"There But For the Grace of God"
A review by Jenni:
What I love about this
The nightmare image of younger Pete dissing the later, homeless
version of himself is really powerful. It goes right along with
Tess telling Monica that the only way to share Pete's pain is to share
it. Even Pete didn't empathize with the homeless much til he was
The recurring imagery of Pete's bloodied feet is also pretty
powerful. That's an aspect of homelessness I just wouldn't have
ever thought of. You think about the hunger, the cold, and things
like that but not that. If I remember correctly, on the
commentary Martha Williamson mentions how that was specifically
mentioned during research for this show.
Pete with his one set of dishes gets me every time. In the midst
of all the poverty, him sitting down with the dishes he and his wife
used... Very moving. And then that harpy has them and
everything in the van destroyed...
While I think this is very much Pete's story, Zack really sticks out
for me. I think because Desert Storm seemed like such a big part
of my childhood. I can remember wearing the yellow ribbons and
things like that. I also think the character highlights issues
that continue to present themselves to us today. The care (or
lack of it) shown to our veterans has been big news of late. We
hear a lot about veterans returning home with catastrophic injuries and
how that needs to be dealt with. I also think we need to devote
some resources to helping veterans settle back into normal life
post-war. How does one possibly process fighting one day and
eating a Big Mac at home the next as Zack brings up? Kudos to
TBAA for broaching a problem still very much with us.
Monica says "I know that feeling" after Zack talks about not
feeling like himself and the upheaval he's experienced, it fits well
with thoughts I've been having of late. I think there's probly
some parallels between war veterans and angels. Like Zack with
the Big Mac example, imagine one day being at the scene of the genocide
and the next you're a librarian in a small town. Thank God the
angels seem to go Home in between assignments often cause that'd
definitely do a number on a person.
Pete's horror and grief as the cop takes his wife's urn is well-acted
but so hard to watch.
Oooh!!! Good example of when angels can lie in this! Tess
totally lets on like Sophie, Monica, Zack, and Pete are a family from
some mythical neighborhood she was also part of. Angel Rules or
no, I knew that "angels don't lie" thing wasn't absolute.
There's so much I love about the scene between Monica and Tess after
the former leaves the shelter. First, my heart goes out to Monica
for much of this episode cause, God knows, I would not fare well in her
situation. However, I'm a lil put off when she asks God "Why are
you punishing me?" I wanna shoot back with "Please tell me you
don't believe all homeless people are being divinely
punished!?!?" That's why I'm very glad Tess outright tells Monica
it is NOT a punishment, but a lesson on pride. Tess counseling
Monica during this part, in shadow form, is pretty cool for a
change. I love the stress they put on the importance of homeless
people (and all people, I think) knowing they matter. Tess puts
it so well in informing Monica that Pete is a man, not a case.
The scene of Monica washing Pete's feet is, of course, amazing.
That's one of those scenes that I think stick with ya for a very long
time. I'm so glad that Monica tells him that she doesn't know why
he's homeless but that she knows it's not because of what he's
done. It makes up for some of her earlier comments. Plus,
this episode does such a good job of showing how someone might become
homeless through no fault of their own (abuse, bank failure, war) that
it would be unfortunate to not show Monica as cluing in.
I like that Zack gives up his marine ring to get the ashes back for
Pete... and a quarter. The addition of the quarter as part of the
deal is about the only closure we get for that character.
I really like the slow version of the theme song. I wish that had
been recorded, too.
What I didn't love about this
So Monica raises her
voice to Tess
and gets scolded for it. Yay. Cause she was wrong.
But it also made me think about times Tess raised her voice when it
wasn't exactly deserved. So it comes off a lil hypocritical, I
As much as I like Monica's revelation scene with Pete, that light makes
her eye brows look kinda scary to me...
All around it's a great episode and any other complaints I have were
within the show. Yay!
else think it sounds like Tess has a cold during the first few
moments while she and Monica are watching Pete?
How did Gus stay married?!?! If I was married to someone who
wouldn't let me give food to a homeless person if I wanted,
adios! And then had their van towed without warning behind my
back after I'd befriended them? Not cool. I guess I can
sympathize with thinking there may be a security issue but there are
better ways to handle this.
I'm glad we got some closure for Sophie in the finale (even if the idea
of watching that episode is repugnant to me). But what happened
to Pete and Zack? I would love to know especially how Zack
faired. We get a glimpse of Pete at peace, at least. I'd
like to know if Zack did reunite with his brother.
Is the concept of an urn really that foreign to people? The cop
seems completely mystified upon seeing Pete's wife's urn. Later
Monica describes it to that shady dealer guy as a "tube-like
container." It's an urn. What's so difficult about that?
Why does the lady at the shelter, who at first disbelieves that Sophie
and Co. are family, seem so familiar to me?
Parts that made me feel
Malcolm-Jamal Warner is a good looking and at least somewhat age
appropriate actor. However, I just don't feel swoony much in this
episode cause of the seriousness of it.
I do ponder Andrew a lil bit, though, when I watch this. When
Monica talks about just wanting to know she matters, I can't help but
think of how seldom she demonstrates that to Andrew.
Monica's pride coming up also makes me think about Andrew. I'm
glad the writers at TBAA stressed that she has some issues with it,
too. Cause she totally does so I wouldn't just want Andrew
hearing about his.
Here's me being nitpicky but... At the start Monica is just
leaving an assignment involving a couple. Which means there are
assignments we didn't see. So "Psalm 151's" 100th assignment
party... probly a lil off with the number. I said it was nitpicky!
The mountain scene at the end reminds me of "Redeeming Love." Or
I guess "Redeeming Love" reminds me of this scene since it came first.
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