I thought I’d post one of my favorite Jo/Steve moments, showcasing the dynamic they had during the whole “sacrifice Kayla to save Jack’s life” storyline.
The setup: Kayla and Jack are married. Steve and Kayla, due to various plot contrivances, are forced to spend the night together in an abandoned cabin. At the cabin, Kayla tries everything short of throwing herself bodily at Steve, but Steve is able to resist (barely). This is the next morning.
First of all, I love the crosscurrents in the opening scene. Kayla is angry about being rejected by Steve, so she enthusiastically kisses Jack in front of Steve in order to rub his nose in it. Steve looks like he’s just been through the wringer, which he has, and then has to absorb more body blows, first watching the kiss, then having Kayla reject his attempt to lie, and then watching Jack and Kayla go upstairs together.
Jo’s reaction shots are great, watching Steve watching Jack and Kayla. Afterwards she tries to comfort Steve by asking him to have dinner with her, but he only accepts when she makes it clear she just wants to be a “friend.” (This shows that Steve participated in their partner-not-parental dynamic.)
Afterwards, over beers, we can see the “partners in crime” element on display as they talk about how Billy is looking better. But there’s a difference now. As far as Jo is concerned, the crisis is past, their goal has been achieved, and what’s done is done. She can see Steve is in pain, but she seems to see that as almost a good thing, at least in the sense that it shows what a great person Steve is. For Steve, though, it isn’t the past, it’s the hellish present. It’s like he has to keep making the decision to give Kayla up, over and over again—and now he doesn’t have the balls-to-the-wall motivation of his brother’s imminent death anymore. Steve comes close to questioning here, for the first time, whether the price was worth it. Jo’s praise feels inadequate in the face of his pain, and I think it’s meant to.
These scenes are also interesting because we see Kayla pledge her commitment to Jack. After this she stops needling Steve, stops reaching out to him, stops trying to make him jealous. She really seems to try to commit to Jack, even if she isn’t happy about it (and can’t bring herself to sleep with him). I hadn’t noticed that change in Kayla until my third time watching these clips, because it gets obscured by the poisoning storyline. It’s perfect soap irony that just as Steve weakens, Kayla pulls back.