"Virtual Reality"

A review by Jenni:

So I remember being unhappy with Andrew when this episode first aired.  I'm really curious to see if he actually does anything that upsets me or if it was one of those psychological "You're going to leave me so I'm just gonna pretend I don't like you!" things.  (ETA: It was the latter... what a well-adjusted college student I was!  ;-)

What I love about this episode:
Wow.  They remembered Monica's gift that seems like it got forgotten for all of two years...

Oh... did one of them take the comatose girl's hand at the end of the opening scene?  I'd like to think so.  And that it wasn't just a spontaneous movement.  I'd like to think it was Andrew...

Nice touch with Joshua's game batteries dying when Monica needs to interview him.  If only angels or God could/would make batteries die all the time...  No more texting while driving!

I'm glad Monica brought those photos of Marissa when she was younger and in school, forcing Joshua to acknowledge her personhood.  And he even saw a lil of himself in her via Science Club.  I think photos should be used more often in criminal cases.  I've heard of drunk drivers being sentenced to always have a photo of their victims hanging in their cells.  They should never be able to forget the human life they damaged/ended.

There's so much information in this one!  I would love to watch this episode as a group.  I think it'd be a really interesting one to have a discussion regarding the topic of the role of violence in the media.

I like, too, that they had angels as both lawyers.  "Smokescreen" is great but we all knew Tess would come out on top there.  Having
two angels, both presumedly liked and trusted by the audience, plays up the moral ambiguity.  You can't just be like "There's an angel in the prosecution!  Prosecution must be right!"  Plus, it's just interesting from an interpersonal standpoint.  I wonder if things got a lil strained between Andrew and Rafael during their down time?  Hope not!

"God is a Father who will never leave you."  From Monica to Josh.

"I know how hard it is to figure out what peace is when you're only fourteen.  But it's when there's no pain in your heart, when you don't feel afraid, when you know that you're safe and loved and cared for and God wants you to feel all those things."  Same scene.  I think it's hard to figure out sometimes even past age fourteen.

Beyond the video game stuff, really this episode is about how dehumanizing people makes it easier to hurt them.  And that's a sad reality that stretches back to before electronics even existed...

I'm glad Tess went off on parents who buy their kids games and such just cause they want it.  Be a parent, not a best buddy!

What I didn't love about this episode:
It's really bothering me that for most of the time that Rafael is doing opening arguments, Andrew is *just* out of the shot.  You can see one arm...

I wanted to see Andrew's talk with Victor at the end...  I bet he was awesome.

Lingering questions:

What is hydroplaning exactly?

Why is Rafael pressing about whether the video game is appropriate for someone under 17?  That doesn't really matter, does it?  I don't get that...  At points it seems more like he's trying to prosecute the manufacturer/seller and not Victor.  Of course, I understand that the writers were trying to get us to think about violent video games and their impact.  But as a solely legal maneuver, I am confused.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
Andrew looks so handsome with his beard and glasses and suit.  I wonder if I was just mad at him for defending a cruel punk?  But someone's gotta do it...

Oh right.  I disagreed with Andrew.  I definitely think there was criminal intent.  But it was probly abandonment issues, too.  Actually, I'm sure that was the bulk of it.  Also, I realize now that Andrew is probly not privy to the knowledge we the audience glean from the flashback scenes.  So he may very well have trusted that Victor did not go out with the intent to harm someone.  Remember, he can't assume the worst in people ("The Journalist").  And while I still think he's wrong here... I wouldn't like it if he assumed the worst of Victor. 

Darn... that line in between his eye brows gets really deep during his opening arguments.  His face was just so beautifully expressive in so many ways...  He coulda been a silent film star.  Cept I woulda missed his voice.

I want to hug him during the "street scum" scene.  I don't want him to go crazy...

Andrew is right...  Victor deserves a fair trial.  Even though he's awful.  But that was another thing I loved about the character.  More than Monica or Tess, Andrew stuck with God's law and justice.  Even when he didn't really wanna.

You can see the realization hit him when he hears "street scum" in the context of the game.  Poor love...  I bet that made for a really tough remainder of the case.

Andrew reading about video games being a cathartic experience is ironic for me.  He's *my* cathartic experience!

Oooh.  I like the brown suit with the light blue shirt.  I really like brown and blue together.  Gah... he's so gorgeous.

Random thoughts:

Music:  The stupid video game music.  And some gangster crud Victor plays in the car when he hits Marissa.  I'll dub it "Hollywood Film" as those were two of the few words I could make out.

I miss video games where all you did was jump on mushrooms and shoot at asteroids...

Scenes Hallmark cut:
- So when this initially aired, my VCR freaked out about a third of the way through.  Right before the segment with the four angels talking in the courtroom about Joshua calling Marissa "street scum."  So if THC cut from the beginning of that scene, I wouldn't know cause I missed a lil before I could get a second VCR running.  However, the THC version seems like a normal edit so I don't *think* they cut anything there.  Just can't guarantee it.

Further on down the road...
So what do you do when your dogs wake you up at 5 something in the morning on a weekend?  Watch TBAA!

In other news, I've decided to stop editing out the parts of this section that basically repeat something I said in the original review.  It's kind of interesting to see what still speaks to me/ bothers me through the years.

Oh Rafael, still kind of a jerk.  His reaction to a girl in a coma is that her waking up would "make things easier."  Not "would be a miracle" or "because she deserves to live her life."  Charming.  Mr. Cruz did well with the part.  There are moments that I love.  But I can't figure out why the writers gave Rafael such callous lines here and there.

Ha.  Battery operated game consoles.  At least that's what it looks like Joshua has.  We've come a long way... playing games on our phones now.

I'd rather play Farmville than this junk.  I like to focus my OCD tendencies onto my farms.  ;-)  This also makes me think of how, shortly after John Dye passed away, I found myself sitting on my sister's floor, playing Super Mario World.  It was one of the first times I felt really okay after that sad January day.  I just can't imagine drawing nostalgic comfort from a blow em up game. 

While I'm not defending all rap, country music isn't free of violence!  Nor, for that matter, are some traditional folk songs.  The fact that there's an entire genre known as Murder Ballads is enough proof that violent music has been with us for a long, long time.  Not sure what this says to Andrew's defense but it's true.

The "street scum" scene with Joshua and Monica typifies the impact I think video games, movies, etc. can have.  Warring parties use propaganda for a reason: it works.  I think media can desensitize the viewer and push them into dehumanizing a person or groups of people in a way very similar to deliberate propaganda.  But I would like to believe that something needs to be off already for a person to take the next step towards embracing real violence.   For example, I'd like to believe that Nazi propaganda videos would only "work" on people who were already inclined to be anti-Semitic.  Everyone else would just view them with horror and righteous anger.  But I do wonder if you steeped someone in that, if they'd turn hateful even if originally they were fair-minded.  *That* is what scares me about media influences.

This would be one of the few times, and possibly the only one, when I'm glad Andrew lost something!  I do wish we'd been able to see Andrew's talk with Victor in the judge's chambers.

I wish my dogs would learn the word no...  Thankfully, I'll never have to worry about them playing violent video games but it would be nice if they didn't get into the clean laundry after I've said "No!"  Augh...

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