"Joe's Return aka The Road Home Part I"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
First, that lil ice cream place Monica set up was adorable.  And I also liked it cause I was just eating coffee ice cream last night.  Then it started snowing...  Now I just want to drink coffee.

I love this episode because it brings about something that very, very seldom happens: the urge to defend Monica against Andrew.  Yes, you read that right.  So they're enjoying their yummy coffee-flavored ice cream and Andrew ponders how long it's been since Monica went a whole day with out coffee.  To me, the implication is she should try to.  To which I say... "Andrew, are you nuts?!?"  Does he want to put up with the withdrawals?  Does he want to do a Tylenol run?  Does he want to be on the receiving end of grouchiness?  Does he want to explains that Monica's case of "the shakes" is NOT due to her being a drug addict?  So, Monica, drink up.  Andrew drinks black coffee.  He doesn't know the yummy awesomeness of a daily dose of gourmet coffee.  And maybe this is all suspect given it's being written by someone who has already had 3 caffeinated beverages... before noon... at which point I will likely have another.

I also love how Monica justifies her coffee addiction by saying it helps her relate to humans with our frailties.  For one, it's true.  And for another it's realistic.  I can give you a litany of reasons my coffee and caffeine intake is completely justified.  We all can!  It's what we addicts do.  Proudly.  Yay caffeine!

This is gonna sound bad but... I like that Russell socks Joe.  I've been watching PL and it's made me quite angry with Joe.  So that was a very satisfying punch for me.

I like that the writers let the characters voice and display their anger.  Kinda makes me wish more episodes had been two-parters cause as much as I love TBAA, I felt emotions were rushed at times.  Not here.  Nathaniel's anger is especially well-displayed, I think.  Russell's too.  How relatable is it when he tells Joe he feels "relieved, furious, happy, and miserable" about his return?  It's not at all simple and that's as it should be.

The hospital chapel is gorgeous.  It reminds me of a chapel in a seminary I was once at.  Stained glass pictures can be lovely but there's also something about plain colored glass that's very appealing and spiritual.

I like this quote from Monica: "Many people in this world think they're just a few steps away from insanity... But God calls you back."  The longer version is a very compassionate statement about veterans and their struggles.  But I think the short version I typed can speak to so many of us.  I've often felt that way and it's comforting to know that it's a common experience and we can all get through it with God.

"He counts your tears."  Another great moment from Monica's revelation to Joe, after he asks if God notices him.

I think Hattie comes out as a really interesting character here.  Not that she wasn't before but the blame she feels for Joe's state and feeling pulled between her two sons... very touching and effectively portrayed.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Sometimes I don't follow Tess' logic.  She seems to put down an idea someone has then just take it up herself.  I noticed it in "Miles" with Andrew and here with Monica.  Tess scoffs at Monica's justification of her coffee intake.  But then Tess basically restates it by saying it's good Monica feels out of control with her coffee habit because that's how Joe feels.  One way or the other, Tess...

I do NOT like that the other father gets into it with Joe in the car.  What Joe did was terrible and stupid and reckless and, well, cruel.  But how does a father drive like that with his children in the car!?!?  Especially as his son is begging him to stop!  In no way did that man deserve to die but he was gravely wrong to behave as he did.

This should actually be in a later review but it annoys me that when they reprised this scenario the next season, the mom was played by a different actress who bore no resemblance to this one.

Not a critique of the episode, just a character issue.  I've already said I dislike Joe and I think a lot of my disdain comes from this: Joe is all about things happening in Joe's time.  He'll be a father to Nathaniel when he wants to.  He calls his girlfriend (turns out to be wife) when he needs her.  Meanwhile, where was he when they needed him?  Those people really annoy me.

Lingering questions:
I wonder how much time has passed between the Promised Land season one finale and this episode?  They both take places at Erasmus' but I'm not sure if it's supposed to be the same visit or not.

How come Tess fixes Joe's car okay but in "Sandcastles" she needs Andrew to fix hers?

If Nathaniel "ordered" Tess then how do I order an angel?!?!  ;-)

At one point Hattie says "words, Russell, just words..."  I keep thinking I heard that phrase in some movie or TV show.  Someone says "Words, just words" really dejectedly but I can't place it!  Anyone know???  Maybe it was Vincent from BatB at some point?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Leather jacket!  Truth be known, leather makes me uneasy and I try to avoid it.  But... Andrew in his leather jacket makes me happy.  And jealous.  He looks awesome in black clothes.  Even his completely black ensemble in the early scenes of this.  Meanwhile, I am also blonde and end up looking like Lilith from Cheers.  No fair. 

And... I would totally pick Andrew up if he was hitch-hiking.  Granted, I do not drive so that might be difficult.  But I would probly beg whomever was driving to. 

Andrew's hair blows softly in the wind as he pushes Joe's car...  It is lovely.

Those images of him silently in the chapel as Nathaniel leaves get to me.  He looks so concerned.  And then when he rests his head on his folded hands... it's just very sweet.

Random thoughts:
Part of me is kinda shocked still when I see Richard Thomas (aka John Boy Walton and Richard from The Christmas Box series) completely outta control.  But I also remember him playing a complete wacko who blew up a school in a based-on-a-true-story TV movie.  So he's definitely got range!

It gets me when Hattie calls Joe "Joey" cause that's my brother's name.  I would sure hope my mom would never have to say his name the way Hattie does... longing, sad.

Watching this, I can see more of why some fans were so annoyed with the crossovers.  Especially if they didn't watch PL.  I watch PL but am really anxious to get on with S5 of TBAA.  So as much as I like the Greenes, I did find myself wishing they'd make way for the angels.  I imagine it's kinda on par with the feelings of those fans who sat through these, just waiting for the next full-blown TBAA episode.

Monica does say "meself."  At least she does here.  In writing I've wondered if I should have her use it or not.  So I can now!

Tess tells Nathaniel that the angels aren't supposed to have favorites.  Probly a good point but I like to think of them as kinda like God in The Shack.  They're "especially fond of" everyone.  So their attachment to them is always somehow special and personal but not any sorta exclusive thing.

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