The Chosen Season 3 Episode 6: Recap, Review, & Analysis
Updated: 5 days ago
Episode 6 of The Chosen Season 3 has a lot going on:
We meet Pontius Pilate and his wife for the first time
We see a vision of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
The tension that's been building between Simon Peter & Eden, Tamar & Mary, and Simon Z and the Zealot assassins finally reaches a boiling point
We get hints of what I'm guessing will be the focus of The Chosen Season 4 (Jesus in the region of the Decapolis)
We get some really beautiful feel-good moments - and a few super-heavy moments as well
There's a lot to unpack, so let's get started!
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What Happened in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 6
Episode 6 seems to function as a kind of pivot point for The Chosen Season 3. Although Episode 6 is juggling a lot of plot lines, many of these plots only got a scene or two, because they are either paying off the tension that's been set up over the course of Season 3 or they are laying the groundwork for an upcoming plot line. I'll do my best to cover all the important threads of the episode below:
Pilate & Atticus
Episode 6 opens with a dark and surreal vision in which we see the disciples sleeping (at first they almost look dead) while Jesus prays fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane (e.g., Matthew 26:36-46). Pilate's wife awakes from this dream, disturbed and agitated [a set up that anticipates how she will eventually plead with Pilate to let Jesus go because of the dreams she's been having (Matthew 27:19)]. Looking outside of her villa, she discovers that several men are being crucified. When Pilate greets her, she warns him that if he's too harsh, he could foment another revolt, but Pilate brushes her concerns aside. Pilate has plans to meet with a friend (Atticus), which surprises his wife, who claims he doesn't have friends - just strategic acquaintances.
Later in the episode, we see Atticus arrive at a pavilion that Pilate has pitched in an open field. He chides Pilate for announcing his position so arrogantly, when opportunistic revolutionaries could come by and attack. After exchanging banter, Pilate asks Atticus to update him on his activities over the course of the past year. When Atticus notes that Quintus has been a bit of a problem, Pilate jokingly says he'll kill him, before acknowledging that he can't do that because Quintus does a good job of maintaining revenue. Pilate is bothered though by Quintus' excessive use of force in putting down uprisings, since it means he himself has to be less forceful.
When Atticus explains to Pilate the events that led him to Capernaum and Pilate says he thinks Quintus is out of his depth. Pilate enjoys being in an unimportant, backwater territory during a time of relative peace and even finds the Jews to be charming - except for the horrible High Priest Caiaphas. He wants to keep Rome and the Jews satisfied and for there to be peace. Having asked Atticus to return to Capernaum to keep tabs on Jesus, Pilate expresses his trust in Atticus' judgment and promises to listen to whatever intelligence and advice he offers.
Simon Z & the Anxious Disciples
When we see crucified criminals in the opening scene of Episode 6, viewers are reminded of the high risk for Jesus and his disciples at this stage in their ministry. In the very next scene, we see the disciples sharpening knives and spears, a sign that they also understand the risks and are anticipating them anxiously. When Matthew shows up and asks what they are doing, the other Apostles explain that if a woman like Veronica was able to push through and touch Jesus without his consent, others could do so as well. Of course, this leads to a debate. Philip and Nathanael point out that if Veronica hadn't reached Jesus then she wouldn't have been healed - and that they can't go around stabbing everyone who tries to touch him. There's also criticism of Matthew and Simon Peter for befriending a Roman like Gaius. Along the way, the disciples laugh at Matthew's lack of combat readiness and Simon Peter offers to give him fighting lessons.
All of this is set up for a moment involving Simon the Zealot. Nathanael has noticed that Simon is sharpening a sicari dagger, like the one he got rid of when he began to follow Jesus. He tries to find out why Simon has acquired a new dagger instead of simply sharpening a more mundane blade like the rest. When Nathanael can't get anything out of him, he invites over Little James. Simon Z confides to Little James about how he is being pursued by Zealots. James urges him to tell Jesus but Simon insists that he wants to protect Jesus and not get him involved.
A few scenes later, the anxiety of the disciples is triggered when a man comes from the Decapolis bearing a message for Philip and Andrew in the middle of the night (more on that below). And, once again, when messengers from John the Baptist come, the disciples worry about whether they are spies.
Simon the Zealot goes to the Tent City to confront the Zealots who are pursuing him. He quickly finds himself surrounded. Instead of fighting back, however, he drops to his knees and prays and explains to the Zealots that he has abandoned the order in order to follow the Messiah because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Due to the presence of Gaius nearby, they hold off on attacking while scoffing at Simon, questioning why Rome is still in power if the Messiah has come. Simon explains that the Messiah has not come in the manner they expected. Nevertheless, Simon announces that he has given up his dagger and the way of violence, having witnessed the healing of his brother.
When Jesus arrives back in town, he begins performing miracles in view of where Simon and the Zealots are having their standoff. The chief Zealot is clearly impressed. He witness Jesus' response to the disciples of John - and Jesus' exchange with the local Pharisee. Jesus catches the Zealot's eye as he urges people not to ignore the call to repentance and salvation that he is offering. Afterward, Simon Z asks the Zealot if he understands now. The Zealot says that he understands very little but realizes that Simon Z has not proven faithless. Although some of the other assassins seem less convinced, the main Zealot says he needs to find his own path and promises to go back to the order and share what he has seen.
Gaius & Quintus
Early in Epiode 6, Gaius arrives in Quintus' headquarters. After asking if Gaius has ever had a tattling younger brother, Quintus explains that Atticus is going to Pilate to tattle on him. That's bad news because Quintus will need Pilate's endorsement if he's ever going to get promoted. Gaius assures Quintus that his record speaks for itself but Quintus is not reassured and berates Gaius for failing to keep the Tent City under control. The plan to tax the tent dwellers that Atticus proposed in Episode 2 has failed, because none of them have money and the Preacher (Jesus) is back causing more spectacle and chaos. When Gaius asks how he can make it right, Quintus half-jokingly tells him to kill Jesus - but then acknowledges that would create a revolt and more issues. Instead, he tells Gaius to eliminate the Tent City by finding existing laws that he can enforce (e.g. building codes, health codes) in order to drive the people away. Gaius' response to Quintus is stoic and cold.
Later we see Gaius on patrol in the Tent City. After observing the plight of the people, however, instead of driving people out, Gaius begins helping the pilgrims. When Jesus begins performing miracles nearby, he is impressed yet again. However, when tensions between Jesus and the Pharisee begin to rise, he uses the limits that Quintus has imposed on gatherings of 25 or more to keep the conflict from escalating. He even pulls his sword on the Pharisee when he tries to keep hassling Jesus.
The Disciples of John, Jesus, & the Crowds
The disciples of John the Baptist meet with Simon Peter, James, and John, who test them to make sure that they aren't spies looking to take Jesus down. Even after they've confirmed who they are, however, they all have to wait for Jesus to return to town before John's message can be delivered. When rumor of Jesus' return reaches them, they make their way through the crowd to where Jesus is performing miraculous healings (healing the blind, the mute, and the lame). Several other characters are in the crowd -the antagonistic Pharisee from Episode 5, Gaius, the Zealot, Yussif, Jairus, and Barnaby (the man with a limp from Season 1).
Simon encourages John's disciples to share their message with Jesus. He recognizes them as among the disciples that heard John call him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:26-34). John's disciples are hesitant about sharing their message in such a public setting, but Simon Peter insists that it's the right time. John wants to know whether Jesus is indeed the one who is to come (i.e. the Messiah) or if they should look for another. Jesus isn't phased by the question but rather makes the Messianic implication explicit. He explains to the crowd that John is understandably impatient. He tells them to tell John what they've seen (and to add the dead to the list of miracles) and to assure John that all will be well. The local Pharisee is indignant and denounces Jesus as demonic in front of the crowd.
Jesus takes this moment as a chance to clarify that he is not rebuking John and affirms his baptism and zeal (in contrast to the Pharisees). He declares that John is the forerunner predicted in Isaiah (40:3-5) and Malachi (3:1). The Pharisee takes issue with this, given how John has denounced the Pharisees as vipers (Matthew 3:7) and has been deemed demonic. Jesus insists on John's greatness - and yet declares that that, as John would himself admit, the least in the Kingdom is far greater. He goes on to compare the Pharisees to spoiled children who are unwilling to join in playing, regardless of whether it's a make-believe wedding or funeral. The Pharisees will reject anything - both John's solemnity and Jesus' joy. Although they claim to be wise, wisdom is demonstrated through action. Jesus implores those listening to not ignore the message of repentance and salvation and the evidence of God's kingdom in the lives they've seen changed. The local Pharisee is outraged and about to escalate the argument, but Jairus and Yussif point out that they are in danger of breaking the ban on large gatherings. With Gaius' help, they shut down the scene before things can get too intense.
Later, Jesus is walking with Simon Peter, Big James, and John. Simon points out that miracles are more fun with Pharisees around. James thinks they should get Jesus out of town because of the increasing heat. Their conversation is interrupted by Barnaby and Shula. When Barnaby saw Jesus heal a blind person, he realized he should go get Shula and see if Jesus would heal her too. Jesus asks Shula why she hasn't asked before. She admits that even though she believes in him, she's been afraid. After praising their faith and love, he heals her eyes and they all rejoice. Shula asks about Barnaby. Barnaby insists that he came to help her, not himself and is content to walk her home. As they head out, however, Barnaby realizes that his leg is healed and runs back to thank Jesus. They then head home - much faster than usual. Simon notes that even without a Pharisee around, this miracle was just as fun.
Andrew, Philip, & Leander
In the middle of the night, while the disciples are sleeping in Simon Peter's home, a young man uses a knife to enter through a window. The noise of his entry wakes all of the Apostles and they demand to know who he is. His name is Leander and he was among those who listened to Andrew and Philip preaching during their missionary journey. Although Andrew and Philip followed Jesus' instructions about preaching only to the Jews, there are Greeks and other non-Jews who heard the message and have turned away from the Olympian gods and believed in Jesus. This has led to an uproar in the region of the Decapolis, with brother turning against brother. Moreover the teaching of Andrew and Philip was incomplete and those who have believed need to learn more. Leander begs them to return to finish what they started (all of this is a set up for John 12:20-26, in which Greeks visiting Jerusalem that want to meet Jesus come specifically to Andrew and Philip).
Mary, Tamar, Zebedee, & Judas
Mary is busy writing Ramah a letter, asking for her advice about local farmers, when Tamar comes by and spits out an olive, commenting on how disgusting it is. Tamar notices that Mary is annoyed at her and asks what's going on. Mary is annoyed at how rude Tamar, a woman, was to an elder man (Zebedee). When Tamar argues that their work with the olives is their contribution to the ministry and is important, Mary points out that they have more to contribute than work (i.e. a good attitude).
At this point the conversation gets really deep. Mary expresses her exasperation at how she had to come to Jesus while drunk and demon-possessed, whereas Tamar got to push her way into the group with little suffering and was praised for her faith. She wishes that Tamar was more humble and explains how she herself constant feels like she can never be enough. In response, Tamar insists that Mary is amazing and asks her why she can't see that. Mary doesn't think they're supposed to and chides Tamar for her lack of curiosity and her sense of entitlement and her boldness. Tamar expresses grief for Mary's shame and notes that she doesn't need to hold onto it, since she's received Jesus' forgiveness.
Now it's Tamar's turn to open up. She explains how, even though she's not a Jew, she's known her share of suffering. Her country is war-torn because of tribal violence. During her most recent visit, she discovered that her family - along with the rest of her village - had been wiped out by a rival tribe. She found her necklace on the body of her mother. It still has her mother's blood on it - the only thing she has left. That's why, throughout Season 3, she's been so frustrated at how Mary keeps telling her to sell it. Mary is grieved. Having lost her father, she wishes that she still had a piece of him to hold onto. She admits that she's been judging Tamar's strength (boldness) against her own weakness (shame, self-loathing) and asks for forgiveness. The two embrace and figure out a plan to improve the olive grove.
Later, Zebedee meets with Mary and Tamar after they've visited a nearby farmer. They've figured out what they need to do in order to improve the soil quality of the olive grove. They need to buy sulfur though. Mary goes up to the money box. As she looks inside, she finds bags of money missing and in their place are tassels (my original guess was that it involved Judas borrowing money, but Episode 7 ends up explaining that the tassels belong to Matthew). Nevertheless, she finds the money she needs and they go to get the supplies.
Simon Peter & Eden
Simon finally gets some time at home with Eden and tries to lavish praise on her cooking and on her. She isn't having it though. When James and John arrive, asking for his help in determining whether the messengers of John are legit, Simon tells them it can wait. He hopes Eden will be impressed by his ability to say no to work, but she's already left the table.
The next night, Simon returns home after witnessing a lot. He begins telling Eden about everything that happened but Eden cuts him off and tells him that she lost the baby. Simon is confused, since he didn't even know she was pregnant. He makes the mistake of asking Eden if she was working too hard, but she puts him in his place. She explains that she's kept the miscarriage a secret because she didn't want to make him regret his choice to follow Jesus but she's realized that she can't keep it to herself. Simon is mad that it was weeks ago and she hasn't told him but Eden questions whether he's actually just mad about what happened. She explains that what he did wrong was not doing anything at all when he returned. Simon suggests that she's upset he was on mission but she tells him to leave Jesus out of it. Eden surprises Simon by comforting him, since she's had more time to process. Finally over the initial shock and anger, Simon is left asking God, "Why?"
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 6: Review
Recapping the plot of Episode 6 was more challenging than previous installments of The Chosen Season 3, not only because there was a lot going on but also because there wasn't as much dramatic and thematic unity. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you've probably noticed how often I've brought up the importance unity - either in my praise of Season 3 of The Chosen or in my criticism Season 2. And I do think a little more unity - achieved by either reorganizing some storylines or establishing a clearer through line - would have helped. Having said that, I don't think the lack of unity in Episode 6 proved fatal. In large part that's because this episode seems to be a pivot point, and so it's able to pay off many of the plot threads that have been gradually set up throughout Season 3, while briefly introducing new plot threads that will be paid off in the season finale or perhaps even in Season 4. Ultimately, I can put up with an occasional episode that feels crammed and chaotic because of how the show is juggling so many season-long plot lines; I'd much rather have that than a bunch of standalone episodes and a season that feels fragmented.
Apart from that minor critique, I didn't find a whole lot to complain about in Episode 6 and there was a lot that I enjoyed:
I was very impressed by how the show was able to make Jesus' speech about John the Baptist into an engaging set piece in its own right, while also advancing several side plots through the reactions of the characters who were watching. The show did something similar with the Sermon on the Mount, but this scene was far more complex.
I'm looking forward to seeing more of Pilate. He's more charismatic than what I've seen in past adaptations, which is interesting. I've never known what to make of the Bible's picture of Pilate - he's not a vicious brute who's out for blood but he's also not an innocent man in a bad situation. I can see how the Pilate we saw in Episode 6 fitting into the narrative given to us in the Gospels.
The conversation between Tamar and Mary Magdalene added layers of complexity to both characters and felt very relatable. Great performances by both actresses.
Ditto for the conversation between Simon Peter and Eden. It would have been easy for the show to tie up their issues in a neat bow. Instead, both characters have been allowed progress slowly, while responding to their grief in a raw and messy fashion. Again, a great performance by Lara Silva.
Simon Z isn't one of the central Apostles, so it was nice to see him get some time in the spotlight. The confrontation with the Zealots with tense and, going in, I genuinely didn't know what to expect.
The Shula and Barnaby scene was heartwarming. Great pay off for two very endearing side characters.
Key Themes in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 6
Suspicion & Self-Protection
In my analysis of Episode 5, I noted the growing atmosphere of suspicion and fear among the Apostles. Episode 6 brings even more focus to the anxiety among the Apostles. Their fear comes out in small ways, like how the Apostles need to verify if John's disciples are legit and how Big James says Jesus should clear out of town soon. But it comes out most obviously in the knife-sharpening scene, where we see the Apostles preparing themselves to engaging in physical violence to protect Jesus. The debate over whether they should have attacked Veronica to keep her from touching Jesus against his will is particularly alarming and highlights how the Apostles are out of sync with Jesus; when Jesus eventually explains the he plans to go get crucified, it's going to be totally incomprehensible to them. It's also going to be hard for some Apostles to get on board when the Jesus movement broadens out to include their Roman oppressors, as we were reminded when we hear suspicions raised once again over the positive relationship of Simon Peter (and Matthew) with a Roman (Gaius). I imagine that's why the show is setting up a move to the Decapolis, where the Apostles will be forced to deal with their anti-Gentile prejudices and suspicion.
Simon Z is the focal point for this theme, as he decides how to respond to the threat posed by his Zealot pursuers. His decision to reject violence and instead to confront his enemies by peacefully proclaiming the Messiah puts him out ahead of the rest of the Apostles (except for Philip and Little James, who also seem more disposed toward peace). The Zealots themselves function as a fun house mirror for the Apostles, reflecting what the Apostles could become if their suspicion and propensity for violence continue to grow.
Quintus and Pilate also provide us with windows into how suspicion and anxiety can lead to violent self-protection. Both of them are anxious about getting in trouble with their superiors, and that anxiety leads them to utilize brutal force (e.g., the crucifixion, mentions of putting down revolts forcefully) or at least contemplate doing so (e.g., Quintus' "Kill Jesus of Nazareth" comment). By contrast, Gaius' arc over Season 3 has led him to befriend Jews and become less suspicious of them. Instead of taking Quintus' cue and engaging in forceful suppression of the Tent City, he compassionately helps the tent dwellers.
Listening & Compassion
In Episode 6, characters at their worst are consumed with suspicion, anxiety, and self-protection; character at their best, on the other hand, are willing to listen to/see the sorrows of others and are moved by compassion and empathy. This contrast between self-protective characters and compassionate characters is established in the very first scene: Pilate's wife sees the pain of Jesus (via vision) and the suffering of the crucified criminals and has compassion, whereas Pilate is only concerned about the political calculus of protecting his own position. Again, in the following scene, we see a contrast between those who are focused on the security risk posed by Veronica's actions in Episode 5, and Philip who seems to have compassion for her plight. In the same scene, Nathanael seems to recognize that Simon Z will open up more easily to Little James, because of his reputation for listening and being compassionate.