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A 'Fallen' review of sorts

"Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if Lucifer had won the war. I mean it’s not like he drew us to his side with promises of an evil empire and eternal suffering. All that came later after the Fall. I’ve tried my best to make up for what I’ve done. To help the humans defend themselves against what I helped to create. But, I mean, there’s just as much hate in the world, just as much suffering. More, even. So, have I atoned for what I’ve done? I don’t know. I just know I wanna go home."
These words are spoken by a beautiful but fallen angel in the opening scene of the second two episodes of the Fallen trilogy, a tale of Aaron Corbett, who discovers on his 18th birthday that he’s really a Nephilim—half-human, half-angel—complete with a prophecy that predicts he’s the one who will redeem the "Fallen" angels who rebelled against God to their former glory and send them back to heaven. Aaron can sense whether a Fallen’s request for redemption and forgiveness is genuine—and the angel who speaks above is one such Fallen. When she finishes speaking, Aaron (aka, "the Redeemer") comes out of the shadows, places his hands on her and a golden ghost-like figure flies joyously upward and explodes in a shimmer of sparks. She’s gone home.

Now, this trilogy definitely stretches the limits of the biblical universe (okay, it breaks them), continuing the original film’s foggy spirituality where angels walk among us with terrible powers and God is talked about in nebulous terms and far removed. But, like the first film, there are moments when the story speaks less about angels and more about human experiences and longings when it comes to faith, God and redemption. The above opening scene is one such moment.

I think there’s a lot that can be plumbed in that opening monologue—our own efforts or actions can’t atone for our sins (no matter how hard we try), our deep longing for freedom and redemption from our wrong and destructive actions, the presence of and our faith in a Redeemer who can do all that for us and send us home—but the words spoken by the Fallen angel above really resonate with me because I, like her, long for home, the place and the Person who created me—especially when the darkness of the world seems so overwhelming. Andrew Peterson’s Far Country (a song based on Hebrews 11:8-10, 11:13-16, Genesis 3:24, and Romans 8:18-27) speaks to this:

Father Abraham/Do you remember when/You were called to a land/And didn’t know the way/‘Cause we are wandering/In a foreign land/We are children of the/Promise of the faith

And I long to find it/Can you feel it, too?/That the sun that’s shining/Is a shadow of the truth/This is a far country, a far country/Not my home

In the dark of the night/I can feel the shadows all around me/Cold shadows in the corners of my heart/But the heart of the fight/Is not in the flesh but in the spirit/And the spirit’s got me shaking in the dark

And I long to go there/I can feel the truth/I can hear the promise/Of the angels of the moon/This is a far country, a far country/Not my home

I can see in the strip malls and the phone calls/The flaming swords of Eden/In the fast cash and the news flash/And the horn blast of war/In the sin-fraught cities of the dying and the dead/Like steel-wrought graveyards where the wicked never rest/To the high and lonely mountain in the groaning wilderness

We ache for what is lost/As we wait for the holy God/Of Father Abraham

I was made to go there/Out of this far country/To my home, to my home

We are made to go there. And there are times when we can feel that truth deep within our very bones. And the words of the Fallen angel remind me of that longing and other truths relevant to my walk and faith in Jesus.

That said, this trilogy definitely takes liberties with biblical theology and elements. The series plays loosely with several traditional angels, some who actually appear in Scripture: Camael (one of the seven archangels in Judeo-Christian mythology who led the charge to expel Adam from Eden; he’s Aaron’s protector in Fallen), Ariel (in tradition, an archangel who heals but a Fallen angel who heals in the series), Azazel (an angel who makes multiple appearances in the Old Testament and Apocrypha as the leader of those angels that married female humans and wrought sin for which he was then banished to a pit in the desert for eternity) and Lucifer (well, you know who he is). Azazel comes the closest to his textual self, a nasty angel who in Enoch is indeed condemned by God to the bowels of the earth for his role in corrupting humans. He’s played out rather well in the trilogy—and I must admit I appreciated that his motives aren’t to build evil empires but purely selfish and self-indulgent—which is one of the more insidious forms of evil (that does indeed go into the making of evil empires), yet one with which most of us struggle (though, thankfully, not to the extent of Azazel). Lucifer, however, is the weakest of all the angels and rather a disappointment (others have done much better—Viggo Mortensen and Al Pacino come to mind), even though he’s aptly referred to as the Light-Bringer (think Angel of Light). A theological jump-the-rails occurs when his inevitable defeat actually defers—even eliminates—any upcoming judgment day by God.

Another theological jump-the-rails moment is the single mention of Jesus that’s relegated to a noncommittal reference to his deity alongside a snide remark (granted, it comes from Azazel) insinuating God isn’t the best role model. (I thought the writers missed a good opportunity to create another layer in the story by deepening the idea of a redeemer, if only playing on the idea of one for mankind and one for angels.) In addition, God himself is completely absent in this story, and the angels have no more contact with him (or concern regarding him) than do the Nephlims. That's a very different reality than the one described in the Bible, though it's not so far from the truth when it comes to how much of our world regards God (and if we followers of Jesus are honest, we'd admit that we can struggle with that worldview, too).

All in all, though, I found several moments that resonate and provide good opportunities to bring God-talk into open spaces. And that made Fallen worth the watch in my book. For more about the series and another opinion, take a look at Mir’s review at Mirathon.

(Images: copyrighted by ABC) miscctgy