A review by Jenni:

It's Black Friday.  10:30 PM.  I've spent virtually all day either shopping or decorating/cleaning.  So I should go to bed.  But no...  I decided I needed to see Andrew as campus security.  It's the little things in life...

What I love about this episode:

Wish I'd gone to college with Andrew...  Woulda loved to have gotten his thoughts on liberation theology, apokatastasis, and... who am I kidding?  I just woulda gawked.  But, seriously, I like the idea of angels running around a campus.  They're definitely needed...

I like that Rafael just casually says he's a "free spirit."  Way to be.  Doesn't make up for "Children of the Night," though... 

This episode makes me grateful for my upbringing.  Sure, it woulda been nice to have my way paid in college.  But at least I got to do whatever the heck I wanted during it cause I was footing the bill.  Yay, Art and Theatre Appreciation and my Shakespeare class and Abnormal Psych and all the other stuff I took that made no sense with my major.

Augh, these frat guys are annoying and stupid.  And, clearly, fatal.  Although I do think it's nice that, via Rafael, they point out that not all fraternities/ sororities are nightmares.  But I do appreciate that TBAA highlighted the issues they sometimes have.  And just alcohol poisoning/ underage drinking in general.

I like that Jamie's sleuthing begins to unravel Sam's dysfunctional, jerk past.  Geeks really do rule.

As much as I dislike the Matrix theme here, it is cool when the trio appears to Max after Rafael's spiel.

I like it when TBAA, via Monica here, reminds us that we all always have angels surrounding us.  Yay.

Andrew telling Max about how a lotta people get a glimpse of heaven and decide they can't believe it and then Monica furthering that point reminds me of Rilke's "Every angel is terrifying."  I like it when TBAA acknowledges that discovering that angels, Heaven, and God are real... especially if you're not coming from those beliefs already... could be shattering.

"When you've seen the truth and you realize that life doesn't just begin with birth and end with death, suddenly everything matters.  Every act.  Every choice.  But the fact is that most people are afraid of that.  And they decide that it's easier to go back to the other side of the curtain and try to forget what they've seen."  A quote from Monica to Sam and it's exactly how I feel about the Rilke quote that I love so much.

Kudos to the writers for remembering that Monica woulda been in Search and Rescue during Sam's youth.  At least it seems like they remember.

Really great casting for the younger Sam.  It's a spookily good match!

Gives me chills when Monica tells the younger Sam that he's breaking God's heart.

I like how when Max turns away from the four angels to look at Greg and then looks back, only Andrew remains.  It's a powerful transition.  I actually really like a lotta the camera work here.  It's chilling in the flashback yet very sedate and sadly beautiful here.

That last shot of the angels walking off hand in hand is sweet.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Self-important people are a delight!  Okay, sarcasm over.  Sam is annoying.  Whatta jerk asking that kid to leave the hall when he's telling Max to drop philosophy.  It's a public area!  That kid has way more right to be there than Sam does.  And then the whole would-be rapist thing, of course.  Then not caring about a kid dying cause of a stupid tradition...  Yuck.  All that being said, while I definitely do not love Sam, I like that TBAA gave us a really bad character.  Sometimes it irked me when they'd want us to believe that a "villain" was just on the cusp of turning their life around.  Or when they tried to make us sympathize with Carl in "Full Moon."  (That element maybe woulda worked in a mini-series.  But asking me to feel sorry for someone when ya just showed me images of him threatening a woman post-rape... doesn't work.)  Some people are just bad.  They just plain don't care about other people.  They're selfish and cruel.  I'm not saying they're irredeemable.  I don't believe anyone is.  But I resent feeling like I should pull for them when they give me no reason to.  Here, the writer just lets us dislike Sam.  It's honest and real and I like that.

I've never seen the Matrix movies.  Maybe I'd feel differently if I had.  But the references to it always struck me as kinda awkward and forced.  Cause isn't the Matrix really messed up and run by evil people?  Sure, the world has problems.  But it's God's creation.  So to compare our world to the Matrix seems unbiblical and just really depressing.  So I'm left thinking the writers were trying to be hip and grasping at straws even though it doesn't really fit.  I think part of my problem with it is I can think of other literary examples that fit so much better.  True, they wouldn't appeal to a male collegiate crowd likely.  But the whole curtain idea (which I wish they'd just stuck with that image and NOT the Matrix) is Rilkesque and even calls to mind "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus."  Both are far better fits.

Want to slap head frat boy.  Nobody mocks Angel Boy...  Boy, isn't he gonna be sorry when he keels over some day and the officer he mocked is in charge of escorting him Home.  I know Andrew would never be a jerk to him then.  But the guilty feeling would be enough payback for me.

Kinda irked that Rafael tells Max to say "See ya later" to Greg as opposed to good bye.  Yes, I get the meaning.  He'll see him again some day.  But Max is a human.  It will likely be decades before he sees Greg again.  If it feels more honest to him to say "good bye" then the immortal with a free pass to Heaven should zip it.  ETA: Rafael is acquitted on this charge.  :-)  Watching the VHS version I realized he said "I don't say good bye" NOT "Ah, don't say good bye" as I originally thought.  Rafael is free to say whatever he wishes and, in his case, "see you later" is true.  One word makes a big difference!

Lingering questions:
I wonder what Rafael coulda done to get back in my good graces after that CotN bit of awfulness?  I'm sure if he was a real person and I had to spend time with him, I'd eventually forgive him for his awful behavior with China.  But since he's fictional... I never felt the need and remain angry at him.

Umm... how does Sam not know that there's an intellectual study of God?  Even colleges that don't have Theology degrees often have religious studies courses.

How the bleep did that kidnapping a girl "tradition" go on for more than a year?  I probly don't wanna know.  I can (sadly) imagine some idiot thinking it was a good
idea once.  But you'd think after it got out, the dean would be beating on that frat door and raising holy hell.  Colleges don't so much love sexual harassment/ attempted rape suits...

How would you ever get over knowing that your father almost raped a girl?  I'm not sure I could.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
The boy can wear the heck outta white/beige shirt.  Love him in the opening spot.  And he doesn't need to be part of a frat to be awesome... 

I want to sit in a clock tower with Andrew...  He's so sweet hearing Max out.  Although I must say that for the Dyeland version of Andrew, the weird "freaked" has lost all novelty.  He seems bemused when Sam uses it.  But LJA uses it so much that by now I bet he doesn't even notice. 

Aww.  It's sad that after the nice talk Sam just refers to Andrew as "the guard."  Poor, nameless Andrew.

Honestly, Andrew's really great in all his scenes but he doesn't get to do a whole lot.  So I found myself mostly thinking of ways this parallels some Dyeland things.  And getting angsty and sappy that way.  First, I wish back when this aired that I'd been writing serious Dyeland stories.  Cause I think it woulda been awfully interesting to juxtapose this with Andrew seeing at least two or three of the Dyelanders entering college that year.  It could have been a really fantastic exploration of how he sees so much as an AOD yet has to remain a positive, inspiring source of comfort to his human friends.  I mean think about it... how easy for you would it be to see a college freshman die of alcohol poisoning, hear about the near-rape of a co-ed, and then cheerily see some young, female friends you feel protective of enter that same sort of setting? 

Then later, when Monica tells Sam about how she saved the girl, I was really struck.  Cause in the last Dyeland story I wrote, Andrew is a police officer working in a small town being terrorized by a serial rapist.  And something he ends up really wrestling with is why sometimes angels are allowed to save people from harm and yet other people are left to face that harm.  It's a question that is very, very hard for me to think about.  And I can only imagine how someone like him would feel about it.  It must be so conflicting.  On one hand, angels must rejoice over every person they save.  Yet I can't imagine being able to reconcile that with other cases.  In my story, Andrew never found the answer.  Because I have no idea what it is.  But I wish I could hug someone like him...  He could use it.

Okay, confession: I actually was kinda doubting that JD was 6'3".  Cause when you'd see him next to Charles Rocket, he
seemed short.  Which I woulda been totally okay with as a short person.  But in this episode he seems really, really tall.  So CR just musta been taller than IMDB says. 

Random thoughts:

Music: There's some girl singing when the three new roomies are playing pool.  Later there's just some percussive number there.  Actually, I think maybe I can hear a guy with a deep voice singing during it.  ETA: I missed these the first time around: loud rock as Rafael, Tess, and Andrew survey the frat house at the beginning.  You can also hear some male singer when Sam lectures Max in the dorm hall.  Again with the rock during the swine chug scene.  You can hear a woman singing during the cut Sam and Tess scene.

Sadly, I hated Philosophy.  A lotta people lump Theology and Philosophy together.  But I have a degree in the first and still read up in it.  The latter I couldn't wait to get away from.  Don't know whether I woulda liked it better or worse with Monica as my prof...  Definitely better if she'd brought Andrew in as a special guest.  :-)

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-They cut a scene of Sam trying to relive his youth by being at the college pool hall.  He notices an intense pool match going on and is surprised to find that Tess is the player.  (Thus meaning each member of the trio are darn good pool players.)  Tess asks Sam why he's there.  He explains that it's a big day for Max: the bonfire at the frat.  He begins to set up to play.  Tess comments that it sounds like it's a big night for Sam, too.  He replies that he can't remember ever being prouder of Max.  He goes onto say that he was going to ask Max to come but figured he'd rather spend it with his buddies.  So Sam came alone to remember.  Tess, all smiles, comments that Sam probably has lots of great memories there.  He agrees saying they're among the best of his life but it's also from where a few of his worst memories stemmed.  Tess comments "That's the way it is with the past.  One worm spoils the whole apple."  Sam chuckles then looks up to see Monica enter.  He flashes back to her saying "God is watching."  Tess comments that he looks like he's seen a ghost.  He opens his mouth but says nothing and the scene ends and goes to Max and Jamie in their dorm before the bonfire which THC has.

-After Jamie is arrested, the next act opens with a shot of him in the squad car.  Rafael is standing next to Max and tells him that Greg's family is on their way but may not make it in time.  Rafael says he's going to go to the hospital just to be there.  Max nods and then goes to his dad.  That's where THC starts the scene.

-There's a scene in which Rafael offers Max a red pill and a blue pill.   Ha.  Totally kidding.  It's right after Andrew starts fighting whilst hovering in the air.  :)

Further on down the road...
And it's Day 2 of our cruise.  Today we get to leave the boat and visit Juneau.  But as I woke up at 5 AM something local time...  I'm back in my closet office watching this.

Gah.  I just had a bad thought.  I wonder if TBAA's ratings started to decline because they tried too hard to cater to the younger generation and thus alienated their original viewers.  But then they also kinda missed the mark with appealing to the younger crowd so couldn't recoup lost viewer numbers.  Exhibit A: Gloria.  A fine character but rolling her out and saying you hope young people will relate then making her a blathering idiot for the first few episodes is not gonna win ya any love.  Then in this episode, The Matrix element just seemed too... awkward?  Kinda forced.  But maybe, since The Matrix really isn't that important to me, I just don't realize how naturally it fell into conversation for some.

Eek.  Poor Max.  College statistics class was AWFUL.  But I guess it's cause I just plain don't have that sort of brain.

Philosophy class made me realize that I'm not really into the big picture.  I can have a wonderful time analyzing situations (witness this Episode Guide) but too much discussion about the meaning of life makes me want to throw things.  I think it's cause I believe God cares more about if we were loving and moral than if we had the right thoughts. 

I was talking with my sister who is 6 years younger than me.  She's not a huge fan but watches the show sometimes on whatever channel airs it.  She really liked Alexis Cruz as Rafael.  I guess cause he's in Stargate.  It makes me wonder how things may have gone if he'd been hired as the fourth angel.  I don't say this to knock Ms. Bertinelli.  But Mr
. Cruz would be more familiar to much of the demographic they seemed to have wanted.  Plus, I think two guys and two ladies is a  better proportion than one guy (even an amazing one!) and three ladies.

"I believe in searching for the truth and I believe that search finally leads to God."  Nice quote from Monica.  Maybe I woulda been less annoyed in her class.  ;-)  But maybe not.  It may have still been nitpicky.  I think my main issue was the class' reliance on reason.  To a point I think that's incredibly important.  But after a while I think "Because I have faith this is the answer" is acceptable.

I wonder what that is the actors are really drinking during the swine chug?  It looks like it could maybe be apple juice.  But maybe also just dyed water.  I don't think I could even chug that much water.

Now I'm over the halfway point so... brief writing break!

I still wanna slap the head pig for mocking Andrew.  Dude's not worthy to shine Andrew's shoes.

I would freak out if I found out my dad ever did anything like what happened with Jill.  Thankfully, my dad is NOT the bold with women sort and most assuredly not the bold AND creepy type.  I wish this cretin had a daughter he had to answer to.  She could teach him a thing or two about betrayal.

I guess I think The Matrix bit is weird because it really isn't a good parallel.  Neo saw and it was bad and manufactured.  Max sees and it was good and real.  There's really no similarity so that's what makes it seem forced to me.  The old C.S. Lewis and Plato cave metaphor from MDWA woulda been good again and more fitting.  I feel like they woulda used that (it's Plato and Monica's a Philosophy prof!) were they not trying to win over certain viewers. 

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