In this episode, Judas (yeah, THAT Judas) gets his official invite to join Jesus’ team. Plus, we see a little more of Matthew’s backstory, and how and why he betrayed his people to join the employ of the (better-paying) enemy.
(It would seem betrayal is in the air, past and future…)
In other news, the disciples take a break and go home to their families in Capernaum after the climactic Sermon on the Mount, only to face a few new problems involving houseguests and the like. Plus Andrew visits John in jail with the unofficial help of a new and lesser-known Bible character…
Here’s the official show description:
The Sermon on the Mount: various elements are brought to life with incredible clarity as many of the characters show the depth of meaning of Jesus’s message.
In the following analysis, we dig deep into where Judas Iscariot’s name comes from (there’s a really juicy story involving an unloved wife and some strange naming practices behind this), and discuss what worked (funny gags with the 1st century Aboott & Costello) and what didn’t (ribald comments from a certain disciple? What??) in this episode.
Let’s do this!
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 EARLIER
In the last episode (or rather, the climax of the last season, since this is episode 1 of the third season), the disciples have prepared everything for Jesus to give an epic sermon on a hill.
Thousands of people show up, including a couple Roman stalker-tagalongs (*cough cough* Matthew’s old bodyguard Gaius and a Roman spy named Atticus *cough*), plus a mysterious real estate agent dude and his even more mysterious (at least for a while) young apprentice.
A few old friends reappear as well (Barnaby & Shula, and Simon’s wife, Eden), and as Jesus steps up to the stage to get the sermon started…
We cut to Season 3, Episode 1, Scene 1:
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
We begin with a scene of a Roman soldier attempting to arrest an older Jewish man (Alphaeus) for being late with his taxes.
Just as Alphaeus is about to be taken to jail, Matthew appears and tells the guard to let him go.
“I’ve made a mistake,” Matthew says. “I was given bad information.”
When Matthew sends the soldier off to the next house, Alphaeus and his wife Elisheva confront Matthew.
Turns out, they’re his parents. And Matthew’s turned into their tax collector.
Matthew’s parents condemn him for his betrayal of his people, and Matthew shoots back that he doesn’t see why he shouldn’t take a secure job when God hasn’t been helping them out in the last 500 years.
In response, Matthew’s dad disowns him, telling his wife that they will “sit shiva” (mourn the death of a family member) over Matthew. Then he goes back in his house and slams the door.
The scene cuts back to Jesus giving his sermon on the mount.*
Matthew is watching, teary-eyed, and we realize that the earlier scene was a flashback brought to mind as he stands and listens to his rabbi preach in the present day.
As Jesus speaks, the camera pans over the crowd and focuses on several of the other disciples, who are struggling with their own issues:
- Andrew, who is worried about John the Baptist’s incarceration.
- Mary, who has just come back from a relapse into her old life.
- Judas (who isn’t yet a disciple but will be one soon) who is looking for something meaningful to do with his life…
Mother Mary spots Matthew standing apart with his head bowed, and makes her way over to stand beside him. “How is he doing?” she asks.
“The sermon?” Matthew asks. “The words are the same, but…”
“But he’s saying them,” Mother Mary finishes.
Matthew nods. “Yes.”
Aaaaaaand, it’s time for the FISHIES!!!
As the opening credits fade out, we return to Jesus finishing up his sermon as his disciples and the crowd listen.
When Jesus starts reciting the Lord’s prayer, we see several of his disciples mouthing the words along with him. Obviously, he has repeated these words to them many, many times, and they have memorized them.
Then the sermon scene ends with a clap of the soundtrack, and we switch immediately to the crowd dispersing, post-sermon.
While they leave, people talk about what they’ve just heard:
Meanwhile, Judas’ real estate mentor (Hadad) catches up to him.
“Judas! I almost lost you. Did you find those guys?” Hadad asks.
Barely waiting for Judas to respond, he continues:
“Did you see the look on people’s faces? I’ve never seen a crowd so moved! …The ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘lay up your treasures in heaven’ business was a little naive, but this man has TALENT!”
Judas interrupts Hadad’s gushing:
“I’m going with them,” he announces.
Hadad squints at him. “What?”
“I’m leaving. I quit,” Judas rephrases.
Hadad stares in dismay. “I’ll sue you,” he says.
“I’ll renounce my shares,” Judas shoots back.
“Then I’ll sue him,” Hadad says.
Judas laughs. “There is nothing you could take from him that would be of any value to you.”
“What does he have to give you, then?” Hadad asks, forlornly.
In response, Judas just hugs him goodbye.
On another side of the hill, Gaius (Matthew’s old bodyguard) and Atticus (part of the cohortes urbanae, a spy who has been following Jesus around for the last few episodes) are watching the departing crowd.
“Well?” Atticus prompts Gaius, who doesn’t reply.
“My thoughts exactly,” Atticus says after a brief pause. “See you in the morning, then, for our report to Quintus.”
Gaius still doesn’t say a word.
“Good chat,” Atticus says.
Post-sermon, Jesus is taking a breather, sitting on a rock and eating some munchies his mom brought him.
Along comes Matthew with his notes, eager to discuss questions he has over what Jesus just said. Matthew doesn’t notice Jesus’ exhaustion, or Judas tentatively walking up behind him as he peppers Jesus with questions.
“Matthew,” Jesus says gently. “Perhaps we can talk about this some other time? I’m very hungry and I would love to chat with our new friend…” he gestures to Judas, who immediately apologizes and says he’ll come back later.
No, Jesus says, inviting Judas to say. I would love to speak with you.
Jesus sends Matthew off to gather the other disciples, thanking him for his help.
Then Judas comes over and introduces himself.
Judas expresses his desire to join Jesus’ group, and Jesus questions Judas:
Are you ready to do hard things? To praise God?
“Yes,” Judas says. “Every day.”
“Well in that case, Judas,” Jesus stands and extends the formal invitation: “Follow me.”
As Judas thanks Jesus, the other disciples come over and spontaneously begin to applaud Jesus for his sermon.
Jesus thanks them all for their hard work, singling out the three who helped them secure the land, and reminds everyone to clean up before they go.
Then he announces that Judas is joining the ministry. The disciples applaud again to welcome him, and Jesus tells them to go home and get some rest. Especially Simon:
“After the joy of having you gone, Eden has started to miss you,” Jesus quips.
Then Jesus pulls everyone into a huddle and prays over them:
Then Jesus dismisses the disciples.
The Women Meet Joanna
A well-dressed woman approaches the ladies in Jesus’ group (Mary Magdalene, Ramah, and Tamar). She offers them a bolt of cloth and says that she would like to speak with Jesus.
Tamar recognizes the cloth as Shahtoosh (an expensive type of wool made from the fur of the Tibetan antelope) from Nepal.
When asked, the woman introduces herself as Joanna, and says she brings greetings from someone Jesus knows.
Ramah is immediately suspicious of the woman’s motives. But when she presses, Joanna reveals that John the Baptist told her about Jesus. Turns out, Joanna’s husband works in Herod’s court.
Mary turns and calls Andrew, who is excited to hear news of his old rabbi.
“You’ve spoken to him?” Andrew asks anxiously.
At his emotional response, Joanna realizes who Andrew is:
“He mentioned you,” Joanna says, smiling at him.
“Is he hurt?” Andrew demands.
“No…well, yes. It’s not a great place for him to be,” Joanna says. “He’s upset some important people.”
But Joanna adds that John has a message for him especially — to tell Andrew that he (John) is in good spirits.
“Can I see him?” Andrew asks, just as Jesus appears and greets Joanna.
“So, you’ve spoken to my cousin?” Jesus says.
In tears, Joanna asks to support Jesus’ ministry. “This has been a healing day for me,” she explains. “As John said it would be. Thank you.”
“Glad to hear it,” Jesus says.
Joanna adds that John wanted to ask Jesus to come to Herod at some point, when Jesus thinks the time is right. Jesus thanks her, and then on behalf of Andrew, asks if Joanna can take the young disciple to see John.
Joanna offers Andrew a seat in her carriage, and Andrew thanks her, and Jesus.
“You need to rest, and to trust, Andrew,” Jesus reminds him. “But perhaps after spending some time with John, you’ll be able to do both.”
“We’ll leave in a few moments, hmm?” Joanna says to Andrew as Simon saunters up.
“So…what’s going on? Everything good?” Simon asks his little brother.
Andrew fills him in. Joanna is from Machaerus, from Herod’s court, and she is taking him to see John.
“I can’t let you go alone!” protective big brother Simon says.
But Andrew reassures him, and then thanks him for taking good care of him and being a good leader.
Simon relents. “Say Shalom to John for me,” he says.
Andrew smiles. “Really?” he asks.
“Yeah, he started all this,” Simon points out. After all, John introduced Andrew to Jesus, and Andrew brought Simon, afterwards.
Then the brothers say goodbye, and Andrew goes to join Joanna.
Next, we see Thomas calling Ramah over to chat.
The two confirm that each one has arranged housing for themselves (Thomas is staying with John, Ramah with Mary), and Thomas mentions coming over to see her later.
There are some awkward pauses as the two exchange flirtatious pleasantries, and then finally, when they have nothing left to say, Ramah says goodbye with a light “shalom” and rejoins the other women.
Thomas smiles foolishly to himself, and then turns to leave, only to see this:
Back at the Synagogue
And now we switch locations to see the pharisee Yusuf in the Capernaum synagogue, hard at work writing something:
Next, we have Yusuf walking into a new room (equipment room?) and starting in surprise at the sight of a stranger among the synagogue knick-knacks.
“I’m Jairus, the new synagogue administrator,” the stranger introduces himself.
Yusuf is somewhat put out that no one told him they were switching out the old palace administrator for a new one.
The two men chat about changes and travel and family, and Jairus mentions he has a wife and a twelve-year-old daughter. Yusuf responds in turn that his family is in Jerusalem.
Yusuf asks for ink, but unfortunately Jairus tells him they’re out.
Shoot. Oh well. Yusuf thanks him and turns to leave, but Jairus starts talking about the recent happenings in Capernaum.
“Are you perhaps writing of unusual things?” Jairus asks.
Yusuf confirms that he is writing down his thoughts on a sermon he heard “from a brilliant rogue preacher” recently.
Jairus warns him in a roundabout way to think hard before sending off whatever he’s writing:
“I have a safe that I use. I call it the cellar,” Jairus tells Yusuf. “It’s where documents go to cool off. You have no idea how many times our brothers write something they wish they had not sent in the morning.”
Yusuf thanks him warmly again, and leaves.
Back in Capernaum
Next, we see Simon and Eden returning home together for the first time in a long while.
But just as the couple are about to get comfortable, they’re interrupted by a knocking at the door.
When the knocking continues, Simon opens the door to this delightful sight ←(Note from the Scylighter: Nathanael wants me to let you know — That’s sarcasm, by the way. Just to be clear…)
“Oh, hello!” Eden greets Nathanael.
“Whaddarya doin’ here?” Simon growls.
“Simon,” Nathanael says innocently. “You look like you want to smash my face with a stone.”
Nathanael has come to sleep over at Simon and Eden’s.
“I’m just not from here, and I heard you might have space,” Nathanael says.
“Who told you that?” Simon demands, while Eden says, “Of course we do, Nathanael!”
Simon first tries to send Nathanael to Andrew’s empty flat, but Nathanael says Philip and Judas are staying there already.
“It’ll work out,” Eden reassures him.
“Would you be opposed to sleeping on the roof?” Simon asks, trying the second-best option.
“Uhh…” Nathanael says, turning to Eden. “I heard you have a spare room that your mother used to stay in?”
“Who’s telling you these things?” Simon interrupts.
But Eden distracts him by offering Nathanael some food, which the former architect accepts with alacrity.
Unfortunately, Nathanael cracks a bit of a ribald joke, which makes Eden gasp and Simon threaten to throw him into the fish hold.
Nathanael quickly apologizes and starts to make his way to the roof, when…
“Oh good!” Simon Z says, smiling broadly. “This is the place.”
All Simon can do is sigh in exasperated surrender:
Next up, we have the Sons of Thunder, aka brothers Big James and John, heading home to their Abba and Ima with their packs on their shoulders.
They are interrupted by Thomas, who is a surprise addition for Big James. Apparently, John hadn’t told him that Thomas is sleeping over.
“Glad to have you, Thomas,” James says, not sounding particularly glad at all.
They are greeted by an exuberant Zebedee who has come out to meet them:
“Three disciples of Jesus coming to stay under my roof! A triple blessing!” Zeb exclaims.
“Abba knew?” James says to John.
“Yeah, Thomas and I talked to him. Come on,” John says, going to greet their father.
“I’d introduce you to Thomas, but it seems you’ve already met,” Big James says to his father, somewhat dourly.
Zeb greets Thomas with an enthusiastic hug, and they chat about the sermon.
“I’ve got something very important I want to talk to you all about,” Thomas says.
“I think I know what it is,” Zeb says.
“I definitely think I know,” John agrees.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Big James protests as the other three leave him in the dust. “Abba!”
Next, we see the three women staying at Mary’s:
Ramah and Tamar are obviously taken aback by the sparseness of the setting, but trying to be polite.
As Tamar takes down the window covering to let in some light, Mary spots something — or rather, someone — outside. She goes out to see:
Matthew explains that he’s given away his house, and his parents would never let him stay with them.
“I’m sorry,” Mary says.
“Thank you for listening,” Matthew responds. Then adds: “I think perhaps I’ll make camp. I know how to do it now.”
Ramah and Tamar come out. After chit-chatting a bit with the ladies, Matthew bids them good night and takes his leave.
Back inside, the women discuss whether or not to sell the shawl Joanna gave them. Ramah is still uncomfortable with having accepted it, and she doesn’t trust Joanna.
Mary interrupts the discussion to suggest that they just eat their evening meal, instead.
In Herod’s Dungeons
Now, we see a Roman soldier leading Joanna and Andrew through the prisons.
Joanna threatens the soldier to keep his silence about her visit to John:
“It will be…embarrassing for me, if you tell anyone about my visit, or my friend being with me,” Joanna says. “But for you and your family, it will be devastating. Do you understand?” She slips him some coins, and the soldier smiles.
“You were never here,” he says, as he turns to leave.
As the guard disappears ‘round the corner (or wherever guards go when their presence is no longer needed), Andrew goes up to the bars. “John, are you alright?” he asks.
John pulls himself up to see them. “What are you doing here? Who allowed this?”
“No one,” Joanna replies. “You should be quick.”
To Andrew, John says reassuringly, “I’ll be fine. Think of it this way: I never got to sleep in a palace before.”
Andrew expresses his worry over John, and John reminds him, “You’ve got a new rabbi now. THE rabbi. Focus on him.”
Then he changes the topic. Indicating Joanna, John explains that she was ticked off at him for not condemning her husband’s adultery while he was busy expounding Herod’s multiple sins.
“She’s proving an apt pupil,” John says.
Then he asks Andrew and Joanna about what Jesus said, and Joanna eagerly recounts pieces of the sermon that she can remember. Andrew pitches in as well, and John is overwhelmed with joy at how Jesus’ ministry is going.
But Andrew is still worried about John. “What can we do for you? How can I help?” he asks.
“You’re helping me by what you’re sharing!” John says.
John beckons Andrew to come closer. He tells him not to be afraid, and reminds him of the words of Isaiah 61:
“He has been sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
“This prison is nothing, now that he is here!” John says. “Do you believe that?”
“I’m trying,” Andrew says, clearly struggling.
John tells him to think of what, in Jesus’ sermon, stuck with him the most. What did Jesus say that was just for him?
“Do not be anxious,” Andrew replies, a tear rolling down his face.
“If you want to help, listen to him,” John says. “Go home and do what he says. That’s what I want.”
Andrew nods, and John says, “I’ll let Joanna get you out of here, so you don’t join me.”
Judas and his Sis
Meanwhile, back at…wherever this is set…(Capernaum? Kerioth?)…
…we see Judas Iscariot aka Judas of Kerioth packing his bags and getting ready to go.
He kisses his fingers and taps the mezuzah on his way out, and then we cut to a woman, dyeing cloth. She turns as she hears Judas call out to her:
Judas has come to visit his sister Devorah to ask her to hold on to the deed to his house, and the houseplant that their mother left him.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back…or if I’ll be back,” he says.
Judas’ sister is not excited at the prospect of her only brother — the last of their family line — risking his life following an itinerant preacher to who-knows-where. After all, Romans don’t take kindly to popular preachers with large followings.
“I think he’s the Messiah,” Judas says.
“Many have claimed to be the Messiah!” Devorah exclaims. “You know what happens to them?”
“Always the worst case scenario with you!” Judas retorts. “You know their followers aren’t…”
He pauses. “…always killed.”
Judas follows that up with: “If he is the Anointed One, sister, then he will not be killed. He will defeat the Romans and set us all free.”
But Devorah is thinking of more pressing matters:
“I don’t want to lose you, Judas,” she says. “You’re all I have left in this world.”
“You have your husband, your beautiful daughters…” Judas reminds her.
You know what I mean, his sister says.
As the only son in their family, if anything were to happen to Judas, “the line of Iscariot will be broken, and our family name will be forgotten.”
But Judas insists that he must follow Jesus. So Devorah sends him off with a hug.
“I really hope you’re right about this,” she says.
“I am. You’ll see,” Judas replies.
An Unsealed Letter
And we are back to Yusuf and Jairus:
Yusuf has come to deliver a letter for Nicodemus to Jairus’ “cellar/safe.”
When Jairus points out that the letter is unsealed, Yusuf simply replies that he knows. And takes his leave.
We switch perspectives again, to Andrew, who has come to Mary’s door. He knocks, but before we see what happens, the camera cuts to Matthew, who is also approaching a door.
Then we go back to Andrew. Mary opens the door, surprised to see him on the doorstep.
Andrew says that in Rabbi’s sermon, people need to reconcile with each other before worshipping God. Because of that, Andrew has come to apologize for the mean things he’s said to and about Mary.
“You don’t owe me any — ” Mary starts to say, but Andrew cuts her off.
“Yes, I do,” he says. “I said awful things to you. Because I was scared…which Rabbi also talked about.”
“I’m very sorry,” Andrew finishes.
Mary is speechless for a moment. “I’m not sure what to say…I think this is the first time anyone’s ever said sorry to me.”
“Mary, you don’t deserve that,” Andrew says, compassionately. Then after a moment: “Things are better now, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” Mary agrees, wiping her eyes with one hand. “A lot.”
She thanks him, and Andrew leaves.
And now, back to Matthew:
He is hesitating outside his parents’ door, visibly torn.
Just then, a familiar black furball spots him and begins barking:
At the noise, Matthew grows more distressed, pacing and making as if to run away. But the door creaks open…
And of course, it’s good ole’ dad:
“Alphaeus,” Matthew greets his father.
There is a pause, then:
“Son,” Alphaeus says.
Matthew’s eyes widen in shock, and…
And now we must wait for the next installment to continue this story.
But in the meantime, here’s some background context and story analyses to keep you busy ’til the next watch party…
Okay, for our background context, let’s take a look at a few quotes and concepts from this episode:
This is what Alphaeus says in the prologue as the Roman is roughing him up and getting ready to haul him off to jail for tax non-payment.
God has several names among the Jewish people. There’s Elohim, which is more of a generic word meaning “spirit,” and can be applied to basically any spiritual being, not just the One True God, then “Yahweh” which basically means “to be / I am / to exist,” and is referring to The One specific God, creator of the universe, etc., etc.
Then there is “Adonai,” meaning “My Lord.”
“Adon” means “lord” or “master,” and is a title, not a name. However, when you pluralize and capitalize it to “Adonai,” it refers specifically to the One Lord God of the Jews, just like you can have a generic “lord” in English, but if you capitalize the word “Lord,” it refers to a specific person.
In some translations of the Bible, you will find that the original “Adonai” is translated as “Lord.” They also translate Yahweh as “LORD” (all caps).
The Sermon on the Mount
…is a famous passage in Matthew (See Matt 5–6), which is a collection of teachings that Jesus shared with his followers. It’s famous for including several countercultural moral statements, like:
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit…those who mourn…the meek…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…those who are persecuted because of righteousness…”
- “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
- “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
- “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”
- “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
- “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Of course, the entire sermon isn’t shown in the show, but they do include a few snippets that are relevant to the story arcs of various disciples.
Also, it’s likely that the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t one sermon, but more like a collection of stuff Jesus said that was gathered into one place in the book of Matthew.
But for narrative purposes, the writers decided to make it just one sermon, and that works just fine, since that’s how it’s presented in the book, anyway.
Judas Iscariot / Judas of Kerioth’s name
“Iscariot” could mean “man from Kerioth,” which could be referring to a town in the south of Judah.
And “Judas” the first name means “God be praised,” as Jesus points out in the scene where he calls Judas.
There’s a long story behind this name:
The name Judas is actually the Greek form of the name Judah, which is the name from which the word “Jew” comes from. (Jew comes from the Hebrew “Yehudi” which means “from the kingdom of Judah.”)
This is because ancient Israel split into two kingdoms after the time of King Solomon:
Israel in the North was made up of 10 of the 12 original Tribes of Israel, and was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians.
Then there was the Kingdom of Judah in the South, led by the descendants of King David, consisting of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. They were overtaken first by the Babylonians, then allowed to return and rebuild in the time of Persian king Cyrus, then taken over again by the Romans before Jesus’ time.
Before even that, “Judah” was the name of the fourth son of Jacob (Jacob was later renamed Israel, which is where the country of Israel’s name comes from) and Leah, his first (and unwanted) wife.
Leah tried to win her husband’s favor by bearing him sons, and giving them names which meant things like “God has seen my misery, now my husband will love me” and “The LORD heard I am not loved, so he gave me this son too,” etc., etc.
But it didn’t seem to work.
By the time she had son number four, it seems Leah stopped thinking about whether her husband would be pleased and simply named her son “Judah,” saying: “This time I will praise the LORD” (See Genesis 29).
Prophetic, isn’t it? Since Jesus ended up coming from the line of Judah.
I thought it was neat that the writers had Joanna come to Jesus because she had spoken with John, and because she is dealing with her husband’s adultery.
I’d always thought Joanna and her husband Chuza (Herod Antipas’ steward, see Luke 8:3) were probably both on Jesus’ side. Only, as one of Herod’s higher-level employees, Chuza would not have felt as free to be open about his loyalties as Joanna, at least not at this time.
But it’s interesting that the writers actually wrote the couple being different. One is a worldly adulterer, the other is warming to Jesus and spiritual things. That works, too.
And I like how they have John influencing Joanna for good. It does make sense that Joanna would have first heard about Jesus from John, who spent quite some time languishing in Herod’s prison before being beheaded.
…Whoops. Was that a spoiler? (Well, it wouldn’t be if you’ve read your Bible, I suppose! ;D)
THOUGHTS ON STORYTELLING, WRITING, AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
The Sermon on the Mount
In this episode, they spend a long time on the sermon, a bit longer than would be perfectly ideal for story pacing. But honestly? I think it’s fine. Great, even:
A lot of the things Jesus says here, people would never know (because they don’t read the Bible), unless the show makers have the actor/character deliver the lines as part of the show.
So it’s a big thumbs up from me (from a personal perspective) that they took their time here to let the Jesus character deliver several more lines from the sermon so the audience can hear, even if they don’t read.
I like how they show Jesus being hungry after a long speech. That is exactly what a human would feel, and Jesus was a human, after all.
At the same time, Jesus shows some healthy boundary-setting, gently delaying Matthew’s questions when the overeager former tax collector runs over with his notes to grill him on the sermon.
But Jesus softens the blow by remembering to thank Matthew for his contributions to the sermon, so Matthew knows that Jesus doesn’t mean offense when he doesn’t answer his questions right then and there.
It makes me think of how we as humans can treat others as well. Even if we’d like to be supportive to everyone, we have limited bandwidth, in terms of time, emotion, attention, and energy.
So we have to be wise about how we spend those resources and on whom.
But at the same time, even if we have to put off some people sometimes, we can do it kindly and respectfully.
A Few Minor Misses
To be honest, the conversation between James and John about “Ima’s cinnamon cakes” and all the miracles Jesus has performed didn’t quite ring true to me.
It makes it sound as if James is just focused on food while John is more “spiritual” or something, which doesn’t seem right.
And then when Thomas joins them, James acts put out and left out, even though he doesn’t have to be.
I mean, what’s with the “sorta secret handshake” between Thomas and John? When did they form a special bond separate from James? The writers didn’t show us that.
So I’m not sure what is the purpose of cutting Big James out of the “inner circle” that Zeb, John, and Thomas are forming.
But I guess we shall see if it does serve any useful narrative purpose in the future.
If it’s done only for laughs, I’ll be disappointed, because the laughs aren’t that funny. At least not with these characters/scenes. There are much better ones elsewhere.
The “naughty” insinuation/joke from Nathanael in the scene where he interrupts Simon and Eden was a bit weird.
I suppose a disciple saying such a thing was possible, even “back in those days,” because hey, people are people and human nature doesn’t change, not in the first century, or now.
And just because they followed Jesus as disciples doesn’t mean they were perfect, especially in the beginning.
Plus, I get that the writers are trying to reinforce Nathanael’s personality as someone who “tells the truth all the time, can’t really help himself, must be clear,” etc.
However, the line did smell a little “Hollywood-ish*,” and I didn’t really like that. Just felt jarring.
*By which I mean that I once heard an interview where a Hollywood screenwriter advised a newbie to literally insert something sexual on every page or every other page of their script. In other words, they’re determined to shove everyone’s minds down the gutter as often as they can. Sigh.
Like, can we have one adult-audience show that doesn’t try to shove viewers’ minds down the gutter, even once? Maybe? Give that a try?
Oh well, perhaps I’m just being too nitpicky.
Back to something nice:
I really like how the writers deepen our understanding of Simon and Andrew’s relationship here. They are really true brothers, and they have each others’ backs.
Although Simon previously teased Andrew about his “bug-eating friend,” when John is in actual trouble, Simon stops the name calling and is supportive of his brother.
And although Simon is eager to get home and spend time with his wife, as soon as he hears that Andrew is going off to Herod’s palace to meet with John, he immediately wants to go too, to protect Andrew.
Then later, Simon tells Andrew to say hi to John for him, saying that he appreciates John’s influence on both of their lives.
For his part, Andrew appreciates Simon’s love and care, and says so without embarrassment or reluctance. But he also assures Simon that he can take care of himself.
And I love how they’re not too proud or awkward to say aloud “I love you” to each other when saying goodbye before Andrew leaves with Joanna to meet John.
You don’t really hear a lot of siblings, especially brothers, say that to each other (at least I don’t), and I wonder if this is something that is more common in Jewish male culture or if this was just something the writers created for Andrew and Simon’s relationship in particular.
Either way, great role modeling here. If all brothers could be like this!
Barnaby & Shula, the First Century Abbott & Costello
Have to say: Barnaby and Shula are excellent as comic relief characters.
When Jesus is gathering the disciples after the sermon, he calls out to Barnaby, “What did you think?” obviously just because he’s interested in getting Barnaby’s humorous take. And Barnaby doesn’t disappoint, wisecracking: “A little long!”
But of course the best part of their antics in this episode is after Thomas and Ramah have their flirtatiously awkward tete-a-tete and then Thomas turns around to see Barnaby and Shula silently but enthusiastically cheering him on in the background.
The camera work helps a lot with the humor of this scene, smoothly swiveling from Thomas’ face and then jolting to a stop when it reaches Barnaby and Shula, just like Thomas must have done when he turned and saw those two grinning at him.
And that look on Thomas’ face when he realizes he’s been overheard is simply comedic perfection. 😆
I love how the writers tie the end to the beginning.
Here, we begin with Matthew being disowned and his father saying, “I have no son.”
But by the time we end, Alphaeus literally calls Matthew “son,” again.
Why? Has he had a change of heart? If so, what brought that on?
What does this mean, what does this mean?
We shall see…
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