"Shallow Water II"

A review by Jenni:

Here's hoping Andrew's in this half more...  Although I liked part one well enough.  Just woulda liked it better if, well, ya know... the Lovely One adds so much.  A girl's got her priorities and all.

What I love about this episode:

"When God heals something, He doesn't just patch it up.  He makes it stronger than it was before."  Excellent quote from Tess when she and Monica are discussing the Winslow families at the beginning.

Cynthia's such a good sport.  You can tell she's creeped out by "Danny" but she handles it with class. 

"I've seen all sorts of things happen for no good reason whatsoever but I've also seen God take things like that and use them to create opportunities that you could never imagine."  From Monica to Rebecca.  I *love* that.  It's very much in line with what I believe.  I don't believe God wills all that happens.  I can't see how He would want rapes and genocides and homicides, etc.  But I do believe He can bring goodness and love out of hate and chaos.

"With God all things are possible."  From Monica to Lila.  An oldie but a goodie.

I have a lotta respect for Lila.  The way she holds it together when she visits Diana is amazing.

I love that they have Jed commenting that he hasn't stopped believing in God but "He just seems awful far away right now."  I know some people lose their faith after tragedy and those stories need to be told.  But my experiences have always run more along the lines of what Jed feels so I like seeing that expressed.  And I do, with the best part of myself, agree with Lila that God's not the one who moves.

"I guess I decided I'd rather lose my mind than lose him."  Beautifully written line spoken by Diana.  That is most definitely a temptation when we're grieving.

Diana talking to Monica in the graveyard is really getting to me.  The things she told herself... Josh is sleeping, Danny's in the other room... they echo so much of what I've told myself.  He's on a fishing trip.  She's on vacation.  It's a really common name... it isn't that John.  But then you wake up and face the truth. 

"I don't know what God's plan is for you, Diana.  But I know that if you keep going, you will find out."  Another Monica quote. 

I like it when Diana stands up to Rebecca about her faith.  I don't think therapists should be bringing their religious beliefs or lack thereof into the counseling sessions unless they bill themselves as therapists of that particular focus.

I like Tess' and Cynthia's interaction out in the hospital hall.  Woulda liked to have seen more of that!

That's very profound when Lila tells Carter that he's blaming Jed cause he's afraid to blame God and get labeled a hypocrite.  Been there...

"It's no shame to struggle with your faith."  Another Monica quote, another sign of this being one of the more sensitively written episodes, IMO.  "Don't try to be the perfect example, try to be the honest example of someone who held onto his faith in spite of his doubts."  I like that part, too.  I want to try to be that.

I like that we see Josh's spirit. 

"God didn't bring you this far to see you fail now."  Monica again.  I love these quotes.  Just wish they'd been divvied out a bit.

I'm glad that Rebecca's still finding her way at the end but on the path towards faith.  Had she all of a sudden been talking about God and angels, I'm not sure I woulda found it believable.

What I didn't love about this episode:

I wish Cynthia coulda recognized J.D.'s gift earlier.  I've heard some good sermons but I've heard a lot more music that moved me spiritually.

I appreciate TBAA tackling an issue so difficult as deciding what to do when a person is brain dead.  But a part of me wishes they'd resolved it without Monica doing a revelation cause most people who face that don't have an angel verbally guiding their decision and translating for the person.  Plus, I personally like believing that when people are brain dead, they're already in Heaven.  The idea that Josh just loomed around for years makes me sad.

This is the last time we'll ever have just our trio in an episode sans Gloria and they couldn't find one line for Andrew?!?

Lingering questions:
Is it freaky for actors to play dead or, as with Jon Schneider here, comatose?  That would weird me out.  Although it'd probly be harder to see someone I knew and loved act that.

So why... other than the fact that John looks exceptionally gorgeous with the sky behind him... was Andrew standing up on the cliff as the bus sank?  You would think he would be on the bus with the people who were dying.  Unless maybe those that were going to die, died on impact and so when we see him on the cliff that's after he's already taken them Home.

I obviously disagree with Rebecca's assertion that God is a crutch.  However... this has been on my mind lately: how do you know when maybe your faith is a crutch?  How do you know when you've crossed the line between having a strong belief in Heaven and squandering this life by spending so much time pondering and imagining and daydreaming about the next?

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Diana is right.  Andrew most assuredly is a "nice lookin' fellow." 

As mentioned above, he looks gorgeous... albeit terribly and understandably sad... up on that cliff.

He also looks super lovely with trees behind him.  Have always thought that.  And it's good to see him smile.

Still kinda hard and beautiful all at once to see Andrew walk into that light.

Gah.  The boy makes me wanna jump into that caddy.

Aww.  He climbed into the back seat.  I always loved it when he did that. 

Have just realized we do not hear John's amazing voice once in this...  I feel deprived. 

Random thoughts:

Music: Nell Carter sings "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" as Keb' Mo' and Delta Burke play along on the guitar and piano.  They go onto sing something as the second segment opens that I don't recognize.  It has the lyrics "steal your heart away" at the end.  When we first see Jed, he's singing "Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle."  Keb' Mo' joins him after a bit.  (ETA: Hallmark cuts this but Monica actually hears Jed before she sees him.  During that segment, he's singing "See Myself in You.")  He then sings "God Trying to Get Your Attention."  When Lila arrives at the psych facility, Diana is trying to sing "Shallow Water" which reprises a couple more times in that scene.  Randy Travis sings "Baptism" over the final scenes.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-They cut a scene that begins with a shot of Monica, Cynthia, and J.D. in the caddy driving through Memphis.  Monica parks and is looking around a busy sidewalk.  Cynthia is irritated.  Nashville was enough of a stretch for her...  She says if they cross state lines, it's a federal case.  Monica reminds her that she didn't kidnap her, she came of her own free will.  Monica keeps peering down the street, she's hearing Jed singing.  J.D. comments that he'd rather be in Memphis with Monica than back home prepping a sermon.  Cynthia swats at him.  J.D. reiterates that he's just not a preacher.  Monica shushes them and asks if they hear the singing.  She tells J.D. to get his guitar then rushes down the sidewalk.  The siblings follow, J.D. saying that Monica is following the spirit.  Cynthia comments that she hopes so cause she's killing him when they get home.  At least two different cuts of them walking down different sidewalks follow.  Finally, they spot Jed and stop a few feet away.  Monica points him out, Cynthia is aghast that he's a "bum."  Then it went to commercial and when it resumed, Jed was singing "Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle" which is where THC picks up.

-And clearly I'm just making stuff up now cause I coulda swore there was a scene of Andrew on the bus, standing, as the ride starts to get really rocky.  Alas, there is no such scene.

Further on down the road...
I have to admit, it was hard for me to even get excited about watching this episode knowing Andrew doesn't get a single line.  And I know some people may think that's bad given Andrew was not the point of the show.  Believe me, I know that and I don't think he should have been.  But he was the part of the show that was filling a place in my life that was empty and/or confused.  For TBAA's entire run, I was in Catholic school and part of a quite spiritual Christian family.  It was always, always nice to hear "God loves you" on the show but I wasn't searching for that.  And, to be honest, while I fully support TBAA keeping the scripts non-religiously specific and am very glad they did that, I am Christian.  So I respond more fully to specifically Christian spirituality.  I love learning about different faiths and their spiritual practices and beliefs.  But I know what mine are.  To really, fully engage me spiritually... Jesus has to figure in.  So if I'd only been looking for "God loves you," I probably wouldn't have even stuck with the show.  I would have respected it, certainly, and been glad it was out there.  But I likely woulda spent less time watching it and more time reading C.S. Lewis or similar.  Sometimes TBAA would blindside me by filling a spiritual need I didn't even know I had and that was great.  But the only element that constantly kept me coming back because I wasn't finding that element anywhere else... well, that was John Dye's performance as Andrew.  So, yeah, no matter how engaging some episodes are (and this one really is well written IMO), if he's not much involved then I do kinda zone out.

At least the music is really good.  I wish Monica and Tess weren't talking through "Will the Circle?" though...

Am I the only one who thinks this shrink is woefully unprofessional?  Like I said above, I always thought, unless they billed themselves as such, they were supposed to keep their religious beliefs or lack thereof outta their practice?  Why alienate clients like that?

So apparently it's a bit hokey that Monica, J.D. and Cynthia are able to move around so much seemingly on the same day.  Nashville to Memphis and back again.  I just looked it up and I guess it wouldn't be impossible.  Not much time to dawdle, though!  And woulda had to have been during a spring or summer longer daylight time, I think.

Ya know, maybe why I feel lukewarm about this episode is it doesn't even really seem like it had to be a TBAA episode.  It
seems like it could have been a good Hallmark Hall of Fame movie but the angels seem so incidental.  This is pretty obvious when Diana admits that she believed Monica was an angel, no longer does, but is nonetheless moved and healed by her involvement.  The episode would have still worked without angels.  The best, most real exchanges are between the humans IMO.  Hence, while I by no means think this is a bad episode, it's one I'm not much interested in.  Cause if I'm gonna watch TBAA... I wanna see quality angel time.  Otherwise I would just watch HHOF movies instead.  When Joshua speaks is the first time it really seems like TBAA to me.

Going back to my first paragraph in this section, simply the use of Joshua as a name highlights the lack of the Jesus element for me.  I hear them say it and am like "Joshua!?  Where!?" and then a split second later remember they're not talking about Jesus.  Which, again, I'm totally fine with.  But it is why I could never get really into TBAA just for the God talk.  I think it's great.  But it leaves me wanting something it's not going to provide.  That wasn't an issue with Andrew.  I needed a concrete way to think about what happens at death.  That was provided.  Actually, maybe this is a lot my issue with the way people sometimes talk about religiously themed movies, shows, and books.  I think, too often, people draw a false parallel between how someone views such a product and their faith.  I do feel like I was sometimes judged for being more drawn to the portrayal of Andrew in TBAA than its portrayal of God.  That does NOT mean I feel more strongly about AODs than God.  It just means that for all I love about TBAA, it's portrayal of God while very nice wasn't at the level I need and was sometimes downright off to me.  (Still cannot fathom that the real God would allow Gloria's creation and early days to unfold like they did on the show, for example.)  It's not about their presentation or mine being better or worse or superior or inferior.  It's just personal preference.

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