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The Chosen Season 4 Episode 2: Recap, Review, & Analysis

Updated: 4 days ago

My recap, review, and analysis of The Chosen Season 4 premiere continues! I’ve decided to do a separate post for episode 1 and episode 3 because they each merit their own discussion and review. Episode 2 of The Chosen Season 4 centers around the elevation of two characters: Shmuel’s elevation to the Sanhedrin on account of his efforts to “expose” Jesus as a deceiver and Simon’s elevation to his role as “Peter” on account of his confession of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the Living God (based on Matthew 16:13-20). Below I will describe the events of the episode in greater detail and then go on to share my personal impressions and my analysis of the key themes and ideas.


Shmuel in The Chosen Season 4
Shmuel in The Chosen Season 4

What Happened in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 2

Episode 2 of The Chosen Season 4 has two main storylines in addition to few smaller plots:


Jesus and the Disciples

Episode 2 opens with a dream, in which Jesus encounters John the Baptist and sees his cousin break free of his chains and depart toward a snowy mountain. Awaking from the dream, Jesus finds Andrew also awake. The two process through their grief over John and why they aren’t quite as overwhelmed with sorrow as they had expected to be. Jesus points out that there’s no proper way to grieve and that often the moments of greatest sadness are also the moments we laugh the most. Andrew says Jesus is a mystery, and that inspires Jesus to continue the Shiva (mourning) for John on the open road, John’s true home.


As Jesus leads the disciples toward Mount Hermon, they talk along the way. Thomas and Ramah decide to ask Jesus to be Ramah’s witness/surrogate father in their betrothal. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to talk to the disciple about his purpose: he has not come to bring peace but a sword and division, even within families, because the command to love God is greater than that to honor Father and Mother (Matthew 10:34-39). After, Ramah tells Thomas that she doesn’t really need a wedding gift and he takes her at face value - prompting Simon to take him aside and explain the subtleties of communication in marriage.


As the disciples near Caesarea Phillipi (Mount Hermon), they begin to encounter remnants of pagan shrines to Baal, before finally reaching the Gates of Hell, a cultic complex outside a cave that the pagans considered an entrance into the underworld. The disciples are disgusted by all the pagan worship - particularly when they encounter goats brought in for the (implied) purpose of ritual beastiality. 


Arriving at the altar of Pan outside the Gates of Hell, Jesus responds to the disgust of his disciples by questioning whether they should avoid dark places out of fear or whether they should be light to them. John did not shrink back from dark places like this cave. He asks them as to who outsiders say that he is and then questions who they say that he is. When Simon declares that he is the Christ, Jesus names him Peter (rock) and declares that he is building his church on this rock and the Gates of Hell will not stand against it. He summons the disciples to be fearless in the face of evil and willing to follow him anyway - even to dark places like this.


That night, as the disciples camp, Big James and John grumble and bicker about Simon’s elevation to Peter. The disciples question whether Simon is now the “best” or chief. This prompts Matthew to go talk privately with Jesus. He doesn’t understand why Jesus would elevate Simon given how cruel he has been to Matthew. Jesus acknowledges Matthew’s grievance but also encourages Matthew to ask Simon to forgive him for all the hurt he inflicted as a tax collector. Matthew is hesitant, not wanting to start an argument, but Jesus insists that there can be no peace while his followers continue to hold resentment against one another. Meanwhile, back at camp, Simon Peter encourages them all to go to bed and leads them in evening prayer.


The next day, John and James continue to grumble and wonder whether they could secure high positions for themselves as well. They buy pistachios at a vendor (despite Judas’ concern over the finances) and Nathanael demonstrates his skill by distributing the nuts evenly between the sixteen followers. Simon Peter confides in Andrew some of the self-doubt he’s feeling in the wake of his lapse last season. Meanwhile, Tamar questions Matthew about how he knows what to include in his account. Prompted by Jesus, Matthew finally goes and apologizes to Simon Peter and asks for forgiveness - but Simon walks away, frustrated.


Simon Peter in The Chosen
Simon Peter in The Chosen

That night, as Simon Peter lies in bed with Eden, unable to sleep, he thinks back to the terrible night in Season 1 Episode 4, when he railed against God as he struggled to find enough fish to pay off his debt. Getting up, he finds Jesus outside the city and questions why he should forgive Matthew after being sinned against well-over seven times. Jesus insists that he must forgive not seven but seventy times seven - as much as needed (Matthew 18:15-20). But Simon Peter is reminded of what came of Matthew’s actions - Simon’s encounter with Jesus. Still, Simon struggles to accept what he must do, stomping away angrily.


As morning dawns, John offers to help Thomas get a gift for Ramah by bartering up from some of his mother’s pastries. Simon Peter arrives and, seeing Matthew, marches up and hugs him. Forgiving him, he notes that it was all for good (an allusion to Joseph’s famous line in Genesis 50:20) and commits to sticking by him to the ends of the earth.


Yussif, Jairus, Shmuel, and the Sanhedrin

As Yussif dresses for the day, he recites the words of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes), meditating on the fleeting nature of this world and all of its riches. His eyes fall on a key that has some mysterious meaning to him, but he quickly shuts it away. A man (Nathan) comes to seek counsel concerning his persistent and debilitating anxiety. Yussif recognizes the possibility that the man is carrying the anguish of their forefathers in his bones and offers to pray with him daily. He almost refers him to Jesus but holds back. After the man leaves, Yussif asks Jairus how his daughter is (they can’t explicitly discuss her healing lest they be overheard) and Jairus brings news that Shmuel has been promoted to the Sanhedrin and Nicodemus has been absent from it; they fear that the rumors of the feeding of the 5,000 will cause trouble.


As Shmuel is fitted with new robes, honoring his membership in the Sanhedrin, he talks to Yanni about his encounter with Jesus and their time praying together. Jesus’ sincerity has left him questioning his opposition. When Yanni brushes his doubts aside, Shmuel questions whether the Sanhedrin is actually concerned with improving their nation or whether they’re too busy with empty posturing.


At the meeting of the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Shammai welcomes Shmuel and commends him for his efforts to expose Jesus. He condemns Jesus for being a false prophet on account of his “contempt” for the law and his willingness to fraternize with tax collectors, women, Gentiles, and Zealots. A rabbi named Shimon attempts to defend Jesus, but he is quickly shouted down. A passing comment about John’s death strikes Shmuel and deepens his doubt. Meanwhile, the High Priest Caiphas addresses the Sanhedrin and insists that avoid executing the Law of Moses on their own and instead entrap Jesus with questions until they can convince Rome to deal with him. They do not want Rome to see them as sowers of chaos and violence.


Four horsemen are sent throughout Israel to instruct local leaders to oppose and entrap Jesus. As Shmuel continues to process the news of John’s death, Yanni suggests that he be the one to find Jesus and bring him before the Sanhedrin. Shmuel realizes that he must indeed do this.


One of the horsemen comes to Capernaum with news of the edict against Jesus. As Yussif and Jairus process, Yussif decides that he must leave Capernaum and use his father’s wealth and influence to gain a seat at the Sanhedrin (another hint at his true identity). Using the key he was eying earlier, he retrieves a mysterious pouch.


Quintus, Atticus, and Gaius

At the start of the episode, Quintus is having his bust sculpted when Atticus arrives and demands the latest intel on Jesus. When Quintus questions why he seems so anxious, Atticus expresses concern over how the response to Jesus’ ministry may boil over into civil war. He warns Quintus that his strong tax revenue is the only thing keeping him in the good graces of Pilate and urges him to do something to contain the threat.


Later, Quintus calls Gaius and the other centurion, Julius. Fuming over the current state of affairs, he demands that they remove the Tent City within a week. Gaius, as he leaves the meeting, bumps into Matthew. Matthew senses that Gaius is distressed over his family situation and suggests that he gets help from Jesus. Just like Gaius, he wakes up everyday feeling anxious and jumbled but is able to find peace by focusing on the one thing that matters: following Jesus. Gaius isn’t interested. He advises Matthew to keep Jesus from preaching publicly during the present tension.


Review of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 2

There was a lot that I loved about The Chosen Season 4 Episode 2:

  • I won’t rehash, but my comments about production quality, minor character performances, and peacing from the Episode 1 review still hold.

  • I like that they circled back to the Matthew/Simon conflict and provided Matthew with an opportunity to continue to repent and seek forgiveness for his past actions. It would be really easy for the show to leave behind the grievances between the two of them, but it feels very believable that the conflict would be reopened after the elevation of Simon. The show did a good job of exploring the conflict from both ends.

  • The show did a great job of looking at the idea of status and elevation from multiple perspectives without hitting us over the head (see more details below).

  • For the most part, I liked Jesus’ discussion of grief, even though it felt very modern and anachronistic.

  • I also like the slowly-building grumbling/frustration of James and John. It’s both funny (we can be flags on the top of the house!) and real.

  • I was surprised by Shmuel’s sudden doubt and like how it makes his character more human and complex.


I did have a few quibbles, but they’re mostly big picture issues:

  • The story of Jesus and the disciples feels like this could have been two episodes: Jesus’ grief, leading up to the Gates of Hell speech could have been an entire episode and then the fallout of Simon being elevated to Peter could have been its own episode. As it was, I think the fallout of John’s death got shortchanged. Yes, people grieve in a variety of ways - but that point would ring more true if we saw a variety of responses to John’s death. I would have liked it if some of the disciples were worried (“they killed John, now what if they come after us?”), some were regretful (“is there more we could have done?”), and some nostalgic (“remember that time John…?”). As it was, Andrew and Jesus were the only ones who we really saw process the events of last episode.

  • I continue to question why the show has delayed the story of Gaius’ child being healed for so long. There was a lot of momentum in the storyline last season, which feels lost now. Also, last season Gaius’ family situation was a Simon-focused story, so it feels strange to bounce it back now to Matthew.

  • There are issues with how things have progressed among the Pharisees. At times, it feels like The Chosen wants to show us how the Sanhedrin was gradually pushed from being apathetic about Jesus to plotting his death. But then the plotline is dropped at random points and when it’s picked up, things have changed drastically. This happened between Season 2 and the middle of Season 3 and between the end of Season 3 and now. There’s an interesting story there - I just wish the show could follow it a little more thoroughly and connect some of the dots.

  • If I hadn’t had my conversation with Elijah Alexander, I would have been confused about the shift in Atticus’ character from trying to stop Quintus from destroying the Tent City to urging him to act more decisively. Maybe the show wants Atticus’ motives to be mysterious, but it would have helped if they did a little bit more to help us understand the change in his perspective. Perhaps a conversation between him and Gaius would have been helpful in this regard.


Key Themes of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 2

Episode 2 engaged with two main ideas:


Our Need to be Vulnerable & Process Hard Feelings with Others and God

Episode 2 illustrates the importance of personal vulnerability and processing through difficult emotions with others by giving us several positive examples: 

  • Jesus and Andrew begin the episode processing through the complex emotions that they have regarding the death of John. Andrew feels shame that he feels as good as he does, but Jesus assures him that there’s not a right way to grieve and it’s even okay to laugh.

  • Yussif helps Nathan process through his anxiety and invites him to meet daily to pray and talk together.

  • Simon Peter is able to process through his self-doubt with Andrew.

  • Matthew opens up to Gaius and shares about how he deals with his anxiety.


Episode 2 also provides us with a few counter-examples that illustrate the frustration that comes when we are not able to process through our deep thoughts and emotions:

  • Shmuel tries to process through the doubts caused by his meeting with Jesus but Yanni immediately brushes him aside.

  • Later, Shmuel wants to process through the news of John’s death, but again Yanni is totally unconcerned.

  • Gaius tries to cover up his anxiety and has to be prodded by Matthew.


Ultimately, the forgiveness plot line is also a subset of this greater theme. Matthew’s conflict avoidance is driven by his fear of being vulnerable and processing through the difficult emotions and resentment that might arise if he were to ask for Simon’s forgiveness. When he finally does work up the courage to talk, Simon Peter walks away - an act that also represents an unwillingness to deal with difficult emotions and the resentment he has toward Matthew. The refusal to be vulnerable leaves both men miserable: Matthew is plagued by guilt and bitterness, while Simon finds himself unable to sleep as he replays the past. It’s only by talking first to Jesus and processing through their frustrations and struggles that the two men are finally freed from the frustration and debilitating resentment that come from hiding difficult emotions and instead are able to embrace each other as brothers.


Quintus in The Chosen Season 4
Quintus in The Chosen Season 4

What is the proper way to think about status and being “elevated” above others?

When we hear Yussif reciting the words of Ecclesiastes, at first it seems like a throwaway moment - just a little extra Scripture packed into the episode. But, once we learn the significance of the key that he is eying as he recites Ecclesiastes, we can make more sense of the opening scene. One major point of Ecclesiastes is that worldly status is all hevel - a fleeting vapor that alludes our grasp and is ultimately empty and meaningless. It appears that Yussif recites this passage in order to guard himself against the temptation of using his father’s wealth and influence to seek greater status and elevation. He is content to be a simple rabbi, helping lowly people like Nathan deal with their everyday problems. By the end of the episode, however, Yussif realizes that he must indeed use his father’s wealth to seek a place in the Sanhedrin - not because he actually wants the status and elevation that comes with the position but rather because God has called him to use his privilege to stand up for Jesus and his followers. This is Episode 2’s most positive vision of how followers of Jesus can think about status and elevation.


Shmuel begins the episode in a situation that’s intentional parallel to Yussif (getting dressed for the day). This heightens the contrast between Yussif’s view of status and how status is treated among the leaders of the Sanhedrin. Instead of reciting the humbling words of Ecclesiastes, Shmuel begins his day listening to the puff-up words of Yanni. Still, Shmuel begins to question the empty pomp. When he is finally inducted into the Sanhedrin - the elevation that he’s longed for so long - he seems very unhappy. Shammai and the other Pharisees seem to be more concerned with protecting their status than they are with seeking the truth. By the end of the episode, he seems to be seriously questioning what he did and whether he should seek to protect Jesus from the edict.

Quintus provides another negative example of status seeking. At the start of the episode, he obsesses over whether the sculptor carving his bust is capturing his good side and he freaks out when Atticus threatens to smash the symbol of his status. As usual, when it comes to discussing Jesus and the Tent City, the only thing he’s really concerned about is how the situation reflects on his own standing with Rome.


When Jesus renames Simon as Peter and declares that the church will be built on him, this creates a crisis among the disciples, as they seek to make sense of Peter’s elevation. Big James and John are frustrated that they didn’t get the same elevation and spend a great deal of time thinking about how they can gain equal or greater status for themselves. Other disciples question whether the introduction of status will lead to a formal hierarchy like the military or whether Jesus merely intended Peter to be first among equals. At one point, Andrew jokes that the other disciples need to submit a formal request in order to schedule appointments with Simon Peter. Matthew is frustrated at the thought that someone who has acted so cruelly would be given such high status.


Simon Peter, for his part, mostly seeks to use his status and elevation in a proper way. We see him doing his part to set up the camp, while others are sitting around the fireside. He encourages the others to go to sleep when he senses that they need it and he leads them in praying. Most importantly, he demonstrates his willingness to surrender his grudge against Matthew and forgive. The show does poke fun at Simon insisting on being called Peter, but this mostly comes across as endearing and not as vain or conceited.


The conversation regarding Ramah’s father also touches on the theme of status. Parents have God-given status over their children that merits honor. But their status - and the obligation to honor it - isn’t absolute. When a parent tries to use his/her status to oppose God, he /she must be disregarded.


Pulling everything together:

  • Status is a dangerous snare and it’s best to guard ourselves from desiring it

  • The desire for status can lead us to grumble against those who are elevated above us 

  • Sometimes, it is acceptable to take up status - but only as duty requires - in order to better the lives of others and advance the Kingdom

  • Those who have status are often tempted to guard it jealously, by sacrificing those beneath them.

  • Usually, we are obligated to honor those above us, but there are times when we must disregard their status in obedience to God.



 

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 1-4, 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 4


The Chosen Season 3


Adapting Biblical Characters Series


Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)


Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]

Season 4

Season 3

Season 2

Season 1

Specials


The Chosen Controversies Series


How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why


Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]

Season 4


Season 1

Specials


Mailbag Q&R


The Chosen Thematic Viewing Guides


Beyond The Chosen


Other Bible Adaptations

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