"Operation Smile"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
Well, I have a lot of pros and cons regarding Monica in this episode.  But even some of the things I dislike about her personally are actually good points for the overall episode.  From the get-go, this episode involves Monica making several snap judgments about Ginger.  Not so great a trait but excellent continuity .  Through out at least the first few seasons, that's something we see Monica come up against a lot whether it be judging people harshly as she does with Ginger here or Pete in "There, But..." or jumping into hero-worship mode a la Rocky ("The Journalist") or Scott ("Groundrush"). 

I like that Tess describes Ginger as doing "all the wrong things for all the right reasons."  That's a very compassionate way of looking at some behaviors we may find deplorable without realizing why someone might be doing them.

I'm kinda torn on this point but leaning towards it at least being positive in a sense so I'm splitting it.  Here goes: I feel sorry for Monica having to work in a strip joint and worrying about getting "promoted."  Nonetheless, I do like the idea of angels being there for us no matter where we might be... even in seedy places.  Also, I thoroughly approve of Monica pouring water or liquor or whatever it was on that creepy guy.  In fact, I would have been angry with the show if she hadn't.  Cause that's NOT okay. 

This episode makes me nostalgic on so many levels.  First, I just like watching the older episodes cause I first saw them at such a different, less jaded time in my life.  So in watching them I feel like a lil of that version of me comes back.  And then there are the clothes!  In this episode, especially, I saw a lot of pieces that reminded me of my own fashion past.  Even one of Tess' outfits!  Her blue pant suit with the suns and moons?  I had a short set like that.  And I wore it with a goldenrod Blossom hat.  And Monica's white T-shirt, dark short dress, boots, and chunky socks look?  I remember the days!  And then later the hot air balloons remind me of when we'd go to see them when I was little.  I thought they were so beautiful!  All in all, this is just a sweet, child-like episode.

I'm glad that Tess was supportive of Monica's getting fired.  I woulda been awfully ticked if she'd gone on a rant about it.  She does point out that Monica shouldn't be apart from Ginger but there's absolutely no giving her a hard time about not sticking it out.  Right then wouldn't have been a good time for Tess to get cranky!

This episode makes me grateful for the increased publicity Operation Smile, similar organizations, and cleft lip and palette, in general, now have.  It's heartbreaking to hear about the woman asking Ginger to take Emily away from the park.  And Jeremy's initial dismay is sad, too.  I'd like to think now that would be less likely to happen.  I really appreciated it when TBAA highlighted some of the lesser known charities.

I really have a lot of respect for Jeremy.  He's a great character.  And very mature for his age.  I love that he doesn't say a word about Emily's belief that her mom's a ballerina.  And not only does he do everything he can to make sure Emily gets her surgery but he brings yogurt along for her!  I hope if I have a son some day, he'll be like that kid.  Although with out the running away bit, of course. 

I just really like that Ginger stands up for herself against Monica and announces "I'm not a stripper, I just strip."  I'd like to think it made Monica focus more on her as a person and not simply a stripper but I dunno.

I *love* Tess pointing out to Monica that there aren't any "Smile cause Monica loves you" bumper stickers when she starts to think she knows better than God.  Awesome, funny line.

I like it when Monica really lets Ginger have it.  She makes some good points and her anger doesn't seem judgmental or petty at that point.  I like that TBAA let the angels be angry when a situation truly called for it.  For them to always be placid would
have been unbearable for me.  And I love that in that scene Monica tells Ginger she shouldn't rail about all the mistakes she made but "thank God for sending her child" despite them all.  And then there's this quote from the scene: "No mistake you ever made is bigger than God's power to fix it."  I really love that one.

I think it's sweet that Tess and Monica drop back in some time later.  And that Monica says this to Emily after telling her she's beautiful: "Never forget you always were."  Awesome.

Finally, I'm glad this episode kept the PSA for Operation Smile on the DVD.  Seems like other episodes dropped them and intros and that's too bad.

What I didn't love about this episode:
What's with Monica knocking the toad/frog?!?  I think they're cute!  And they make a fun noise.  And she likes worms for crying out loud!  I'm a little sensitive...  I'm sitting in a computer room with 200+ plush frogs (and a few toads) and a mini-shrine to my late pet frog, Flick Stanley Frogger. 

Monica's kinda... what's a good word to use... snotty in this episode.  And right off the bat, too!  When she sarcastically says "Ah, that's better," upon learning "Glitter" is actually Ginger... not a shining moment.  Although, again, it works well character development-wise.  Doesn't mean I like Monica for it!

Going back to the Monica-nearly-being-a-stripper thing, it's kinda an uncomfortable trend in TBAA.  Here Monica nearly ends up a stripper, in "The Homecoming" she's assumed to be a prostitute, and worst of all is "The Blue Angel."  I may not love Gloria but who in their right mind lets someone that immature think they're going to have to strip!?  It's a little twisted.  I guess what I'm saying is I think TBAA sometimes plays these plot lines a lil too cute and just for the irony of it.  This doesn't sit well with me.  I suppose it could be pointing out that women are more likely to be sexually exploited (though by no means the only targets).  So if you're an angel in female form that's something you'd have to consider and maybe face.  It's not fair but it happens.  In that way it's no different than Sam and Tess having to face racial slurs whereas no one ever slung one at Andrew.  The difference is TBAA *never* made light of the race issues or how they made the characters feel.  But the "ha-ha, that was close" mood that permeates the stripper issue, even as Monica is clearly uncomfortable, kinda makes my skin crawl. 

Not crazy about Ginger's car getting killed to further along the assignment.  That poor lady was barely scraping by and then to add a car repair payment on top of it???  I hope that was somehow covered in an unexpected way for her.  This is why it's good I never wrote for TBAA.  And maybe that I don't write professionally, period.  I get bogged down in this sorta repercussion stuff.

As I said above, this is a sweet, child-like episode.  So to some extent I think ya just need to sit back and enjoy it and not over-think things.  But even as I tried to do that, there were a few things that I just couldn't quite believe or accept.  The car thing was the first one.  Monica piecing together the newspaper was the next one.  It seemed like a bit of an infringement on free will to me.  I guess through out this episode I just felt like Monica was pushing the plot along as opposed to having to react to it as is usual in other episodes.  Everyone seemed manipulated to an extent.  Not in an unkind way but nonetheless they were.

While I love the continuity of Monica's judgmentalness, in another respect I don't quite follow this episode.  Here Monica is happy about the children running away and Tess herself seems kinda happy about it (makes her feel needed, apparently).  Even after she's gotten on Monica's case for going against God's plan.  I just don't see why Monica's lie of omission here is okay but in "Groundrush" one sends her to the Netherworld.  Personally, I think it's riskier to have a couple kids AWOL than have a grown man whose only offense was killing a rapist in the heat of the moment free.  Not to mention how freaked out the parents were!

Okay, so the kids run off and we see the police questioning people.  It's daylight.  Then in a later, nighttime scene, a cop *finally* questions Monica: the person Emily was last with.  Really?!?

Lingering questions:
How did Ginger get those beaded curtains up?  See "Random Thoughts."

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Nothing to report...

Random thoughts:
I love beaded curtains.  They look so pretty in Ginger's trailer.  I bought some when I got my house but they just didn't work for me.  I got about 6 strands out... the rest are in a knot in my closet.  Some day maybe I'll have a beaded curtain knot untying party.

A Word from Travis:
While not a favorite episode of mine, this episode is good in the sense that, an audience member may have thought they knew what the story was all about (The Angels helping a stripper to see that God wants her to change her profession and also give her life to Him). I didn’t anticipate the “Operation Smile” aspect of the episode until I watched the episode in it’s entirety.

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