Episode 426: “The Spirit Of Liberty Moon”

While testing a kite, Tess briefs Monica and Andrew on their next assignment: it can change many lives because the “courage of one single person” can change history.  That chance may come for Edward Tanner, CEO of Tanner Toys, and he may not recognize it.  It will come for one of Edward’s employees, Jean Chang, a second time — she will recognize it and “that’s why she may say ‘no.'”

Tess demonstrates her new “portable kite” that can fly without wind to Alex Stella, Edward’s longtime friend and legal counsel for Tanner Toys.  He is intrigued by the technology, but quickly brushes her off as Edward enters to discuss moving their manufacturing to China.  Alex introduces Monica as a consultant who will acquaint them with the import-export business.  Monica explains the new opportunities that China’s open-door policy has given to Western businesses and recommends that Edward hire a translator from within the company.  When the job is offered to Jean, she is offended, claiming she is Korean and they just assumed she was Chinese because she looked “oriental.”  Her cover is quickly blown, however, when she arrives at a Chinese restaurant where Edward, Alex and Monica are eating lunch and proceeds to order in Chinese.

When she comes to their table to apologize, Alex is unexpectedly pulled away from the conversation by an exuberant Tess, the “kite inventor.”  With Alex distracted, Jean explains to Monica and Edward why she lied.  Admitting to be Chinese, Jean tells them of how she was orphaned during the Cultural Revolution and how she fell in love with a picture of the Statue of Liberty in a banned book.  Edward finds himself becoming genuinely interested in her — an interest that will eventually turn to love — as she explains how she and many like her were affected by Western culture.  While an idealistic student in China, her husband adopted the nickname “Gus” after Auguste Rodin’s “Thinker” and their best friend adopted his name, “George,” after Washington.  Jean explains how she and her husband took part in the Tiananmen Square protests while George stayed home with her daughter, Piao Yue (Liberty Moon).  When the crack-down came, she was separated from her husband and although she heard that he was killed, she was unable to verify his death and was forced to flee to America before she could find George and her daughter.

As Monica and Edward investigate China further, they are shocked to find one of the companies courting a joint venture with Tanner Toys is none other than Liberty Moon International Management.  Edward shows Jean the letter and agrees to take her with them to Beijing.  In China, Monica distracts the customs agents, allowing Jean to sneak safely back into the country.  They soon meet George, who is frightened to see Jean.  George tells them he will no longer guarantee that his company, Liberty Moon, can do business with them.  However, after Tess plants some seeds of courage in George, he helps Alex, Edward and Jean to infiltrate a “re-education through labor” camp under the guise that they will use the factory being constructed to manufacture Tanner Toys.  Jean recognizes a sickly worker at the labor camp as her husband, Gus.  After a bittersweet reunion, Jean and the others quickly leave the camp when a guard becomes suspicious of their presence.  Alex is angered to learn of the risks Edward has taken with the business and attempts to fire Monica — but is overruled by Edward.  They later read in a newspaper of Gus’ death in prison and his “renouncement” of his actions in Tiananmen Square.  As Jean resolves to speak out against the lies, soldiers move into their hotel, spot Jean and give chase.

Later, Edward and Monica meet Jean in a busy street and offer to help her.  As they walk away together, a soldier hands them a leaflet depicting a wanted criminal — it’s a photo of Jean from her Tiananmen Square days.  They go to meet George and ask about Jean’s daughter, Piao Yue.  Ashamed, he tells them that he took Piao Yue to a family in the south who would look after her until his return.  He further explains that there was a terrible flood and that he no longer knows what happened to Piao Yue.  He explains that he named his company “Liberty Moon” with the hope that they would one day be united.  Believing she has nothing left to lose, Jean goes back to Tiananmen Square to openly tell the people who she is and the truth about what happened to her husband.  As the police arrest her, she looks up at the sky and notices a kite with the Liberty Moon symbol on it.  She follows the string down to a group of young girls, but cannot make contact with her daughter before she is taken away.

Edward, desperate to help Jean, goes to George who explains the judicial process to him: Jean will be convicted and sentenced quickly, and some “accidental” death in prison will soon follow.  Seeing that there is nothing left for them in China, Alex leaves for home and apologizes to Edward for his behavior.  Monica reveals herself as an angel to Jean and physically shields Jean when she is attacked by fellow prisoners — taking the painful blows herself.  The prisoners are frightened by the miracle, Jean is unharmed after the beating; but the guards are furious and they take Jean to the top of a staircase and throw her down where she dies in Monica’s arms.  Monica promises Jean that she will tell Piao Yue the truth about her mother.

Monica reveals herself to Edward and tells him of Jean’s death.  He goes to George and together they use Tess’s “portable kite” with a Liberty Moon symbol painted on it to find Piao Yue.  George then uses his influence to adopt Piao Yue and Edward promises that she can live with him in Maine every summer.  As Edward’s plane flies over New York, he looks out the window to see the Statue of Liberty.  He breaks down and cries.

Episode 425: “Last Dance”

The pressure to abstain from sex before marriage is almost as great for teenagers Greg and Jill, as the pressure from their mothers to be perfect students. Greg’s mother, Liz, owns a flower shop, and doesn’t like Greg seeing Jill, claiming it affects his grades and will jeopardize his ability to get into college. Jill’s mother, Candace, still dealing with issues from her own past, demands complete chastity from her daughter. It is Monica and Tess’ assignment to make sure these relationships don’t self-destruct.

Meanwhile Andrew, as a DJ, encourages the high schoolers to respect themselves and their bodies. Rafael, as a student teacher, fends off infatuated girls. Monica, as a substitute teacher, holds a meeting to plan the upcoming prom and chaperones Liz and Candace meet. Although they deny knowing each other, it is clear they have a history together. The truth is Liz and Candace were friends in high school, until Candace, who slept around quite a bit, stole Liz’s boyfriend. The enmity over this event hasn’t yet subsided, and Candace asks Liz not to tell Jill about her past. Liz agrees but only if she will forbid Jill from dating Greg.

Tess, as an assistant at the flower shop, obviously disapproves of this idea. Greg and Jill, though very upset and confused, respect their mothers’ wishes, until Jill learns her mother’s secret—that while preaching chastity she lived an unchaste lifestyle as a teenager. Jill determines to do all the things her mother has told her not to do and she sneaks out to meet Greg at the prom. Greg and Jill plan to go to a hotel and have sex after the prom, but Monica tries to stop them. However, they don’t listen to Monica and go to the hotel.

The next morning, Greg drops Jill off at her house and leaves. As Jill climbs to her bedroom window, she falls and is unconscious. Later in the hospital, a distraught Greg tells the mothers that he and Jill spent the night together and Liz becomes upset. Greg can’t believe that his mother is more concerned about his sex life than about his girlfriend whose life hangs in the balance. Tess and Monica appear at the hospital, reveal themselves as angels and ask the mothers, for the sake of their children, to resolve their differences and make peace. The mothers decide to give one another a second chance and give their blessing to Greg and Jill’s relationship. Andrew reveals that Jill will recover and the families rejoice in the news.


Episode 424: “Elijah”

Jacob Weiss, a bitter slum lord, is sentenced to spend two weeks in one of his own tenements and the angels arrive to help him understand the error of his ways. As the code enforcement officer, Monica quickly educates Jake on the changes that will need to be made but he is intent on trying to go around the law, offering her a bribe. He then continues to try any legal means of avoiding his punishment until his mother and son urge him to come to Passover dinner which coincidentally falls on the eve when his incarceration is to begin. He then approaches the judge and makes a religious plea.

Unfortunately for Jake, the judge attends the very synagogue where he claims to be devout and, having never seen Jake there, firmly refuses. Jacob then attempts to hide from the police at his mother’s apartment but is picked up in the midst of the Passover meal. Tess meets Jake as he arrives for his internment and places an ankle monitor on his leg to ensure that he does not leave. Jake then settles in to the abysmal conditions of his own tenement and meets a savvy neighborhood kid, Tyler, who arranges to bring him the things he needs in exchange for money. Jake then begins to hear a haunting song and starts to remember where all his troubles began… with the death of his father. In a rare moment of sentiment, Jake then calls his son Michael but is quickly interrupted by a fire in his apartment.

With Monica’s help, Jake extinguishes the fire but is forced to move to the only other vacant apartment, that which he lived in when his father was alive. Once there, Andrew appears, telling Jake he is there to help him remember. Jake then dreams back to the day his father died and to his explanation of the Passover and its message of freedom for all people. When Jake is awakened by Tyler, he is even more desperate to escape the pain of his own memories and offers Tyler more money to find someone who can remove his ankle monitor. Jake calls his wife from whom he is separated to ask for the money, but she steadfastly refuses. His son, Michael, overhears his mother and brings Jake his Bar Mitzvah money. While Jake is being robbed of the money by the supposed monitor remover, Michael is shot. Unable to get help from the neighbors he has abused, Jake listens to Monica and follows his pious father’s example. He smears the blood of his son on his door and sings the song of “Elijah” while Tess sings “Go Down Moses” as Andrew, the Angel of Death, passes over the house.

Bruce Davison was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this episode.

Episode 423: “Perfect Little Angel”

Monica and Tess meet their next assignment, Tracy Beringer, as she receives some very bad news via a letter in her mailbox.  The nature of the news is unclear, however Tracy needs money very badly, telling her boss at the auto repair shop where she works that she needs the money for college tuition.  When she sees an ad in the paper for the Miss Colorado pageant, she tries to sign up, but one of the many stipulations is that the young ladies must have a sponsor.

Tracy, who desperately needs the pageant prize money, is upset until Monica, Tess, Rafael, and Andrew agree to be her sponsors, crowning her Miss Unincorporated Area #579.  As they begin to prep Tracy for the pageant the angels discover a few strange things about her: she never lets anyone inside of her apartment, she tells people that her parents died in a boating accident (then later says it was a train accident), and she plays the piano very well, but lacks the passion required of a truly great pianist.  On the night of the pageant all is going well for Tracy, until her landlord shows up and takes Monica to Tracy’s apartment revealing a little boy named Nick babysitting himself.

Monica takes Nick to the pageant and, Tracy, upset that the angels know she’s a single mom, tells them that she wants to win the pageant so that she’ll have the money to put Nick through a surgery to repair a hole in his heart.  It’s also revealed that Tracy’s parents are not dead, she actually ran away from home when she found out she was pregnant.  Realizing that Tracy doesn’t think God loves her, Monica and Tess reveal themselves, reminding her of God’s love and encouraging her to trust God with her son’s life.  When it comes time to be interviewed for the pageant Tracy, realizing that nothing good can come from a lie, tells the audience that she is a single mom and embraces Nick on the stage, thereby solidifying her journey into truth.  The audience, including Andrew and Rafael, applauds.  Later Tracy receives a load of mail from people who have heard her story offering help with Nick’s surgery.  One of the letters is from Tracy’s parents who want her to come home.  Tracy calls her parents and the angels, their task complete, depart.

Episode 422: “Cry And You Cry Alone”

Four aging comics sit around a diner table reminiscing about their careers and celebrating the fact that one of  them is soon to leave on a cruise ship gig.  One of the men offers to tell the story of Salt and Pepper, a famous comic team who suddenly broke up before they hit it really big.  The story begins many years after the breakup, when Maury Salt arrives at the diner for his daily breakfast.

Monica, a waitress at the diner, is the object of Salt’s disdain when she doesn’t know his usual order.  During breakfast Salt reads the trade magazines and discovers that he and Pepper are going to be inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame.  When Monica inquires it becomes apparent that Salt and his former partner dislike each other, mostly because Pepper walked out on the act.  The two men reunite and continue their feud at a press conference in spite of the fact that they’ve agreed to put on a show for the Hall of Fame induction.  At the rehearsal Salt and Pepper return to their old routines but cannot agree on who will play which part, so they break up.

Salt recruits Monica to be his new partner, but tries her out at an open-mike contest, and she bombs horribly, refusing to insult anyone for a laugh.  Meanwhile, Pepper recruits Andrew as his partner, a sign that the old comic hasn’t long to live.  When they realize their new partners are terrible, Salt and Pepper reunite.  But it’s not long before Pepper collapses with a weak heart.  The men see the error of their ways on the ride to the hospital, and Tess, who is driving the ambulance, honors their request to go to the diner in  the old neighborhood where they met.  The men perform one more comedy routine for Monica.  Pepper then passes on, but not before the old friends express their love and gratitude to each other.

Episode 421: “Seek And Ye Shall Find”

Monica and Tess discuss the next mission in the one-stop town of Savage, Mississippi.  Monica slips on the icy pavement outside of a bus station, hits her head, and suffers from amnesia. Inside the station Dr. Chester Crayton somewhat impatiently examines a frightened Monica. The Doctor is on the way to a prison to watch the execution of a man who murdered his wife. The station is filled with other colorful characters including a bible salesman, the crusty station-keeper named the Colonel, a sweet old black lady named Effie, and a young pregnant Elvis fan, Sueellen.

As Monica struggles to regain her memory, the doctor reveals the hatred and bitterness he feels over the murder of his wife.  Andrew, on his way to “work” the execution, stops by the station and encourages Monica, who doesn’t recognize him, to first seek out who God is, and then she will know herself.  The bible salesman steals Effie’s money, but Monica is accused of the crime and the Colonel calls the cops.  Monica, thoroughly lost, begins to cry, but Sueellen’s boyfriend, Skeeter, teaches her to pray.  Monica prays that God would restore her memory, but instead the police arrive and handcuff her.

Effie, however, decides to forgive Monica and give her the money.  This extreme act of forgiveness reminds Monica of who God is and who she is. She reveals herself to Effie, who is delighted to finally see an angel.  Later at the prison, the murderer asks the doctor to forgive him for killing his wife.  The doctor scoffs at this request and the execution commences.  Monica appears to the doctor and begs him to forgive the murderer as a means of achieving peace in his own life.  The doctor suspends the execution so he can tell the murderer that he has, indeed, forgiven him.

Episode 420: “How Do You Spell Faith?”

Monica and Tess arrive in the life of a single mother, Mary, to help her reconcile her relationship with her son, Aaron.  Herself a former athlete, Mary relates to her eldest son, Michael, who is the star wrestler of Olympus High School.  Aaron, on the contrary, is more cerebral and spends the majority of his time spelling out words to hide the pain he feels for not having a father and not being closer to his mother.  While the entire school supports Michael’s wresting efforts, Aaron is ignored by virtually everyone except his brother, who has become something of a father to him.

When Tess encourages Aaron to take the test to qualify for the Midwest Regional Spelling Bee, Aaron reluctantly agrees and Michael is quick to support him.  When Michael is killed on route to a wrestling competition, Mary is less able to relate to Aaron and her distance causes him to leave home in search of his father.  Following the address on letters from his father that were given to him by Michael, Aaron goes to Minnesota.  Once there, Aaron meets Andrew who is acting as a cab driver.  When Andrew and Aaron arrive at his father’s address, they find only an empty parking lot.

Looking closely at the postmarks on the letters Michael had given him, Aaron realizes that his brother had been sending him the letters and that his father doesn’t really care about him.  Andrew convinces Aaron to return to his mother but they are still separated by their different personalities.  Tess tells Mary that although she and Aaron have differing abilities, what he needs is her love.  Mary tries to tell Aaron how proud she is of him but Aaron is still unwilling to open up to his mother.  Andrew reveals himself to Aaron and tries to make him understand how much his mother loves him.  Andrew encourages Aaron to turn to God who will never desert him like his father did.  Finally understanding how much he is loved, Aaron reconciles with his mother and showcases his spelling talent by winning the Midwest Regional Spelling Bee. (JU)

Episode 419: “Flights Of Angels

Richard is an artist diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal sickness that has a debilitating effect on one’s motor functions.  Richard is in denial about the prognosis but his wife Sally is not, and she prays for guidance for her family.  Monica arrives to help her take care of their 3 boys; John Henry, George and Ray, while Andrew will assist Richard with his paintings.  Sally explains that Richard is working against a deadline: he must finish more paintings if he wishes to showcase them at a gallery.

John Henry, the oldest son, is aware that there is something wrong with his father, but attempts to get him to play games with him.  Richard is too weak for this, and also preoccupied with finishing his work so that he can leave his family with the revenue from his paintings.  At the same time Richard is working on “dream books” for his sons, scrapbooks that contain sketches and mementos of all the things their father holds dear.  When Richard’s legs give out, he and Sally break down and cry as the despair of the disease overtakes them.  The next day Sally, the boys, Monica and Andrew surprise Richard with an electric cart. He explains to the boys that he has a disease, but when John Henry asks if he’s going to die, Richard tells them “not for a very long time.” This upsets Sally since he wasn’t “truthful” with the boys.

Tess, posing as an artist’s manager, agrees to represent Richard even though he only has two paintings finished.  With Andrew at his side, and using a respirator to help him breathe, Richard begins work in earnest, but his goal of twelve paintings is cut short when a fire breaks out in the studio.  Andrew is able to save Richard from the fire, but all but one of the paintings is destroyed.  Richard, feeling that his life is now worth nothing, gives up hope.  But Andrew sets up a studio in the living room for Richard to finish his last painting.  Richard gets to work right away, realizing that this one painting is going to have to go a long way.  Over the next few days Richard is hard at work with the painting.  Sally explains to the boys what’s happening to their father. As much as they don’t want their father to die, they’re happy he won’t be in pain anymore.

That night Andrew reveals himself to Richard and tells him that he only has a few hours left and asks him to make a choice: finish his last painting, or finish the scrapbooks for his sons.  Richard decides to leave his sons with a piece of their father by finishing the books.  Richard works all night and finishes each book and Andrew helps him say goodbye to the boys and Sally before he passes away. The next day Monica and Tess reveal themselves to Sally and assure her that if she puts her trust in God, He will provide.  This is evident when Sally finds Richard’s lone painting to have been miraculously completed.  And it is clear that this won’t be the last painting, as John Henry takes up a brush and begins to paint on one of his father’s blank canvases. (JU)

Episode 418: “God And Country”

Rafael enters the army in an attempt to befriend a bitter soldier named Tomas. Tomas hates the army, in particular his commanding officer Colonel Victor Walls. Both men are Hispanic but Tomas feels that Col. Walls has rejected his heritage by failing to use his original surname, Paredes. Tomas requests a transfer from this base, but Col. Walls denies the request. Rafael meets with Col. Walls, who suggests he change his name to Ralph as a means to get along better in the army. When Tomas hears of this, a fight breaks out in the barracks between Rafael, Tomas, and another soldier.

Rafael gets a scolding from Tess for being the first angel to hit an assignment and all three soldiers end up in the military jail. It is in jail that Rafael learns that Col. Walls is actually Tomas’ father and he has another son, Paul, who is missing in action in Bosnia. This is a further source of frustration for Tomas because the army cannot give the family any straight answers regarding Paul’s situation. Monica arrives at the jail as the army lawyer who will represent Tomas, and she reprimands him for his attitude towards his father. Later, when Tomas is out of jail, he brings Rafael with him to a family dinner at the Walls (Paredes) home. A fight between father and son is stifled when Andrew appears at the door as a casualty officer, bearing the news that Paul was killed in battle.

Col. Walls guards his emotions, and this further drives a wedge between Col. Walls and Tomas, who doesn’t believe his father loves him. Col. Walls brightens at the news that Paul was killed saving other soldiers’ lives, making him a hero. When an ambiguous postcard arrives posthumously from Paul to Tomas, a confused and despairing Tomas confronts his father with a gun, hoping to learn the truth about his brother’s death. But when he sees that his father is unafraid, Tomas turns the gun on himself, pleading for his father to tell him the truth. When Col. Walls doesn’t, Tomas leaves.

Monica reveals herself to Col. Walls explaining that although he has served his country, he needs to serve God and tell his family the truth. Col. Walls returns home to tell his family the truth, that he pulled some strings to get Paul a dangerous assignment. Tomas is upset by the news and leaves. Rafael appears and reveals himself to Tomas, urging him to forgive his father for his wrongdoing. The next day at the memorial service for Paul, his parents and the angels are unsure if Tomas will attend. As Col. Walls begins the eulogy Tomas, enters the service. Col. Walls speaks of the mistakes he has made both as an officer and as a father and professes his love for Tomas. The father and son salute each other respectfully, then break down into a tearful embrace. Tess, Monica, Andrew, and Rafael smile, realizing their assignment is complete.


Episode 417: “Breaking Bread”

A timid baker named Matt Coletti is closing up his bakery one evening when two white men attack his black assistant in the street.  Matt witnesses the crime but is too frightened to come forward.  Tess tells Monica that it is their job to help him make a stand against the criminals, members of a white supremacist group.  Andrew poses as a representative of the state attorney’s office, asking questions about the incident, trying to determine if it was a simple robbery attempt or a hate crime.   Monica is hired as Matt’s new assistant and dons an apron.

Matt goes to the local church where Tess, the visiting preacher, unveils a beautiful new stained glass window which Matt has financed.  The next day the two criminals show up at the bakery to ensure that Matt remains quiet about the incident, but a young mechanic named Derek threatens them and they leave the store without a fight.  When a swastika-covered rock is thrown through the stained glass church window, it is a sign that the community must take action.  A town meeting is held and the people decide to form a community group to respond to the crimes, but Derek, reminding the group of the risks this could entail, convinces them to give up the idea.

Matt, under pressure from Tess to finally admit his role as a witness to the crime, tells the people his story.  Matt, in fact, had seen three people the night of the beating, the two white men and another figure riding in the backseat of the mens’ car, a figure Matt realizes was the devil himself.  Of course no one believes Matt, not even his wife and the two separate.  To make matters worse a bomb explodes in the bakery, and Matt, though not hurt, laments the loss of his reputation, family, and business. Monica, Tess, and Andrew reveal themselves to Matt, and explain that God wants to use him as a prophet who will lead the townspeople against the satanic forces in the town.  Matt rises to the challenge and rallies the people to confront the physical manifestation of the devil, Derek, and the two criminals.  Matthew breaks a loaf of bread and passes it among the group, and vows never to be frightened by the devil again nor to give in to his own prejudices.  The two men are arrested and the devil, defeated by Matt’s moral stand, disappears.