"The Quality of Mercy"

A review by Nicole:

What I love about this episode: First of all, I loved the whole theatre aspect of this episode. I do some shows at our local theatre, so it's fun to see how much I can relate to different parts of it all. Such as when Sally says that doing a show means a month long of evening rehearsals... yeah, I understand the tone in her voice when she says that. ;-)
I liked the little exchange between Monica and Andrew when she is painting the backdrop. Monica seemed kinda bossy at that point, but it was all very sibling-like. Very much like other episodes from the earlier seasons.
I loved the short scene when Joel and Marshall are having a mock fight with a loaf of bread and a giant spoon. In a way it was a bit sad, as it kinda gave us a glimpse of how close they were before everything turned sour. But it was still such a fun scene, reminds me a lot of my brother.  ;-)
On a more serious note, I really appreciated the little talk Andrew had with Marshall after the fiasco between he and his dad with the swords. I think he said something to the effect of the importance of telling the truth and how one should let it out even and slowly, and then maybe you won't "blow up all at once." That is really good advice, I think, and something that would be good for me to remember.
Another part that I liked was later at the hospital. Tess shows up and when she finds out that Marshall had yet to find out anything about his mother, she marches right over to the information desk. The way she handled the man at the desk, demanding a doctor was great. I loved how she kept hushing him. This scene just about had me rolling. It was such classic Tess!
Seeing Andrew so happy as he came out of Sally's hospital room was lovely. I wish he could always look that happy. ;-)

What I didn't love about this episode: There really wasn't much I didn't like about this episode. Of course, I was not happy about the whole Joel/Karen fling that happened. But that scenario also hit a bit closer to home to me because I have seen something very much like that happen before. It doesn't turn out well.
I realize there are only about forty-six minutes of time in each episode, so you can't show everything. But I do wish we coulda gotten a chance to see what happened between Joel and Sally after she woke up. I mean, she wasn't happy that he had been spending so much time at the theatre instead of home. And then add the bit about Joel and Karen... I just don't like that the next time we see her she is all happy and it is pretty much like nothing happened. Which is good and all, but it just feels a bit like we're missing a scene.
And then there is the end. Andrew and Monica were all excited about seeing their names in the program, and it was really cute. But then Tess had to go and shoot the joy. Monica and Andrew then looked kinda confused and I don't blame 'em. What was so wrong about being excited to see your name in the paper???  And then Tess had to go and ruin it. Aww, come on, Tess! Didn't ya see his face after you took -- no, *snatched* -- that paper away??? And then ya had to go and turn it into a dove! It coulda been a keepsake...
Lingering questions: Why were all three angels in the room watching when Marshall found his mom on the floor in their house? Why wasn't it just Andrew alone, as it is many other times?
And then I found it kinda odd that Joel seemed completely unfazed by the second revelation; Monica's. I mean, sure, he had already gotten one from Tess, but why didn't this one seem to surprise him?

Parts that made me feel swoony: Now for the real fun part! First, Andrew was so cute in his first scene when he went and found Monica painting.  The way he seemed so excited about teaching Marshall to sword fight, kinda reminded me of him and the football in "Till We Meet Again."  He seemed more like the boyish, fun loving Andrew that kinda disappeared later on. Not that serious Andrew isn't good. I just wish he was a bit more balanced...
Fencing is a good look for Andrew. And often times during this episode, his lovely blonde hair gets all muffed up and in his face... and it's adorable. ;-)
When Andrew follows Marshall into the dressing room and is talking to him, he says something like, "Whatever the problem was out there, dueling is not the way that people work out their problems these days." His voice sounds kinda different there. Sorta husky... and it was cute.
Ah, and during the the scene when Marshall finds his mom on the floor. Andrew is originally standing next to Monica and Tess, but then takes a few steps away. It's only for a moment, but during that brief shot of him standing there, he seems to get such a faraway look in his eyes... or is that just me?
Andrew looked pretty comfortable up there on that stage during "Hamlet." And again, it looked like he was having so much fun what with all the yelling and cheering and flag holding! I wanna do a show with Andrew...
Then, of course, at the end. He was so adorable when he got all excited about his name being in the show's program! Yay! And the sweater he wears then... lovely! Gah, I love him! Just saying... ;-)

Random thoughts: Nothing much really. Except that it is sadly odd that Andrew is so good at helping everyone with their relationship issues, yet he has his own one-of-a-kind doozie right in front of him! Interesting how life works that way at times...

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
Being poisoned by one's aroma therapist is an awesomely, soaptastic way to die! 

While not in *specific* ways (i.e. the adultery aspects), I do have some personal connection to this episode.  Several members of my family have a theatre background and so I can definitely relate to Marshall and Sally in feeling kinda isolated from Joel.  And putting up with Joel's sometimes overly inflated sense of himself that masks his lack of a sense of self worth.  That all seemed pretty well done.

Marshall's take on Hamlet's soliloquy was actually a very stirring rendition, I thought.  Well done to that guy!

I get a laugh over Monica's reaction when both Andrew and Tess point out her missed spot on the scenery.  She just madly paints away!

The coach's use of "Shakesebethean" and "thespic" was great.  She sounds like an escapee from Shiz in Wicked.

Tess should totally be a patient/family advocate.  The way she confronts that nurse and then makes the doctor translate medical stuff into plain English is really great.  And I also like how ungentle she is when giving Joel his ice.  :-)

TBAA featured so many beautiful chapels and churches!  I love the stained glass dove window in this one.

All in all, I think this was a well-balanced episode, utilizing all three leads.  It takes Andrew a bit to show up but once he does, all three angels have very specific and important roles.  And they also have a few scenes together which I enjoy.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Tess commenting that Andrew was "gonna do a death scene" did NOT give me a good mental image.  Sob!!!

I hate to see it but in episodes like these I can totally understand why some critics panned TBAA as making things too simple.  I do think forgiveness in powerful and important.  And, yes, marriages and relationships can be healed.  But the reconciliation here is far, far too rushed, IMO.  And Monica's whole "men make mistakes" thing kinda just rings of "boys will be boys."  Not all men cheat.  It shouldn't be so easily excused!

I wish Tess hadn't turned the program into a dove...  Coulda gone right into Andrew's scrapbook!  ;-)  Plus he was so cute looking at it.  Okay, and Monica, too...  Ha, I just reread Nicole's review and I see that she, unsurprisingly, had similar thoughts about this bit.

Lingering questions:
Did no one else but Marshall pick up on the affair?  I mean the prof's got his door closed as he meets with a female student.  She's spending extra time there.  And their body language after the one rehearsal is horrendous!  The way he's sitting on the stage and she's basically standing between his knees.  Gag me!!!  I think Joel should have been canned.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
"Dear Andrew, *I* totally think you were dashing in your fencing outfit."

Okay... so I did find it pretty impressive and not entirely without charm and attractiveness when Andrew disarmed Marshall.  I realize a 30+ seeming guy besting a teenager is probly not that much to be proud of but... I liked it. 

I'm not crazy about Andrew's season 2 hair but it works really well with the fencing ensemble.  Really well.

I love his... what to call it?... gentle sarcasm when he follows Marshall into the dressing room.  It's a great tone to take.  And he sounds a bit drawly which is always nice.

Andrew's AOD outfit here is quiet nice.  I like the light suit without a tie.  It makes me want to have an outdoor picnic or tea party with him.

Andrew's and Tess' kiss after he goes off the case is way adorable.  And it makes me sad.  They totally weren't like that later on...    But, hey, good news!  It's totally okay to kiss Andrew in a non-romantic way, apparently!  ;-)

Andrew's sweater after the play is kinda dorky.  But he looks cuddly in it so I love it.

Random thoughts:
The start of this episode makes me think of my old grade school and its tendency to have multi-purpose teachers.  The art teacher and the P.E. teacher were one and the same.  So a basketball coach in charge of the theatre department?  Sure.

Thanks to the actress playing Sally, this episode makes me want to watch Hocus Pocus.

I definitely feel old.  Monica, in her leggings and long sweater, is wearing an outfit that would be "in" again these days.  My childhood fashions are recycling!!!

I confess that whenever I stand on a chair, I think of this episode and Sally's fall.  Yet, it doesn't always stop me.

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