"Til Death Do Us Part"

A review by Jenni:

I just want to open this by saying I have not been this nervous to watch a TBAA episode since I watched "The 16th Minute."  With that, I was nervous because it was only one of two TBAA episodes I had yet to see.  (I'm still saving "The Good Earth" for "an emergency" although I have no clue what will constitute a "Now Watch 'The Good Earth'"emergency.)  I haven't watched TDDUP since Charles Rocket's sad passing and recently a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer so I really wasn't sure watching was even a good idea.  As it was, I made it through but probly burned a lot of calories cause I kept needing to run.  This is a great episode, maybe one of the best, but just a really tough one to watch.  At least for me.

What I love about this episode:

The opening scenes are so calm and beautiful.  It really adds to the shock and confusion a viewer later feels along with Molly, Andrew, and Jimmy.

I am amused by Tess considering and then second-guessing the idea that God had burgers in mind when He created cows.  It was especially amusing to me cause of some recent discussion I had with a cousin married to a vegan.  That would certainly shake some people up if true.  As for me, I think it's just as likely He was thinking of ice cream.  ;-) 

Molly is a really well-written character, IMO.  Very strong.  I have no idea how she kept focused after receiving that call from the doctor.  When I get bad news or even just unexpected news, I can go into a daze for days. 

I'm very glad Andrew assured Molly that women often survive breast cancer.  On a personal level, I needed to hear that.  But I also think it's important for everyone to keep that in mind so they don't lose hope or grow too frightened about developing cancer or having a loved one who does.

I really love the interaction between Andrew and Molly.  I'll expound upon this more in the swoony section but also wanted to make mention of it here.  There are parts that are difficult to watch between them yet they always ring very true.

I think this episode did a really good job of showing how only after the fact do certain comments make sense to us following a tragedy.  And then we beat ourselves up but the fact is most people would never have read anything tragic into them. 

I also appreciate that it showed Jordan and Molly as very affectionate and loving.  I think the stereotype of a suicidal person includes withdrawn, lacks close relationships, etc.  But sometimes incredibly loved people, people who are kissed and caressed and told they're loved, still kill themselves.  It makes Jordan's death even more difficult to fathom but also stressed that it's NOT the fault of the survivors.  Jordan had to have known Molly and Jimmy loved him.  They were not cold, distant people.  But he still made the choice he did, independent of that.  All that being said, it's extremely tragic that Jordan walked out for the final time before Molly could finish her "I love you" to him.  I'm sure that moment stuck with her.  But it just stresses the point: he was utterly loved and that was never kept from him.

As tough as it is, I'm glad that Jordan's reasons for killing himself are never explained.  It would have been too neat, too much a fairy tale to give one definitive answer.  So many people are left with only shock and grief and no answers.  TBAA needed to speak to those people.

I find myself really disliking Tess in this episode.  It's quite a switch from my usual anger directed at Monica.  Actually, this episode gives me a glimpse into why Monica sometimes seems oblivious to Andrew.  I can't help but like such a novel feeling!  Don't get me wrong, sometimes I think she's just plain clueless to the point of negligent.  But... it's not all her fault.  When Andrew tells Monica that he feels he blew it with the assignment, she assures him otherwise.  He just dismisses that and keeps on blaming himself.  So here we have Monica trying to help Andrew and he shoots her down.  He's inside his own head and refusing to open himself to her more comforting view.  Further, his voice takes on a downright scary edge.  In Monica's place, I'm not sure I'd feel brave enough to try to dig deeper with him in that state.  She did try.  He didn't respond.  Maybe after that she began to wonder if it was pointless to even try sometimes. 

I really like Donna's response to Molly's accusations and think I need to take a page from her book.  I know we all lash out at people when we're hurting.  These past couple years I have tried really, really hard to curb that impulse in myself.  But it seems others aren't.  So I love that Donna assures Molly that she is very sorry that she's in pain and confused but she will NOT allow her to treat her poorly because of it.  Too often when people have hurt me and then cited something painful happening in their own lives, I accept their apology and assure them it's okay.  But it is NOT okay.  Hurting people because you're hurting is never okay.

Another thing I really love about Molly is that she confronts her own grief to help her son.  I know it was very difficult for her to enter that barn but she put her love for Jimmy above her own horror at what happened there.  That's a real parent.

There are so many wonderful quotes that Andrew delivers in this episode.  The first one to grab me was "Everyone struggles to survive at one point or another and most do as long as they don't give up hope."

Right after that, he assures Jordan that it's not his place to judge him.  That was an aspect of the angels I always loved on TBAA.  They were seldom judgmental and, when they were on occasion, they learned quickly that it wasn't the way to be.

"God sends angels whenever they're needed."  Another great, comforting quote from the lovely AOD.

And another: "God loves you and He wants you to live."

Yet another: "God is extending His hand to you, to help you find the courage and the strength to carry on, to survive this moment and then you move onto the next one."

I really love this one: "You were born for a reason.  Now, that reason may not be very clear to you today.  It may not be very clear to you tomorrow but your Creator, the God who put you here, He knows why."

I'm not going to quote this directly but I think it's cool that Andrew reaches out to Jordan with a metaphor about seeds and harvest.  I loved that the angels so often used language that had a special meaning for their assignments and drew on things important to them.

I was very touched when Andrew, grieving with Molly, assured her that while neither of them can know what Jordan experienced in his final moments, God was there.  He shared that moment with Jordan.  It's still tragic but there's a measure of peace in that.

And now another quote, from Andrew to Molly: "You know something... I've been an angel for a long, long time.  And ya know what amazes me about people?  It's not that a few of you can't go on.  It's that almost every one of you does despite this tough business of living.  Ya get up every morning and ya start over again because there's this little voice inside of you that says 'hope.'  And most of you still listen to it.  And the ones who don't... we have to release and return to the hands of the Father where hope lives forever."

What I didn't love about this episode:
Why the heck does Tess seem so antagonist with Andrew right from the start???  Normally I think Tess' interactions with Andrew are better than Monica's.  But when Tess gets an attitude with him it always seems to be at the absolute worst times.  Right off the bat here, in her first scene with him, she's rather cold with that "Oh you do, do you?" when he thinks he knows why he's sticking with the Averys.  Why?!?!  So Andrew made an assumption.  It's not the best thing in the world but I highly doubt his assumption really fouled up the assignment or anything like that.  It's not like he focused so much on Molly that he left Jordan alone.  He tried to counsel him.  No reason for the snappishness at all.  Sometimes I really feel like the TBAA writers had some stubborn refusal to let Andrew be anything but perfect.  He's an angel.  Not God.  Let him be.

Then, after the memorial, Tess jumps right to anger when Andrew questions his continued presence there.  It was obvious to this viewer that he was dealing with some grief and doubt of his own.  How could Tess have missed it?  I'm not saying he didn't deserve correction but she was waaaay too harsh given the circumstances.  Maybe she just shoulda slapped him and really gotten her point across...  Crikey.  I mean questioning one's presence isn't necessarily the equivalent of questioning God.  Maybe Andrew wasn't expressing a lack of faith in God so much as a lack of faith in himself.  If the latter, as I suspect, anger is the last thing he needed.  NOTE: My opinion of Tess' role changed a bit after I watched the CBS version which featured a scene of the trio that THC cut.  Please see the last section of this page for details.

I wish Monica hadn't been glowing when she spoke to Andrew.  Here's the thing...  I equate the glow with them carrying a message from God.  If they were going to show God reaching out to Andrew, why not show God speaking to Andrew directly as they did with Monica in "Groundrush" and other times?  With no other angel present.  If they wanted to show Monica reaching out to Andrew, the glow made it look "official."  So it loses something by making it seem like she was told to go speak to Andrew as opposed to choosing to do so of her own volition.  It's the free will thing.  As Monica stresses to Andrew, they have free will.  Andrew going back to Molly is impressive because he chose it even though he didn't have to.  It would have been equally impressive to see Monica reach out to him even when she didn't have to.

I hate that Molly slaps Andrew.  I understand it, I guess.  But I hate it.  And I think I hate more that he doesn't react.  Unlike Donna, he just takes it.

I wish Andrew wouldn't have answered Molly's question about whether she'd see him again with "I don't know."  If I met Andrew and came to care about him, I would want to *know* I'd see him again in eternity.  This "don't know" stuff is lame.  I'm surprised the writers didn't catch it and think about that.

Lingering questions:
Is it just me or does Andrew's voice seem twangier in this episode?  Or do I just hallucinate that he gets twangier when emotional?  Cause I seem to have written that into Dyeland and I thought it had basis in TBAA but maybe not...

I think Monica's and Molly's conversation about Jimmy and Hannibal was interesting.  I could see why Monica was concerned by his redirecting his emotions to the calf.  At the same time, I agree with Molly.  Sometimes distraction and redirection can help.  But when do you know when it's just plain escapism that will catch up with you later?

Is it just me or does this episode seem to have less scoring than usual?  We were talking on the YG about how some TBAA episodes seem like plays.  This one kinda does for me.  I feel like it could translate to the stage well and I think the lack of scoring is partly why.  Typically, plays seem to have less of a score that a TV drama.

Would you have the guts to slap an angel?  I just don't know about that...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
This is gonna be one long section today...

First, something about Andrew saying he's "been down this road before" with breast cancer and that it's a "hard way to go Home" chilled me.  I think part of it is cause of my friend, even though her prognosis is very good (thank God).  But it also made me think of Dyeland and that troubled me.  Plus, on the JABB YG, LJA had just asked Andrew to "walk this road with me" and he agreed and for some reason the two uses of "road" bouncing around in my head made me nervous.  How many roads has he gone down with how many people?

When Andrew was consoling Molly after her call, I kept thinking about how he's such a compassionate man.  Emphasis on man.  If I had to go through something difficult, having someone like Andrew at my side would be great.  But this episode really made me think about his identity and how compassion isn't the same as understanding.  This is NOT a diss directed at him.  But the truth is he can no more truly understand a woman facing a biopsy than I can a man facing prostate cancer.  And that's just the most obvious example: gender.  But there are other distinctions, too.  I think this episode really highlights how differently Andrew's mind works than Molly's, and likely other people's, does.  But more on that later.

Andrew carrying a sleeping Jimmy in from the barn...  I would once again seriously like God to make an exception and allow for fatherhood by way of cabbage patch or stork or something for Andrew.

I know when the shot is coming.  All these years later, I still know.  But my heart still skips when it comes and the look on Andrew's face...  Pointless though it may be, I always want to run out with him so he's not alone.  And, yes, I know he's never alone but still.  I want to see someone holding him when he blocks Molly and holds onto Jimmy so they can't see what he already has.

Andrew helping Jimmy put on his tie before the memorial really hits me hard, too.

Now here's me reading waaaay too much into a line but when Andrew told Jimmy "Everything lives and everything dies," initially I thought "Well, not *everything.*  You won't."  And I remember thinking that the last time I watched this but now... now it seems less true.  I don't mean I think Andrew's apt to physically die.  But lately with the Dyeland stories, I've found myself confronting Andrew's mortality repeatedly.  I know that sounds weird but that's the best way I can think of to put it.  He will never truly die but I think what has always concerned me about his character is that parts of him seem all too mortal, even more mortal than a human.  Many people believe that when we humans die, we go to Heaven where we will never feel pain or grief again.  Hope will never die in our hearts.  But what about Andrew?  Will he ever be finally and forever at peace?  Or will hope die and be reborn in him for all time?  Further, I've found myself thinking about how when someone dies, a part of us dies, too.  When my grandpas died, the variation of myself that I was with them died, too.  So over in Dyeland mode... I've sometimes found myself thinking about how "Andrew: Beloved of LJA" will fade with her last breath.  "Andrew: Father-figure to Shelby" is as mortal as Shelby.  So, yes, everything dies.  It's like some minor incarnation that somehow makes me love the character more.

So back to Andrew and Molly.  Another point at which I really saw the divide between compassion and understanding is when Molly's telling Andrew how much she needs to know why Jordan killed himself.  Andrew doesn't see how knowing that will help her.  Molly counters that if she finds out how he lost his hope, then maybe she can make sure not to do the same.  I completely and totally related to that.  When I heard about Mr. Rocket's suicide, beyond greatly saddened, I was scared.  I wasn't in a very good mental space at the time and I just had this wish to know why.  Because I thought if I did, then maybe I could be sure to not start down that road myself or know when other people were so I could stop them.  Andrew would not necessarily understand that impulse and need.  Andrew has never been suicidal or feared becoming suicidal .  So this is just another example of how Andrew's compassion and love can reach very, very far... but it's not a cure all.  Sometimes a person needs to reach inside of themselves for their answers.  I'm left hoping Andrew learned from this, both that we think differently than he does but even more: he can only do so much.  When something bad happens despite his intervention, it's not necessarily a failure on his part.  He didn't "blow it."  Compassion just doesn't always win out over pain and free will.

Sigh...  He has such a confused, deer in the headlights look when Monica confronts him after Molly throws him out.  Of all the emotions Mr. Dye brought forth as Andrew, I think it was when he did confused that I felt most for the character.  And, admittedly, became most upset.  I can handle his tears better than I can him looking lost.

His "Please, don't," when Monica begins her revelation breaks my heart.  And, again, makes me see things a bit through Monica's eyes...  Andrew really does NOT accept help or even comfort well at all.

Monica telling Andrew that "You're a servant of God before you're a servant of your own heart," reminds me of why I admire the character so much.

As much as I love Andrew, he has his faults and this episode really shows them in a much better, more believable way than some episodes.  Like as much as I love "Sign of the Dove," Andrew's pride issues seemed to resurface out of no where after only being briefly acknowledged in Season 2.  And his brattiness to Adam has never really made sense to me.  They seemed written in out of convenience.  Here, it's all much more natural, IMO.  Like through out the episode, Andrew seems to be reaching out to his assignments, as they need him, in very compassionate ways.  But he also seems to be operating from this place of wanting to protect people... as he thinks they need to be.  He is very eager to assure Molly that she doesn't even know if she has reason to be concerned about the lump in her breast until she knows the biopsy results.  And he also makes it a point to tell her that even if it is cancer, women survive that... this despite telling Monica and Tess that he's seen a lot people die of cancer.  Later, he refuses to tell Molly about what Jordan says because he believes hearing it will be painful to her.  While none are coming immediately to mind, I know there are episodes when Monica or another angel has said they wished they'd been there for one assignment or another and he says some variation on "No, you don't" then looks pained.  Andrew seems to consistently err on the side of protection over truth.  I don't think Andrew fully understands that we have horrific imaginations sometimes and we can't always keep them from jumping to the most negative thing.  He can't protect people from troubling ideas and visions.  He can't keep people from worrying.  It's totally believable to me that he would make the wrong choice to shelter someone from the truth when that's really what they most need to hear.  I'm not sure what to actually call this fault.  I spose pride may be part of it since he is taking it upon himself to decide what's best for people to hear and know.  I can understand it.  With all Andrew sees and all the times he just has to stand back and wait and not intervene on someone's behalf, he probly would jump at the chance to protect people when he can.  But it's not right and I'm glad he learns that here... and for once I'm glad the lesson was taught via Monica and not Tess who I'm still not happy with right now.

It really breaks my heart when he talks about how an angel can "lose his way for a while."  And, yes, it kinda freaks me out.  Andrew only lost his way for a lil while here.  I would never want it to go on longer.

I'd just like to say that I'd really much rather Andrew cried than did that shaky, cracking voice thing.  That would pretty much destroy me in real life if I heard it, I think.

Also destructive: Andrew saying he's been "torturing" himself with "Why?".  Don't do that!!!  Also proof that Andrew is really bad at taking his own advice. 

I'm very happy for lovable and adorable Andrew when he gets that hug from Molly after they talk.  I hope it took away any remaining sting from the slap.

Random thoughts:
Music: There's music through out the party scene.  The one guy plays "Old Smokey" on harmonica.  Molly and Jordan dance to a song with lyrics like "From the first day...that's when I knew that you were the one...it's only a dream...heart beat away...all I need is one more chance...slow dance with you."  I think it may have been some local performer or something cause I Googled a bunch of those phrases and turned up nothing.  When Andrew and Molly are dancing, there's an up tempo country song sung by a man but all I picked up out of that was "down town."  There's a slow country ballad by a female vocalist while Jordan and Donna talk but I couldn't pick up any of those lyrics.  At the memorial, "Amazing Grace" is played on harmonica.

I've sometimes found myself thinking "Augh, what's the point of vacuuming, laundry, etc.?  It all just needs to be done again in very little time."  And then I freak myself out by thinking of Jordan right afterwards.  So I keep on doing my chores because there IS a point.  They make life more pleasant for the future.

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-After the shot goes off, that act of the episode ends on both the CBS and THC versions.  But the THC version opens the next act with Molly and Andrew talking near the gun cabinet.  But really the act begins with Molly, alone, standing in front of a mirror.  She looks blank, sad, still in shock.  The phone rings but no one answers so the machine picks up.  It's Jordan's voice on the recording so Molly looks for a moment at the machine.  She mentally replays Jordan's comment about washing the sheets.  Back in real time, Donna leaves a message saying they're headed over.  The scene then goes directly to...
-Andrew is crouched outside near the barn, looking very distraught.  He mentally replays his "Glad you were born" comment to Jordan.  Tess comes and tells him he did his best.  He responds with a weak "Yeah" but proceeds to say it wasn't good enough and that he thought it was Molly who was in trouble.  Tess explains that in his three months there, he only knew that death was near.  She goes on to say that they never know what choice might push a person closer to death as Jordan's choice did.  Andrew heatedly says that Jordan must have been thinking about it for a while and yet he didn't pick up on it.  Monica shows up and says no one except God can see into hearts and that God saw into Jordan's and sent Andrew to him.  He responds with "I'm afraid He did."  Tess exclaims "Andrew!" in a correcting yet pretty gentle way.  (Interestingly, Andrew's comment here is waaay more negative than anything he said to Tess after the memorial so why she was soft here and sharp-tongued then is beyond me.  Maybe she was willing to excuse his defeated attitude once but not twice?)  Andrew then asks them to take care of Molly.  He intends to stay for the memorial but then go.  "Of course, baby," is Tess' response.  Then it goes to Andrew and Molly talking near the gun cabinet which is where THC starts.  So Tess *does* have a very gentle way with Andrew in this scene and it's a shame THC cut it.  Cause it's really her sole redeeming one in this episode as far as Andrew's concerned IMO.  I'm still not happy that she was so snappish after the memorial but whatever...  The scene also lets us know that Andrew's been there for three months which really gives you a better idea of why he'd blame himself and also how close he was to the Averys.  And it also makes it clear that Andrew fully intended to leave and only stayed after God via Tess said to.  So it's a BIG shame THC cut this.
-After Donna's earring is found, that act ends in both versions.  But whereas THC opens the following one with Monica counseling Andrew as he cleans up, the actual version opens with Molly leaving the room.  Monica follows Molly out and tells her that even if it's Donna's earring, it doesn't mean anything.  Molly counters saying Donna was Jordan's first love and grabs the phone to call the bank... where Donna works.  Monica returns to Andrew.

Further on down the road...
Okay, so... I've gotten to a point where I can watch just about any TBAA episode and not feel really sad.  But guess which episode is among the few I still feel shaky on?  Yep.  This one.  But I also love this episode and it's been a long, long time since I saw it in its entirety.  Actually, I don't think I have since it premiered.  Wow.  Here we go.  Feel free to turn this section into a drinking game if you so desire (just not with alcohol cause you will be drinking *a lot.*  Water is good.  I'm going with chai.)  Anyhow, take a sip whenever I write some variation on "He's so beautiful..."

To start... the episode menu on disk 2 of the Season Six set features a lovely photo of John as Andrew.  He's so beautiful.  And I haven't even started the episode yet...

Okay, the farmland is so beautiful.  It makes me want spring even more.  I miss green...  The white snow was pretty... until it turned into gray sludge.  But all that green and life and trees and plants...  Seriously tempted to just hit loop and keep watching those opening shots.  However, then I'd miss...

Sigh...  He's so lovely.  Lovely plaid shirt...  Much appreciated after a stressful week.

"You just can never tell what the day will bring."  Tess speaking the truth.

Andrew has a job like mine... one in which the clause "other duties as assigned" comes up an awful lot. 

And "Glad you were born" forever enters the John Dye fan lexicon...  It's such a simple, meaningful thing to say.  But I never thought to say it til this episode aired.

Whenever I see a swing moving with no one on it... I like to pretend an angel is on it.  Or Jesus.  Or some good spirit.  So I really love that part where Andrew joins Monica on the swing.

Ya know, I just realized that I'm still not really sure who it was who got into the gun cabinet during the birthday party.  It makes it seem like Molly but I dunno.

I'm pretty sure they changed the song when Andrew and Molly are dancing.  It sounded funny to me.  What's weird to me is there are so many folksy royalty free songs that would have worked just fine there for them to use from the get-go.  Huh.

The part where the calf is born is making me think of that "God Made a Farmer" commercial with Paul Harvey.

No matter how much I expect it, that gun shot catches me off guard.  And I didn't realize that as that scene starts, you see Andrew walking away from the barn. 

"No one can look into someone's heart except the Father."  Monica tells Andrew that to console him.  I like that for reasons beyond that, though.  It means there's a lot just between us and God.

He looks so sad and lost in the barn... first crouching alone and then even with Monica and Tess.  John really is incredible in this episode.

Past the halfway point and really doing okay.  Admittedly, I have paused it a few times to go run around the living room.  But nothing hysterical.

Poor love...  Picking up broken glass and be all self-incriminating.  Sigh...  Now he's just plain being tragically beautiful.

As angsty as I am right now... I am still perfectly capable of smiling dopily at the sight of Andrew doing manual labor.  He is awesomely strong.

Andrew touches his head a lot when upset.  Not just his hair.  Note to self on that.

I still wish Andrew would have had his God moment here...  I always wanted him to have that sorta moment like Monica did in "Groundrush" and "Netherlands."  But he just gets Monica.  And I do love that she reminds Andrew the he has free will yet she knows he'll do what God asks.  But I just needed that moment between Father and son and felt like it never came.  But I guess that's another thing I'll have to chalk up to "Yes, but had you felt satisfied on that front... would you be writing?  Would you still have this web site?"  And I might not.  At least not as it is now. 

I just wanna hug poor Andrew and never let go.  It's a powerful moment when he tells Molly that he doesn't understand it all either.

I keep wanting to take down these beautiful quotes from Andrew to Jordan but I guess I got them all the first time around.

I am NOT blaming Andrew but I do wonder if maybe things might have gone differently had he not told Jordan about Molly's biopsy.  I know Andrew was thinking that Jordan would have to stay to support her... that's a very Andrew way of thinking.  But it may have put Jordan over the line to think that he might have to live without her if he didn't go first.

I don't think I could ever slap an angel... especially not Andrew.  It really bothers me that a woman slapping a man without provocation doesn't really rate yet if the same scene played out with the genders reversed... there's an uproar.  And there should be an uproar... but regardless of which gender does the unprovoked slapping.

I so love that denim shirt.  But I still wish Andrew wouldn't have said "I dunno" when Molly asked about seeing him again.  Heaven lasts forever... there's time.

And just one more time...  He's so beautiful.

I'm glad I didn't read my previous thoughts before adding this last bit.  Then I probably would have cried.  Happily, my friend that I mention in the opening is now cancer-free.  Sadly, I did watch "The Good Earth."  And the emergency that made it okay for me to watch it?  John Dye's death.  And while I still think of Mr. Rocket every time I watch this episode, this last time around it was John's death that made me reluctant to watch this episode.  But I'm glad I did.  He really was so beautiful.  And is and always will be.

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.)