Some background: Jack has offered Jo an apartment and she has turned him down. Steve is helping out at the fishmarket, while Caroline is the hospital after a heart attack. A few weeks ago, Steve had a job at a men’s clothing store, which Jack deliberately screwed up for him. But here Jack has had a change of heart. This marks the first time Jack reaches out to Steve, after the turning point of his conversation with Kayla.
Jack’s manner is different from the moment he comes in to the fishmarket. When Steve sarcastically talks about refusing service to anyone, Jack’s reaction is to laugh a little bit and then snark back. For a moment, they are just two brothers teasing each other. Then, when Jack says that he knows Jo just wants him to go up to her and put his arms around her, he’s absolutely right. Saying it straight like that shows he is really reaching out to Steve. He’s really trying to have an honest conversation.
Side note: I have one pet peeve about Jack’s redemption. It really, really annoys me whenever the show tries to inject the “lousy childhood” excuse for Jack. It is an oversimplification, and it feels like a false attempt to garner sympathy for him. Yeah, Harper turned out to be a serial killer, but we’ve never had any reason to believe that Jack had an unhappy childhood as a Deveraux. In fact, when Jack first moved to Salem, his happy, uncomplicated life was used as a point of contrast with Steve.
I love how Steve refuses to buy into Jack’s guilt trip. He tells him that he knows all about how Jack likes to show his feelings because he has the scars to prove it. But, showing again that this conversation is different, Jack tells Steve he’s right, and whatever Steve wants to accuse him of, he admits it. Then he lays out his dinner invitation. I especially like that he does that in the face of Steve’s skepticism. Steve isn’t meeting him halfway at all, and Jack still plunges forward.
I really like the mention of Jack trying to get Steve fired two weeks ago. It swings our sympathy back Steve’s way and reminds us that Steve has no reason to believe Jack. I like that Jack admits it too, but then he gets angry. That gives Steve an opening to say that the “real” Jack is now back and that he knew he couldn’t keep up the act for long. It’s a great line for showing how completely Steve’s trust in Jack has been destroyed. Jack is reaping what he has sowed.
Then I love when Jack reminds Steve that this time, Steve was the one who turned his back. It shows that Jack knows that Steve still cares about him. It also reminds us of how many times Steve reached out to Jack, over and over again in the face of much worse hostility.
Then in perfect timing, Kayla comes in, and that ramps up Steve’s anger and he throws everything back in Jack’s face. It is cathartic, after watching Steve be “torn” during the rape storyline, to hear Steve take Kayla’s side so forcefully. Matt Ashford’s look of resignation as soon as he sees Kayla is perfect. I think right then Jack knows that he’s never going to escape the rape. Mary Beths Evans also adds a great layer to the scene with her look of resignation. Kayla isn’t reveling in triumph here. But her silent gesture of touching Steve’s chest is a small mark of support for him, and I think an acknowledgment of what his support means to her.
After Jack leaves, Steve is angry and frustrated to have Jack screwing up the little box Steve has put him in. Kayla gets to the heart of the matter when she asks if he’s sure he wants Jack to stay out of their lives. I love Steve’s swoonworthy line, “I can only believe you.” This is such a great tribute to what Kayla is for him. And then some angsty kissing, with Jack shut out in the cold outside, watching.
(I’m still hopelessly behind in today’s Days. I will update when I catch up!)