"Redeeming Love"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

I mentioned this in my "Unidentified Female" review but I'd just like to say again that Alanna Ubach was really amazing as Lydia.  Lydia is so radically different from Cookie in that earlier episode.  Geez.  This seems like it would have been a fairly difficult part and I found her portrayal very compelling and really fleshed out.

This is an episode that makes me upset that in later years I've gotten a bit angry with Monica.  Because she really is very devoted to humans.  We know she hates the cold and that being homeless was difficult for her yet she doesn't complain at all about suddenly having cruddy clothes and having to spend time in an unseemly apartment and around dubious people.  She's a fantastic angel... for humans. 

I really love that Andrew was with the kids at the drug house and, further, that he assured Monica (and us) that  "they've all got angels."  I just feel terrible seeing them dirty and neglected with only each other and TV for company and then frightened away by a screaming mother.  It helps a little to think someone as loving as Andrew would be with them.

I really like what Tess has to say about the importance of sometimes saying "no" to a child.  I'm not 100% sure how that ties into potential drug use but I definitely know there are too many kids who got what they wanted when they wanted it for too long.  And maybe this complete ignorance of delayed gratification is feeding into the drug problem.  Makes sense to me.

This is the second TBAA episode I watched this weekend that involved parents having to step away and let their child fall before they could truly help their child.  It takes a lot of love and faith to do that.  I think the show did a good job of depicting that struggle.  My heart breaks for the parents' during the intervention scene.  Tough love at its most difficult.

I thought it was nice that Monica followed through with doing the dishes as Lydia promised Jackson she would.  Just a lil thing but a nice touch.

I think it's beautiful that God inspires Monica to begin humming a hymn for Lydia's Sunday school days.  It is, for me, one of Monica's biggest shining moments.  The fact that she sings for Lydia even though she's self-conscious about it is wonderful.  And then it leads into one of the most visually and musically stunning of TBAA moments for me.  This and the ending of "Fear Not!" are probly tied in my mind for that spot.  When the choir begins to appear and their singing builds... gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.  And then it goes to the mountain top scene as that soloist with the amazing voice starts...  Goosebumps.  I sobbed first time I saw and heard this.  Just beautiful.  And then it ends with that shot of the light streaming from the apartment windows as night becomes dawn.  Truly beautiful.

Andrew and Monica caring for Lydia is such a tender, heart-breaking, and inspirational moment.  At points it brings to mind the Pieta even.  Holiness amid such squalor and pain.

What I didn't love about this episode:
I, obviously, have no idea what it's like to have a drug-addicted child.  I have no idea about having a child, period.  Nonetheless, the parents' reactions upon first seeing Lydia in their house has seemed off to me for a while.  They're pretty cheery and low-key.  Maybe they were acting that way to not scare Lydia off but it just seemed too... calm.  I can't imagine remaining that calm if my kid showed up filthy, underweight, and crazy-eyed.

This is one of my favorite episodes so... that's all I have for this section.

Lingering questions:
Could the kids at the drug house hear Monica talking to Andrew who, I assume, they could not see?  Then again, they may be used to people talking to themselves so didn't even pay attention.  Sad...

You can hear Andrew's chair creak at the drug house.  Would others in the room hear that?  Spooky...  It makes me wonder what exactly his presence is then...  If it makes the chair creak it must be somewhat physical yet he didn't seem visible...

I'm confused by some of the drug stuff.  First, the doctor says Lydia was using cocaine and meth.  But only coke and not meth is in the baby's system according to him.  Then he goes onto say that eventually the baby will be crying for crack.  Where'd crack enter the picture?  I thought that was different from coke?  It just all seems a lil scrambled dialogue-wise but maybe not? 

I'd really like to know the thinking the writers had behind the soul and spirit dichotomy here.  They say that Lydia's soul is her own but her spirit is still God's.  I sometimes use the two interchangeably so just for curiosity's sake I'd like to know how they'd differentiate the two words.

In the scene with the choir, why are Monica and Andrew solid looking but the others are transparent?  Does that mean Lydia could only see those two?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
My heart goes out to Andrew when he tells Monica that he spends a lot of time at the drug house.  It's certainly not where I'd want for him to be spending time.  I'm happy for the kids that he's there.  Whether they see him or not, his prayerful presence would be a comfort.  But I feel sorry for him. 

The expression on Andrew's face when he comes to tip Monica off about the missing baby...  When he says that if they don't find her soon themselves that he "will know soon"...  He looks pretty devastated and then the way he lowers his head...  It just gives me this very sad image of Andrew having to go pick up an infant and not in the cute, cuddly way.  Which just really messes with my mind because normally Andrew holding a baby... straight to swoon mood.  But that's just... distressing.

Andrew helping Monica care for Lydia...  I'd want him around when I'm sick.  He's just so gentle and lovely and the way he keeps a hand on her... he's not grossed out or too holy to get involved.  I love him...

His little wave and smile at the very end.  So cute.

Random thoughts:
This episode has become more meaningful to me in later years after I spent some time around the "children of meth."  At the time this was filmed I think it was relatively new.  Only now are we beginning to see some of the effects that drug has on children born to using mothers.  It's terribly, terribly sad.  Unfortunately, my experiences have dampened the uplifting ending here.  I believe Lydia probly was rehabilitated but her daughter may face lifelong struggles because of her drug use.  I can't help but wish the angels had shown up sooner.

At some point Monica describes herself as having "the spirit of an angel and the eyes of a human."  That just makes me understand her neglect of Andrew even less...  Cause if I can see when he needs some support with my human eyes and spirit, shouldn't someone with human eyes and angelic spirit see it all the more???

I feel for Jackson and the patrons at his bar.  It's so demoralizing to see someone brought low and remember all the promise they had. 

A few weeks ago someone emailed me and told me they thought they found a CD with the song from this on it.  I asked them to please email me back when it arrived if it was, indeed, the song.  I never heard from them...  I continue to hope that one day we'll find it.

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