"The Trigger"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
I love Tess in this episode.  She's got the tough love act going at its best here.  She is not taking junk from Ray from the get-go.  And
when she calls him "sweetie"... whew!  That's about the most unsweet use of that word I've heard!

The whole idea of the cycle of violence in families or, as Tess put it "violence begets violence," is explored very well here.  The obvious way is in showing how Alex picks up on his father's violence.  First he gets in the fight at hockey practice.  Then he actually shoves his mother.  So that's the cycle of abuser to abuser.  But they also depict the cycle victims experience.  Because abuse was part of her family of origin, Linda seems more accepting of it in her marriage.  That fear and ability to downplay the abuse is already infiltrating her daughter who cuddles up with her aunt and described her parents' fight as a discussion.  I think TBAA did a great job of showing how abuse, even if physically limited to Linda and Ray, eventually affects their entire family.

I thought Ray was written in a pretty convincing way.  People talk about how abusers can become very kind, affectionate, and fawning after they've gotten violent.  TBAA shows that.  Ray goes from a monster to Prince Charming and back more than once in the course of this episode. 

Holly's probably my favorite human character in this.  Can you imagine your best friend and sister getting married and then later seeing what a terrifying union that is?  I think the acting while she's at the police station is quite impressive.  For a while there her voice sounds childish, like she's reverting back to the scary times of her childhood.  Your heart really goes out to her.

I'm going to have to hand it to Monica.  When Holly tells her that her shooting Ray was partly due to Monica's advice, I expected Monica to go all "woe is me, I'm a terrible angel, I need to cry now."  But she totally holds it together!  That's the Monica I wanted to be when I grew up!

I really like the shot of the light coming through the hospital door's window while Tess is speaking to Ray.

Finally, I very much appreciate that TBAA tackles the spiritual toll abuse can take.  Several shows, TV movies, films, plays, etc. explore the cycle of violence, the physical and emotional wounds, etc.  But this is the first instance I've seen of a show having a character say "there's never been a him worth trusting" and another understanding how that would make faith in a loving Father very, very difficult.  So, again, I'm really impressed by Monica.  She hits the nail on the head when she says how for some people the word "father" means pain and disappointment.  She understands that it makes it difficult for Linda to hear about a loving Father.  I think that was an important sub-topic to be brought up.

What I didn't love about this episode:
Not fond of Ray but that's obvious.  One thing I did catch this time that I don't recall from previous viewings is Linda saying that Ray doesn't like for her to cry.  My God.  Physically abusive and emotionally repressive.  Which brings me to...

Instead of continually talking about anger which was obviously an issue, I wish the angels would have spoken more about power, too.  Because I don't think Ray's abusiveness was always spurred by anger so much as a need to demonstrate he still had power. 

Lingering questions:
Monica seriously just discovered mushrooms in this episode?  Where's she been???  Maybe she just meant she'd just discovered how tasty they were but, obviously, had some experience with them before.  I can't imagine being 5,000 and not knowing the wonderfulness that is mushrooms. 

Why does Tess, not Andrew, speak to Ray about God's love?  Andrew's done it before and he was in the room.  We know cause Monica asks him about it later.  Did they just not think Ray, who was obviously distanced from God, would take to an angel of death?  Maybe the writers thought Ray having to lay there silently and listen to a female more powerful than himself was a lil bit of restitution?  I like that theory. 

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew's such a wonderful coach!  He encourages the boys when they do something impressive.  Yet he doesn't take anything untoward.  And he makes house calls!  And he knew Aunt Holly was coming which means he was pretty involved in his team members' lives.  So sweet.  Makes me wish I were a hockey mom... cept I still wouldn't be wearing lipstick.  ;-)

I feel swoony when Andrew shows up to deliver the skates to the Craigs cause it's such a kind thing to do and he looks really manly and all.  But then I move into "poor Andrew" mode cause he looks so troubled (with good reason) when Ray starts to yell.  Which made me wonder this: I think most men in that situation would be troubled and angered by Ray's disrespect.  But I wonder if it makes it more difficult when Andrew (when on Earth) has to lead a solitary life and then there's this guy who has a whole family and chooses to abuse them.  Basically Ray's throwing away a gift Andrew can never have.  And I'm not saying Andrew wants a wife and kids.  I don't believe he does.  But he might want a close bond with a confidante.  Ray coulda had that in his wife but... no.  And Andrew gets to witness that refusal.

I also feel bad for Andrew when Linda expects him to back her up on home invasion statistics and guns.  Not only is that just plain an awkward position to be put in but the way he answers...  He says he's seen what can happen with guns in the home.  With my very limited experience, that still brought flashes of incidents to my mind.  I can only imagine how many incidents Andrew would be able to remember.

Andrew looks so dejected and lonely sitting on what seems to be stairs outside the Craig residence after the shooting.  That poor boy and his stairs...  I really can't imagine being a creature born of love who, for the most part, only ever feels love and then witnesses such violence and grief.  If there are AODs like Andrew... I think they should all be canonized.

I was thinking quite seriously about Andrew during his scenes but on a lighter note I do have to say... his AOD ensemble in this episode was stunning.  He looks so handsome and dignified!

I wanna ice skate with Andrew...  Not that I can ice skate.  I'd probly have to hang onto him... that wouldn't be so bad. 

Random thoughts:
Even in the best of circumstances (which are certainly not on display with this family), I think it'd be kinda odd to live in my parents' house without them.  Of course, one of my uncles does that and he doesn't seem to mind.  I'm just not sure I'd want that many memories of my previous life as I'm in the midst of a new one. 

A couple months ago I was watching the film Amadeus.  And I kept thinking Stanze Mozart looked really familiar but I couldn't place her.  So I checked IMDB.com and... she's Aunt Holly!  Okay, really she's Elizabeth Berridge who played Aunt Holly and Stanze but I'm sure ya got that.  :-)

Linda cites home invasions as a reason to have a gun.  I'm not going to state my position on gun ownership but I will say that a cop my friend knows said that a dog is one of the best ways to prevent home invasion.  And they're much nicer to cuddle with.

A Word from Travis:
If I remember correctly, when Linda shoots her brother-in law in self-defense, he dies. I think this is one of the series’ best episode in the sense that the story is so relatable (whether directly or indirectly). So many women are victims of physical abuse at the hands of their spouses.

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