"The Chosen" Episode 5 Review
The Rev. Liz Embler-Beazley
Mtr. Liz is the Associate for Congregational Development at St. Paul's Episcopal Church & School
We are screening the first season of The Chosen during this Season after the Epiphany. On February 1, a group of us gathered to watch the fifth episode, "The Wedding Gift".
We are now more than half-way through season one, with only three episodes left. This also means that we only have three weeks left until Ash Wednesday! Or if you're here in New Orleans with us, only three weeks until Mardi Gras! On Wednesday, we asked the gathered community whether or not they would like to continue watching The Chosen through the season of Lent. If you have an opinion about that, please let us know in the comments below!
This week, the episode found Jesus and his newly called disciples on their first big trip together. They journeyed to Cana in Galilee to a wedding feast for one of Jesus' close family friends. This episode also introduces us to Mary, his mother, and we get a glimpse of Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, in a flashback to the only story we have of Jesus as a young man, when he stays behind in Jerusalem after the the Passover Feast, without his parents' knowledge or permission. He says to his mother, "Didn't you know I must be in my Father's house?" and Mary shaking her head says, "It is too early for all of this." Here in this moment, the creators of the show acknowledge Mary's understanding and clarity of who her son is and her call as his mother, as is expressed in scripture through the Magnificat, Mary's song found in Luke 1:46-55. Do not be fooled by cute and scripturally void Christmas songs, Mary knew, my friends! My favorite line from this interaction comes from Mary when she says to Jesus, her beloved son, "Just help us get through all of this with you. Please." One of the viewers this week thought that the woman who plays Mary also looks a lot like a young Mother Teresa. Intentional? Maybe not, but we saw it!
The majority of the episode takes place at the wedding feast and we learn that the mother of the groom, and the hostess of the feast, is Mary's best friend, not scriptural but an interesting explanation as to why Jesus would attend. The creation and insertion of Thomas' call story is another artistic addition in this episode. Inappropriately labeled as "doubting" in the tradition of the church, Thomas is portrayed as the anxious wedding feast caterer who is constantly checking to make sure everything is as it should be. And when the wine runs out and Mary sends Jesus to fix the problem, Thomas' doubts that this man can do anything about the lack of wine and questions him. Jesus tells him that questions are good and invites Thomas to follow him and be his disciple.
This episode also continues the scene of Nicodemus visiting John the Baptist in jail to question him about miracles from the previous episode. This is good because we felt like we were missing a lot of John's story thus far in the series. We get to hear his famous proclamation, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" , which is very scriptural and can be found in the three synoptic gospels as well as Isaiah. He also chastises Nicodemus for his wealth, saying "I don't like your frock. The cost of the vestments alone could feed three children in Nazareth for a month!" Which is totally on-brand for John the Baptist who is known for speaking truth to power and famously called the religious leaders a "brood of vipers"! (Matthew 12:34) But the most captivating moment comes when Nicodemus reveals to John the reason why he is there to question him and John realizes that Jesus is going to go public with his ministry at any time now.
One theme our group picked up on is the strong faith of women as represented in this episode. Eden, who portrays Simon's wife, cries when she hears that her husband is leaving his fishing business to follow Jesus. Her tears are not of sadness or upset, but rather of joy. In the midst of Simon's own worries and fears, Eden fully supports his call to follow Jesus as his disciple. With tears in her eyes, she tells him that she is so happy that someone else sees in him what she has always seen. And Mary, Jesus's mother, pushes him to perform the miracle at the wedding feast, knowing maybe even before Jesus did, that he was ready for it to begin. And when Thomas tells his business partner, Ramah, "I don't know what to think" about Jesus calling him to follow and be his disciple, she replies, "So don't. Maybe, for once in your life, don't think." The women, fictional and scriptural, surrounding the men in this series are full of faith and trust, making an interesting contrast to the doubting and worried men we know as Jesus' disciples.
On a final note, our group was pleased to see that the series chose to portray Jesus as someone with a sense of humor in this episode. We see him laughing and joking with the disciples, building relationships with them like we all do, through laughter and joy. Some recognized that the tradition of the church has been to paint Jesus as a stoic figure, but many remarked that imagining Jesus as someone who laughed brought them great joy and helped them feel closer to him.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, and let's have a conversation! Next Wednesday we'll be back for episode 6. We hope you can join us! Learn more about our Wednesdays at Church (W@tCh) program here. Hope to see you!
Leave a Reply.