphed from dying for others into orchestrating the murder of children? Again, I know that's me using logic that might not be available
after cult indoctrination.  Seriously, I should probly get a book and read up on this type of psychology but I think I'd just want to scream and hit so probly shouldn't.

How the heck did Montel keep from blinking during some of these scenes?!?!

Do you think Brother David really believed his own teachings?  I thought he did but then when he said he would wait to ensure all his followers died before he followed them... I started to suspect he was going to take all that personal property he'd amassed and make a run for it.

Finally, I asked this on the JABB YG.  It sorta seems like maybe Brother David went to Hell.  And Andrew was with him as he died.  So did Andrew have to go there with him?  I so do NOT like that idea but am unsure what else to make of Andrew's presence with people that TBAA seems to imply are hell bound.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Aww...  When Andrew first shows up and he and Tess rest their heads together... so sweet.  And the way he has his arm around her shoulders is very cute.  Andrew's so affectionate.  Lovely.

If I'd somehow got sucked into that cult, I'd like to think that if I'd glimpsed Andrew confronting Brother David... I woulda run away with him.  I can totally see it.  Even if he weren't Andrew, if I'd been around hollowly grinning dudes dressed all in the same blue uniform for weeks... the dude with the tie and lovely coat may end up with a new BFF.  Aww, who am I kidding?  It'd have to be Andrew.  Otherwise I'd just run away.  Maybe after doing something mean to Brother David.  Grr.

I love it when Andrew's sarcastic!  Especially towards a goon like Brother David.  The way he says "That's wonderful!" and then demands to see the teaching certificates...  Eeee!!!  Love him!

One day I will really try to write this section and sound like an actual grown up while doing it.

I have to admit that when Brother David stupidly told Monica that there are things she doesn't understand and doesn't want to, the thought "Yeah, like Andrew" popped into my head.  Yes, I can even turn idiot's lines into pro-Andrew material.

Gosh.  I don't think I'd ever noticed that during the fire, Andrew is at the door and grabs one of the kids to help them out.  Sweet.  I only remembered him being with Brother David.  I like that he had that moment to be a savior and helper.

And then he and Monica hold hands and I feel jealous...  Really, I do love how affectionate the angels were.  It's just a shame some people had to twist that into something else.

Random thoughts:
My dad told me once that he was afraid I'd join a cult.  I don't think he got me very well at the time (he hasn't said it in a long time).  Watching this, I started thinking about how I'm too set in my ways ("Like heck I'm not going to have my own room and can we bloody well just wear our own clothes!?!?  We look like idiots!"), snarky ("It took you half your life to reach your ultimate destination?  Wow, so sad for you.  It couldn't be that you're meant to spend your *whole* life on that journey, could it?"), and Romantic ("Embrace melancholy sometimes.  We have moods beyond blissful for a reason.  That phony smile is getting really old.")

I find it hard to believe that not one heckler or sarcastically annoyed person showed up at the Golden Path seminar.  But maybe the sarcastically annoyed people had better things to do.

I would so flip out over the lack of privacy.  No doors???

I was just thinking about the Four 9s and Y2K and how lame all that was.  I mean I'm glad about it but... geez.

Music: The kids sing "For the Beauty of the Earth" a couple times.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-Definitely noticed the sped up theme again.  And it waffled back and forth from normal to crazy-fast which was weird.
-There's a scene of Rebecca and Monica talking during an apparent break in the seminar.  Rebecca comments on how Monica hasn't said much.  Monica tells her that they're focusing on unhappiness and she's happy and her life is full.  Then Monica says some stuff about truth and Rebecca responds with an ominous "The truth is coming."
-Prior to introducing Brother David, Jacob leads a call and respond session briefly.  So like he says "What's holding you back?"  And the crowd shouts "Nothing!"  Stuff like that.
-Before the scene where Brother David gets everyone's mail, there's a scene of Melina and Monica chatting that morning as they go about their jobs.  Melina comments that though she has trash duty, she's never been happier.  Brother David looks on suspiciously.
-Finally, the only cut Andrew scene: Right before his conversation with Brother David, the latter talks to Melina about how happy he was with her tearing up her fiance's photo and how it reminded him of some personal business he also needs to put past him.  He tells her as a means of showing his trust, he's giving it to her to burn (it's the letters to everyone).  Just as she leaves with the mail and matches, Brother David looks up to see Andrew approaching.  So basically all we lost of Andrew in this episode was about 1.5 seconds of him walking.  Yay.

Further on down the road:
Weirdly, my dad was worried I'd join a cult.  I can't really figure that out.  I seem way too gripey for a cult.  I think my dad doesn't realize how often I'm nice to people but think they seriously need to rethink the size of their ego.  ;-)  So I probly would be nice to Brother David... all the while mentally slinging put-downs.  That sounds bad but I swear I only do it to egomaniacs and jerks.  Ha.  Just realized I already discussed this.  Oh well.

Heck yeah, Monica!  Well done!  Still love that bit she says about people deciding not to marry.

"Sometimes you have to lose your life before you can find it."  I more seriously appreciate that Monica quote.

I hope no one got into this crazy stuff during the Mayan Apocalypse mumbo jumbo.

"No one is ever alone."  I know it's in other episodes but always great to hear.  Monica says it to the cult lady during their recruitment meeting.

Tess' warning to Monica makes me wonder... have they had angels defect to cults?  Yikes.

14:40 and finally Andrew!  Still love those first moments with him and Tess.  He shows back up at 26:00.  Then not again til 43:29.  :-(

Hearing "F
or the Beauty" reminds me that I still wanna watch Little Women yet this Christmas season.  Never has that tune sounded creepy like it does in this episode...

Are they wearing denim on denim?  Yikes.  Well, I guess it simplifies the laundry duty Monica is stuck with.  White load, denim load.

I wonder how Monica feels about Catholic confession?  She seems to scoff at Brother David hearing confessions and while I think it's quite obvious he's a wacko, I do wonder if an angel would see value in confessing to any human.  Hmm.  I kinda do and kinda don't.

Sigh...  I love how unshakeable and no-nonsense Andrew is.

I bet it was really trippy for the writers to come up with Brother David's lines.  Freaky.  I don't like writing villain-types.  Gives me nightmares. 

I still wonder if there isn't a chance that Brother David really never believed any of this and just intended to run off with everyone's cash after their mass suicide.  Interesting that he was gonna go last...  His behavior at the end could still be an act.

"He wants you to know that your life can have meaning and significance because He has a splendid purpose waiting for you in *this* world."  Monica gets all the good quotes here...

I love that Andrew greets William as William and begins that whole process.  Seems like they probly hung around for a while.

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