"The Violin Lesson"

A review by Jenni:
Love... this... episode.  I believe I first saw this episode the night it originally ran.  I can remember sitting in my grandparents' bedroom and just sobbing.  I'm fairly confident it made me a devout TBAA fan.  And between this and "The Journalist"... I was gone on Andrew.

What I love about this episode:

As stated above, I really love this episode as a whole.  But here are some of the specific aspects I most love:

Jordan's defense of his match-making attempts really made me think.  Cause I've been the subject of elder relations' match-making schemes and they kinda annoy me.  But, ya know, I believe it when Jordan says all that he was trying to do was help Tony be happy and find the joy he found in having children.  I just wish people realized that what made them happy isn't
what's gonna make us all happy. 

This episode has a couple great lines for shipper-combating.  First, when Jordan asks Monica about her love life she says she's "very career-oriented."  Later, when Monica tells Tess of this, the supervisor fumes that she needs to tell Jordan "you are NOT available."  Sorry, shippers. 

So many scenes in this episode are difficult to watch.  It seems weird to put them in a section about what I love.  But as much as I hate seeing Jordan walk away after Tony tells him he's gay and has AIDS... I'm proud of TBAA for doing this episode and showing that.  I hope it gave comfort to people who may have experienced the abandonment and anger and intolerance Tony did here.

I love that Tess announces Tony's impending birth to Jordan.  An angel heralding a child is a big deal.  That TBAA chose to have Tess do that for Tony is only the beginning of their loving, tolerant, uplifting handling of homosexuality. 

I think Willa is an amazing character.  I feel so terrible for her trying to grieve and help her son on top of dealing with a stubborn, cruel-seeming husband.  But she handles it all with such grace and doesn't let Jordan's decisions keep her from her son.  Her line "I couldn't have loved you more but I could have loved you better" has stuck with me for a long time.  I think it's important to remember not simply to love people but to love them well.

The scene between Tess and Tony in the hospice: perfection.  When Tony says he would tell an angel to "tell God I'm sorry for turning out the way I did," it's so distressing and yet I'm sure so many people have thought it.  Tess comes back with the best response: "In God's eyes you're His beautiful child."  She then stresses to Tony that God didn't expect him to be anyone other than who he is.  She assures him that "what you've heard were words of someone else, words of hate and confusion."  It's an absolutely beautiful scene that I'd personally like to force the folks at Westboro Baptist Church and their like to watch in a loop for days on end.

I'm struck by the way Tony's reaction to the morphine seems to die away when he sees Andrew.  I hope angels can bring peace like that.

Despite my utter horror at seeing much of the exchange between Andrew and Tess, I do love that Tess pulls Andrew to her and into a hug when he cries. 

Another great line, this time from Monica: "Nothing that is made by God is queer."

I remember bursting into tears when the violin's blemish turns into a Christmas tree the first time I saw this.  Same thing happened again tonight.  Lovely little element.

What I didn't love about this episode:
I think it's a little weird that Monica bursts into Tony's room only about one second after she knocks.  He hasn't even told her to come in when she starts opening the door!  Privacy, please!

Not happy with Tess' handling of Andrew.  I think it's a lil bit of a simplification to describe him as an "angel with a bad attitude."  Would she rather he be cheery like "Aww shucks, Tess, that Mr. DuBois there just isn't being very nice.  Maybe I can give him cookies and milk, smile and wink and sing a lil ditty about love and all will be well!"  Andrew's right to be distressed and angry!  It's a distressing and maddening situation!

And I really don't approve of Tess comparing Andrew's judgment of Jordan with Jordan's judgment of Tony.  Jordan is judging Tony simply for being who he is.  Andrew is judging decisions Jordan made and actions he took.  Heck yeah we should do that!  What would the world come to if we just tolerated everything?  Need we wait until someone becomes violent before we call them out for being homophobic or racist or sexist or whatnot?  I don't see any difference between Andrew confronting Jordan and Tess confronting the pimp in "The Homecoming" or her interaction with Doris in "Deconstructing Harry."  She was decrying actions in both, not people.  So was Andrew.

Tess asks Andrew "What's wrong with you, Angel Boy?"  What does she think is wrong with him!?!  How does it not occur to her that maybe Andrew's saddened and angered by Jordan's disowning Tony?  Let's think about how many parents Andrew has stood by when their children have been ripped away from them by violence or disease.  Don't you think it might be a little hard for someone who has seen a mother cling to her child's lifeless body or a father get the call saying that his child has died to then see someone willfully walk away from their child?  What's with wrong *you,* Tess?

Lingering questions:
Why do they delete the PSAs off the DVD versions?  I thought this originally had Roma giving a number for information about AIDS.  Maybe the number has changed but it woulda been good to put something informative there.  Or just leave it so those of us that saw the original versions aren't left to ponder if we're just not remembering correctly.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Okay, so I was totally concerned about Tony during this scene but... in Andrew's first scene he's wearing a beige sweater.  And I love AODs in beige sweaters.

Andrew sitting on some stairs... again.  You can pretty much assume that if Andrew is seated on stairs in any scene, I am swooning.  But this scene...  It breaks my heart when he tells Monica about Carlos and his family being so happy building the snowman.  And then he tells her he took Carlos Home that morning.  He just looks so sad and so faraway.  I want to hug him.  Which brings me to...

Andrew reaches for Monica's hand while he's telling her this.  It's very sweet but begs the question: if your friend was talking about someone's death and seemed upset, wouldn't you reach out to them?  Especially if they were someone like Andrew who is really comfortable with being touched?  Monica eventually sets a hand on his shoulder for all of a second but... sheesh.  I think I'm a fairly physically reserved person but even I woulda been a lil more touchy-feely than that!  And not just cause of the crush that will not die.

Andrew saying he doesn't want to go into the hospice until he has to... seriously, he's trying to make me run into the television to go help him.

Tess can think what she wants but I love that Andrew confronts Jordan.  Not only do I think he was morally right in doing so but... he's pretty attractive when he sounds so forceful and righteously indignant.  But then all my swooniness over his strength dies away after Jordan crashes the violin and Andrew walks out, looking devastated.  Then I just want to hug him... again. 

I love that Andrew assures Tony that his "memory will live in their hearts forever."  I think it's great that Andrew is there to help people through the dying process.  That he also assures them that their families will get through the loss... amazing and compassionate.

Random thoughts:
Here's a fantastic way to make yourself even more of a mess whilst watching this episode.  Although it would depend on your beliefs.  Watching Jordan rail against Tony all I could think was that he had this son (born on Christmas day) and he was turning his back on the little time he had left with him.  Which then made me really think about Christmas.  Christmas is a huge, joyous celebration of Jesus' birth into our world and human life but it also marks the day God began to lose His son.  Not completely, obviously.  But the day Jesus was born was the beginning of a mission that would lead to His death.  Juxtaposing someone giving up their son for the greater good with some guy choosing to turn away from his son cause of his own intolerance... pretty emotional stuff.  Then the two stories kinda converge for me when Tony dies on Christmas, thus being removed from the world his father continued to inhabit.  And years before, in being born on Christmas, Jesus was removed from the World His Father continued to inhabit so that eventually all us Tonys and Jordans could find peace in that World.  I wonder if any of this occurred to Jordan and that's why he walked out on the reading of the Gospel account of Jesus' birth?

I just can't imagine disowning my child...  And not even over something they did, just something they are...

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