"Jacob's Ladder"

A review by Jenni:

As this is Veteran's Day, I've been trying to watch TBAA episodes featuring veterans.  I'm hoping to get to "God and Country" later.  But, first, I wanted to watch this one.  Even without Andrew, this one's a winner.

What I love about this episode:
This episode has another example of "angel magic" that works for me.  I think Monica's clean-up of the drug user's apartment is sweet.  And since he was totally outta it when she did it, it's not suspicious.  I guess I just don't like people being walloped over the head with "angel magic."

I appreciate it any time TBAA reminds us of the toll war takes on the soldiers, locals, and, eventually, us all.  Jake is a fascinating character and I think we get a pretty good glimpse of the negative impact Vietnam had on him and how that extends to others he meets. 

Yay, Sam!  In his first scene he utters one of my very favorite TBAA quotes: "No matter what happens never forget who you are.  Never."  He says it with such sincerity and passion.  I think about that moment every so often when I feel like I'm losing sense of myself.

We learn more about angels' human forms in this episode which is always an intriguing topic for me.  From here on out we know they react to medication, sometimes in very frightening ways.

I'm glad that the judge references Miracle on 34th Street because I think a lot of viewers would think of that and wonder if the TBAA writers were trying to pull one over on them.  But since they acknowledge that this episode is a lot like that film, it works and I don't feel like I'm getting a rip-off.

I think, via Jake's conversation with Monica about Vietnam, TBAA offers a very compassionate and understanding take on why someone might lose their faith.  How could someone not be shaken and damaged by hearing people, children especially, in a wartorn country cry for angels and seemingly not get any?  Angels *were* there, we the viewers know.  But Jake doesn't at that point and Monica is very understanding of that feeling of aloneness he experienced.  She presents her view, that everything happens for a reason and God had not abandoned His children, but she doesn't get judgmental.  It's a great scene and very well handled.

I like that Jake sees Tess and Sam talking at the bar.  It's as if a curtain is lifted and he can see beyond.  It's miraculous but also very down to earth.  Same thing when he and the worker at the psych ward witness Monica's talk with Claire and their transformations.  I like the idea that at any time we might catch glimpses of these angelic dealings.

Another quote I really love from this comes from Monica, spoken to Claire: "Nothing-- not death or life or war, not the present or the future or the past-- no one, no creature on this earth, can separate you from the love of God."

I was trying to imagine what a real veteran of war might feel if they watched this episode, particularly Claire's message to Jake.  She assures him that God knows the secrets of his heart and the horrors he witnessed.  She tells him that God is strong enough to take the past.  It sounds beautiful and consoling to me but I can't speak for anyone who actually experienced such horrors.

The look of joy on Jake's face when he learns May Ling is alive, well, and in the city...  Wow.  I tear up watching that part.  Give me chills.  That musta been an awesome, awesome reunion!

The message on May Ling's plaque has always stuck with me.  I find it so beautiful and applicable to many real men, women, and angels: "They served their country, their God, and many children with all they had.  May we here do the same."

What I didn't love about this episode:
By and large, I really like Monica in this episode but in one scene she's just too dingy to be believable to me.  When Monica is asked if Tess is an angel like her, Monica's response is "No, she's taller."  Cheap laugh but seriously?  I don't think Monica's that ditzy.

I would think the angels would be a bit more cognizant of appearances than they sometimes are.  Like here with Monica and Sam conversing in the courtroom.  Monica looks nutty since no one can see Sam.  While I love having Sam around, it may have been better for him to surface in the psych ward where there'd be some privacy.

I find it a lil odd that Jake says he hasn't heard the phrase "cup of joe" since he served in Vietnam.  I've heard it pretty often in my lifetime.

Lingering questions:
Did Claire age while on Earth for decades?  If she didn't wouldn't that look suspicious?  Yet once she's in angelic form again she looks the same age, just rested and healthy.  Maybe the stress and despair gave the appearance of aging and so no one at the psychiatric hospital noticed anything amiss.  I've pondered the same thing about Kelly in "As It Is In Heaven."

Why does Monica lose her accent when she's drugged up? 

Did Sam serve in Korea?  I get the idea he did from his exchange with Jake in the bar.  But I'm not quite sure if Sam was saying he'd been in Korea himself or was guessing that Jake had.  I'm thinking the former cause Jake looks too young to me for a Korean War vet.

At one point Monica says, in court, "we [angels] always honor the law."  Really?  What if the law's immoral?

How did May Ling know Claire was an angel?  I'd love to know more about every characters' story.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
There's no AOD in this, hence no swooning.  Yet, I do think of Andrew whilst watching this.  One reason being we know, based on later episodes, that he's been in several wars including Vietnam.  But Claire also represents for me my very worst nightmare for Andrew.  It's one I've extended to LJA in Dyeland although she doesn't talk about it.  The idea that an angel could get lost for decades is horrifying.  And since this episode links such a scenario to war... it seems a double-threat to AODs. 

And was Claire a POW as the psych worker guessed?  If yes, that just adds to the threat.  I can imagine one of Andrew's human friends assuring themselves that he would never lose sight of God and Claire's fate would never be his.  But if she was a POW... that's beyond a human's or angel's control.  It's not a matter of losing faith.  It's a matter of being the unwilling subject of someone else's dangerous free will.  Truly frightening.

Random thoughts:
 Monica refers to Sam's being with Special Services.  So there's another area within the angelic system.  Not quite sure what it entails, though.

Monica refers to Heaven as "the realm."  I don't know why that jumped out at me.  Interesting.

A Word from Travis:
This is my favorite Season 2 episode and I wish it were shown as the season 2 finale. This episode is sad, funny, and thought provoking, all at the same time. While I believe in angels, some donít and I wonder what may have went into the mind of an individual who wasnít a regular viewer of the series but saw this episode? I only wish the little girl nicknamed "May DayĒ was given an appearance, since it was revealed that she was still alive.

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