This movie was everything I didn’t know I wanted in a movie.
As soon as Signed, Sealed Delivered: The Vows We Have Made ended, I sat absolutely speechless.
Martha Williamson did NOT disappoint. In fact, she brought this movie to all new heights. The way she intricately wove the story was beautiful and breathtaking. Be still my heart; where to even begin? I guess, first, if you want an in-depth recap and review, you can read this one by my friend Amanda. You can also check out Alameda and Downing Blog for another in-depth analysis.
I’m assuming that since you’re reading this, you’ve probably already watched The Vows We Have Made or read Amanda’s or Chandel’s posts, so rather than going into a play-by-play, I’m going to examine the running themes through this movie. I also review these themes on Deliver Me a Podcast, so you can also check that out if you wish to.
- Deliver Me a Podcast: The Vows We Have Made Recap (Part 1)
- Deliver Me a Podcast: The Vows We Have Made Recap (Part 2)
I have SO much to say, so I apologize in advance for this extremely lengthy post. It has taken me over a week to finish!
This post contains spoilers, so read at your own risk!
Norman and Rita
The last time we saw the POstables, Norman and Rita had just gotten married. In The Vows We Have Made, Norman and Rita are in the throes newlywed bliss which also includes them figuring out how they want to expand their family.
Enter Charley Reddick, the newest temp employee in the DLO, who is expected to deliver a baby, or as Norman put it, a “little parcel post,” any day. Charley, a single parent, confides in Rita that despite her desire to raise her baby, she doesn’t think she can as she doesn’t have a stable job and needs to pay rent. After Charley shares that she is planning on placing her baby for adoption’, Rita and Norman discuss being the adoptive parents. They agree that they are willing to adopt Charley’s baby, but Norman has his reserves, especially after Charley shares that she’s needs to find a new job as temp hires are being cut.
“If her baby ever needed a family, tomorrow, next week, or whenever. And I knew in my soul that we were supposed to her parents, well, I believe that would be a miracle that we would have to say yes to. … Well, wouldn’t it be a mistake to twist the timing? What if Charley isn’t our miracle. What if we’re hers?”Norman to Rita
Together, Rita and Norman decide that they want to open their home to Charley and her baby girl. “It takes a village,” Norman says to Charley.
Norman, one who came out of the foster system, has a deeper understanding of family than many of us even realize. He realizes that they have an opportunity to be a blessing to Charley and her baby. Opening their home allows them to care for Charley and will provide her the stability she needs to raise her baby.
While we didn’t see Rita and Norman announce that they were expecting or adopting, we watched Rita and Norman’s journey come full circle in many ways. And that includes this funny little Easter Egg. In Higher Ground, Norman and Rita “adopt” a potato that came from Eleanor in Passports. Funny enough, they name the potato “Charlene” (which sounds awfully similar to Charley). And Charley names her baby Eleanor.
Connecting Oliver’s Journey + The Letter Story
Oliver went on quite the journey! Mercy, me.
Everything was going swimmingly until Oliver is triggered by the word “forever.” Norman tells him that he needs to come up with a wedding gift for Shane and to consider giving her something that will last forever.
Things go downhill for Oliver as his nerves and pre-wedding jitters start to get to him. To avoid his feelings, he throws himself into his work and is determined to solve the latest letter mystery– reuniting Owen, a boy fighting leukemia, with his beloved toy Fred, which we learn became the area’s firemen’s mascot. In fact, Oliver is so driven to find Owen that he even snaps at Shane when she suggests that it may be too late to reunite Fred with Owen.
After their heated exchange, Oliver confides in Shane and shares that his mother didn’t just leave him and his father once, but twice. Shane is empathic and then tells him:
“I can’t help the feeling that… there’s something else you still need to leave at the altar.”Shane to Oliver
Knowing that Oliver isn’t quite ready to share whatever is plaguing him, Shane reassures Oliver that they will find Owen. And they do.
The POstables are successful in delivering Fred to Owen and the scene is beautifully done as the firemen who were touched by Owen’s father and Fred’s presence rally around Owen as he goes to his last clinical trial chemo treatment. (Also– cue the tears.)
If you watch carefully, you’ll notice some parallel themes between Oliver and Owen.
- Both lost a parent as children; however, Oliver’s mother left by choice and Owen’s father passed away tragically and heroically.
- As children, both had a stuffed toy that they favored. Oliver had Dumbarton Oakes, the bear given to him by his mom. Owen had Fred the fireman.
- Dumbarton the bear is a symbol of loss; Fred the fireman is a symbol of hope.
- Oliver gave up Dumbarton by choice as he was angry at his mother and was letting go. Owen gave up Fred by choice as he gave it to his father (who was off to combat a large wildfire). Owen gave Fred up as a way to show his father that he loved him and was holding on.
- Dumbarton was found by Mrs. Genzinger, Oliver’s Sunday School teacher, and Fred was lost in that fire.
- Both are returned to their rightful owners as a symbol of a hope and a future.
Unlocking Oliver O’Toole
In Oliver’s journey to find Owen, he and Shane meet Owen’s mother, Robyn Walker, a firefighter lieutenant. Shane and Oliver are both surprised that Robyn chose to become a firefighter despite losing her husband (also a firefighter) and despite her son’s health. When they question her why she chose this path, Robyn states:
“You know, we’ve learned something about loss throughout this. Being afraid to lose someone someday steals the joy of having them today.”Robyn Walker to Shane and Oliver
These words that Robyn shares unlocks something in Oliver. He realizes that after years of avoiding his feelings, he has to face his fears of abandonment and needs to share his fears with Shane before their wedding. And side note, because I’ve seen comments about repeat storylines– while yes, this is somewhat alluded to in Lost Without You, in that chapel scene, Oliver shares that he’s ready to open his heart up to love. The fear of abandonment wasn’t something he was facing in that moment.
After taking a deep breath, Oliver finally voices his fears out loud.
“My mother left me. My wife left me. How long will it be before you–“
“I can’t get it out of my head that ‘forever’ is a promise not everyone can keep, especially to me. Not after they realize that I’m really– I’m just–“
“Just exactly who you are? Hm? Oliver, I’m sorry your wife left and I am so sorry your mother left, but I’m afraid that somewhere along the line, you started believing that all that leaving had something to do with– you. They left not because they figured out who you are, but because they had no clue who they were. I know who I am, Oliver. And I know you. I know you. You are the man that I have loved and worked with and cried with and fought with and prayed with and prayed for. I know you. And I still love you. I always will and I will never leave you. I will never leave you. I will never leave you. I will never leave you.Oliver and Shane
CUE. THE. WATERWORKS.
I just need to pause here for a moment. Eric Mabius and Kristin Booth were absolutely dynamite in this scene. I had chills watching this moment and I accidentally held my breath because I was just so nervous for Oliver and Shane in this moment! When Shane said “Oliver, you’re scaring me,” I actually responded to my TV, “Oliver, you’re scaring me too!!” (My pals Kami and Jess can testify to this.)
But, OH MY WORD. This scene was SO beautiful. Oliver became so vulnerable and for once, spoke his thoughts in plain English. Shane was so steady and became the rock that Oliver needed in that moment. You’ll notice that she says “I will never leave you” four times and the second time, her hands move to Oliver’s face and her eye contact with him is very direct to ensure that he knows that she means it. When they sealed this moment with a kiss and “Never My Love” began I to play, I just lost it.
And after so long, we finally see Shane and Oliver dance in the DLO, just as they had in Season 1, Episode 4, “The Masterpiece.”
CUE. THE. SWOONING.
The Vows Everyone made
When I asked Martha to describe “The Vows We Have Made” in five words, she said “The Vows I Have Made.” You can hear more about why here. Now, having seen the movie, it make sense because there were so many vows made in this movie.
Robyn made a vow to her son to keep looking forward and to keep fighting for him.
Rita and Norman vowed to become the family Charley and the baby needed.
Then there’s the vow between Sharon McInerney, Shane’s mother, and Oliver. I didn’t see this one coming, y’all.
Sharon McInerney wasn’t exactly the softest character upon meeting her. When we learn that Sharon was at one point an English teacher, I laughed because I could totally see it. And I say that with no malice because I graduated with an English degree and I had amazing English teachers.
Sharon was totally and completely baffled by Oliver and it became apparent that Shane’s Oliver wasn’t whom she had in mind.
“Mrs. McInerney, I’m so pleased to meet you. I’m Oliver.”
“The Oliver that’s marrying my daughter?”
“Oh, who else, Mother?”
“He’s not the only Oliver in the world.”Sharon and Shane
I found it interesting that Sharon basically psychoanalyzed Oliver from a distance. After her initial shock of realizing that was THE Oliver, you can see her really starting to chip away at Oliver. Toward the end of the movie, Oliver and Sharon have a very heartwarming conversation. She knows that Oliver’s past is what’s been plaguing him the past couple of days.
“You need to heal. But you don’t have to do it alone. You have a whole family of people who love you, dearie. And that includes me. Because, love is a choice. And you’re a choice I want to make. And, tomorrow, if… you want. I would like to become the mother you deserve. What do you say?”Sharon McInerney
In a way, this scene is very reminiscent of Ruth 1, which was referenced in Oliver and Shane’s wedding vows. In the Bible, Ruth makes a vow to her mother-in-law, a woman who had experience tragic loss, to stay with her and to love her as her own flesh and blood. The same is done here between mother-in-law to son-in-law.
Everything came full circle for Oliver in this moment as his mother-in-law committed to be the “mother he deserved.” Oliver had gone through a lot of trauma in his past. As a boy, he was abandoned by his mother twice, and the second time, she never bothered to contact him. He thought his father was keeping her from him, but in reality, she never looked back.
Funny enough, Oliver and Sharon are a lot more similar than they realize and if there’s a future Signed, Sealed, Delivered movie, I would love to see more relational development just as we’ve seen between Shane and Joe O’Toole.
“FrOm Eschew to ‘I Do'”
Took that header title from my friend Natalie. 😉
Oh, goodness gracious. What can I say about this wedding!? I LOVED this wedding. And I know there are naysayers out there saying that it was too short or felt rushed, but, here’s the thing. This movie is about vows and marriage; it’s not about a “fluffy Hallmark wedding.” While I love a good fluffy Hallmark wedding movie, that’s just not how Martha writes her movies. Her movies go deeper. And quite frankly, the most important part of a wedding are the vows that two people make to each other.
I appreciated that Martha purposefully expounded on the vows that Shane and Oliver made to each other. It was a picture of true love, devotion, and new beginnings. I love how the entire Shane and Oliver storyline came full circle. For Shane, she found faith through Oliver. For Oliver, he found redemption through Shane. In a way, it almost reminds me of the lyrics in Amazing Grace– “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.”
Rita and Norman quote Song of Solomon 8:6-7 and Isaiah 43:2. I could write an entire blog post on the symbolism here, but I’ll save it for a later time. Or you can just watch the second part of Deliver Me a Podcast’s recap of The Vows We Have Made.
I’ll let the vows that Oliver and Shane make to each other speak for itself.
“The Vows We Have Made”
“Shane Shannon McInerney.
And Oliver Joseph Lindley O’Toole.
Will you take me as your husband?
Will you take me as your fiercely loving, but utterly adoring wife?
Will you accept this heart I offer, and trust me with yours?
Will you cherish me tenderly, love me patiently, and basically put up with me?
Will you forgive my failings, and overlook my obsession with the King’s English? Wherever you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay.
And your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
And will you embrace my only dream which is to make you happy?
Will you trust my heart to understand yours? And will you let me love you with all of my heart?
Will you share every season of every year ahead, through rain and snow, through sleet or sunshine, even dark of night, until God parts us?
And as a token of the vows we have made,
And as a symbol of our love,
With this ring,
With this ring,
I thee wed,
I thee wed.”
Is It the end? Or a brand new beginning?
Honestly, I think this movie felt like the end of a chapter of a book! Everyone keeps saying how it feels “final,” but that’s not how I viewed it at all. Actually, “To the Altar” felt a lot more final to me than this movie. I have more questions for Martha finishing this movie. For example:
- Will we ever meet Alex? Why wasn’t she at the wedding? (And I’m asking about the character. I know logistically speaking, it wasn’t feasible to introduce Alex and Sharon together in this movie, especially with Sharon having a deeper storyline in regards to Oliver.)
- How will Charley fit in working with the OG POstables? If you think about it, she only worked with Rita. I would love for Charley to embrace the POstable life and help solve a letter mystery.
- What about Rita and Norman and their family? Will they open up their home to fostering children? Will they adopt? What will their little family look like in the future? How will “family” come full circle for Norman?
- What about Shane and Oliver? How will they embrace married life? Do they even want children and a family?
I really feel like there are more stories to tell with the POstables. Stories shouldn’t end just because a couple gets married. That’s just the beginning of a new chapter of life. Here’s to hoping that Signed, Sealed, Delivered gets renewed sooner than later! We can’t wait another three years for the next movie, Hallmark!
Well, friends, that’s a wrap on my recap of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows We Have Made! Thanks for reading my personal take on this movie and if you want to hear more, be sure to catch our recaps on Deliver Me a Podcast! I have also written a few more posts on this beloved series. Feel free to check out “25 Reasons to Watch Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “To the Altar: Review.” Maybe I’ll do an entire rewatch of this series and just recap each installment here on the blog for fun. I can never get enough SSD!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends! And I’ll catch you POstables at RomaDrama in January! 😉