"Minute by Minute"

A review by Jenni:

This episode was set to air in early autumn of 2001 but, quite rightly, was pushed back following the attacks on 9/11.  Ironically, it is now two days before the 10th anniversary and this is the episode that pops up for me this evening.  When I started re-watching S8, I even considered watching this early on... in its rightful order.  But that didn't seem right.  So I'm watching it now and feeling a bit nervous about that.  ETA: I wound up watching the CBS version on September 11th.  Ultimately, seeing a beautiful representation of a lovely, compassionate angel being with someone when violence takes their life was more powerful to me than the harrowing aspects.

hat I love about this episode:
I like seeing all four angels together at the start.  The last two episodes I watched just didn't have much of that til the very ends of the episodes.

This chapel in the school is so pretty.  I love the woodwork.

This bit with the chocolate shake is one of the "Gloria-isms" that I actually kinda like and have remembered fondly over the years.  She would looove that I sometimes put ice cream on my waffles.  She also has another moment in this scene that THC cuts but that I really liked.  I describe it in the last section.

While I agree with Andrew that it is NOT a reason for anyone to die... I appreciate that the episode shows "John" being bullied and how heartless his fellow student is.  That young man certainly didn't deserve to die.  But his like need to wake up and realize that they contribute to a situation that could turn lethal.

The shot of the crowd of AODs approaching the school made me cry cause it reminded me of "Netherlands" which now always reminds me of the Towers and also the Oklahoma City bombing.  I'm pretty sure I had that image in my head that terrible day ten years ago and the days afterwards.  There must have been so many of them there...  I hope there were.  I know that Monica was the star of the show.  But for me, the AODs will always and forever be TBAA's greatest gift to humanity.  Most people who believe in angels believe in the Monica type.  Most people who watched this show probly believed God loves them although it was awesome to hear.  But AODs... we're sketchy on them.  Our books tell us they are lovely... or they tell us that one coldly brought about the Death of the Firstborn.  Our art shows us handsome men... and skeletal wraiths.  But TBAA, even as the actors shifted, stuck with the constant image of a compassionate, personable entity who might literally handhold one through the dying process.  That was something a lot of us probly needed... and still need... to believe in.

Tess telling Andrew about how the kids got up in the morning and got ready... never knowing it might be their last day... hits hard now.  How often did we hear that phrase about the 3,000?

Corey's flashback really works for me.  It gives the character a heart.  I'm glad THC didn't cut it because without it you might think his reaction to the shooting of Sr. Theodore was purely panic as opposed to an actual emotional reaction.

Another thing I like about the Corey character is he outright admits he has perfectly normal parents.  Because I think our gut reaction is always to blame the parents of kids who do terrible things.  And, certainly, parental neglect or abuse is sometimes responsible.  But not always.  Some great parents have had children do terrible things.

So at this point I feel like I just need to say that this time around, I'm using this section mostly just to record my thoughts.  This episode doesn't fit so nicely into the "what I love" and "what I didn't love" boxes.  It's hard to say I love something that brings to mind such awful things.  But I suppose I love that the writers and actors could give voice to those feelings.  So... I find Sr. Theodore's questioning very relatable.  Why was she in the classroom as opposed to her fellow nun?  Why did this person take that flight as opposed to the later one?  Why did that person survive in that staircase but someone in the other did not?  There are so many similar questions.  But like these characters, all we can do is trust in God.

As sad as it is, this is one of my favorite endings of a TBAA episode.  I like to think that if we've done something we regret deeply, God gives us a chance to redeem ourselves.  I think that's exactly what Mary is given here.  Though she dies, she dies in peace.  She took a life but she enabled many, many lives to continue.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation," are fine words to end with.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Assignments named John always make these reviews a bit difficult to word...  But I spose the TBAA writers couldn't have wiped one of the most popular male names out just cause their male lead had it.  But it does mean I end up using "John" and "fake John" a lot.

It is just really hard to watch tonight.  I forgot that the Oklahoma City bombing gets directly referenced on top of all the 9/11 associations that were later attached. 

I was going to say "Yay!  They did remember Monica's new gift late into S8!"  But then I remembered that this is actually an early S8 episode.  So I still think that plot line just got dropped.

Lingering questions:
I wonder how everyone with TBAA felt about this episode.  They must have wrapped it not terribly long before 9/11.  And while it's really not at all the same scenario ("John" and Corey are somewhat sympathetic... the terrorists are not, the students were all saved... not everyone on 9/11 was, etc.), I wonder if they looked back and were weirded out about how prescient it seemed?  Were *they* comforted by that shot of the AODs?  I hope so. 

I can remember when this episode first aired, there was a bit of speculation on whether Sr. Theodore/Mary Rinaldi and Ruth Ann from "The Southbound Bus" may have been the same person.  It makes me want to go back and rewatch that first episode to see.  I do remember Martha Williamson saying they had wanted to revisit Ruth Ann but Wendy Phillips had become so memorable to the TBAA audience as Claire Greene that they didn't feel they could.  Maybe this was their round about way to get some closure on that earlier character?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I can't imagine being Andrew or any of the AODs and knowing the time at which something tragic will happen.  Just watching the moments slip by... unable to do anything.

Andrew *does* carry a handkerchief around.  I always liked thinking he did but couldn't think of an example.  Here he hands one to Bobby.  By the way, Andrew's pretty chilling in this.  He keeps so cool... so distant.  Barely any blinking.  He seems so... otherworldly.  Something about how he says "I have business there..." makes me want to scream "Listen to him!  He's not messing around!"

I want to hug him...  This haunting, hanging around the would-be bombers can't be good for him.

I am happy that he isn't wearing a tie.  He should at least be comfortable during all this.

I have now spent over half my life watching John play an immortal.  Even at that, seeing fake John shoot at Andrew freaks the heck outta me.  I know Andrew can't die.  But that anyone would want him to die is terrible.  And I just don't like seeing guns pointed out our John.  Alas, not even as Manion.  There are other moments in that scene, particularly one line that "John" says to Andrew, that are hard to see/hear now.  Well, harder.

He looks so stricken when fake John mouths off to him and walks away... still determined to continue with his plan to destroy the school and everyone in it.

I am pathetic.  When Andrew appeared in the bakery and was talking to Tess, she raised her hand and I was like "Oh good... she's going to squeeze his shoulder because he's distressed."  Then she just pointed and I felt really disappointed.  I think even Andrew would tell me my priorities are a bit screwed up... 

Okay... "You have no idea what Hell is" and the look on his face as he says it makes me think Andrew has been there.  I do not like this.  Maybe he's just heard things.  I'm going with that.  He could also be speaking figuratively just as fake John is... but with more of a sense of reality.  While I agree high school can be hellish, it is not Hell in the way that Auschwitz was hell.  And Andrew was for sure there.

Seeing "John" shooting at Andrew is no easier the second time.  In fact, this time I welled up.  He really hates guns.  Especially the noise.  And to have so much of it...  And, yes, I'm projecting.  I always wanted to protect Andrew.  And Doc Hock.  And Jeff.  I just didn't realize until this year that it all stemmed from wanting to protect the person whose presence somehow protected my psyche from hundreds of miles away.  I've been thinking recently that, while I don't believe as they do, maybe the Egyptians were on to something with sending their dead off with a buncha provisions.  I don't think it actually did anything for the deceased.  But maybe it provided solace to those left behind.  It was one final way to protect their loved one and usher them off to a place where they would never need protection again.

Random thoughts:
Music: Sr. Theodore is singing a hymn at the start.  I couldn't make it out at first but it's the "Veni Sancte Spiritus."

It's impossible for me to divorce this episode from 9/11 apparently.  Andrew's first comment on the beautiful morning just makes me think of how everyone said the sky in NYC was so amazingly gorgeous that morning.

I hate to break it to Bobby but the cookie gun was invented a long time ago.  I can remember my mom having one from the time I was really little.  I should get one...

Snuggies were apparently made for tall people.  I know this cause I recently received ones as a gift and hadn't yet worn it but I guess this episode made me want to give it a try.  I almost tripped...  I don't get these...

It's weird to me to see all these Catholic school girls and no plaid skirts having worn one for 13 years...

This episode is apparently set on October 2, 2001 because that's the Feast of the Guardian Angels.  That's just weird to think about cause that would mean it's supposedly happening after 9/11 but was written and filmed before anyone knew that would be significant.

Fake John's take on what will happen after the explosion is creepy, especially now.  He's the "lone wolf" everyone's on alert for now.  With his obsession on garnering attention and making a point no matter the human toll...  Terrifying person.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
- They cut a little after Bobby arrives at Millie's.  When he goes to the back, Gloria approaches Tess and asks if she's sure she should be doing this given she's never prepared or served food.  She frets that she may slow things down.  Tess smiles and says "Yes, baby.  Yes you are."  Then it goes to "John" exiting his car in the school lot which is where THC resumes.

- They also cut into the milkshake scene.  After that diner leaves the counter, Bobby compliments Gloria telling her that was great and that he sometimes thinks about the odd combinations people order.  Gloria responds "Yes, people can be very interesting."  A jock and his girl approach.  He taunts Bobby asking if he's gonna "keep fooling around with the bimbo or get me my breakfast burrito, dork."  Gloria asks the jock what a dork is.  He tells her to look to her side.  She glances at Bobby and says "Oh, I see!  An intelligent person who is kind to others!"  The jock mumbles "Losers" and walks away.  Great Gloria moment.

- After she and Andrew are through talking at the diner, Tess notices Bobby staring at the clock.  She calls to him and asks if he has something he wants to talk about.  He stutters no and says he just had a stomach ache and excuses himself.  Gloria then approaches Tess, telling her she never heard the explosion and asking if it happened.  Tess tells her that it's been postponed for an hour.  Gloria realizes that Mass will have ended then and all the children will be headed over.  She says "Oh no!" and then stares at the clock herself.  Gloria and Tess do not fare well in the THC version...

Further on down the road...
I was kinda torn on whether to skip this week.  I'm in quite a good, creative mood and while I think this episode is very well done... it's not easy.  So we'll see if I watch the whole thing or go back to writing.  Then again, I'm writing stories that contain plots involving heroin, crucifixion, and spousal abuse so... I guess seriousness is happening.

Andrew is fierce!  "I have business there..." kinda gives me chills.  And I know he's a good guy!

See, this is when the Jesus Taboo weirds me out.  They show a crucifix but then Sr. Theodore prays only to "Father."  Don't get me wrong, I pray to the Father.  But generally there's a Jesus in there... especially if I'm looking at a crucifix.  And it's weird that she prays out loud but then does the Sign of the Cross silently.  I assume cause "in the name of the Son" mighta been a problem.  This is a Catholic character.  Obviously she's Christian!  It just makes me sad that PC-ness has gotten to the point that characters with a specific religion can't be depicted realistically. 

Ha!  Their priest is Fr. Mike.  This amuses me.  Their Fr. Mike is older than my Fr. Mike, though.

I still remember my high school locker combination: 36-10-16.  Weird...

Okay... one line from "John" still hurts.  I forgot about the "dead guy" crack.  Kinda took my breath away for a second.  Probably didn't help that it's automatically weird for me when Andrew talks to a character named John.

Thankfully, that was soon followed by the Parade o' AODs.  I know their presence should be alarming but I love scanning the crowd.  I wish we coulda gotten to know a female AOD.

Cookie guns already exist...  We had one way back when I was little.  Ah, I see I caught that last time, too.  And I never did buy one.  Probably for the best.  I barely bake.  It'd just sit around.

That "Hitler should have studied his history..." line is kind of weird.  Pretty sure we should be glad he didn't in that instance...

I do think it's cool that a human gets a revelation scene and a human gets to deliver "God loves you."

That ending...  I do think it was one of their better ones.

A Word from Travis:
God is so good as He had the writers come up with stories (“Minute by Minute”) that could comfort fans during the September 11 attacks as well as other violence that took place around the same time “Minute by Minute” and other episodes aired. I was in high school the day the September 11 attacks happened.  I was in Mr. Levy’s Marketing class and the class watched in horror as planes went through the twin towers, devastating countless lives. I remember someone escorting one of the teachers out of the school and driving her as she had a relative who may have been in the twin towers.

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