The Elephant

There will always be something squicky, on the face of it, about pairing a rape victim with her rapist. There are some viewers who will never get past it. Just like Luke and Laura, it will haunt this couple until the end of their days. But in my opinion, by talking about it openly, it is now 95% less squicky than it was before. I have been willing to ship EJami if the story could pull me in. And I was impressed with the way they paved the way for EJami, and yet did not insult our intelligence.

They managed ameliorate the events of that night without totally rewriting history. They thankfully held back from the rewrite that some have suggested, that the rape be retconned as not rape at all, i.e., that she enjoyed it. They made it clear that he had not hurt her physically, made the thought of hurting her distress him, and left it at that. (However, by leaving the act itself in a little black box, they coyly allowed those who might wish to believe it that maybe Sami did enjoy it. That’s not me, however.)

They provided EJ with a different motivation. EJ said that he hoped that the act of finally having sex with him would make her realize she had feelings for him. We all know that this is not what EJ was shown to be thinking at the time; rather, he relished in her reluctance and distress, and enjoyed wielding power over her. So this is the biggest retcon, and it is also the most necessary. It is a semi-plausible sleight of hand, because even psycho EJ was shown having feelings for Sami. And more crucially, it subtly turns Sami into less of a victim. If he did what he did that night because he hoped it would make her care for him, she is the one with the power.

Especially since it didn’t work. Sami’s reference to how EJ “turned into such a sleaze afterward” was another sleight of hand, with just enough vagueness to let viewers read what they like into it. First, it was unclear what she was referring to. It could be simply the gloating and coarse humor from that night. Or it could refer to the whole of EJ’s bat shit crazy period. (Also, maybe, just maybe, by having Sami ask the question, there was the bare implication that if EJ had not turned into such a sleaze afterward, perhaps things might have been different between them—i.e., that EJ’s plan would have worked. Again, for those who wish to believe.)

By far my favorite aspect of this retcon was the reference to Sami’s rape of Austin. I loved how Sami told the story, specifically making the connection between her motivation then and EJ’s motivation now. She hoped that forcing Austin to sleep with her would make him realize that he loved her. And then the key: “Austin eventually forgave me. So what kind of person would I be if I couldn’t forgive you?” Sami’s rape of Austin has long been hashed over on message boards, and it was the perfect parallel to draw here. Not because her rape of Austin makes EJ’s rape of her more palatable, but because having been forgiven herself makes her forgiveness of EJ more palatable.

And, of course, it paves the way for this:

I did have to laugh at Sami’s flat statement yesterday that “I will never refer to this again.” If only we could get people on message boards to make the same pledge!

6 thoughts on “The Elephant

  1. Nice analysis. I agree with your point that Sami comparing her rape of Austin was key, not to let EJ off the hook but in order to explain why EJ could be forgiven, just as she was. But then, I love the subject of forgiveness.

    As for their first conversation, though, I was underwhelmed by it, mostly because I’m a literal-minded soul and for me any discussion of what happened that fateful night had to include an explanation of why Sami did not feel she could press charges. Yes, it’s due to my profession, but I wanted to hear them discuss the gun, and whether Sami could have left, and why she chose the option that she did. I can buy a whole lot more easily that EJ never saw this transaction as a rape (and that Sami was well aware a good defense lawyer could get EJ off), than I can that EJ was so madly in love with Sami that he resorted to desperate measures to “prove” it. That just isn’t what we saw at all. I can live with retcons but I don’t care for this one. I also still feel that the implication was that EJ changed his BSC behavior immediately or at least shortly thereafter out of shame and remorse, but that didn’t happen either. And I guess at this point we’ll never see anybody discover EJ being the one to imprison Lucas in the freezer truck.

  2. Very interesting thoughts, MaryP (if I may call you that). Certainly, EJ’s confession that he did what he did because he thought it would make Sami love him is inconsistent with how he behaved that night, but it’s not inconsistent with how he behaved plenty of times before that night, or certainly shortly thereafter when he told Kate that he loved Sami and always would.

    It’s a bit of a retcon, but there’s a lot of room for it, especially in light of something that is so often overlooked in the EJ/Sami analyses: That night was the second time Sami had played on EJ’s feelings for her to set him up for the cops. There’s a lot of talk about how EJ betrayed Sami’s friendship, but what about EJ’s feelings of betrayal? Pretty rough, having Sami repeatedly tell EJ that she returns his (I think real) feelings, just to sell him out, when at that time he’d never done a thing to hurt her. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but the “poor innocent Sami” that I see sometimes doesn’t fly. She’d hurt him badly at that point, and that doesn’t make a right, but it could explain why he might have been simultaneously loving her and wanting her to love him AND wanting to hurt her (emotionally) that night.

    I’m a lawyer, and have views about the (non)”rape” (and agree that a decent lawyer would have gotten EJ a not guilty verdict), but I’m not sure why Sami or EJ would right now be especially interested in talking about why she didn’t bring charges. What she actually thinks and feels now is what matters to them emotionally, and not the technical legality of past actions isn’t it?

  3. I thought the conversation was about as well done as it could be considering where they were headed with all of this. Yes, it was a retcon of how that night actually played out, but not so much that I can’t stomach it. And Sami’s reference to what happened with Austin was very needed, I think. Mostly I’m just glad they finally addressed it.

    Whether I can remain onboard with EJ and Sami with largely depend on how the next round of EJamicus is played. If we get a return of crying, begging Sami, then I’ll be hopping off the EJami train at the next station.

  4. Yes, you can call me MaryP, beatrice!

    I personally wasn’t troubled by the lack of discussion about why Sami didn’t press charges, for the reasons beatrice says. That is, the conversation was about the emotional ramifications of what happened, so the legal questions weren’t as relevant. I wouldn’t mind hearing from Sami at a later date—perhaps talking to someone else—about why she felt she couldn’t press charges. I doubt we’ll get that, however. It would have made sense for Sami to talk about that sooner after the fact, but now it almost seems too late. In fact, I doubt we’ll hear much about the rape ever again … though perhaps Lucas will mention it.

    I have no idea how EJamucas is going to play out from here, though I agree with esp on crying, begging Sami—yuck. But, I think EJami is the endgame and Lucas is the obstacle. So if crying, begging Sami returns, it would likely be only temporary, to reinforce that Lucas is wrong for her. I could be wrong, but that’s my take.

  5. I’m going to have to continue to hold my ground on this. The reason the practical questions matter to me is that they directly relate to Sami’s emotional condition. This is a character whose history includes being raped by physical force as a teenager and who testified against her attacker. She shot him in the groin. Why, then, would she let EJ off the hook if she thought what he did to her was rape? If she feels he didn’t rape her, why did she go around telling people he did? And if she does think he raped her, why is she reacting differently now than she did in her previous experience? I just don’t see how the practical issues aren’t related to how she feels about EJ.

  6. You make a good case, Paxton!

    To me, though, it falls under the “yeah, it would have been nice if they had addressed this” rather than the “glaring omission” category. I guess it’s a subjective thing.

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