"Missing in Action"

A review by Jenni:

I'm not sure why but I've been partial to this episode for quite a while.  Surprising since it's really a Monica-based episode.  But I don't think it's surprising when you look at some of the other angles.  Particularly the angels and love theme which should send shippers running.  :-)

What I love about this episode:

I like what Monica says to George about us all being children at heart.  It's very inclusive which is good since this episode does have some us v. them tendencies.  (Tendencies I support, by the way, as they mostly point out how angels and humans differ in matters of the heart.)  Maybe that's why angels and humans generally do get along well on the show.  Because at our core we're the same: God's children.

I *love* how Tess informs Monica that George doesn't want to feel better but rather understood.  That is something I have felt so many, many times.  I think we can focus too much on wanting to "fix" people.  We forget that there are times when sadness and anger are appropriate.  Sometimes ya just want someone to not so much try to cheer you up as truly empathize with you.  That
seems to be the heart of Tess' statement.

Puppies!!!  Nice to see a representation of animal therapy. 

I wish shippers would pay heed to these fine words from Tess after she warns Monica that she's headed into "dangerous waters": "George wants a different kind of joy than an angel is supposed to give."  The obvious conclusion?  Angels are not supposed to give romantic love.  Lines like this are a lot why I love this episode!!!

I get the giggles when Tess warns Monica "not too close!" when she's dancing with George.  I half-expect Tess to reappear in a habit shouting "Leave room for the Holy Ghost!!!" 

Here's another stirring conversation that shippers should really consider:
Monica: I had no idea it would hurt so much to break someone else's heart.  It feels so strange to be loved like this.  Human love is very complicated.
Andrew: And God's love is very simple.

Wow.  It sure sounds like those two are just dying for the chance to try some human love for themselves, doesn't it?  The envy is just soooo apparent.  I'm being sarcastic, of course.  Anyone seeing Monica's fretfulness as she talks about humans' complicated love and Andrew's calm smile as he talks about God's love should see two people who ain't about to trade their lots in life in.

I also like that exchange for another reason.  While it's Monica speaking about human love, what she says inspires me as I write Andrew for JABB.  Because in our stories he is a character that is loved and has the power to break hearts.  Monica's statement helps me realize how difficult a place that would be for him. 

I know some people felt that TBAA had the habit of making things too tidy and happy.  And maybe they did but, gosh darn it, sometimes tidy and happy is good.  So I love that the Colonel ends up being able to finally tell Lorraine about her husband's fate.  And the fact that via the husband's letter George learns how crucial a role he played in troop morale... perfect.  It's like the two men work together, from different worlds, to bring peace and closure.

TBAA makes another nice, little moment in revealing that Lorraine is a piano teacher and that at least some of Stephanie's bitterness stems from her being a frustrated ex-pianist.  I hope that after lessons with Lorraine, Stephanie developed into a more sociable, honest, vibrant person.  I have a feeling she did!

I get a kick outta George calling Andrew "son."  Just cause Andrew is soooooooo much older.

I love that the Colonel is so light-hearted upon learning Andrew's an AOD.  Andrew needs to see more of that type of reaction.

I like that Andrew is the one that gets to tell George that Monica is waiting for him in the park.  That plays really well into Dyeland.  Andrew understands, even if he doesn't reciprocate, the needs (in this case closure) of someone who has fallen in love. 

As something of a contrarian, I find myself at odds with two ideas that seem taken for granted by many: happiness is the utmost goal and love at its best is consummated love.  Cause I am a sucker for melancholy, angst, and unrequited love.  So, first, Tess elevates empathy above happiness.  Yay!  And then this from Monica, in her note to Lorraine, referring to George: "I loved him well."  Simple, right?  Not a big deal.  Except to me it signifies that the love Monica felt for George was, while not romantic, very real.  Which means George's unrequited love for her was not without meaning nor was it in vain.  It was a loving, inspiring relationship even though not a romantic one.  And that's great.

What I didn't love about this episode:
We get a glimpse of Monica at her overly confident best at the start when she's so sure she can get through to George.  Confidence isn't a bad thing.  But I do find it a lil hard to take when the person is as erratic as Monica is.  The times she screwed up just don't jive with her belief that she can take on anything.

Stephanie drives me batty.  She's sooo condescending.  What's with the "we" all the time???  And I want to say that a retirement home operator who freely discusses the problems of residents with other residents would be a fired retirement home operator.  But, alas, I have read too many articles about the declining state of some retirement homes to believe that to be true.  The episode lets us know she's a good person at heart but her management skills really are deplorable.  And who does she think she's kidding banning the word "died"?  She comes off as more than a lil deluded to me.

Lingering questions:
Tess seems a bit put-off that Monica did research on George prior to the assignment.  Why would that be a bad thing?  Sounds like a good idea to me!

Parts that made me feel swoony:
I have an email background with images from this episode that reads "I heart the ponytailed hippie."  And I do!  Andrew is
seriously cute in this episode.  And cuddly-seeming.  And, again, he's wearing layered clothing.  As much as I appreciate his button forgetfulness, I really do seem to dig the layered look. 

Andrew's very sweet-looking when he's so surprised and speechless upon seeing Monica's altered state.  But after that his interaction with Monica is completely normal and I love that.  I think because, having spent so many years now writing Dyeland, I have a vested interest in Andrew's reaction to aged friends.  If this episode is any indication, the ladies of Dyeland will still have the same lovable Andrew fifty years from now.

So George calls Andrew a "ponytailed hippie" who can't possibly understand respect for the flag.  To which our darling responds that he's "folded a lotta flags in my career."  That gets me.  Because in a way Andrew is a veteran many more times over than the Colonel.  We know Andrew had roles in WWII and Vietnam and I think it would be foolish to assume an at least thousands of years old angel only came into contact with war in the last few decades.  So God only knows how much war Andrew has seen.  I admire him for not getting defensive.  Heck, I admire him for not transferring to the angel version of a desk job a long time ago.  And not only does Andrew not get defensive, he defends the Colonel to Stephanie.  No wonder the guy's got a following!

When Monica has her dizzy spell, Andrew looks so concerned when he kneels in front of her.  I love him...  Then there's what I consider an interesting comment.  Tess tells Andrew to take care "of *our* angel girl."  So I'm furthering my position on the
Andrew-as-firstborn theory.  Not only does Andrew seems like your usual firstborn, he seems like the firstborn son whose father is absent so he becomes a sort of de facto father to his younger sibling.  So he's sort of stuck in two positions.  He seems to identify as Monica's equal with Tess as the supervisor/mother.  Yet he's also called upon to be a secondary supervisor/father.  How confusing...

 I love how Andrew's caresses Monica's shoulder as she speaks about George's unrequited love for her.  I want a friend like that...  Of course, then I'd be talking about my unrequited love for him which would make that a lil more complicated...

Andrew's such a good sport about getting joshed about his abysmal cooking! 

Random thoughts:
I'm left to wonder what might have happened had the roles been reversed and it was Andrew who aged and Monica remained the same.  I wonder how she woulda handled that?

I am gravely concerned about the possibility of losing my ability to drink coffee as I age.  Yikes.

According to Tess here Monica is over 80 centuries old.  Which is a lil odd since in "Holy of Holies" Monica says she's 6000 years old.  So either Tess is confused or Monica has the all too common habit of shaving some years off her age.  :-)

Monica appears to experience heart complications in this episode.  Yet another thing to add to the list of conditions angels can experience when in human form.

I feel the need to take note of the fact that when George says there's "not much future in being in love with an angel," Monica shakes her head.  I can't say exactly why but I think that moment could prove useful in later appearances of Monica in Dyeland stories.  It hints at why she may not immediately fit in so well there. 

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