"There But For the Grace of God"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
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 homeless, apparently.

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.

 When 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 episode:
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 guess.

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 resolved within the show.  Yay!

Lingering questions:
Anyone 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 swoony:
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.

Random thoughts:
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.

Back to the Episode Guide

(The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)