Updated: Jan 16
Episode 4 may not be the most impressive installment of The Chosen Season 3, but it is still a testament to how much this season has improved on previous seasons. In almost any show, there will be certain episodes that function as connective tissue and set up for what's happening next. To use a baseball analogy, these episodes aren't meant to be home runs; they're base hits that are meant to fill up the bases in preparation for a grand slam. As part 1 of a 2-part arc (see here for Episode 5), it was almost inevitable that Episode 4 would function as set up. But whereas some of the "set up" episodes in The Chosen Season 2 felt haphazard and overloaded, Season 3 Episode 4 feels intentional and well-paced. It also continues the trend of strong character development that we've been getting throughout the season. While Episode 4 did have some faults, it was still another strong installment overall and it clearly set the stage for the second half of The Chosen Season 3. [By the way, want to study Episode 4 with your youth or small group group? Check out this Bible study and discussion guide!]
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What Happened in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 4
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 4 followed several storylines, each of which I'll discuss in turn:
The Return of Simon and the Apostles
Episode 4 begins with a (mostly) silent, black and white montage of the first missionary journey of the Apostles. We follow the six pairs as they heal the sick, exorcise demons, proclaim the Kingdom of God, reason with unbelievers, care for the poor, and teach others the Lord's Prayer. Early on, the disciples are clearly surprised (and excited) to find that they are successfully performing miracles. As time progresses, they seem to grow more confident and bold. After the credits, we see that the disciples have returned home to Capernaum and are attending in synagogue, where they each appear to be quietly reflecting on their recent journey.
Later, we see Simon Peter return to his home, sneaking up and surprising Eden while she's busy cleaning up the house. It quickly becomes apparent that there's a disconnect between the two of them. In his exhaustion, Simon doesn't notice Eden's redecorating and he doesn't pick up on what she would like him to do during their first day back together. To make matters worse, he's invited the other Apostles over the next day, seemingly oblivious to how much work that will be for her, especially given the polluted water supply.
During the meeting in Simon's home, the Apostles struggle to process through their experiences together, even as the passive aggressive conflict between Eden and Simon escalates. Big James is frustrated that Jesus has given them so much power without giving them a clearer understanding of what is happening. The other disciples try to help him work through this. Eden tells off the disciples for arguing and speculating when they can just wait and ask Jesus. Simon, sensing his wife's annoyance, berates the group for not showing her enough respect, but his words don't fix the tension. Andrew notices the friction between Eden and Simon and expresses concern to his brother. That night, we see that the tension between Eden and Simon is still simmering, as they lie in bed, silently turned away from one another.
The next day Simon makes a clumsy attempt to ask his wife what he's done wrong and how he can fix it. While they're talking, Jesus shows up at their door. Almost immediately, a loud crowd converges on their home, bringing even more chaos. Simon gets mad at Jesus for bringing all of this chaos and angrily storms out of the home. Later, Simon happens to come upon Gaius outside of the synagogue. After some initial tension, they have a heart to heart in which Simon expresses exasperation toward Jesus and toward the situation at home and Gaius sympathizes. Gaius warns that Quintus is angry about the Tent City and they'd better hope that he doesn't realize Jesus is back in town. They make plans to repair the cistern together the next day in order to distract Quintus. Gaius encourages Simon to tell Eden that she was right and he's sorry.
Jairus & Yussif
Yussif, the Pharisee, is the first one on the scene when it's discovered that the water cistern outside of the synagogue has become polluted with sewage. The Roman arrive and explain that, even though it may be their responsibility to fix it, they'd rather have the synagogue bear the cost. Yussif agrees to secure the materials as quickly as possible, since the cistern is the primary water supply for the city. He returns to the synagogue and reports what happened to Jairus and explains that his family in Jerusalem does construction and can cover the cost of the supplies. Their conversation turns to an official request sent by Shmuel, under the authority of Shammai, a chief Pharisee, for a report about Jesus' teaching. We learn that Jairus has read Yussif's record of the Sermon on the Mount and other reports about Jesus and become convinced that he is the Messiah, even though it runs contrary to the popular conception of a military Messiah. Yussif's enthusiasm for Jesus has cooled a bit and his anxiety has grown, so he's initially wary of the trouble they could get in for talking this way about Jesus. Jairus finally convinces him that it's worth pursuing and that they need to dampen the revolutionary nature of Jesus' words in their report to Shmuel.
Jairus returns to his home to retrieve scrolls for his research into the Messiah. While he's there, his daughter becomes sick. He and his wife take her to her room and he promises to find a doctor. Later, Jairus tells Yussif about his daughter's sickness and explains that it must have been caused by the polluted water. He express fear that God may be punishing him for believing in Jesus. Yussif blames himself for exposing Jairus to Jesus' teaching and says it's not too late to stop investigating. But Jairus realizes that he can't turn his back on what he's learned and come to believe about Jesus.
We jump to a meeting of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. The chief of the Sanhedrin pronounces an edict against false prophecy and "rogue" preachers, especially those who claim to be the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13). Shmuel's friend Yanni congratulates him on successfully getting this edict, but Shmuel doesn't feel satisfied. He wants to go track Jesus down, but his friend explains that now that the edict has gone out, they can simply wait for reports of Jesus to come to them.
The episode ends with Jairus' wife discovering that their daughter's illness has become severe. She cries out for Jairus in alarm.
Eden & Veronica
After Simon first returns home from his journey, Eden goes out on some errands. While she's out, a strange woman comes and asks to wash her clothes. Although Eden turns down the offer, the woman offers to show her a secret spring to collect water from, since the pollution problem has created a traffic jam at the well Eden had planned on using. While they are traveling, Eden learns that her new friend is named Veronica and is new to town. She also notices that Veronica's laundry is full of blood.
The next day, Eden and Veronica return back to the spring. Veronica explains that she came to town in order to hear Jesus. She's surprised that Eden (who's frustrated at Simon) doesn't seem too excited about Jesus. Veronica explains that she's had her bleeding condition for twelve years. This is why she can't have a husband and has been disowned by her family - to touch a woman with her bleeding condition automatically makes a person to become unclean. She's used all her money on doctors but to no avail. When Eden asks how she can get by when there's no hope, Veronica explains that she hasn't lost all hope. There may be something (i.e. Jesus) she hasn't had a chance to try yet.
Later, Veronica brings a man the clothing that she's washed for him. He notices that she's bleeding and publicly shames her for being unclean and bringing her uncleanness on him.
Tamar, Mary Magdalene, & Zebedee
Tamar and Mary Magdalene are looking through Matthew's home and sizing up how much they can get by selling different items. Tamar is really critical of Matthew's taste, which annoys Mary. Mary reminds her that she could always sell her jewelry, but Tamar explains that each item comes from an ancestor and has an important meaning to her. Mary suggests that this may be some form of animism or paganism, which offends Tamar. Tamar says Mary doesn't know what she's been through and Mary says the same. Tamar says she's heard rumors. Zebedee comes by with the oil he's going to sell and Tamar is disgusted by the taste. Zebedee takes it in stride and asks for suggestions. Tamar offers some suggestions and then proposes that they invest Joanna's money in the oil business. Mary is annoyed at Tamar's attitude but agrees that they can talk to Judas.
Later Zebedee sells his boat. The man is surprised that Zebedee would do this but Zebedee explains its because he's focused on serving Jesus. Right now, that means selling the boat to focus on the oil business.
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 4: Review
As I noted above, I didn't find Episode 4 to be as impressive as Episodes 1-3, but it still felt satisfying and seemed to serve the purposes of the season as a whole. It wasn't a perfect episode though, so before I share what I enjoyed about it, let me point out a few issues:
The opening montage felt a touch too long. The scenes began to feel a bit repetitive.
I enjoy the conflict between Tamar & Mary Magdalene, but their subplot needs higher stakes and more urgency. At this point, I don't see why I should really care about Zebedee's oil business. If there had been a scene of them trying to care for the poor people in the Tent City and running out of cash, it would have clarified why their oil venture matters. I'm sure that all of this is building somewhere, but the show needs to work harder to make us care.
The scene with just Zebedee also felt a bit unnecessary, since it didn't even move that subplot along.
Mary Magdalene's description of Tamar's necklace as a reflection of Animism felt anachronistic and unnatural - I can't see a Jew in her day using that kind of language.
The Sanhedrin Edict really should have come at the end of Season 2. Barring that, I think it could have had a more prominent place in this episode to emphasize the importance of what was happening.
With those critiques aside, here's what I loved from the episode:
Although it may have been a little too long, I generally liked the opener. I went into the episode disappointed that we weren't getting a buddy-cop episode following the disciples on their mission, but the opener won me over. The very first scene, where John and Thomas are surprised at how they've healed the girl and the scene with Simon the Zealot physically securing the demoniac while Matthew exorcised the demon were some of the best moments.
Even though there was a lot going on in the episode, the pollution of the water supply created a sense of dramatic unity kept things from feeling haphazard.
I like how we got to see the Apostles process and respond to their first mission in a variety of ways. Their discussion was theologically enlightening but it felt authentic and real.
Having served in ministry, the conflict between Simon Peter and Eden felt very authentic and relatable as well.
Yussif and Jairus appear to be the new "seeker" characters for the season. I like the way Yussif seems to bend back and forth. I honestly don't know where his character will end up, which is refreshing and feels true to life.
I like that we finally saw Simon Peter get mad at Jesus himself. Again, it felt very relatable.
The dynamic between Simon Peter and Gaius was an unexpected treat. Few shows are able to capture the way that men talk about their problems with one another and earn each others trust, but their scene together did that perfectly.
Like I said, in spite of the problems, there was a lot to enjoy in Episode 4.
Key Themes in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 4
Episode 4 explored a handful of key ideas and brought greater clarity to the themes of the season as a whole. A few ideas that stuck out to me in particular:
The Joy & Cost of Serving Jesus
The opening montage provided us with dozens of snapshots of the Apostles serving Jesus. Because we didn't get any audio, we really got to focus on the nonverbal reactions of both the Apostles and those they were serving. For the most part, we saw looks of surprise, awe, and joy. As I noted above, the disciples themselves seem just as surprised and excited as everyone else. However, we do see a few moments of opposition and difficulty that highlight the cost of serving Jesus.
Upon returning back from their journey, the heated discussion among the Apostles provides a window into the emotional and spiritual toll of their ministry. The Tamar/Mary Magdalene/Zebedee plot also seems designed to drive this point home by contrasting Tamar's unwillingness to sell her jewelry with Zebedee's willingness to sell his boat. Perhaps most importantly, this episode shows us how ministry has exhausted Simon and left him unprepared for life back home with Eden. Eden herself may bear the most obvious cost of serving Jesus throughout Episode 4. She's obviously suffered from loneliness in the absence of her husband. To make matters worse, when Simon returns, she has to work 12x harder than usual to clean, bake bread, and wash the clothes of his coworkers. Of course, the real cost for both Simon and Eden is the resulting tension in their relationship, which makes them less capable of dealing with small conflicts and disagreements.
When the season began by foreshadowing the cost of following Jesus, I wasn't expecting it to focus so much attention on the relational cost, but I'm glad that it has. Like I said before, as someone who has served in ministry, this felt very true to life. Ministry tires you out and puts additional burdens on your family members, creating the perfect conditions for conflict. The presence of this dynamic - which I'm guessing will continue for the next few episodes - clarifies for me why Dallas has said that the theme of the season is Jesus' famous invitation to rest:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)
The Cost of Seeking the Truth
While the storylines involving the disciples highlight the cost of serving Jesus, the Jairus/Yussif storyline highlights the cost of seeking truth. The back and forth between Jairus and Yussif gives us a window into the fears and risks that these two seekers have to take on simply in order to investigate their convictions about Jesus. I like the contrast between Yussif's fearful wavering and Jairus' bold determination that comes out through their conversations and I'm still not sure whether Yussif will have what it takes to remain committed to truth if/when he's put to the test. The pronouncement in the Sanhedrin drives home the sense of imminent danger and makes it clear that they aren't just being skittish; there may be real consequences for them if they choose to keep seeking truth. I also like how Jairus is concerned that God might be punishing him for pursuing Jesus. I imagine that this fear may resonate with viewers who are seeking the truth about Jesus in spite of being raised in another religion like Islam.
In an episode titled "Clean," the concept of ritual purity/impurity (being clean/unclean) was obviously going to come up, but I was interested to see all the ways that it did.
The sick and demonized people that the Apostles encounter aren't just suffering physically; they suffer from a state of indefinite uncleanness. When they are healed, they also regain the ability to be ritually clean
During the first synagogue scene, the reading is taken from Leviticus and the rules about how bodily discharges make a person unclean
The sewage makes the synagogue cistern both unhealthy/unsanitary and ritually unclean
Jairus' daughter is made sick by the unclean cistern water
Veronica is in a state of indefinite uncleanness because of her bleeding condition
During the Apostles' debrief, there's a brief discussion of how some of them traveled through Gentile cities, which would have been considered unclean
If Tamar's necklace is pagan, it might be considered unclean
Simon refuses to drink from Gaius' flask because it would make him unclean
When Gaius says Jews make life complicated for themselves because of their pursuit of ritual purity, Simon says he thinks Jesus will change this somehow
With regard to plot, Episode 4 is mostly just setting up issues that will be resolved in Episode 5 and the remainder of Season 3. The same is true with regard to the theme of uncleanness; the events of Episode 4 mentioned above set up a variety of thematic questions about what ritual purity/impurity, but we'll have to wait for Episode 5 to get answers.
The opening montage gave us several vivid depictions of spiritual empowerment/spiritual gifts. The evident surprise displayed by the Apostles as they exercised spiritual power made it clear that the power they were exercising didn't belong to them personally. Later, when Big James complains about how Jesus gave them power and not understanding, Judas clarifies that Jesus actually didn't give them (independent) power; he was somehow working with them in the moments when they performed miracles, even though he wasn't present physically. The Chosen hasn't given very much discussion of the Holy Spirit so far, but I imagine conversations like this are meant to set the stage to discuss what it means to have "the Spirit of Jesus" dwell with us.
The exploration of spiritual gifts and empowerment also touches on motives/character. One reason Big James is bothered by the experience of spiritual empowerment is because preaching ideas and exhortations that exceed his own comprehension and maturity makes him feel like a hypocrite. John, on the other hand, expresses how he enjoyed the experience of power - and is warned by Philip that this could lead to temptation.
Humility vs. Pride
Philip's warning to John is the most explicit warning pride, but we see the contrast between humility and pride throughout the episode. A lot of Simon's issues with Eden are due to prideful entitlement he displays upon returning home from his journey. By contrast, Gaius' prescription for dealing with spousal conflict at the end of the episode ("You are right; I'm sorry") is all about humility. Tamar and Mary Magdalene both deal with pride in different respects: Tamar demonstrates pride in how she looks down on Mathew's style and how she speaks to Mary and Zebedee, while Mary demonstrates pride in how she judges Tamar's necklace without understanding and in her annoyance. Meanwhile, Zebedee is a poster child of humility. I think Veronica is also supposed to be an exemplar of humility in the meek way she talks to Eden and in her willingness to cling on to hope. Meanwhile, the apex of pride is clearly meant to be Shmuel and the Sanhedrin. Again, we'll have to wait until next episode to learn more about what The Chosen has to say about the conflict between pride and humility.
Any other themes that stick out to you? Do you agree/disagree with my evaluation of the episode? Please feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments!
An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The 40 Days with Jesus series helps readers connect what they watch in The Chosen with the Gospel stories that they're based on and then engage in spiritual reflection.
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If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: ???
Episode 8 Guide: ???
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara