In this episode, real life is woven into a fictional retelling of real life:
Jesus picks up a disciple modeled after the director’s own failure*, a new experienced disciple joins the team and takes a special interest in the outcast Matthew, and cold, calculating Matthew finally starts to let someone in on his mental life, a little…
(*More on that story in the analysis)
Index of THE CHOSEN In-Depth Summaries & Reviews
“Come And See!” — One Writer Dives Deep Into the Sleeper Hit Show on the Life & Times of Jesus & His Disciples
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME
In the last episode, we saw Jesus and his disciples spend a couple days in Sychar, in Samaritan territory, despite the long-standing enmity between Jews and Samaritans.
Jesus long-distance-heals a man whom you could call “The Bad Samaritan,” the negative photo image of the famous Good Samaritan story, and the brothers James and John receive their nickname, Sons of Thunder, after an altercation with some local Samaritans.
And now, into the next episode:
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: Read this article AFTER you’ve seen the show to avoid spoilers. You can watch the show for free at https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen
The story opens with a Jewish Architect arguing with his Roman foreman, Leontes, about getting seawater for the cement.
“It will take three days,” the foreman says, dismissing him.
“Your incompetence is making it harder!” Nathanael the Architect shoots back.
“You think if everyone does it your way, that it will all turn out!” Leontes accuses him.
“I do,” Nathanael says.
Just then, a commotion outside causes the two men to run outside: The building Nathanael was working on has collapsed.
A man outside yells for help. When he sees Nathanael, he cries: “You’re ruined, do you hear me? It’s over!”
Et voila, time for the opening credits fish song!
A New Stranger
Next we see John, James, Simon, and Thomas moving firewood, Simon ribbing the brothers about their new nickname. (From the last episode, when they lost their tempers, and Jesus called them the Sons of Thunder)
Just then, a Stranger approaches. The four men stop, nervous, conferring amongst themselves about what his intentions might be. Perhaps he’s just walking?
“No one ‘just walks’ in the Bashan,” John says.
“No one but us,” Thomas points out.
“Shalom!” says the stranger as he draws closer.
“Whaddya want?” Simon demands.
The stranger asks for Jesus of Nazareth, but Simon tells the others not to say anything. He might be a spy.
“There are spies. But they’re not smart enough to dress like this,” the stranger says.
“Are you Simon, son of Jonah?” the stranger adds. “You’re new at this.”
Simon demands to now what the stranger’s business is, but he says he can’t say.
Say hello to my friend Andrew, though, he requests.
“Andrew has friends?” Simon says, incredulous, just as his little brother Andrew comes running to give the stranger a big hug.
“Philip!” Andrew says happily. “You smell terrible!”
Later back at camp, Simon confronts Andrew — You never mentioned a Philip before!
Andrew has his big brother take a cup of water to Philip. “Make nice,” he admonishes.
But when Simon walks the few steps over to where Philip is, he finds him napping against a wooden structure, with James, John, and Thomas standing and staring down at him, not sure what to make of all this.
Simon wakes him up, and hands over the water.
“You never know when you’ll get to sleep next. Or when you’ll have clean water,” Philip says, taking a long drink. “Thank you.”
At that moment, Matthew returns.
“What did you find?” One of the disciples calls out.
“Nothing suitable,” Matthew says.
They ask him where he went, and he says he found all the wood to the east, in the ravines, was wet.
The other men laugh at him.
“Hmm.” Philip looks from Simon and the other disciples to Matthew, then turns to Matthew:
“Good work, Matthew.” he says in a firm, encouraging tone.
“Thank you.” Matthew says, confused by the newcomer. “Who are you?”
“I’m the guy who dries wood,” Philip says. He refers to Ezekiel* and the other disciples chime in, reciting from memory the passage mentioned.
Matthew and the women watch, impressed.
“Shall we?” Philip says, pointing away from the camp. Matthew follows obediently behind him.
Back to Nathanael
Meanwhile, back in the city, we see Nathanael make his way to a tavern.
“Your strongest. And…cheapest,” Nathanael says, his eyes red-rimmed.
“Is something wrong, friend?” the bartender asks. “Did someone die?”
“Yes,” Nathanael says.
The barkeeper expresses his sympathies, and Nathanael says, “I think it was a long time coming for him, but it felt sudden.”
“Tell me about him,” the barkeeper invites.
“He was an architect. That’s what he wanted to be his whole life. He came from nothing. Worked his way up. Loved God. He wanted to build synagogues, eventually.”
“He sounds like an ambitious guy. What did he die of?”
“Hubris.” Nathanael says. Then he adds: “It’s me by the way. I’m the dead man in the story.”
“Yeah, I got that,” the barkeeper says.
“Just wanted to be clear,” Nathanael says.
Philip and Matthew Chat About Being “On the Outside”
Back at camp, as they walk along, Philip asks Matthew:
“What’s up with you and Simon?”
“He sees me as his enemy,” Matthew says. “I was a tax collector.”
“Yuh-huh,” Philip says, as if expecting more.
“I was everyone’s enemy,” Matthew says.
“I WAS something else once, too. Once you’ve met the Messiah, AM is all that matters,” Philip says.
The people out there, the Sleepers, want to define us by our sins, Philip tells Matthew. But we’re different. We’re Awake.
Then Matthew asks Philip how he memorized prophecy…obviously still impressed by the recitation of Ezekiel, earlier.
Didn’t you learn all that in Hebrew school? Philip asks Matthew, who then reveals that he skipped ahead at age eight to apprentice with a bookkeeper.
From there, Matthew caught the attention of a magistrate who offered a salary larger than his father and three uncles’, combined. He took the job and bought his first house at age thirteen, after being disowned by his parents.
“I don’t blame him,” Philip says.
Matthew is surprised. “I thought you said…”
“He’s a man. He played by man’s standards.” Philip responds. “But everyone in your old life is playing a different game than you now. Do you get it?”
“No!” Matthew says, becoming frustrated. Everyone speaks in riddles!
“Of course,” Philip says apologetically. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t mean to sound like an oracle, here.”
He explains: It’s all the time spent with an itinerant preacher like John the Baptizer that’s made him a bit obtuse.
Matthew draws a circle. That represents everyone and all that has ever been, he says.
Then he uses his axe to stab a hole outside the circle. “And that’s me. That’s how I feel.”
“Well said,” Phillip replies. “I’ve been living outside the circle with John now for a couple years. I can relate.”
Then he adds: “You’re fine, Matthew. Stick around. You’re gonna be alright.”
Back to Nathanael
Now we see Nathanael sitting under a fig tree, depressed as all get-out.
He pulls out his architectural drawings from his bag.
Nathanael recites a few prayers, and then sets his drawings on fire using a piece of flint.
As the fire burns, Nathanael continues to recite prayers, looking up into the sky as if expecting an audible answer.
“No?” he says, as nothing is forthcoming.
“Do not hide your face from me! Do you see me?” he yells into the sky.
Back at camp, Philip is teaching Matthew to peel the bark off of wood.
He also tries (and fails) to teach Matthew a joke.
Was it hard to leave it all behind? Philip asks Matthew.
No, Matthew replies. It should have been, after all, he was comfortable. But life wasn’t quite making sense anymore.
“You gave everything away to keep it,” Philip says.
I don’t know what Jesus sees in me, Matthew replies. After all, I don’t know much about religion.
Philip reassures him: It doesn’t matter what you know. What matters is that Jesus chose you.
Now, it’s twilight, and we’re back to Nathanael. No words, just his lonely self, pouring ashes on his head before he walks away.
At night, Philip is seated around a campfire. Jesus approaches, and Philip stands to greet him.
When Jesus clearly recognizes him, Philip is surprised. “John told you?”
“No, I recognized your face. You were standing with Andrew the day I was baptized by John.”*
Philip says he has a message from John, on his own behalf.
Good, because I have something to say to you too, Jesus says.
And, almost simultaneously, the latter says “Follow me,” while the former says “I will.”
Philip and Jesus seat themselves around the fire, and Philip tells him that John met an interesting Pharisee the last time he was in prison.
Philip asks Jesus what he is doing in Bashan.
Passing through on the way to Syria, Jesus says.
Syria? Philip is surprised. First Samaria, now Syria?
“You and John really are cut from the same cloth.” Philip says. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you had a death wish.”
“I wouldn’t really call it a wish,” Jesus says.
Eagle-eared Philip catches that. “But a what? A death what?”
Jesus deflects his question for the time being, saying he’s thinking through how to talk about it.
Will we pass through Damascus, Antioch? Philip asks.
Not the big cities, no, Jesus says. Then he suggests Philip get some sleep. Philip agrees, but then pauses to make a quick request:
He wants to see a friend in Caesarea, if there’s time. An architect.
“If we don’t make time for friends, we won’t have any,” Jesus says.
They bid each other good night, and Philip goes to bed.
The next morning, the disciples are up bright and early.
Ramah wakes up to see Mary packing. She says she packs every morning, because there’s no telling how long they’ll stay in one place.
The girls talk about how exciting-slash-intimidating it was when the men started reciting prophecy the day before.
We need to catch up, Mary says.
But I can’t read, Ramah replies.
I’ll teach you, Mary offers. As for study materials? “I know who to ask.”
Outside Philip joins the men who are looking at the stack of firewood Philip and Matthew carted in the day before.
I didn’t do it, Philip says. It was “our young smart friend.”
“Thomas?” Someone says.
“No, Matthew,” Philip replies. “Who’s Thomas?” The disciples remind him, and that launches Philip into an anecdote about an experience with John the Baptist.
And then off Philip goes for another nap: “Wake me if there’s work to do, boys!”
Meanwhile, Matthew is sitting under a tree, writing when Thaddeus finds him.
What are you writing? Thaddeus asks.
What I see, Matthew replies. It started as a chore and now it’s a habit.
I think prayer’s like that, Thaddeus says.
And then Simon shows up to spoil the party. He’s not happy that Matthew is writing down stuff. It reminds him of the time when Matthew was spying on him for the Romans.
Matthew recalls Philip’s words: “People want to define us because of our pasts,” he tells Simon. “But we do things differently because of Him.”
It’s a bad idea, Simon insists. Then he tells them they’re leaving in an hour, and turns away.
Some time later, everyone is on the road. Simon heads to the back of the line to find Jesus.
Andrew runs to the front of the line to help with their luggage cart, and Simon warns Jesus that Matthew is writing everything down.
“‘Course he is,” Jesus says.
“And that’s fine with you?” Simon asks.
“Alright, good to know,” Simon replies. Then he proposes an idea: As the group grows, complexities increase. And when Jesus is away, sometimes the disciples have trouble figuring out how to carry out his instructions.
Simon proposes a structure: A hierarchy of authority where ideas are filtered by Big James, and then presented to himself for final consideration.
Jesus tells Simon he appreciates his attempts to help, and those skills will be needed in the future, but each person he has called is important and called for a reason. Every voice must be heard.
But some people slow us down, Simon protests.
“If someone is doing something you feel slows everyone down…maybe you need to slow down,” Jesus suggests.
One day more structure will be needed, Jesus reassures Simon.
But why not now? Simon protests.
Because I am still here, Jesus replies.
Are you saying there one day you won’t be? Simon asks.
Jesus defers the question, but Simon presses him: Will he talk about it soon?
“Ah, there’s that word, “soon”…What is soon? A few hours, days, years? A hundred years, a thousand years? Ask my Father in heaven how long a thousand years is. Then talk to me about soon”*
Then Jesus runs ahead to take his turn with the cart.
A few paces away, Mary and Ramah catch up to Matthew.
“Mary, Ramah,” Matthew greets them, surprised. “Something wrong?”
Nothing’s wrong, Mary reassures him. They just want a favor — they want to borrow tablets to learn how to study Torah.
They discuss their plans, and Matthew suggests asking Philip.
Why Philip? Mary asks.
He’s kind to me. Thaddeus, too, Matthew explains.
Sorry there are exceptions, Matthew, Mary says.
“I’ll talk to Philip,” Matthew says, then speeds up a bit to find the guy.
As he leaves, Thomas casually sidles up to Ramah. “Everything good up here?” he asks the women.
Yes, Ramah tells him. We’re going to study Torah.
“You and Mary?” Thomas asks.
“And Matthew,” Ramah corrects.
Thomas laughs and says Matthew doesn’t know anything about Torah. How do you know? Ramah asks.
Erm. Well, anything you need to know, you can always ask me, Thomas says.
Mm-hmm, Ramah replies. Thomas lingers for a moment, but as there’s nothing else to say, he goes ahead to help with the cart, as the girls exchange a look with each other.
Meanwhile, Matthew is conversing with Philip, asking about a passage to memorize to get started catching up with the others in their Torah knowledge.
They are interrupted by a shout:
“There it is!” says one of the disciples. Ahead, we see Caesarea Philippi.
“My namesake!” Philip says.
“Really?” Matthew asks.
Philip laughs. No, the city is named after Philip the Tetrach, brother of Herod Antipas.
“…A family that does not take kindly to my former rabbi,” Philip adds — because of said-former-rabbi’s penchant for calling out their habit of murdering their own children and stealing each other’s wives, and such.
Philip runs ahead, promising to think of a passage for Matthew to start memorizing.
Philip Finds Nathanael
Now, Philip has made his way into the city proper and is knocking on Nathanael’s door: “Nathanael, it’s me, Philip!”
No one responds, so Philip, good friend that he is, breaks in anyway, to find Nathanael lying despondent on his bed in the middle of the day.
“Why are you in bed? What happened, my friend?” Philip asks.
Nathanael tells Philip the story, and Philip commiserates.
“I’m still proud of you,” Philip assures him, telling Nathanael how impressed he is that Nathanael was able to build physical things, and have something to show for his efforts.
“A pile of rubble,” Nathanael mopes.
“You don’t know what your impact was, or could be,” Philip says.
But Philip’s presence seems to be good for Nathanael. He cheers up a bit as he asks his old friend:
“So what are you doing here? I thought you were out making enemies all over the place.”
“I’m about to make a whole lot more enemies all over the place,” Philip quips back. “John sent me to someone new.”
“You sure know how to pick ‘em.”
“He’s not just anyone.”
“That’s what you said about the baptizer,” Nathanael says.
“And I was right,” Philip replies. “But this is…more. This is who the Baptizer has been preparing us for. Nathanael — he’s The One.”
The One? Nathanael echoes.
The one the prophets foretold would come, Philip says. “Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.”
When he hears Nazareth, Nathanael starts laughing outright. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (See John 1:46)
“Come and see,” Philip simply says.
“Just come and see,” Philip insists. “What, you’re going to be late for work?”
“Wow. That’s dark,” Nathanael says. “So dark.”
“I promise you won’t regret it,” Philip says. “And if you do, I’ll refund your misery.” (Editor’s side note: Love that line!)
Nathanael takes another look at Philip. “I’ve never heard you talk like this,” he says, sensing something serious in his friend’s eyes.
But he confesses: “I’m still hung up on the Nazareth of it all.”
Philip just repeats once more: “Come and see.”
Come & See
It’s nighttime, and Jesus is walking down an outdoor alley, when he spots Philip coming toward him with Nathanael at his side.
“Well, this is a good night!” Jesus says. “Do you know who stands beside you there?”
“This is my friend, Nathanael,” Philip introduces him.
“Yes,” Jesus says. “The truth-teller.”
Nathanael is surprised. “I’m sorry?”
Manners can be deceitful, and Israel began with a deceiver*, Jesus says. “But one of the great things about you is that you are a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
Nathanael is nonplussed. “What is this? How do you know me?” he asks.
“I’ve known you long before Philip called you to ‘come and see,’” Jesus says. “When you were in your lowest moment, and you were alone, I did not turn my face from you. I saw you, under the fig tree.”
Nathanael is overwhelmed. “Rabbi!” he says. “You are the son of God. The king of Israel.”
“I knew it!” Philip celebrates.
Jesus puts his hand on Nathanael’s shoulder. “Because I said ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ you believe? You are going to see many greater things than that.”
As Nathanael laughs through happy tears, Simon and Andrew come running with a message from John:
People are gathering in Syria, eager to welcome Jesus. His fame is spreading.
“Thank you boys,” Jesus says, and the brothers run off happily.
Jesus turns back to Nathanael.
“So,” He says. “You wanted to help build something that would bring souls closer to God, yes?” (echoing something Nathanael had said earlier)
Nathanael nods at Jesus’ question.
“…Can you start tomorrow?”
Okay, for our background context, let’s take a look at a few quotes and concepts from this episode:
The Backstory of Nathanael’s Backstory
The Bible isn’t very descriptive when it comes to the backstories of Jesus’ twelve disciples. We know that Simon and Andrew and James and John were fishermen, and that Matthew was a tax collector, because that’s all relevant to the main story, but who was Nathanael? Who was Philip? What about the others?
No one knows. And that gives the creators of the Chosen quite a bit of leeway to come up with their own backstories.
In the case of Nathanael, all that the Bible says about him is that he was sitting under a fig tree when Jesus first “saw” him (not with physical eyes), that Philip called him to “come and see,” and Nathanael was less than impressed with Jesus’ Nazarene background at first, and that Jesus said of him “here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:43–51)
The writers wove all of that into their rendering of Nathanael, and added stuff:
Like the idea that Nathanael was sitting under the tree because he was depressed after his dream of being an architect went down with the rubble of a building he was working on.
This storyline is loosely based on director Dallas Jenkins’ own experience: He once had the opportunity to work on a faith-based film (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone) with a major Hollywood production company. Except when the film came out, during election season, it bombed.
Jenkins was terribly depressed, knowing that this meant his future as a director (at least with Hollywood) was over. But in that dark moment, he received a few encouraging words from his wife and from an acquaintance in Romania, who reminded him of the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:13+ ~ Something we’ll probably see in Season 3).
This acquaintance reminded Dallas that “it’s not your job to feed the five thousand, it’s your job to bring your loaves and fish.”
In a more cliched rephrasing: You do what you can and let God do the rest.
So encouraged, but still a bit discombobulated, Jenkins continued to work on small films with his church, and then one day he was approached by someone from Angel Studios who asked if he had any ideas to work on. Jenkins tentatively mentioned a long-time dream of making a TV series (not a movie, but a full on multi-season series) based on the life of Christ, focusing on the perspective of His disciples.
By that time, he had created a Christmas movie called The Shepherd, retelling the story of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of an outcast shepherd. The folks at Angel Studios were so impressed by this short film that they went all in on Jenkins’ dream.
A little snafu occurred in 2020, with the spread of the pandemic. At the time, to encourage a scared and confused population, Jenkins and team decided to make The Chosen free to watch for a short time, surviving on donations alone.
A short time turned into forever, and now The Chosen is the most successful free-to-watch, crowd-funded multi-season show based on the life of Christ in history.
But it all started with that Dark Night of the Soul, when Jenkins’ first major movie failed. And that’s the feeling Jenkins coached Austin (the actor who plays Nathanael) to portray when he’s sitting under the fig tree.
Prophecy of Gog and Magog / Ezekiel “And then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will make fires of the weapons…”
The women are impressed when the men start quoting the Old Testament in response to a quote Philip says off-handedly.
This quote is from Ezekiel 39:9, a really odd Minor Prophet book with lots of bizarre imagery. I don’t fully understand the book (or even understand it at all, to be honest), so you can look up other commentaries, or read it yourself and see what you think!
“The day I was baptized by John”
Here Jesus refers to something that isn’t shown in the Chosen series: his baptism in the Jordan.
This is where Andrew and Philip first saw Jesus.
According to the Biblical account (Matthew 3: 13–17), Jesus asks John to baptize him, and at first John declines, saying that he needs to be baptized by Jesus instead.
But Jesus insists that it’s the right thing to do, so John does, and when Jesus comes back up, a voice from heaven says “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.”
Disciples jockeying for power
The Bible does talk about how the disciples got into political/power struggles amongst themselves. And the writers show this starting early, with brothers Simon and Andrew kinda-sorta against brothers James and John, even from the beginning in episode 1 with Simon telling Zebedee and his sons about how he almost betrayed them to the Romans.
Each group thinks they know best, and their squabbling and bickering must have caused Jesus quite a few headaches. It’s neat to see the writers translate that to the screen 😉
Ask my father in heaven how long a thousand years is / Soon
When Simon is asking Jesus about reorganizing the disciples so that there is a hierarchy of authority (of course, with himself, Simon, at the top), Jesus ribs him a bit on the use of the word “soon.”
“Ask my father how long a thousand years are,” Jesus tells Simon. “Then we’ll talk about ‘soon.’”
This is referring to the verse in 2 Peter 3:8, which goes:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
For context, this is Peter encouraging the young church, which has been asking why Jesus hasn’t returned yet. Peter says that God is delaying Jesus’ second coming because He wants to give people time to repent and know him before destroying the Earth in judgment.
(I love how in The Chosen, the writers have Jesus saying this to Simon, who we know will eventually become Simon Peter, and the reference verse can be found in the Epistle of Peter, which was said to be written or at least dictated by Peter to the early church).
Philip the Tetrarch, brother of Herod Antipas (also a Tetrarch)
When the disciples reach Caesarea Philippi, Philip jokes that the place was named after himself. When Matthew says “really?” Philip says no, of course, the place was named after Philip the Tetrarch.
Who is Philip the Tetrarch?
He was also known as Philip II, the brother of Herod Antipas (the ruler of Galilee), and the son of Herod Philip I (sheesh, can’t these royal folk be a little more creative with their naming?).
After Herod I’s death, he split his land between several sons, which is why Philip and Herod II are called “tetrarchs,” not “monarchs.”
Apparently, Philp later married one Salome, who could have been the infamous Salome, stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, and his own much-younger niece (who danced and caused the beheading of John the Baptist).
But anyways, the entire Herodian family was pretty messed up.
“Israel began with a deceiver”
This line refers to the story of one ancestor of the Jews:
Jacob, later renamed Israel, the son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham.
Jacob’s name literally means “heel grabber,” which is 1) what he actually was, because he came out of the womb grabbing his big brother’s heel, and 2) a way to say “deceiver” or perhaps “liar” (which he also was, as well).
And Jacob’s life story does highlight this deceptive aspect of his character. First, he semi-tricks his older brother Esau into handing over his birthright (which was a very important thing back in those days.
In that society, the firstborn was supposed to inherit most of his father’s possessions, material and spiritual, and in the Abrahamic line, this also included the promised blessing God had given Abraham — that all nations would be blessed through him and his descendants).
Then Jacob full-on tricks his brother to gain the firstborn blessing, which also was really important in that time and society, and then he meets a tricksy uncle who tries to cheat him, and Jacob “tricks” him back, and so on and so forth.
(It’s a pretty crazy story. Check out Genesis 25:19+ for the whole thing!)
THOUGHTS ON STORYTELLING, WRITING, AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
Several hits and misses in this episode, as usual (although overall, I think this was a solid episode); let’s dive right in:
Philip’s answer to “What do you want?”
when Simon, Andrew, James, and John first meet Philip in the show, he’s strolling casually across the Bashan, looking for Jesus.
The disciples are suspicious of any random stranger who would just “go walking” in the area and Simon asks him, somewhat warily: “What do you want?”
Of course Philip knows what he means, but his response shows off his carefree, somewhat humorous attitude and character so well.
Instead of straight-up saying “I want to see Jesus,” or saying who he is and why he’s there, Philip goes on a roundabout speech about wanting the Romans to go away, a pretty wife someday, and a fatted goose, confusing the disciples and delighting the audience.
If only we could all have this light-hearted approach to life.
I love how the writers three-dimensionalize each disciple, extrapolating (sometimes from VERY slim Biblical descriptions) and creating backstories and personalities where the Bible doesn’t make things explicit.
Since Philip was a former disciple of John, just like Andrew was, it makes sense to make him the experienced, big-brotherly figure who helps Jesus’ new crew learn what it means to follow an unconventional rabbi.
And the way he enters the scene is the perfect intro for a character like him 🙂
The first time was fun, the second, not logical.
The first time we see Philip napping is right after the disciples meet him. Andrew and Simon have a hushed conversation, then Simon brings Philip a cup of water, only to find him sitting in the middle of a gaggle of curious disciples, sleeping.
This scene was great — it shows how comfortable and content Philip is with who he is, and how trusting he is that he is able to sleep anywhere. Even in the middle of a strange camp with strangers staring at him.
But the second time this happens is in the morning, after the disciples have woken up from a night of sleep, and Philip says, “wake me if I have work to do,” or something like that. Which totally doesn’t make sense, because the men literally just woke up from a night of sleep.
Unless the writers want to say that Philip is lazy or has a sleep disorder, this scene doesn’t make sense. And I highly doubt they’re trying to make Philip lazy or sleep-disordered.
Which just goes to show: When it comes to subtle characterization moments like these, you don’t want to overdo it.
And it is possible to overdo it.
Fumbling Character Foils
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see Thomas and Matthew as that similar.
Could be the actors, too. Joey Vahedi (Thomas) and Paras Patel (Matthew) are so different — in terms of look and “feel” (the way they act) — that they don’t really work as foils for each other, even though that’s obviously what the writers are trying to go for:
Setting up two characters who are similar (in this case: Both Matthew and Thomas are supposed to be practical, business-like, and mathematically minded) is often a great way to explore story themes and use contrast to bring out a character’s personality even more.
In this case, it just doesn’t work.
They would be fine as characters without the writers trying to force some kind of “similarity” that just isn’t there.
However, they do have some great scenes together. I just think the juxtaposition is unnecessary.
Repeated Thematic Lines
The repetition of the line “come and see” is great in this episode. Not only is it the theme of this episode (Philip overcoming Nathanael’s objections by telling him to simply “come and see” Jesus), it’s the theme of the entire show.
The Chosen was created by an evangelical Christian (Dallas Jenkins, director), and his vision for the show was to introduce the Bible stories to people who might never otherwise know anything about the Bible or Jesus or any of this.
The idea is not to go after people trying to thump them on the head with a Bible, but just to invite them to literally “come and see” and hopefully inform them of something they didn’t know or disabuse them of wrongly formed impressions about who Jesus really is and what His story is really about.
On a lesser level, the repetition of “Just wanted to be clear,” was a great touch. Especially when Jesus says that to Nathanael at the end of the episode.
This is Nathanael’s line, something that he says all the time to people, because he is a very candid “I say what I think” type of person.
So when Jesus says his own line back to him, Nathanael on a gut level understands that Jesus isn’t just a regular old rabbi.
This is similar to how the writers have Jesus call Mary by her real name in episode 1. Only Mary knew her real name. Everyone else thought of her as “Lilith.” (At least in this show) So Jesus calling her “Mary of Magdala” stuns her and shows her that this Person is not a mere random stranger.
This reminds me of another book I read, by writer Eric Metaxas, who says he converted to Christianity after asking for, and receiving a special sign: An extremely personal, vivid dream/vision that contained elements from his life that only he would know.
Actually, this also happened to the late Muslim-turned-Christian-evangelist, Nabeel Qureshi. And probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of other people. The point is, when someone knows something personal about you that no one else could possibly know, that’s something you can’t ignore.
Injecting Meaning Into the Text
In the Bible, all we see is Jesus saying to Nathanael, “I saw you under the fig tree.” What is the significance of that line? We don’t know.
The writers of The Chosen fill in the blanks by adding more meaning to that line. Instead of having Nathanael simply sit under a tree having a siesta or something, they put him under the tree after dealing with the greatest disappointment of his life.
Nathanael is crying and burning his architectural plans, calling out to a seemingly silent God and grieving his loss.
That makes Jesus’ line “I saw you under the fig tree” much more meaningful. Because in the show, Nathanael shouts: “Do you see me??” And a few scenes later, when Jesus says, “I saw you,” that means something to him.
Then the writers reinforce that with Jesus’ line: “I did not turn my face from you.”
Which is a line from a couple of Psalms (102:2, 27:9), and this works quite well, because educated Jews would have known and probably used these lines from the Psalms in their prayers and daily conversations.
So Jesus saying this to Nathanael would certainly resonate with him. (Not to mention, the writers reinforce this by including the line “do not turn your face from me” into Nathanael’s speech/prayer under the tree as a set up for Jesus to say this to him later)
I love the friendships growing between the disciples, especially with Philip. Whether it’s Philip and Matthew, or Philip and Nathanael, Philip is just the best friend we all wish we had.
He instantly notices Matthew’s outcast status and goes out of his way to encourage Matthew. He remembers his old friend Nathanael and helps him to stop wallowing in his depression.
Philip is a natural leader and encourager, and I’m interested to see what the writers do with him in the future.
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