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!