A review by Jenni:

It's Good Friday.  I debated whether or not I should watch this on a day that I'm already emotionally amped up.  But I was off today so last night I felt like I should be watching TBAA.  Thus, already I feel one day deprived.  So here I go for good or ill.

ETA: So... I got about eight minutes into this episode (before the explosion even), freaked out, sobbed for a while, crashed, and then woke up about 9 hours later.  Best sleep I've had in a long time, at least!  So... much of this was written on Easter Saturday... much kinder day.

What I love about this episode:

I dislike the intro scene (at least I dislike what Monica has to say even though I increasingly find her saying it believable) but the thrift shop guy gets me.  Him I feel some kinship with. Yes, falling for an angel's quite the experience.  Poor guy.

Well, Monica's pretty graceful in how she turns shop guy down.  I admire that.  I just start blabbering some really awful "It's not you, it's me" speech that makes me sound loony.  Well, at least that's what I did the one and only time it was necessary...

I got a giggle outta Tess calling Gloria "little Miss Thingamabob." 

I think it's sweet that Madeline braids Gloria's hair and then names her.  Aww!  And I completely forgot about her justification that the braids would keep hair outta Gloria's eyes when she flew.

Gloria is pretty cute when she proudly tells Tess and Monica her name and then corrects Tess on not being "baby."  I'm trying here, people...

One thing I have long loved about this episode is that it shows you female AODs.  Cause I think, were I an angel, that's what I'd want to eventually be.  (Assuming Angel of Encouraging Andrew was not available.)  So I was happy to know it wasn't gender-specific.  Plus, as sad as this is, I like thinking that there are so many so that absolutely everyone has one.

Martha Williamson is right that this takes on a different, stronger element post 9-11.

Those shots of the AODs with the spirits (some even chatting and smiling) are beautiful and lovely and it helps to see them.

I totally don't think I ever noticed that you see an AOD take off with someone in the first hospital scene.  I love them.

I really believe what Tess says about how Madeline's spirit will know that Gloria is holding her hand, even though she's unconscious.  Also, it was pretty ingenuous to give Gloria a pad of paper and a pen. 

"You will never understand love on earth, until you understand death."  A quote from Tess.  I think that's probly true.  I think sometimes that's why we love so desperately.  Because even when we don't think about it, we know that we might not have much time.  And then there's the longing type of love that comes after someone dies.  You can't understand that without experiencing death.  You can barely understand it with death.  Just feel it.

The Driver does have a point about it "taking twice as many miracles to get their attention."  I think in daily life many of us do thank God for the good things.  But news coverage is pretty much negatively focused.  Panic sells.

Maybe the intro scene I gripe about below is actually kinda genius...  The Driver seems to be playing on Monica's sense of being put upon.  Maybe we're not supposed to take that scene with her and Gloria seriously.  Maybe we're supposed to hear it and think
"Okay, Monica's completely wrong and being a downer here."   Maybe while the explosion was the immediate impetus for Monica's abandonment, we're meant to think that it's actually just the straw that broke the camel's back and her thinking's been a lil faulty for a while.  I hope so.  Otherwise I feel belittled by the writers if we were sposed to buy that intro.

The elderly gentleman with his wife is beautiful.

I think this is the only incarnation of Satan/a demon on TBAA that I find at all compelling or legitimate or threatening.

Wow.  I actually do think the intro is genius.  When with Satan, Monica rants about how we don't really love and then agrees she'd make a better human and lover.  So I think she really is just screwed up, has a negative opinion of us, and this temptation was gonna happen at some point, anyhow.

Monica putting her hands over her empty womb is pretty gut-wrenching.  I suppose I should admit I've had this sort of moment.  When I hear of child abuse, I do think I would be a better mother and lover.  And, yes, I've done that exact gesture.  But, unlike Monica, I would never lump all of humanity into a bundle and walk away.  Still, it was good to have a moment of sympathy with her.  Brief though it was.

Monica talks about her faith having been shaken.  I like that cause it's yet more proof that the TBAA rule of "angels have no faith" always made zero sense and they musta come to realize that.

Ya know, maybe my take on Monica here suffers cause of comparisons to Jesus during the time of year when His sufferings weigh most heavily.  Yesterday I watched the film Jesus starring Jeremy Sisto and it's maybe a little hard to sympathize with Monica's "Why have you forsaken me?" when I last heard it choked out by a dying man who truly had suffered at the hands of humans and loved us still, without ever walking away from us.  Further, that film has a gut-wrenching temptation scene that makes this look like a cake walk.  Even from a strictly biblical take, Jesus had it far worse.  Although, of course, I understand that an angel can't be expected to be as holy as God.  Just saying that my irritation with Monica probly has other sources.  At least in part.

It is beautiful when they pan out after Monica comes back and you see all that beauty.

Gloria telling the story to Madeline is endearing.  I think that's what's so vexing about her to me.  At parts, I do love Gloria.  But I just wish she'd been a guest angel.  Cause in the longterm, week by week basis... she wore on me.

What I didn't love about this episode:

Right off the bat I find this intro scene kinda condescending.  Most of us don't believe in angels, Monica?  Stats I've seen say it's half to a bit over half.  But, regardless, this is TBAA!  Probly most of the TBAA audience does believe in angels and right off having Monica say most of us don't... doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies.  I feel alienated.  OMG!  And then she goes onto say that most of us never imagine they're right here with us.  Lady, I spend a crazy amount of time thinking about you lot.  Okay, maybe mostly the males of the population.  But still...

And it makes me feel guilty.  Monica tells Gloria she comes to earth cause she's an angel and God asked her to.  And "He loves them."  I pray to God they actually *want* to spend time with us.  And He loves them, too!  If He doesn't...  I'm gonna have some issues.   ETA: I'm now interpreting both these points as Monica just being screwed up... not a TBAA writer actually suggesting the audience doesn't believe in or think about angels nor that God doesn't love them as much.  So I dislike Monica's attitude.  I like what the writers have done, though.

No offense at all intended to Ms. Bertinelli but really I found the entire character of Gloria to be condescending.  "Angel of the 21st Century"?  I do not get her.  I do not relate to her.  In articles we were told she was brought in for us younger folks to relate to.  Guess what?  I still related most to Andrew.  And all this talk about Gloria not knowing how to use her heart makes me wonder if the writers thought my generation was just emotionally clueless (believe me, I have a heart in case some of the stuff I've written here hasn't made that obvious) or if that was a character element independent of what they thought we'd find relatable.  I pray it's the latter.  Cause, lemme tell you, right after 9-11 I was with a bunch of my peers and no one was acting like Gloria talking about timing of explosions.  We were in shock and crying and scared.

Honestly, I don't think Monica's behavior in this would even bug me that much if not for having just been fed all this about Monica's heart not being like anyone else's combined with the guilt trip from on high.  Although maybe it still would.  This episode hits upon just about everything I dislike in Monica and how she's dealt with.  I just hate that Monica's so often portrayed as the greatest when Andrew keeps focused, keeps faithful and doesn't have these whiny moments of generalization.  Yes, Andrew's walked away from assignments.  But I don't recall him ever lumping us all together and giving up on us.  So save me the speeches about Monica's heart.  And, no, I'm not too stupid to realize that a lot of my reaction is heightened by John's death by heart attack.  On any given day, I would scoff at the idea of upholding Monica's heart over Andrew's.  But knowing what happened to the heart of the beautiful man who brought Andrew to life just makes that sorta dialogue unbearable to me. 

I definitely agree with Ms. Williamson that this episode is more meaningful post-9-11.  But I think it also makes me angrier with Monica.  After 9-11, there was so much coming together.  And, yes, there were some instances of people lashing out at others cause they'd lumped them in with the terrorists.  But mostly there was love and sacrifice and compassion and hope and faith
even in the midst of great fear and grief and the reminder of our own mortality.  Having seen that in my fellow humans, watching an angel go off the deep end and lump us all into some hopeless bundle makes me think that angel really needs to grow up.

Lingering questions:
Why would Gloria know numbers and language and stuff and not basic conversational skills and whatnot?  It seems like they partly based her on a baby and part not.

I wonder how it made Mercedes feel to have one of their cars driven by Satan?  ;-)

Parts that made me feel swoony:
For the record, I refuse to believe Andrew was born as stupid as Gloria.  I just can't believe it.  I'm sure he was lovely and adorable from second one on.

I wish Andrew had given Gloria her intro about being an angel.  Monica's just made me unhappy, guilty, and combative.  I hope it didn't screw Gloria up.

Oh God.  There are daffodils all over.  I noticed them just when Tess approached and after that I burst into tears and I'm going to have to try this again tomorrow.  (To those reading this thinking "Huh?!"... daffodils have long been a symbol for Andrew in JABB stories.  Then, following John's death, I had a rather amazing daffodil experience.  So now they're forever linked to Mr. Dye in my mind.)

I don't care what's going on or how tragic it's going to be.  I'm just glad when we get to see him.  Andrew doesn't even have to say anything.  He's just... him.

The way he stands there, waiting for the other AODs to enter the building, makes Andrew look princely.  Like maybe he's silently comforting them before they witness what they're going to as a prince might once have rallied his troops.  Or it's just that I'm crying again and ultra-sappy.

Ya know, I feel really sorry for Monica.  I do.  But Andrew was in there.  Andrew saw the bodies and heard the cries.  But Andrew kept it together.  This is why I love him and sometimes barely recognize her as the person I once considered a role model.  And Tess playing up the supremacy of Monica's heart is just plain hard to hear.  I want to shake her.  The most loving heart "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  And the person with that heart is the one in the building and the hospital, not the one wandering off.  I really can't deal with this Monica exceptionalism now.  From the sounds of it, Andrew was in that building for the greater part of the day with Jane.  I bet he woulda liked to have gone elsewhere.  But he didn't. 

Gah, I needed that smile.  It made me smile, too.  I'm talking about when Andrew beams at Gloria after she finds Madeline.  Then he puts his arm around Tess. 

It probly says something about me that when Monica was being tempted, not only did I find walking away from God unfathomable but also clearly remember thinking "You'd leave Andrew?!?"  I also remember thinking that if I were an angel and Satan was trying to tempt me with a human life with husband and kids... Shop Guy wouldn't cut it.  Although I understand that Monica likely would have more of an incest taboo with Andrew than I would so I'm not suggesting *she* should have dreamed of that life with Andrew.  Just saying I would have.  Thank God Monica didn't.  I would have had to gauge my eyes out seeing that.  Yuck.  Andrew deserves better.  Sorry!  But it's how I feel.  Also, he's not into that.  He's an excellent angel who wouldn't throw us or God over for his own ambitions and wishes.  I love him... 

I would feel more sorry for Monica being lonely if not for the fact that she kinda treats Andrew, who is such a good friend to her and would help her with that, cruddily.  And, honestly, I don't think it's just my human passion saying that.  There's no way Satan's hug could be as nice as Andrew's...  This is just galling.  How can she be even a lil bit swayed by Satan's tenderness when she has the real thing?!?  I don't think I've changed much since 2001...  I still can't understand Monica considering walking away from God and Andrew.  The best Father ever, the best friend ever.  What more does she think there is?

Ironically, "No One is Alone" is one of the songs I've been listening to a lot in the wake of John Dye's passing.  It makes me feel better.  I prefer the Victor Garber version, though.  But I'm biased. 

I'd throw away all the hugs and tender looks from the Driver just for that one hand squeeze at the end with lovely, beloved Andrew.

Random thoughts:

Music: Madeline sings "Angels We Have Heard on High."  Very cute.  Later, Gloria sings it to her.  The Driver has some rock crud playing in his car.  Mandy Patinkin sings "No One is Alone."

We're told by Tess that Monica has "a few thousand years under her belt."   So... sorta kinda an age hint.  Also she apparently knew Satan before his
fall.  But another line ("From the moment I was created, I have spent my entire existence avoiding you.") suggests otherwise.

Now I am drinking a mocha.  Whatever other feelings I may have about Monica, I should remember that without her I wouldn't know the wonder that is mocha and coffee in general. 

Human Monica named her daughter Tess.  She darn well better have named a boy Andrew.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
 - I watched this on the "Hope" DVD set so have not seen the Hallmark cut.  But here's something unfortunate: on the promo for this episode there's a scene of Andrew and Tess at the hospital.  He says, fretful, "When will Monica be back?"  Tess reponds "Only God knows, Angel Boy."  Which makes me wonder what else was cut from these episodes...  The scene appears to be the same one in which Gloria is telling her story.  But it wasn't in the CBS version, either.  It was just truly cut.

Further on down the road...
So...  I'm going to try to write a story the centers around Monica and thus need to deal with this episode.  I'm hoping it all goes okay because to date I still find myself infuriated with Monica when I think of her in this episode.  We'll see how this goes...

Okay, it's weird to me that of all the photos they no doubt have at their disposal, they chose one of Monica wearing the JCD Staff polo from "Band of Angels" for the "Episodes" menu on the DVD.  You'd think they'd pick something not branded looking.  Anyhow...  I'm stalling.

OMG.  The first words out of her mouth are annoying.  According to three polls I looked at more Americans believe in angels than do not.  Granted, Monica is likely talking about the whole world and not just Americans.  I would actually hope this to be the case but even if not... get over yourself!  Near as I can tell, Monica spends most of her time in America and I think Gloria ends up working exclusively in America at least from what we saw.  So Monica is painting a far bleaker picture than there's any reason to.  Although I will give her that the Victoria's Secret angels thing is creepy.

I'm glad that Monica's "Did He mention that?" assumes some interaction between God and Gloria happened.  But Gloria's lack of knowledge still makes Him look cruddy to me.  And God is not cruddy.

Too.  I would have added a "too" at the end of "Because He loves them."  Again, it makes God seem cruddy to imply that He loves us more than the angels.  God is not a human parent with limited resources and time. 

And another crack about us not believing angels are around...  I'm sorry but I just can't shake the feeling that right about here in the series, TPTB really started talking down to the audience.  I know in my earlier review I wrote that maybe the writers didn't mean the lines but fed them to Monica to show Monica was already off.  But then the more I think about the Gloria press... I dunno.  We're not stupid.  Having Monica use a faulty logical argument in the previous episode and then here paint a picture of belief in angels that is quite dubious makes me think that they assumed they could just pass half-baked stuff off and no one would notice.  And that makes me sad although less mystified about why my devotion to the show lagged in S8. 

The dude Monica has the meet-cute with is Mike Rice.  I needed to know this...  And Monica tells him she is already attached ("something like that" anyway) and if not would have really liked to have had dinner with him.  Hmm...  Plotting is really the only thing that's gonna get me through this episode.  Poor Andrew can't even do that cause just seeing him in this episode makes me feel angry that Monica would walk away from that studly awesomeness.

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that God apparently created an angel for the 21st Century to encourage us to "find a balance" and yet God seems to have done this as a rush job with seemingly little to no consideration for Gloria's emotional well-being?  Tess' talk to Monica at least shows that the writers considered Gloria's plight and thought it out but in many ways it just makes it worse that they then didn't take the next step of thinking "Why would God strand this utterly new creature like this?  We prosecute humans for this but apparently it's okay if God does it?"  That's nice that He paired her with Monica to guide her but a sister is not the same as a parent.

Sigh...  About 12:15 is when Andrew arrives. 

And now we will watch twenty some minutes of Monica hijacking other people's tragedy...  I totally understand her going off on Gloria but everything after that seems selfish and the point at which I really ceased to respect Monica.  So sorry that she had to witness that but she gets to return to Heaven and see all those people.  They left behind parents, lovers, children, friends, etc. who may spend decades missing them.  So excuse me for not really caring about poor Monica and her oh-so-special heart.  Even if I was going to get really wrapped up in an angel's experience... how about those AODs?  God knows what they had to see that was far more graphic and wrenching than what Monica did. 

I bet the Mercedes people were super psyched that Satan is driving one of their cars in this.  And, yeah, I had to Google to find out what logo that was...  I'd forgotten... although I probably Googled it last time, too.

So the bomber ends up in a barn in Iowa.  I need to make a guess on where this episode is set so that narrows it down some.

Maybe this is a stupid question but why did Monica get in the car?  If she was mad at God and/or humanity then fine.  But why not just tell Satan to back off and keep on walking by herself?  I mean what did she think was going to happen?

This lovely couple just makes me angrier with Monica.  This man has a right to behave as Monica is behaving.  She does not.  I just want to slap her when she's going on about how humans don't know how to love.  There is a man possibly saying good bye to the love of his life and she is behaving like a narcissistic snot.  If she'd actually behaved decently, she would have seen true love.

All that being said... I don't know that any childless woman can see the shot of Monica placing her hands over her womb and not feel something.  That does get to me. 

I am glad that Monica puts up a fight.  But it still really bothers me that it's I, I, I, and my, my, my and not a single moment of "Maybe I should go back because people are in pain..." 

I think part of what bothered me was when this first came out, some people compared it to Jesus' temptation in desert.  Heck to the no.  Last I checked, Jesus didn't go out into the desert because He thought we were all lousy and to heck with us.  He loves us even when we're screw-ups. 

And then Monica just waltzes back and acts like she still has the same moral authority she did before...  I'm sorry but I feel like Monica betrayed the whole lot of us and her just swooping back in and talking to Madeline... who she barely gave any thought to during her flip-out... really galls me.  But then it gets worse...

Why, in the name of all that is holy, did they think it was a good idea to have Madeline request that Gloria goes along with her and Andrew to Heaven and then have that denied?!?!  Why would God do that?!?!  It's stupid.  It's just plain stupid and senseless.  What were they thinking???  You can't tell me that God wouldn't make allowances for that if it would help a child who has suffered immensely.  I'm sorry but my God is better than that.  I mean I love Andrew but poor Madeline has no idea who he is.  If it would help her to have a friend then no loving Father would deny that.

In closing... frickety, frick, frick.

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