Hi. Welcome to my recap and reaction to The Chosen, the crowd-funded, first ever multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus and his disciples. You can find my prior posts about the show HERE.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Simon tells Eden what happened, and that he decided to follow Jesus, and she weeps in joy, supporting his decision. Nicodemus tells John the Baptist about Mary Magdalene’s miracle. This leads John to conclude that the public miracles must not be far behind. Nicodemus realizes that John knows who performed the miracle, but John does not provide Jesus’s name.
Jesus takes His disciples to a wedding feast in Cana where his Mother Mary is in attendance. When the hosts run out of wine, she asks Jesus to help them avoid humiliation, so He performs his first public miracle and turns water into wine for the guests.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
The episode begins with Mary (the mother of Jesus) frantically looking for him. We realize that this is a flashback when she tells someone that he is only twelve. Shortly thereafter, a young Jesus calls out to her on the street. He is accompanied by his father Joseph, who describes to Mary that he had been in the temple, teaching the Rabbis. Joseph says it was amazing. When Mary tells Jesus that he was supposed to be with his father, meaning Joseph, he replies that he was, meaning God.
Mary: It’s too early for all of… this.
Jesus: If not now, when?
Joseph suggests that they leave Jerusalem before an official inquiry about all of this is conducted by the leaders in the temple.
Years later, we see a very beautiful and happy woman named Dinah, greeted by Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary has arrived early to the wedding Dinah is hosting, in order to help her with hosting it. Dinah gladly accepts Mary’s offer.
From his prison cell, John and Nicodemus discuss miracles. John asks if Nicodemus intends to list those to his list of infractions and then tells him that he would have considered Moses a lunatic for saying that he talked to a shrub. When Nicodemus asks if he considers himself to be like Moses, John does not reply. Nicodemus asks him about his ministry, so John replies by reminding him of Caesar’s visit to Judaea. He asks the Pharisee if he remembers how the Roman soldiers cleared the way for him and shouted to make way for the king. Nicodemus comments that the roads in Jerusalem are better but that he remembers the visit. They begin to bicker with each other but John returns the discussion to miracles.
Nicodemus tells him that he has seen a miracle but cannot comprehend it. John asks him why he is really here talking to him. Nicodemus tells John that the official reason he is there, visiting with John, is because John is in a Roman prison and argues that if John is there for breaking Jewish law, that it sets a bad precedent to allow Romans to adjudicate. John then asks him what the real reason for his visit is. Nicodemus tells John that he is far from home, looking in places he would never look, because he is in search of an explanation for something he cannot unsee. John realizes and then comments to Nicodemus that nobody else knows he is even here and Nicodemus confirms it. John finally changes his tone to a less confrontational one and asks Nicodemus to tell him the story from the beginning.
Eden is at home stepping on grapes to make wine. Simon approaches her to say that they need to talk. He tells her the story of fishing the night before, catching nothing, and then miracle of catching the fish he needs after meeting Jesus. He explains that they caught enough fish to pay off their entire debt. When she asks why he does not seem happy, he tells her that it is hard to explain.
Simon: It is like the story of Elijah and Elisha.
Simon: Elisha was plowing with twelve yolk of oxen, when Elijah the prophet just walked up and threw his cloak over him and told him to follow him.
Eden is familiar with the story. Simon then tells her that the teacher is the Messiah, and that he told Simon to follow him, and that he said yes.
Simon: He said that I would not be a fisherman anymore, but that I would catch peole instead. I don’t even know what that means.
When he tell Eden that he wants to quit fishing and follow him, Eden begins to cry. Simon assumes she is worried about how they will make money, but she corrects him to tell him that she is overjoyed. She tells her husband that of course the Teacher chose him. Simon says that he does not know why he did, and he explains that he told the Teacher that he is a sinful man. She pushes that aside, saying everyone is sinful, and she tells him that she is crying because someone finally sees in him what she has always seen in him. He tells her that he will have to travel sometimes, and that he does not want her to feel abandoned.
Eden: How could I feel abandoned? I feel saved.
Simon washes his feet and joins her in stepping on the grapes. He tells her that he will leave for Cana later today to attend a wedding. She asks what a wedding has to do with the liberation of Israel and he replies that he will find out. He tells her that he felt like their own wedding was a liberation.
Eden: From your fear that I would be bald.
Simon: Well, my father was nearly blind.
Elsewhere, Thomas and Ramah are preparing to deliver wine to the wedding. They are only bringing three casks, instead of four, because Ramah says that is all that the family can afford. When Thomas says they will run out, and that he would have paid for a fourth himself, she smiles and says that would have almost erased his entire margin. She asks why he would do that, and he stumbles over his words not answering well. It is clear that he said he would do that, to impress Ramah.
Mary talks with Dinah, the mother of the groom-to-be, before the wedding. We learn that her son’s future father-in-law is very successful and not excited about the wedding of his daughter Sarah into a poor family. Mary tells her that he will come around.
Simon and Andrew carry their lunch as they approach their meeting spot with Jesus. Both men are nervous, and bicker with one another, but eventually Simon decides to calm his brother by telling him that they will likely make mistakes but that those mistakes will be part of the learning process. As Simon finishes talking, they both turn around and see the other gathered disciples, Mary Magdaelne, James, John, and Thaddeus, watching them. Jesus walks up next and states that this is a perfect day for a wedding. As Jesus is giving introductions, we see that another James is in a tree nearby, with figs.
Jesus asks the two James what they will do about the fact they both share a name. The taller of the two suggests that he goes by “Big James” so Jesus asks the other, calling him Young James, if this is alright with him and the other James says it seems fair to him.
Mary is with Dinah, as they look at a poorly built wooden structure that will be used for decoration. Mary tells the younger woman that she wants to speak with the carpenter, on her behalf, but Dinah says it is perfect. Mary notes that Dinah always looks on the bright side. As the future mother-in-law of Dinah’s son walks up, Dinah asks Mary to gather flowers for her and Mary nods, departing. Dinah asks if Abner, her husband has come also, but she explains that he sent her on ahead and requested that she pre-select his table. She says he will be arriving later, with friends.
Dinah: Well, we have arrangements for everyone’s seating already.
Helah: Abner likes things his way. I’m here to see that they are.
Dinah: Even at our children’s wedding feast?
Helah: Dinah, Abner is set in his ways, it’s not personal.
Dinah: Well, it should be!
Helah pauses and tells Dinah that on certain important occasions she has been able to prevail upon her husband. Dinah replies that she hopes this is important enough.
As the disciples walk to the wedding, Simon asks Jesus about the guest list. Jesus notes that Simon believes important and powerful people will be there and he confirms that belief.
Jesus: The most important and powerful person I know will be there – my mother.
Simon makes suggestions about how Jesus should announce himself at the wedding, to grow followers, but Jesus replies that it is not his special day – it is the special day of the couple, Asher and Sarah. Andrew notes how blessed they will be to have Jesus in attendance. Jesus corrects him to say that Asher remembers him as a teenager, and will likely not find his presence particularly special. He asks Andrew if he remembered having friends as a teenager, causing Simon to jump in and interject that Andrew had no friends except him. Jesus suddenly asks Mary Magdalene if she thought having brothers would be like this. She replies that she always wanted to have brothers growing up. He tells her that soon she will have twelve. The other men look around and Jesus merely tells them that soon they will see.
As the wedding decorations are now looking much better, Mary and Dinah discuss Jesus and his attendance. Dinah is excited to see him, having not seen him in a long while. Mary explains that he is no longer working as a craftsman, and that he has a calling. She says he will be bringing his students with him and asks if that is alright. Dinah says that Jesus can bring as many people as he likes. Just then, someon earrives and the two leave as Dinah goes to check on the wine delivery.
Thomas meets with Dinah and her husband Rafi, and he introduces Ramah as the finest and most beautiful vintner in Galilee. Rafi tells Ramah that it is an honor to meet her at last, then explains to Dinah that Ramah is the daughter of his old friend. They try the wine, are very pleased with it, and then confirm the headcount. Dinah seems nervous about the headcount, knowing that more than what they agreed upon will be arriving thanks to Jesus and his students.
Just then, Jesus and his students arrive. Mother Mary hugs Jesus warmly, and he then introduces her to his disciples. Dinah watches them from a distance, both pleased to see them, and nervous as their number.
Nicodemus is meeting with John the Baptist, at the latter’s prison cell. Nicodemus is explaining to him the healing of Mary Magdalene. John asks if the healer gave her his name and Nicodemus says no. At this news, John seems overwhelmed with joy and begins to shudder.
John: It has begun!
Nicodemus: What has?
John: If he’s healing in secret now, the public signs cannot be far off.
Nicodemus: Public signs… you know him?
John: You can say that.
Nicodemus begins asking the Healer’s name, but rather than give the name, John begins quoting scripture, frustrating Nicodemus.
John: Teacher of Israel, finish the oracle of Agur, son of Jakeh – “Who has established all the ends of the earth?”
Nicodemus: [with John] “What is his name and what is the name of his son?”
John: Surely you know.
Nicodemus: You are careless with Torah! God doesn’t have a son except Israel. Israel is his only son! All of us.
John: [shaking his head] Suit yourself.
Nicodemus: They’ll put a man to death for blasphemy like that.
John: Who will? You? It would be terrible precedent for Rome to adjudicate.
Nicodemus is angry is gathers his things to leave. John tells him that he has been asleep all his life, and then John quotes scripture again, saying “Make straight the way of the King!” John tells him the king is here to awaken the earth, and adds that some will not want to awaken because they are in love with the dark. John says aloud that he wonders which one Nicodemus will be. Nicodemus responds to John, saying that if this man is anything like what he believes, he should leave the region, as his presence puts that man in danger. John asks if he thinks the Healer needs his help.
At the wedding, Thomas gives instructions to the hired help regarding the setting of food and drinks. In the reception, the guests are dancing joyously – including Jesus. A moment later, Ramah finds Thomas to ask him about the guest count being larger than they were told. He downplays the number until she blurts out that the last headcount was eighty. The camera begins to focus on the people in the reception, and all the wine that is being consumed.
Thomas instructs the servers to lighten their pours.
Thomas: Three quarters full. If they ask for more, tell them you will be right back. But guess what? You won’t be.
In the reception, Abner finally arrives and tries the wine. As Dinah and Rafi watch expectantly, he tells them that this is the best party he has been to in a long while. He confesses to them that he initially was not a supporter of the marriage, listing all of the reasons, but before he can complete he thought he forgets it. He wanders off and shouts that the wine is delicious. Dinah and Rafi look at each other and laugh, thinking this was the best outcome they could have hoped for.
Ramah and Thomas discuss their options, with Ramah suggesting that they dilute the wine. Thomas replies that the guests would notice and that it would ruin their reputation. She says that running out of wine would cause the family to die of shame. Thomas suggests over-salting the food so that the guests crave water instead.
The disciples sit together, without Jesus, and discuss their new lives, unable to believe that the guests at this wedding have no idea who is with them. They discuss their worries and Simon shares with them what he shared earlier with Andrew. He says that they learned to fish by watching their father. Mary Magdalene says that they will watch Jesus, and watch, and watch, forever. They discuss how they met Jesus, and Simon admits that he is not a student, and he also confesses that he does not know how their arrangement will work because usually the student picks the Rabbi, not the other way around. He learns next that Thaddeus met Jesus on a construction site. Simon is astounded that Jesus works. Mary tells him that he did only recently and adds that he is not a professional Rabbi.
Simon: [to Thaddeus] He’s a stone mason, like you?
Thaddeus: Well, a craftsman. He taught us well and He asked me to follow him. He said he was building a kingdom, a fortress stronger than stone. I believed him.
When Simon asks Thaddeus what he was building in Bethesda, he is hesitant to answer, saying it would be improper to say in front of a woman. Mary replies that she has seen and heard things that would turn Thaddeus’s blood to ice, just as Simon blurts out that it was a latrine. Simon then processes what Mary said.
Simon: To ice? [Mary just looks at him] Our Master, building a privvy?
Thaddeus explains that Jesus’s part in the project was building a ramp of cedar planks for the sick and elderly so that they could avoid the steps. Simon asks why he did not just heal them, and Mary replies that Jesus is always saying that His time is not yet come.
The group discusses the miracles that Jesus has done already and note that the miracles he has performed thus far have only been private. Simon asks what is keeping him from making it public.
Mary: The wind blows to the south or to the east and you cannot say why
Simon: [long pause] A latrine? We better not spread that around.
Mary: He doesn’t hide where he’s from.
Simon speculates that Andrew, who is away from the table, will be surprised by all of this and they chuckle.
Dinah finds Thomas. She looks panicked and asks him to talk to her.
Simon and Andrew find Jesus to tell him that the Dance of Miriam is about to begin. Jesus is eager to join in, but Andrew does not wish to dance. Simon explains that when Andrew tries to dance, he has four left feet.
Jesus: Four? Why four?
Simon: Every time he tries to dance, he looks like a donkey walking on hot coals.
Jesus: [laughing] Oh Andrew, do you deny it?
Andrew: I’ve never seen a donkey walking on hot coals.
As they are talking, Mother Mary finds Jesus, and urgently tells him that the hosts have run out of wine. Jesus asks why she is telling him this, and she replies that they cannot let this celebration end with the humiliation of Asher’s family. Jesus sends Simon and Andrew to join the others.
Jesus: Mother, my time has not yet come.
Mary: If not now, when? Please?
He nods agreement and Mary begins instructing servers to do whatever Jesus says. When Jesus meets with Thomas and Ramah, he sees empty stone jars and instructs them to fill the jars to the brim. Thomas points out that the crisis is a lack of wine and asks how this will help. Ramah tells the servers to do as Jesus says and they begin to fill them with water.
Thomas: From the directions you have provided, I see no logical solutions to the problem.
Jesus: It’s going to be like that sometimes, Thomas.
Thomas; What did you say?
Jesus: I do not rebuke you. It is good ot ask questions, to seek understanding.
Thomas: There is no time for this.
Jesus: I know of a man like you in Capernaum, always counting, always measuring.
Thomas tells him that this is his job and he says people will think he has not done well tonight. Jesus tells Thomas to join him and promises to show him a new way to count and measure, and a different way to see time. Thomas says he does not understand and Jesus replies to him that he should keep watching.
In the reception, the guests – Abner in particular – are restless for more wine. As Dinah begins to panic, Mother Mary says that the next round of wine will be coming up shortly.
Thaddeus begins describing stone masonry to Mary Magdalene. He narrates that it’s key difference from smith-ing is that the work is more final. He narrates that once one makes the first cut into the stone, it cannot be undone.
As Thaddeus narrates, the stone jars are full, and Jesus asks everyone to please step outside of the room. The water turns into wine. Thaddeus narrates that the first cut sets into motion a series of choices. He says that the shapeless rock begins a transformation and after it will never be the same. The audience can infer that Jesus is the metaphorical stone being described by Thaddeus and that performing this miracle marks a change to His life that cannot be undone. Jesus prays quietly, “I am ready, Father.” He places his hand into the stone jar and wine drips off of it as he pulls it back out again. A moment later, Jesus steps out of the room and instructs the others to draw some out and serve it to the master of the banquet.
Jesus looks at Thomas and smiles, as the other man looks back disbelieving. We hear the servers celebrating in the next room.
In the reception, the master of the banquet stops the reception and praises Dinah and Rafi, saying they have saved the best wine he has ever tasted to serve last. He asks everyone to thank them for the unnecessary but honorable gesture.
Mother Mary looks around for Jesus, finally finding him across the room and making eye contact. They share a warm smile with each other. Thomas looks deep in thought in the other room.
Simon finds Jesus, and notes the fish, and the wine, asking what is next. He tells Jesus that he will follow him to the ends of the earth. Jesus replies somberly that he hopes so. He says though that first they must solve the problem of Andrew’s feet, noting that he needs to evaluate them. Andrew protests, but he is pushed into dancing. They all then dance together for a while.
Simon: [dancing] So will you help him?
Jesus: [laughing] Some things even I cannot do.
Later that night, as the celebration is ending, Ramah finds Thomas staring at Jesus for a distance. She asks who He is and says she cannot pretend that she did not witness a miracle. When she comments that Jesus gave them even more than they needed, Thomas replies that He invited him to join them. Thomas tells her that Jesus wants them to meet him in Samaria in twelve days.
Thomas: I don’t know what to think.
Ramah: So, don’t. Maybe for once in your life, don’t think.
Jesus performs his first *public* miracle. He does this at the request of his mother.
From the Gospel of John:
2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
How do you make an episode of television from these two paragraphs? You have to inject some story elements that could have happened, and you have to do that in a way that respects the text and does not contradict it. I felt like this episode was successful for the most part.
There were a couple really standout scenes for me in this episode. The first was Simon’s confession to Eden about what happened. If a husband is going to make a dramatic life change, and *then* tell his wife about it, Eden’s reaction is the best case scenario for what he would hope to hear. I really enjoy Eden’s portrayal and I hope we see more of her character in future episodes. I thought it was clever to have Eden making wine in this scene as it ties well, thematically, with the rest of the episode.
We see an echo of the Simon-Eden scene later, as the episode ends, with Ramah and Thomas (though they do not appear to be married.) She encourages him to follow Jesus and seems to imbue him with some self-belief.
My other favorite scene in the episode is the prison meeting between John and Nicodemus. This is exactly how you would expect John the Baptist to react to the information that Jesus performed a miracle, and I really enjoyed the way his wildness, mixed with knowledge, really effects Nicodemus. The way that David Amito’s John can pivot quickly between a kind of wild man who you can believe eats locusts, and a loving, earnest, and learned man who can speak seriously with Nicodemus, and then pivot back again… is initially jarring but becomes really effective. Erick Avari’s Nicodemus has been a scene-stealer since the first episode. It was a joy to see these two together.
In case you are wondering, John the Baptist quotes Proverbs chapter 30, verse 4 to Nicodemus (and is called down for how he interprets it.)
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!
I do not know that I can point to a specific scene between Mother Mary and Jesus, as a “favorite” unless their hug when greeting each other in Cana counts as a whole scene. Their love and warmth for one another really comes across as authentic every time they interact – even non-verbally. Jonathan Roumie and Vanessa Benavente just have a really great son and mother chemistry. Mother Mary and Jesus, and two of their interactions, are what the episode is built around. “If not now, when?” The first time this line is used, Jesus speaks it, and Mary tells him that she is not ready for his life to be “public” in this way. It was thus fitting that Mary is the one who repeats this line to Jesus, and in a sense, gives her blessing to the start of His public ministry.
The “group chat” scenes with the disciples were a lot of fun, too. I particularly enjoy Mary Magdalene holding her own with the boys. Her line about seeing things that would turn their blood to ice was funny as it was no doubt, true. Simon’s surprised reaction indicates that they do not know her full backstory just yet.
The music was really stand-out in this episode, and it was leaned on a lot during the lengthy wedding reception scenes. I do not quite know how to even describe the style of this show’s score. There’s a lot of what I would call “world music” overlaid with a woman doing “vocalization” in powerful moments and somehow it all really works.
Is there anything in this episode I did not like? I think the writers might have leaned a little too heavy on the jokes at times. Between the latrine construction stuff, and Andrew’s dancing, it just felt like a touch too much. None of it was improper, exactly, but some of it just felt a little off. Confession: I’m not a person who believes that Jesus was cold, distant, and robotic. One of my favorite aspects of this show has been its efforts to portray Him as a human in addition to portraying him as the Son of God. The film depictions of Jesus rarely portray his warmth and humanity well. But Jesus telling Simon that Andrew’s dancing was something even he cannot help, while the group laughs.. it just felt like tryin gtoo hard.
Overall, that one nitpick notwithstanding, this is another really strong episode. The cast, the writing, the filmography, the costuming… all of it continues to be really enjoyable. Everyone involved should be pleased with how this turned out.