"Reasonable Doubt"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

Yay!  The opening of this episode gives me a good way to justify it when the angels in my stories aren't exactly truthful.  Tess says Monica needs to "improvise" a last name and address.  So, in JABB stories, Andrew sometimes improvises... not lies.

Welleye from "Well, I..."   I totally forgot about how Monica gets her last name in this.  Fun! 

Monica's glasses are cute.  Yeah, it's kinda pathetic that a lot of my "yay Monica" comments have to do with fashion.  But even when I was angry with her, I always thought she had awesome clothes and accessories. 

Monica's interview to get onto the jury is well done.  Does volunteer work, supported completely by her Father, etc.  All perfectly true, all perfectly legitimate and normal sounding.

"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, ya know.  Fear being a healthy respect for, not terror of, God."  I like that quote from Monica cause "fear of the Lord" is so often misunderstood. 

Another partial bottle episode!  I'm just psyched that I've learned that term from Community, thanks to Abed.  ;-)

I like hearing how the different jurors see their roles.  Maybe they're out to make an example of people.  Maybe they're bringing justice to those left behind.  Maybe they're being good citizens.  It's no wonder some juries take forever to reach a consensus... if they ever do.

Wow.  I totally forgot they mentioned pour patterns in this.  I wonder if that makes it kinda dated cause I'd heard that particular science is getting majorly questioned lately.  I thought I'd first heard about them when I was reading about the Cameron Todd Willingham case but apparently I first heard about them here.  I find that impressive detail given that this is not a police/legal procedural.

Wow again.  This episode has a plot point I completely forgot but is strangely apropos right now.  We just had terrible violence committed by a young man here in town and his parents, by all accounts, seem to be good people.  There was another case over the summer that was absolutely horrible and, again, he had good, committed parents.  So Carlos' and Monica's discussion about parental fault when a child unleashes violence really grabs my attention. 

"Time can be a lot more valuable than money."  A very true quote from Monica.  I'm thinking time usually is the more valuable of the two.

 "He understands the pain, the grief, the anger that you feel for the world, for God, even for yourself."  From Monica to Carol Anne.  I think when we're grieving we can sometimes feel even worse because we wind up feeling guilty for our anger at God.  But I agree with TBAA.  He understands.

I thought Carol Anne's second-guessing of the events surrounding her husband's murder was realistic.  How many of us, when we've lost someone, have gone through that horrible "What if I'd done this instead..." or "If only I'd said..."  You can see how that could wreck a life.

I really love that Monica outright says that Timothy's murder was NOT part of God's plan but that it was His plan that he spend eternity with him.  That's exactly what I believe and yet it's comforting to hear it from someone else.  Even a fictional angel.

As difficult as it is to see, I'm glad they showed Elizabeth's parents struggling mightily with the verdict.  Anything else would have been phony and dishonest and cheap.  For the same reasons, I'm glad that Falstaff was not portrayed as a good guy and that the jurors never knew that he actually was innocent.  Because, in real life, that's probly the situation most jurors face.  I bet it's pretty seldom a uber-nice, squeaky clean defendant surfaces and often jurors are left merely to make the best guess possible on innocence or guilt without access to the complete truth.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Really shocked that "nuances" is a novel term for Monica...  Yikes.  And "condensed" is expanded vocab?!  I like humor in the episodes but sometimes it seems like the writers couldn't decide how much of a neophyte they wanted us to think Monica was.  Here she seems kinda daft yet in other, previous episodes she's very mature.  Andrew knows the word apocryphal, btw.  He's a genius.  ;-)

I don't really care for how "Render unto Caesar..." is used here but am having a hard time verbalizing why.  Monica asks Tess how she could make a decision on the death penalty and that's Tess' reply.  It just rubs me the wrong way.  Jesus used those words in regards to taxes.  I always took Him to mean that He understood that governments need things and that one doesn't always have to make a religious issue out of it.  But the death penalty is intrinsically different from funding a road or building repairs or public services.  For many people it *is* a religious issue because it involves the potential taking of a life created by God.  Thus, repeating them in reference to the death penalty seems like a misuse.  I just really can't see Jesus as seeing the death penalty as something to be considered solely as in the domain of "Caesar."  Additionally, it's a lil weird to use the words of someone who received capital punishment in that manner.  If the quote had come earlier, simply in reference to Monica being on a jury period, it would work for me.  But as a response to Monica's specific query about the death penalty, I can't go with it.  Maybe they didn't mean for it to seem like potentially voting for the death penalty was "rendering unto Caesar" but there's room for error in interpretation the way it's used.

I have to fault Monica's logic on Gunderson's testimony (pre-dyslexia revelation).  It's completely possible to recognize a license plate but not the make of a car.  I am hopeless with guessing makes of cars but typically memorize the first 3 letters of license plates of people I know or see regularly.  But I still can't tell you their makes even though I've rode in those cars hundreds of times.  And how does Monica not know that mailboxes are typically blue (on rare occasion they are gussied up a la the Artoo ones)?  She's been a mail carrier and worked in a post office!

Okay... if they're sposed to be "rendering unto Caesar," how come when Andrew follows the law, Tess feels free to go above his head and consult God to get her way?  Not cool.  And I agree with Andrew's scowl.  Andrew was being good.  Tess was being pushy and wrong.  (And just wait til you read about the cut scene!)  Unfortunately, that scene fits in all too well with one of the core problems I have with TBAA.  Andrew was almost always a "good boy" and a far better angel than Monica (and, obedience-wise, even Tess).  Yet Monica got heaps more praise and affection.  Similarly, and I hate to say this, she also seemed more loved by God.  Think about it: He told her about her promotion, Sam told Andrew.  Monica lost her way in "Groundrush" and God spoke to her.  Andrew lost his way in TDDUP and... well, he just got Monica.  There are far more Monica and God moments than Andrew and God ones.  Sometimes it just seemed like Andrew did everything he could to serve his Father and yet Monica sometimes whined and complained and got more attention.  And I'd really prefer to think God is a far better parent than that.  Cause that right there is a problem in many human families.  I'd hope for better from the heavenly family.

Lingering questions:
Oh boy...  I'd somehow never thought about lawyers asking about romantic relationships in jury selection.  I so would not want to get into that.  Do they ask that for all juries or just ones for a case that involves a romantic (gone terribly wrong) aspect of sorts?

Anyone else find themselves thinking an English major wrote this?  Falstaff (Shakespeare's Henry plays) is the potential murderer.  Elizabeth Bennet(t) (Pride and Prejudice) is the victim.  I'm hoping for a witness named Heathcliff or Rochester.

Whoa.  Maybe I'm reading too much into this but Andrew says that if he was Falstaff, he wouldn't mind knowing an angel was in the jury room.  So does that mean that an angel would never vote for the death penalty?  I mean that's my belief but it just seems striking that it would be implied like that as I'm sure some people believe they most definitely would vote that way.  (They aren't exactly non-violent innocents in the Bible...)  Unless there is no established stance and Andrew's simply assuming that Monica would be against the death penalty.  Maybe? 

How can they control for pressure from other jury members as seen here?  Or do we just trust that no one votes simply because they're worried about being taunted by the other jurors who just want to leave?

So at one point someone says that if Monica was bothered by the death penalty, she should have excused herself from serving.  Is that true?  I don't see how it can be, though, because then almost everyone would pretend to be anti-death penalty to get out of serving.  Plus, I don't think it *is* a good excuse.  I don't intend to turn this into a soap box but I will say that I am against the death penalty.  However, if I were called to serve on a capital case; I would vote guilty even if I knew it meant the person might be put to death if I firmly believed they *were* guilty.  I would never help to let a murderer walk just because of my own moral position.  Cause if I did, for all I knew, I'd just be unwittingly setting up a later murder.  So maybe that's what Tess meant about rendering unto Caesar?  Regardless, I still think that was a lousy quote to give her on multiple levels... hypocrisy chief among them.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Loveliness in a uniform...  Ha.  And I love his eye brow when he reads "Monica Welleye."

I could not have been in Monica's place in this episode as I would have spent far too much time daydreaming about the bailiff and trying to send him psychic, uplifting messages.  ("You are adorable," "I love you no matter what your job is," etc.) 

Andrew has been a victim of a violent crime (well, in Dyeland-mode) so probly couldn't serve on a jury for this sorta case.  Not that I intended for him to in a story but just a note to myself in hopes I'll remember not to let that happen.  Also... it's kinda a bad sign that I'm thinking so much about apocryphal Andrew...  This episode needed more Andrew to keep my mind from wandering.

As adorable as he is in this episode, he barely gets to do anything...  And I wish I could hug him after Tess gives him a hard time then gets the Father to get him to go into the jury room.  Andrew seems used by the Father (unless that buzzer was merely coincidence which TBAA doesn't generally acknowledge) to appease Tess...

Andrew's balking over Monica's use of "Tessify" is amusing insofar as, in Dyeland-mode, he has to cope with made-up words all the time.  Well, it's also amusing and cute on its own.  Cause he is.

Vague memories of this episode really helped me when I got a jury duty notice and was worried that I might get assigned.  It's not that I'm against the idea but, as I don't drive, it would have been a logistical nightmare.  Anyhow, what kept me calm is by thinking how, if I did get assigned, at least I could have the fun of daydreaming about Andrew as the bailiff.  So, ya see, this crush is totally functional even at its advanced age...

Sadly, they cut my favorite Andrew scene.  Read below for details.  But I just love, love, love that Andrew doesn't let Tess push him around.  He's right.  He knows it.  He stands up in defense of his stance.  And he's gonna do his job and follow God's will no matter what Tess says.  Plus, he's just cute when he's stern.  I'm sure he'd *love* to know that...

Random thoughts:

Music: Didn't notice any.  Not really allowed in court methinks.

This episode also reminds me of 30 Rock when Liz showed up for jury duty dressed as Princess Leia in hopes they'd boot her.  Hilarious!

This is set in Boise, Idaho, for the record.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-There's a brief scene cut in which Peter approaches Monica and says that he wasn't trying to make her feel stupid with his mailbox example.  He goes onto to tell her that Falstaff must be guilty, though, because with all the mystery novels he reads, he would know if he were innocent.

-During deliberations, there's a scene of Carol Anne writing in her planner.  The young guy, Zack, approaches and asks what she's doing.  She says she's planning what she needs to do.  He comments that she's organized.  She says she learned it from her husband. 

-Poor Tess.  Her first cut scene comes when she approaches the Bennets outside the court room.  They think she's a reporter.  She denies this and says she's sorry for their loss.  She asks if they need anything.  The mother answers that she needs Falstaff to pay.

-Later, Tess is again outside the court room.  She overhears two cops speaking.  One is the one who testified (Officer Jarvis or something like that) in the Falstaff case.  He tells his
buddy that he didn't tell the court about the "homeless wino" who saw Falstaff putting the gas in his car (thus proving his innocence and explaining why he had an empty gas container.)  The cop says that the judge wouldn't allow the witness.  The buddy makes some wry comment about "Welcome to the justice system."  Tess looks troubled and then...

-This is a heartbreaker.  Tess goes to Andrew who is outside the jury room.  She asks what's going on.  He doesn't know but says it's something quiet, possibly a vote.  Tess says she needs to speak to Monica because she knows the truth.  She tells Andrew to go in.  He refuses.  (Good boy!)   She says that if he doesn't, she will.  (Way to actually be a miscarriage of justice, Tess!)  She balks when he still refuses.  Andrew then tells her he has an assignment, too.  She asks who.  He says "You."  She responds "Me?!"  He says "You" seeming a bit amused and even kinda proud.  And then comes another "Me?!" with Tess looking even more incredulous.  Andrew, quite sternly, says "YOU!" and glares at her.  Atta boy.  So sad that this was cut.  Although if I were Tess I'd be glad about it.  It makes her look even worse.  I know I just love the part of the Bible wherein Jesus says "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's... except when it's inconvenient or you just don't feel like doing it.  Then feel free to bully the AOD."  ;-)  Really, I'm upset this scene was cut mostly cause it makes it clear God was on Andrew's side so really must not have been using him to appease Tess. 

Further on down the road...
So my initial review for this was the last one I did prior to John Dye's death.  I'm pointing that out only because the next time I did one, I wondered if I could even keep going with all of this.  Obviously, I did.  And given we've had a number of new JABB members since that sad day, I'm really glad that I did keep JABB going!  Still... it is a lil melancholy to think back on that viewing and know it was one of the last times I would watch TBAA in a particular light.  But, in a lot of ways, my viewing experience is richer now.  It means more. 

Anyhow, I am also really exhausted.  Just could not sleep last night.  So... hopefully I make sense.  And I don't think my ability to pay attention is very good.  But I just wanted to watch TBAA.

Yeah... still kinda troubled that "nuance" and "condense" are vocab words for Monica.  I'm hoping she knew what they meant but was merely trying to be more colorful with her language.

I think it's quaint that Carol Anne assumed Monica is still living at home.  She coulda been living with a significant other.

I really like that the lawyer doesn't seem at all surprised that Monica's never been in a romantic relationship.  Yay for her. 

And I still think Tess' use of "render unto Caesar" was misguided.  Like I wrote above, it's a little unclear what they meant but it sort of gives the impression that voting for the death penalty might be rendering unto Caesar.  I just still don't think Jesus' admonition was meant to cover capital punishment.  There are plenty of references in the Bible that I do think can be fairly applied to the death penalty argument.  But not that one.  Of course, like I also wrote above... Tess doesn't seem to have a bloody clue what "render unto Caesar" means, anyhow, so it's probably moot.

I'm still not sure what to make of Andrew's statement that if he were Brendan, he'd be glad to know there was an angel in the room.  Does that mean Andrew knows he's innocent and thus it's good that a bringer of truth is in the room?  Or does it mean that Andrew's thinking that an angel would never vote for the death penalty?  Or maybe he merely means that an angel would work at making people truly consider the case and what they truly believe which is exactly what Monica does.  And this is probably a stupid question but do the jurors even have a say in the penalty?  Or do they just decide guilty or innocent and then the judge picks the punishment?  You'd think I'd know this but I stopped watching courtroom dramas a few years back.  Got to be too much.  Hmm...  It really sounds in this case like a guilty verdict automatically meant the death penalty.  But I thought there was a penalty phase.  I dunno...  Okay, just rewatched bits after having some caffeine.  The judge says at the least it'd be life in prison but the death penalty was possible.  So a guilty verdict would not have automatically meant capital punishment.  I thought that seemed odd...  And he does ask if the possible death penalty presents a moral issue for anyone.  I still wonder if that's for real.  If yes, wouldn't people abuse that just to get out?

The Wittenbergs had a neighbor with the last name of Gunderson if memory serves.  I wonder if this is the same neighborhood.  Hmm.

OMG.  Tess makes me want to hit my head on this desk.  The Bible does not read "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's... unless you are Tess.  Then you can do whatever you want and let Andrew deal with it."  Well, at least God seems to have realized Tess was going to be a problem and I spose it's nice that He trusted Andrew with the job.  Still... woulda been nice to have seen some indication that God was not happy with Andrew being held to a different standard. 

I do like a lot that Monica stresses that God's plan was for Tim to live eternally with Him... but that doesn't mean God willed the tragedy and the violence that brought his death about.  Oh and I said that before.  Oh well.  Bears repeating.

Oh good.  I'm glad that Andrew got to put his arm around Monica.  I don't like when they end on an awkward family photo moment (i.e. Tess and Monica are embracing and Andrew stands off to the side... untouched.)

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