The story of Sally and baby Hannah is just kicking off on my DVDs. I think it’s quite clear that this is a chem test mini-storyline for Jack and Jennifer. I love the way the show used to do these. They usually kept them short and interesting, and they provide novelty simply from a cast mixing perspective. Then if the chemistry doesn’t work out, the show can just quietly move on because they haven’t committed to anything.
The background: a homeless girl named Sally holds up the Brady fishmarket, and in the process accidentally shoots one of Jennifer’s friends. Sally is pregnant, and she confides in Jennifer that she wanted to get arrested, so she could have a roof over her head for her baby.
In this scene, Jack is prying into Jennifer’s files. This is a little creepy, but it works for where we are now. We’re not sure if Jack’s interest in Jennifer is a bad thing, so this fits right in with that ambivalence. (Incidentally, I find Jen’s teenage, self-consciously melodramatic musings on the computer to be quite endearing.) More importantly, seeing that interest at the beginning of the scene makes us less inclined to think he’s just being a big jerk when he is overbearing and condescending as she pitches her big story. Or rather, it makes us look beyond his overbearing attitude, and try to see what is behind it.
There are definitely some flickers here. First, Jack gives her an implicit compliment by agreeing that it is a big story, at the same time he’s being unfair to her by taking the story away.
Later (in a scene not in the clip above), Diana gives the story back to Jen. She accuses Jack of never really intending to take the story from Jen, and just stringing her along for his own amusement. Here’s another layer. Was Jack was just needling Jen so he could see her arguing passionately for something she believes in? I think Jack likes it even as he mocks it. He might also be testing her a little bit. Is she really committed to being a reporter? Or is it just something to do on her way to cheerleading practice?