A review by Jenni:
I don't love this episode.  But I really love some of the lines in it.  And there's a certain fondness attached to it given it was the first TBAA episode I saw after a winter storm hit.  I was at my grandparents'.  My immediate family lost power for over a week and so we were staying with various relatives.  But the prior Sunday pretty much the whole city was without power so I missed "The Pact"!  After that disappointment even "Venice" woulda looked great!

What I love about this episode:

If you ignore the $1.33 gas sign, this episode seems really current!  I mean we've got Larry and Leo whose homes have been foreclosed on, one due to medical bills.  We've got Dennis who lost his job.  And there's Lee who may lose his business because he's being pushed out by the big guys.  It's like all of the major financial issues we're facing now brought together in one episode!

Not being a Rafael fan, I am impressed by this episode's ability to get me to relate to him... a lil.  I, too, get people thinking I'm younger than I am.  Just last week a cashier told me she'd assumed I was 19.  I'm 26.  So I do feel for the guy bemoaning his lost, maturity-granting beard.  And the poor guy gets called "kid" and "boy."  That's not cool.  This still doesn't make up for the Sleazy comment, though.

As I said above, this plot may not be my favorite but I love some of the quotes.   Monica says at one point that "God gives us what we need, not what we want."  Beautiful and something we should all be reminded of on occasion. 

This quote from Tess moves me, too: "God hears every prayer, Rafael.  The spoken prayer, the silent prayer, and the prayers sent in lil, bitty bottles."  I love that TBAA often stressed that you don't need some grand words to speak to God.  God will hear you however, whenever, and wherever you call out to Him. 

The Romantic in me really loves these two quotes:
"He [God] suffers the pain of His children but even in pain there is growth." ~ Monica
"Life without feeling isn't really life." ~ Rafael

Cause I think emotions, even negative ones, are important.  They allow us to grow and they're just plain a part of being human.  And likely a part of being angels, too.  And, yeah, I believe in an emotional God.

I think it's really lovely that Scooter's story ends with his throwing a second bottle into the ocean, this one reading "Dear God, Thank you."  Lovely ending.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Why's Tess care so much about the guys' facial hair?  Right off this episode informs us that Tess made Rafael get rid of the beard because she doesn't "like angels with dirty faces."  I mean that's just a lil power-crazed to me.

If Tess is going to be so angry about Andrew not fixing her car right then why doesn't she just hire a mechanic???  Lay off him!

I'm all for the occasional bit of "angel magic" but I think this episode kinda ODs on it.  Rafael catching a bullet, Monica stopping that car from falling, the camera equipment malfunctioning so Rafael can do a revelation, and just the suddenness of the revelation scene.  Not really too my taste.  I wish they would have focused more on the Jeannette/Scooter plot line and let all the stuff with the townspeople go.  It's just a lil too fantastical for me.

Lingering questions:
So when Monica and Rafael go into the cafe, Monica tells Rafael that the waitress wasn't ready to hear about God's love.  Yet no more than 5 or so minutes later, Monica announces to them all that Rafael's an angel.  Really?  Five minutes before hearing about God's love was too soon but she thought they were ready to hear that her friend was an angel? 

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Tess pretty much irritates me in the first scene with the car.  Nonetheless, Andrew does look pretty cute arguing with her about what needs to be done with the caddy.

How adorable is it that Andrew opts to stay with Tess?  He wants some bonding time clearly.  Poor, lovely Andrew.  I hope he got some before Tess sent him off on that errand to fetch parts.  I feel a bit wretched when she tells Rafael and Monica that's where he is.  He wanted to spend time with her and she sent him away!!!  If she doesn't want him then I'll take him!!!

When Tess says "They [humans] mistake angels for superheroes," I can't help but think "Ah, yeah, sorta like you and Monica do with Andrew."  Cause Andrew seems to have developed what I call "Granite Superhero Syndrome."  He puts on this brave, unshakable front when he feels that others, especially Monica, would most benefit from a calm, consoling person.  And of the few times Andrew actually manages to escape the syndrome, it blows up in his face.  Like when Tess mouths off at him in "The Violin Lesson" or Monica ignores him in "The Journalist."  I just wanna hug him and tell him he doesn't need to be a superhero and that he'd be loved simply for being Andrew.  If only I could get into the TV... 

Andrew's so gentle in this episode.  I love the way he strokes Jeannette's cheek and puts his hand on Scooter's shoulder after Jeannette dies.  I desperately want someone like that with me when I die.  And I draw a lot of comfort from believing that someone like Andrew was with loved ones I've lost.  It's comforting to know God is there but somehow having a fellow child of God there is important to me, too. 

It gets to me when Andrew is talking about Jeannette's death and the peace she made with Scooter and he says to Tess "Wish you coulda been there."  Why would Andrew say that?  Andrew has mentioned several calm, love-filled passings that it might be inspiring to witness but he doesn't usually say that to Tess.  So why then?  I think it's because of the mother-son bond.  I think Andrew wants to have such a moment, albeit not involving impending death, with Tess.  One hopes he'll one day get that...

Tess threatened Andrew's hair!!!!  NOOOOO!!!  I love Andrew's hair!  We all love Andrew's hair!  We could totally take Tess if we had to...  Just saying...  ;-) 

Now for one of my more depressing realizations...  So at the end Rafael is complaining about Tess making him get rid of the beard.  Monica suggests he might be allowed a goatee.  Tess puts the immediate kibosh on that as Andrew laughs.  Got it?  Now think about Season 9, the later episodes.  What does Andrew have?  A goatee.  So despite hearing Tess' ban on goatees, Andrew grows one.  Is he staging a rebellion against Tess?  If so then is it because he thinks it's a way to get attention?  Undoubtedly.  And does Tess then give him more attention?  NO!!!  Andrew can't even get negative attention!  It makes me very, very sad for Andrew.  This is so not a comforting episode for those of us that get concerned for him. 

Random thoughts:
Rafael says in this episode that prior to getting into Caseworking he was with Crisis Management.  I believe that's the first reference to such a department.  So we can add that to the list of potential roles for angels!

I think this episode highlights why I have a difficult time with Rafael.  He's got a very different working style.  If you like him you might describe it as persistent.  If you don't... pushy might seem more appropriate.  The guy's definitely not subtle.  And since I prefer the "still, small voice" route, it's no surprise I don't veg well with Rafael.

I can still remember standing in my grandparents' kitchen after this was over and seeing the promo for "My Dinner with Andrew."  And worrying... very much.  Cause it was soooo misleading and made one think Andrew might fall to be with Kate.  And that just woulda been devastating to me. 

I find it comical that Tess threatens to have Andrew's hair chopped.  If memory serves, Della Reese was actually a lil disappointed when John Dye chopped his hair.

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