"The Spirit of Liberty Moon"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
I just really love this episode as a whole.  I can remember getting goosebumps the first time I watched it.  It's amazing.  As for specifics...

It still seems topical.  We do still hear troubling stories about censorship and civil rights in China.  And the exportation of labor was a rather big topic during this recent election.  As I watched, it was easy to forget this episode is over ten years old.

I feel so badly for Jean when she gets walloped with the past and is forced to speak about it at the restaurant.  Imagine just going out for lunch and then having to tell mere acquaintances about your tragic history.  Ouch. 

Incidentally, I did love and get a much needed laugh out of Tess swooping in to distract Alex so Jean could speak freely.  Yay, Tess!

I appreciate the history lesson here.  I was only 7 in 1989 so Tiananmen Square, for me, is pretty much just the photo of the student in front of the tank.  Prior to viewing this episode, I don't think I'd even seen any other footage.  So I think it was great that the TBAA people showed us that interspersed with the acted flashback scenes.  It made it so much more involving for me as a viewer.

This episode really makes me realize how I shouldn't take for granted the rights and representation I have as a woman.  I mean there are a lot of issues we need to face but I'm just so struck by Jean's line about being one of the few people who wanted a female child.  Or her amazement that the Statue of Liberty is a woman.  I never really thought about it.  I know, of course, that she is female but I never gave much thought to what that meant and what an awesome statement that is.  And how
empowering it is.

I'm both amused and impressed by Monica creating a distraction with her toy-filled suitcase as Jean is trying to get through the security check. 

I love that George conquers his fear (however temporarily) and orchestrates the reunion between Gus and Jean.  That good bye scene is one of the most emotional TBAA scenes for me.  If you don't count scenes dealing with the angels' emotions, it's gotta be in my top five moments.  It starts for me when Monica says "Don't waste a minute asking why or how."  The emotion and compassion in her voice and in her eyes reminds me of why Monica was my role model once upon a time.  But this scene is mostly about Gus and Jean for me.

"We have always been together.  We have always been one."  Gus saying that is, for me, the most romantic moment in all of TBAA.  Until...  "I died for China... but I lived for you.  Forever."  The scene is so tragic and so beautiful and so Shakespearean.  I just stare in awe every time I see it.

I cannot imagine the strength it took for Jean to walk away from Gus.  That was true bravery because I think, if it were me, I would consider it easier to die then than continue to strive for the dream she and Gus shared. 

That's some really tragic irony when Jean sees Liberty Moon and her kite right before she's arrested.  That, too, is pretty Shakespearean.  That scene is really well played.  When Monica and Edward try to push through the crowd as Jean's being led away, it reminds me of "Jesus Christ Superstar."  Just staging-wise.  It definitely highlights the theme of self-sacrifice so vital to this episode.

I like Edward's explanation of how he feels for Jean.  He says it's "deeper than being in love" because when he saw her reunited with her husband he felt "sincere happiness."  Wow.  There are some really amazing guys in this episode. 

Monica is really amazing in this episode as far as her interaction with Jean.  That she was willing to stay with her in prison, even if it meant a decade... that's true self sacrifice.  I'm deeply moved by all their scenes together from that point on. 

The music that starts right before Jean is attacked is really, really stirring.  When it's played over Jean making Monica promise to find Liberty Moon... wow.

I love this line from Monica to Jean: "On this side there is life and there with Him, there is life also."  It hearkens back to the very similar line Andrew spoke in "Random Acts."  Beyond the obvious comfort of the statement and it being something Jean very much needed to hear, I also find it touching that Monica echoes Andrew (even if she doesn't realize it) with him right at her side. 

Monica closing Jean's eyes is a sadly beautiful moment.

I like that at the end the trio of angels walk away together, touching.  Affection is nice.  Especially after so many emotional ups and downs.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Alex is a jerk.  But I really can't blame the guy for freaking out in the park.  I do think it was more than a little dishonest and wrong to not tell him the whole story.  After all, the guards ended up coming to *his* room.  Edward and Monica did put him in some danger without even filling him in and giving him the option to bow out.  It just didn't seem very respectful of his free will to me.  Even jerks deserve to have free will.

Monica asking Andrew if he stayed with the dying Gus.  Really?  She had to ask?  I think Andrew was a little offended by that and rightly so.  What did she think?  "No, Monica.  I really didn't care to watch so I went to the store and came back a couple hours later.  Then I took him Home.  He seemed confused.  Ho-hum."  Crikey.  It just seemed really insensitive right after Andrew used the phrase "hurts my spirit."  Also, in that scene you get the impression she'd been pushing Andrew to talk, too.  Sure.  When he's needed to talk at times, she's AWOL.  And when he doesn't want to, she pressed him.  Nice. 

In the scheme of things this is minor but... I'm bothered that Monica tells Edward that Jean fell down a flight of stairs.  Yes, it's literally true but I think he deserved to know more of what happened and that it's not like she just tripped herself up.

When Edward asks Monica if he'll ever see her again she says "I don't think so."  Ack!!!  Those moments are like fingers on a chalkboard to me.  It sounds terrible.  I mean he knows she's an angel.  Assumedly Edward will go to Heaven.  Monica comes from Heaven.  Heaven is for Eternity.  So...  They should see each other again!  What's wrong with "You will.  Some day."?  The sarcastic brat in me always wants to hear a human say back "Oh, geez.  Well, thanks for shooting down my childhood dreams of Heaven being a reunion with all those who have touched my life."

Lingering questions:
When Monica is telling Andrew and Tess about her intent to stay with Jean she says something like "it's been done before."  I'd
love to know those stories of angels who chose to stay with their assignments on Earth. 

I'm confused about why Monica seemed to feel pain when she was protecting Jean.  Would that be true of all times when angels protect people?  Or was that just because of Monica's choice to remain with Jean of her own accord?  It's disturbing to see.  Not in a "bad, shouldn't be there" way.  Just disturbing.  But also moving.

I'm confused.  Does Piao Yue actually mean "Liberty Moon" or "Statue of Liberty"?  Because Jean uses the former but Piao Yue says the latter to which Edward nods.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew looks adorable and carefree flying that kite.  I wish he was like that more often.  I especially wished for that Andrew at about the halfway point when he broke my heart.  But more on that later.

As much as I love his long hair and his shaggy S9 hair, I really like this haircut, too.  It's short but not too short.  He looks dignified and older but still the same ol' Andrew.  Which then made me think sappy things about Dyeland but I'm not going to get into that here as it's really not relevant. 

Andrew looked cute with that lil rattle toy thingy that fell outta Monica's suitcase.  He's barely in this so I'll take the moments where I can get em!  Especially when his shirt was not all the way buttoned and so he looked smashing. 

Andrew's so Merlin-like in this episode.  Ya know how in some Arthurian renditions Merlin just pops in every so often, briefly?  Andrew does that a lot in this episode.  Like with being at the desk to give them the New York paper.  And I am glad every time...  I know.  I have a problem.  But I'm not willing to work on it.  ;-)

All fun aside, here is where Andrew breaks my heart:
Monica: Why won't you tell me?
Andrew: Monica, I have watched so many political prisoners in China die of "natural causes."  There's nothing natural about it.  Gus died *terribly* and *painfully* and to describe it actually hurts my spirit.
Monica: You stayed with him?
Andrew: Of course I did!  And he died with hope.

First, I don't like thinking about Gus suffering because as stated above, the guy is my top romantic lead on TBAA.  Plus, it's not like you can fully tuck him away as a fictional character because you know that real people experienced this.  But then add Andrew in... and his hurt spirit...  It's not fair.  It's not fair that someone should suffer for working for good.  And it's not fair that Andrew has to put up with problems that don't even originate with his people.  This conversation makes me awed by the angels of death.  To see such a dark element of humanity and not despise us but, instead, remain compassionate and loving...
it's astounding.  So beyond obviously crushing on Andrew, I truly admire him.

 Also, his body language here...  The way his hands move anxiously and his gritted teeth when he says the words "terribly" and "painfully"...  The way he looks off to the side, into the distance, when he's finished speaking...  If I didn't believe so strongly in the importance of what he was doing... I'd want to run off with him to some nice place right there.  As it was, I did run off to the store which was probly a good thing as I was getting really, really angsty.

While I think it was appropriate that it was mostly Monica who spoke to Jean as she died, I'm really glad Andrew was there.  Both for Jean's sake and Monica's.

Random thoughts:
This episode makes me think of one of my former Religion teachers.  I can remember him talking about the Cultural Revolution and how the educated people among others were targeted.  And I remember him saying that would have been many of us.  It made it really personal.  Especially because I'm pretty sure I had seen this episode by then. 

When Jean talks about sneaking peaks at the Statue of Liberty book, it made me think about what images hold that kind of power for me.  Right now I'm not sure I have something like that.  I used to have a painting of Jesus that, when stressed, I'd look at and feel better.  I still have it but I don't use it like that any more.  Maybe I should.  I really need to rediscover this idea.

There's a part where Edward recalls a chapter about China from a textbook he had in school.  The title was "China: Land of Contradictions."  I've decided that if I wrote a chapter about Monica in a book, I'd call it "Monica: Angel of Contradictions."  Cause I just think she's so amazing here with Jean and in those scenes I admire her immensely.  Yet then she'll go and say something mindless to Andrew or ignore him and it's just... weird and confusing.

A Word from Travis:
This is my favorite episode of the entire series (sad, romantic, sacrifice).  Think this is a spectacular episode that was fitting as a season finale episode. I was first shown this episode in High school and this poignant episode has stayed with me ever since, despite not seeing it for several years now.

I have to say, as I remember what I’ve seen from season 4 in the previous years before now, I realize that as TBAA soldiered on, the stories became more daring and attention grabbing (abortion, prostitution, HIV, domestic abuse, hate crimes, the effects that drug has on children born to using mothers, etc.). I do agree about TBAA doing an excellent job of showcasing social issues. Look at the events that are taking place today, especially with the possibility of black individuals being targeted due to their race. I’m Black and I hate to think of someone having an issue with me due to the color of my skin. “Children of the Night” and “The Pact” are classic episodes that need to be shown in Middle/High Schools. I have to say, I wish when I was in college, there was a course that was about Touched by an Angel; watching/analyzing the episodes, etc. What a thought provoking class that would’ve would been! With God, all things are possible so I’ll pray that a class be formulated that is about the series.

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