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Old 01-14-2019, 05:56 PM   #94
Lightning McQueenie
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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I think that since it was so early in the season, they were trying to find their feet and were far less likely to reject a flawed script, especially as this was the first full 20+ episode season and the need to churn out the episodes was there. My criticism comes with the benefit of hindsight, but I don't think it's unfair when we have to look at the series as a whole to make the rankings.

Actually, while Leap of Faith is not a great episode, it stays out of my bottom 10 as it does a much better job at weaving Sam's profession and the underlying religion than Thou Shalt Not did. If we compare where the religion/culture and Sam's position in the place of worship in the two episodes:

Leap of Faith:
- Sam leaps in at the end of the wedding ceremony and pronounces the couple married. This might seem inconsequential, but it did lead to the next...
- Sam is approached and his performance critiqued by the two older women. This was an entirely necessary scene because it showed the women's trust in and rapport with the priest Sam had replaces, which would be needed later in the episode.
- Al is uneasy for the entire leap because of him turning his back on his faith in his childhood.
- It was because Sam was in a position of power in the community that he was able to diffuse the tense situation at the boy's funeral.
- Sam's primary mission is to not only save the life of the other priest, but also to help him restore his faith - it having been severely tested after the young boy's murder. I seriously doubt that had Sam been in any position other than a priest, that Father Mac would have confided in him.
- Had Sam not tried to get Father Mac to hide til the trial (and dry out), he wouldn't have been doing the Confessionals, which would not have given Tony the chance to get close enough to him to attempt to murder him (mistaking Sam for Father Mac).
- Sam being shot was what created some development for Al's character (I won't say "growth" because it's actually regression), rekindling his own faith in God when his prayer was answered.
- Sam was trusted enough by the two older women to have them loan him the car to chase after Father Mac (in his state it would take a LOT of trust in that case).
- Sam had to remind Father Mac of his vows and why he had become a priest in the first place - to make up for killing people in war and that nobody else had to die. Again, it is doubtful that anyone other than a priest would be able to bring Father Mac back from his anger.
- Sam coins the term "One Day At A Time", a common phrase in AA, where it is believed that only a higher power can help them get through their disease.

Thou Shalt Not:
- Sam as the rabbi finishes Karen's Bat Mitzvah and celebrates at her party with some traditional Jewish food and dances. This is fine and was entertaining to watch, but where does it lead?
- We get some more information about Al, that he had a Jewish wife and that she helped him to understand the importance of family. This doesn't lead anywhere though. How good would it have been for Al to see parallels from what originally happened to Irene and her family to his own life. Maybe Ruth could have cheated on Al because of his distance? Maybe Al could empathise with the family from the fact that his mother abandoned him? Or that Beth left him? It could have been a scene like when he's reminded of Trudy in Jimmy. Yes we did get some more information about Al's life, but not any growth, and it so easily could have.
- Karen opens her presents at home. Again, inconsequential.
- Joe laments to Sam that he is thinking of having an affair. I include this simply because the title is "Thou Shalt Not" and one of the ten commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery", so it is unclear whether Joe is telling Sam this in confidence as a brother or as a rabbi (Joe could be wanting some spiritual guidance as well as just a brother to confide in). It's a stretch, and is a prime example of how the Jewish/rabbi factor is removable.
- Irene also confides in Sam, wracked with guilt over Danny's death. Again, it is ambiguous as to whether this is because of Sam being in the position of a close family member or in the position as the rabbi. Exactly the same argument as the previous.
- Sam and Irene are holding a fundraiser at the temple. The only purpose this serves is to make it possible for the woman to confess his affair...
- The woman confesses her affair to Sam. This is the ONLY part of the episode where Sam being a rabbi has some consequence, as it helped Sam realise that Bert could not be trusted. However, this has problems too. First, Jewish people don't have Confession and don't believe in Hell, which means that it's not so much because of the woman wanting forgiveness for her sin than it is her trying to find the right course of action to forgive herself and do the right thing by her husband. This is why this particular case is interchangeable with Sam in the place of some other trusted person in a position of power, like a counsellor.

I was very generous with my Thou Shalt Not entries, but it is very clear that in that episode the Jewish/rabbi factor is being used as a border and chucked out once the real story took place. But good storytelling is when the elements you include are interwoven, forming a tapestry where everything has consequence.

Again, it is not the fact that Judaism was included that made me dislike the episode, it was one of the best parts. It's the fact that these elements were completely inconsequential. The criticism is the storytelling, not the content.
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