A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:

While I kinda like "Legacy," this is the first episode of Season 7 that I can honestly say I find very, very worthwhile.  If someone were to ask me to try to convert them to liking this show, "Barroom" would be far down on my list simply because it screws up the time line so much.  "The Invitation" wouldn't even make it onto the list.  And "Legacy" I just find to be kinda desperate to be liked.  But this... this is downright impressive.  I do wish I'd watched it late at night.  Just seems like a "late at night" episode.  Oh well.  Anyhow, onto specifics...

"Failure has a longer memory than success."  I like that quote of Monica's at the beginning not because it's inspiring but because it's so real.  It's so easy to think back on our lives and what we've done and second guess ourselves and curse ourselves for stupid mistakes.  But how often do we do the opposite and think "Ya know, it was really cool that I did..."  Not as often.  At least not for me.  And that's sad.  And it's kinda touching that an angel would have the same problem.

I just really like the phrase "vampire film student from hell."  The way the characters talk in this episode is so awesome.  They seem so real and say the things that you would think such people would say.

I love that Tess taunts Chandler with lemon bars in order to get him to give Stevie her interview.  She and Andrew are just pitch perfect in this episode.  Not too snappish and not too sweet.  They are the angels a person like Chandler needs.  I'm not even as bitter as he is and, believe me, sometimes sarcasm and such gets through to me a lot better than sweet talk.

I got a chuckle outta Ruby's annoyance over the movie's scenes not being shot in order.  I was actually kinda crushed when I learned that films are often filmed outta sequence.  But it really does give you a whole new appreciation of actors to realize they aren't always taking an emotional, sequential journey as their characters.  They may have to be goofy one minute and grief-stricken the next.  Pretty amazing.

Monica really is gorgeous in the flashbacks to the 20s.  Not that she wasn't in the modern scenes but I think I kinda like 20s fashion and hairstyles.  At least the ones she showed off.  Not so much the flapper thing.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Chandler and Stevie.  Stevie basically epitomized fannishness.  Quoting someone's work back at them to get your way!  Awesome!  I always wanted TBAA to have professional fans who could quote and describe episodes back to the writers to put the kibosh on time line disagreements and a few clunkers with lines.  Since we couldn't do that, watching Stevie do something similar on the show is the second best thing.

I couldn't help but think that the writer of this episode sometimes spoke through Chandler.  When Chandler tells Monica that he wants the audience to feel better about the world when they leave his films, that so sounded like what TBAA was about.  Truthfully, I think this episode was the perfect bandage on the sore spot that is "The Invitation."  That episode angered and frustrated me.  It made me feel like my cultural and religious heritage was mined for shock value in a shoddy product.  But this...  this is what TBAA should be about.  Using art to deliver hope and love.  It is everything that "The Invitation" is not.

"Dreams are fragile and visions can dim if you don't hold them in a safe place in your heart."  Lovely quote from Monica to Chandler.

I got a kick outta the shot of the actor who played Satan just smoking and chatting with a crew member.  I've always thought it would be so amusing to visit the set of a supernatural or sci-fi film and see, say, an alien calling his wife to ask if he needs to pick up the kids or an ax murderer chowing down on a granola bar whilst hitting on a lighting tech.  It's just fun to think about how surreal a film set would be. 

Speaking of the guy who plays Satan, I like that he's the first one to run to Ruby's aid.  Just goes to show you can't judge actors by their characters.  I bet there's a very sweet man who played Satan out there and a really ornery actor who played Jesus.

I like that Chandler sees Andrew after Ruby dies.  Just something about that, and them later reuniting, seems really poignant.  Maybe just the whole two young men morphing into a "young" man and a very old man, still united by the grief of the latter.

"God knows you feel pain."  It's such a simple line from Andrew to Chandler and one I almost missed.  But it's really quite powerful.  God doesn't miss a thing about us.  He knows.

I just want to take a moment to say that I find the "Redemption/Damnation" footage so impressive.  I'm by no means a silent film scholar so maybe it actually looks crappy and unrealistic.  But to me it looks great and I think it's awesome that they learned different filming and acting techniques for this episode.

I like how they incorporated actual footage of 1920s stars into the part about the film's premiere.  Really gave ya a sense of the time.

Now back to Stevie as stand-in!  Again, I feel like this episode is the perfect follow-up to "The Invitation."  Stevie vents her frustration and anger at the creator of her most profound and longest lasting cultural product.  That's what I spent last week doing but without the pay-off of getting someone from TBAA to respond to my criticism.  Whereas Stevie is irate that Chandler's motives weren't as dark as she thought they would be, "The Invitation" irritated me for not being as God-centric and love-filled as I expect from TBAA.  So we were both raging against those creators we admired seeming to step back from the world they created for us and that we came to accept.  It was just kinda cathartic to see Stevie do it.

I like that Monica tells Chandler that God created humor.  Look at some animals... He definitely has a sense of hum

Among other things, this episode is about the power of art.  If you put an image, a story, a poem out there... people will be impacted.  It's a big responsibility.  And I hate to keep harping on "TI" but it was kinda nice to, in this episode, have a TBAA writer acknowledge that they have a responsibility to turn out a good, inspiring product.  That it doesn't always happen, in my mind, is unfortunate but I like believing that the intent was always there.

I love Monica's exchange with Chandler during which she tells him that God wants to send *him* to Stevie and that he needs to finish work that God began.  Think about that.  It's an amazing responsibility that, in some form, we all have.  It's both humbling and makes one proud.

My inner romantic was awwing over Ruby wearing her wedding ring around her neck and Chandler carrying a wedding pocket watch.  A well-placed pocket watch will get me every time...

I always appreciated it when the angels explained that God doesn't will bad things.  They happen because the world is imperfect.  But in this episode, that idea was rendered even more poignant by having it voiced by long-suffering Chandler.  When he goes onto say that we simply find it easier to curse God than change the world... it's sadly true.

Seeing Monica with wings and flying was amusing on a meta level since we know that's how the original TBAA had her.  It looks good in the 1920s era film but I'm glad they ditched that look!

Here are a couple quotes that Monica "says" during "Redemption" that I liked: "You may have let Him down, but He will NEVER let you down!" and "Press on!  Keep your eyes on the mountaintop and you will find your father there!"  I know she meant May's father but if you change that into Father, it applies to us all.

Again, I really loved the friendship between Stevie and Chandler.  And when he grips her hand and wipes at her tears at the end... I'll admit that I teared up.

Come to think of it, that's another good corrective of "The Invitation."  Here we see an older person who takes a younger one who has been abused under his wing and it's a good, healing thing for both.  Unlike the Annie/Damien bit of bitterness the previous week in which Annie's care for him was completely in vain.

I liked that the beatitudes got highlighted.  After the lion debacle, it was nice to see a Christian staple used appropriately.

"It's time to start forever."  Again, Andrew has another very simple quote but even out of context it's beautiful.  But in context... breathtaking.  I'd completely forgotten how it echoed the "Forever, Ruby" on Chandler's pocket watch.  Beautiful, beautiful.

Chandler's watch falling was an evocative image.

I love that they let Stevie hear Andrew's name as Chandler died.  It was perfect because it still requires faith on her part.  But it also gave her something a lil concrete to hold onto.

When Stevie wipes her make-up off following Chandler's death, it reminds me of Godspell when they wipe their make-up off
right before Jesus dies.  It makes me think of how we all end up facing the world as our true selves, hopefully tucking away the love of those who cared for us to see us through.

Finally, it made me cry.  That's usually a good sign.  And it's also a good sign that I'm considering watching the CBS version the same day and not thinking "Augh... and now I have to watch the CBS version at some point..." like last week.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Despite having seen this years ago, for a moment my heart sped cause I thought Stevie stole Andrew's pocket watch!  Scary!!!  Not fun.  But it served the episode well so I'm not complaining by any means.

One thing that I found a little strange is Stevie still pondering why Chandler's film changed even after he's told her of Ruby's death.  Yes, I realize that she was still under the impression that Chandler and Ruby despised each other.  But I feel like she should have had a line where she said something like "Wow, the chick died on your film.  Was that why it became so dark?  I mean that was a lot on your shoulders, as the director, even if you hated her."  I find it unrealistic that she wouldn't even for a moment consider that the death and the film's change were related.  She's an intelligent girl.

Poor Andrew gets told to "shut up" two episodes in a row!

I think the only other thing that bugs me is this: I get that Chandler wanted revenge.  I get that he was grieving intensely.  But would a man really essentially turn his own film into a snuff film showing the death of his wife?  I'm just not sure I buy that.  It seems so disrespectful of Ruby but then broken-hearted people can do some dire things.

Lingering questions:
Did anyone ever really get tied to a train track back in the day?  Where did that start?  It's like the go-to plot line for silent films, at least as we depict them today and I'd like to know... why?

How ticked would you be if you were the guy who played Satan and Chandler used your desperate cries for help as evilness in his film?!  I'd have freaked out.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
This episode offers one rather goofy line that highlights the weird dichotomy I have with Andrew.  On one hand, it's downright shocking to me that someone would use a crude phrase like "poop or get off the pot" to Andrew!  He's Andrew!  He shouldn't hear crude things!  It makes me want to shelter him and say lovely things to him.  On the other hand, I know that Andrew has seen and heard things so terrible that they'd probably send me into therapy for the rest of my life if I knew them.  And that makes him seem so strong and unshakable that the idea of sheltering him is laughable.  Yet at various points I feel one or the other and sometimes both at once.  Anyhow, just a lil observation that came outta that line Chandler delivered.

I love sarcastic Andrew!  When he claps at Chandler's fake heart attack... priceless!  He really is just the perfect blend of comedy and drama, tenderness and brattiness here.  I also love when he orders Chandler to behave with Stevie.  Andrew don't take no sass.

The Andrew of 1920s is devastatingly handsome.  And the image of him glowing in the midst of all those other men is compelling.

Present Andrew is also very handsome.  I love his more casual look but he was really wearing that suit and all his expressions in this episode...  From annoyed to exasperated to saddened to grave to touched... awesome work.

I just love that the last word of this episode is a teary, amazed "Andrew?" from Stevie.  Something about that seems to sum up all of what the character was and is to me.  Like he opened a door to wondering that maybe, out there, angels of death like him existed and that we are never alone.

Random thoughts:

Music: Upon first viewing, all I picked up on was the piano music during "Redemption/Damnation" but I'll listen more closely next time.  In a cut scene, a man is playing along to a different silent film as Stevie sleeps in a theater.  And there's another example of that as Tess wheels Chandler into the theater where Stevie is watching another film.

I think someone with TBAA loved Mexico.  And found it romantic.  Ruby and Chandler had a romantic wedding there.  Then "An Angel on the Roof" gave us another sweet, tragic romance that played out in Mexico. 

Ruby being pregnant when she died just really broke my heart.  Those sorts of stories always make my stomach hurt.

During "Redemption" there's a slide after Satan appears that ends with "Could he be?..." and it immediately prompted visions of Dana Carvey as the Church Lady shouting "Satan!" 

We should bring back live piano/organ music at films!  Seriously, as derivative as so many movies have become, it's kinda surprising no one has tried to do a movie that way.  It wouldn't be that hard to pull off.  I'm sure most movie theaters could find a piano to borrow for a special screening of some arty film.  I just think it'd be a neat experience.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-Poor Tess bears the brunt of cut scenes lately.  After the segment in which Chandler tells of Ruby's death, the next segment opens with Stevie sleeping in a theater.  She wakes up to find Tess in a seat near hers and asks why she's there.  Tess explains that she was looking for Stevie and the theater seemed like some place she'd sleep.  She then rather sarcastically tells Stevie that it's a good thing she slept through the previous film because it was inspiring and might have upset her.  Stevie counters by saying that she loves all silent movies because without the "chirpy" ones you can't fully appreciate the genius of Chandler's films.  (Which made me think maybe "The Invitation" should just make me appreciate these
other episodes more.)  Tess comments that Chandler is really Stevie's hero.  Stevie verifies this but says he *was* her hero and that she's giving up because it's too late.  Tess disagrees saying that Stevie's "little movie" is due today thus meaning she has all day to work on it and maybe this day is the important one.  She tells Stevie to have a little faith.  Stevie says people like her don't have faith so Tess tells her that she'll lend her some of hers.  (Yay, something stating that angels *do* have faith.)  Then it goes to Stevie returning Chandler's watch which is where THC starts.

-Well... this is stupid.  THC ends that segment with Stevie leaving and saying she has no where else to go.  But the actual version goes on.  Before exiting, Stevie turns back around and tells Chandler to ask Andrew to leave him there in his hell hole and take her instead because she's ready to go.  She storms off and then they close-up on Chandler who says "So am I."  Honestly, it's probly not even a minute and really showed you how pained these characters are.  It's a bad, bad cut.

Further on down the road...
Yay!  I've made it to an episode I truly, truly love!  And the grocery store below my workplace brought back their lemon cake after a year plus absence.  Double yay!  Good night for me.  :-)

I love how Andrew's just bemused with Chandler's grumpy old man-ness.

With all due respect for Stevie, ya can't really tell a person what is and isn't depressing.  I felt depressed after watching the film version of Mamma Mia!  Most people found it joyful.  So who can say?

Whoa...  I just noticed something.  At the five point mark, when they show the Silents Are Golden marquee, one of the movies listed is "Salvation's Child."  Isn't that the movie from "Charades"?  If yes, very cool easter egg, TBAA writers!

I love sarcastic clapping Andrew followed by sarcastic Tess.

My lemon cake seems even more appropriate now.  I forgot about the lemon bar angle.

How annoying would it be to have one of your fans use your own work against you?  I have a bad feeling I would be that fan with some folks/shows/books...

I'm kinda surprised a pregnant woman would want to do a stunt scene... even a simple one.  But maybe it happens more often than I realize.

I think it's maybe completely lost on Chandler and I can understand why this wouldn't be his primary thought as he recalls Ruby's death but... there is something amazing and humbling and uplifting in thinking that this very, very old angel remembers *you.*  With all that Andrew's seen, all the people Andrew's met, all the journeys Home... he remembers seeing Chandler on the day Ruby died.  Pretty powerful.

I'm glad Tess offered to lend Stevie some of her faith.  Further proof that at least some of the TBAA writers didn't hold to that nonsensical "angels have no faith" rule. 

I seriously still wanna know what the heck was up with the tying someone to a railroad track trope.  Ah ha.  Here's a blog about it.  No idea how credible it is and there are a few typos but here ya go.

I think this is one of those episodes that from here on out will leave me misty eyed even though it had never been one I cried over before.

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