Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Acting choices

Watching the baby Hannah story again, I am amazed at how fast things are moving forward for Jack and Jennifer. I think I was unconsciously expecting it to be more like the buildup for Steve and Kayla, which seems to take forever—even watching in lightning fast clip-edit mode. Before the Frankie and Max storyline—which this story resembles in many ways—there were several mini-arcs, including Steve stalking Kayla, the opening of the Emergency Center, the patch removal scenes, and Andrew’s kidnapping.

This is in no way meant as a disparagement of Jack and Jennifer, or the story, which is rather wonderful so far. We’ve watched Jack slowly get sucked into Jennifer’s crusade to help Sally, Hannah’s mother, all the while trying to maintain his cynical attitude and professional distance. Finally, he has taken the plunge and become an active partner. He decides that he and Jennifer should pretend to be married in order to become foster parents to baby Hannah. He has rented the loft to be “their” apartment. (Yeah, it doesn’t make sense that Jack would rent the loft where he lived with [and raped] Kayla, but you gotta use those sets, y’know?) Jen has reluctantly gone along with the scheme. The social worker loves them and everything seems over but the paperwork.

But then—

Jack can’t be a foster parent 1

Just when Jack decides to leave cynicism behind and do something good to help someone else, his past actions prevent him from doing so. Soapy irony, my favorite. I also love that this seems to be a small step forward for Jack in how he views the rape. Having a complete stranger bring it up, rather than Steve or Kayla, makes Jack see the horror of it more objectively for a moment. It’s very powerful how he flashes back to the rape itself, as he stands at the scene of the crime, listening to Mrs. Simms say it makes him “totally ineligible” to be a foster parent. After that he’s obviously not done feeling sorry for himself, but it seems to be on more of an objective footing than we’ve ever seen before.

The only thing that, for me, is really missing from this plot point is a step back by Jennifer. This seems to me to be a natural place for a setback, and Jennifer getting freaked out by hearing about the rape would be a logical way to do it. They could have even used the oddness of being at the loft, and have Jennifer say, “You brought me to the place where you lived with Kayla?” and then quickly depart. Instead she reacts with sympathy and understanding—which Matt Ashford and Missy Reeves play very well, but it seems like a missed opportunity. (Or maybe I just love angst.) I do love the line at the end when Jennifer says the rape is hard to forget, once you know.

This next scene takes place later the same day:

Jack can’t be a foster parent 2

I find Matthew Ashford very sexy when Jack is all morose and sardonic like this. And there are some good lines here. I like the banter about “too damn bad” how Jen mocks him by repeating the line back to him. I even believe that she would say she knows he is sorry for what he did to Kayla. And I love his response that he should just give himself a round of applause for that, because it reveals that he is sorry (something he hasn’t acknowledged until now) and also a sense of hopelessness that being sorry will make any kind of difference.

But then I cringe at Jen’s line that she knows what’s going on with him: that he’s afraid to show his good side because he’s afraid of being rejected and hurt. Thanks for that huge anvil, Days. It’s incredibly glib, and pat, and way too early for it. The only thing that saves it is the fact that Jen says she doesn’t have time for this and rushes off right afterwards.

This next scene, though, helps to minimize the “breakthrough” of the previous scene. It’s not the step back by Jen that I wanted, but it’s good:

Jack can’t be foster parent 3

In fact, it is Jack who wants to step back, to right where they were before. He carefully keeps the conversation about Sally and Hannah, as if to say, “Let’s just forget that whole thing ever happened.” When Jen says, “strictly business” she seems to be poking at Jack, like, “I know what you’re trying to do.” And Jack’s willingness to help Hannah after his humiliation earlier in the day shows he is willing to swallow his pride and accept a secondary role in the plan. (And at the subtextual level, it shows that he doesn’t want to lose Jen). And when Jen touches his hand she seems to be wanting to acknowledge that. But he pulls back. I like to think that all the talk about the rape that day gives Jack a certain skittishness around Jen, maybe even a certain protectiveness on her behalf.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Earl: of Duke


26 thoughts on “Complications

  1. I echo your wish for a step back for Jack and Jen after Mrs. Simms shoots down Jack’s big scheme to get Hannah by telling him he’s ineligible because of his assault conviction. Given that they are in the loft where the rape occurred and Jack has asked Jen to pretend to be married to him, it would seem natural that the reminder of Jack’s violent past would make Jen take a big step back.

    I always wanted a scene with Jen and Kayla in this time period (well, I wanted it several times in the whole Jack/Jen arc). I think it would have been the perfect time for a conversation between Jen and Kayla where Kayla is asking about Hannah and Jen starts talking about Jack’s plan and then mentions how it backfired and then stops when she realizes what’s she said. That would provide a moment for Kayla to maybe just tell Jen to be careful, that Jack isn’t always what he seems (or something like that) and Jen could maybe ask Kayla if she thinks Jack can change and we could see Kayla be uncomfortable and tell Jen that she’s not the right person to ask.

    I don’t think Kayla would have actively discouraged Jennifer from her interest in Jack because that’s not Kayla’s style. But, this type of conversation could have added another layer to this part of the Jack/Jen story, I think. As it is, the rape is touched on here, but it’s never an actual obstacle for Jack and Jen. Jack’s emotional issues relating to the rape become an obstacle, but the rape itself never seems to bother Jen much at all. And, to me, that’s a bit of a missed opportunity in their storyline.

  2. I would have absolutely loved an encounter between Jen and Kayla around this time (or anytime). I love the scenario you describe. Kayla never discouraged Melissa away from Jack so I can’t imagine her doing it with Jen.

    But seeing Kayla’s distrust of him would be a perfect way to reinforce a step back by Jen. Then when Jen eventually moves forward with Jack anyway, it would mean more after the hesitation.

    I didn’t really think about the fact that Jen is never bothered by the rape. I give the show credit for bringing it up and knowing they had to deal with it somehow, but I think they do skirt around the implications of it a little bit. Maybe they were afraid to show Jen being afraid of Jack in that way.

  3. Ditto on the missed opportunity with Kayla/Jen talk. I admit to never being a huge Jen/Jack worshipper, even though I like many aspects of his redemption story. Part of it was just that aspect of Jen not being more concerned about the rape.

    The denial was understandable with Melissa, who had a crush on Jack from the word “go,” but Jen didn’t even know Jack until after the trial. She was still a virgin, barely out of high school. You’d think she would have some trepidations around a man who raped his wife just a few months earlier!

    There were many ways the writers could have dealt with this lack of fear, including just youthful naivete, but that would have required emphasizing Jennifer’s age. They probably avoided that route since they were trying to downplay the age difference. Still, it would have made much more sense and made the relationship more believable. As it was, they seemed to be trying too hard to recreate the Kayla/Steve vibe of the good girl redeeming the bad boy. Jen just didn’t have the maturity to play that role. Rather than trying to make her act older and wiser than she was, I think it would have been better to have played up a young woman’s attraction to “the dangerous guy.”

    Remember, when Jen first came on the scene, she was quite the hellion, living with street kids, staying out all night, giving Mike fits, etc. She was a real brat!! (very Chelsea-like, actually). They made her WAY too squeaky clean during the Glenn/Frankie years. I think it was the rebellious part of Jen’s personality that attracted her to Jack. Too bad this aspect wasn’t explored better.

  4. I think we need some Jack and Jennifer fans here to represent!

    I’ve always liked Jack and Jennifer. I don’t mind Days recycling some of the same themes and story structures—they did it all the time, often with much less success than they had for Jack and Jennifer. Back then, it did bother me when Steve was stuck in wise-elder mode while Jack got to be all self-hating and conflicted. But that was just me being partisan, I think. That was part of why I wanted to revisit this, so I could see it with a fresh eye.

    Anyway, you’re right that they aged Jennifer fairly rapidly in this storyline. Watching this, I am really surprised at how quickly the J&J dynamic gets started. But then, under Higley, in the same amount of time Jack would have felt Jennifer up in her first job interview, they would have sex on the desk after her first big story (leaving Jen pregnant), and by now they’d both be with other people.

  5. “under Higley, in the same amount of time Jack would have felt Jennifer up in her first job interview, they would have sex on the desk after her first big story (leaving Jen pregnant), and by now they’d both be with other people.”

    Sadly, this is so true. I hate Days right now. I should just stop watching, but I keep hoping for S&K, so I just FF frantically. I can do the whole show in 5 minutes — 10 if they’re having an unusually good day.

    Yes, I feel the lack of strong J&J shippers. I liked them, I thought they were funny, but I never had the same passion I did for S&K. I liked Jack a lot, but I only liked Jennifer in relation to Jack. I hated Glenn and I was never really invested in the Frankie story. Now I am just catching random scenes on my S&K DVDs. I probably need to watch them more systematically to comment on this story line.

    That said, Jennifer did rather abruptly go from being a teen with a high school story to being a cub reporter with a romantic connection to an older guy. In some ways, the age didn’t bother me because Jack always seemed so young. I don’t know why. It was something about the way he handled things and what he got obsessed with or something. Like his relationship with Steve — Jack was in many ways like a bratty younger brother jealous for everyone’s attention. So Jack and Jennifer seemed to sort of mature together. Sometimes one of them would seem more emotionally mature, sometimes the other. And though Jack was the older one, I feel like Jennifer more or less outpaced him in maturity. (However, I could be totally wrong here.)

  6. We really could use a J&J shipper to help us with this stuff. It would be interesting to hear how they see/saw it since so much of what I see is through the lens of an S&K shipper.

    And I agree that Jack and Jen seem to mature together in a way. Jack might be older, but he’s not any more emotionally mature than Jen is, really. And, through the relationship, they each kind of take turns being the “responsible” one.

  7. I am really trying not to always be constantly comparing the two stories, but it’s hard when I know the S&K story so well.

    Flaco, wonderful point about Jack’s immaturity. I never thought about that, but he does have a bratty younger brother vibe, especially at this point in the story. His schemes against Diana and his tendency toward smartmouth remarks are just like the little brother who’s always causing trouble, LOL.

  8. Is there anywhere online like OLAB where I could watch J&J clips in some sort of order?
    I can find them on YouTube, but it’s pretty random and since I don’t know the story as well, I get confused.

  9. Yes, there is, Flaco. Here is the link:

    Devoted to Deveraux

    You go to the “WATB Video Library” and there is a thread called “So you want to write a story about a horse …” which is where Jen starts working at the Spectator.

    I think you have to register, I can’t remember. Anyway, the summations for each clip make it really easy to follow. It’s a great site. I should add it to my sidebar.

  10. I just finished the whole Hannah SL arc. Very interesting. As far as Jennifer stepping back or going too far, I get kind of a different vibe. I feel like it doesn’t really occur to Jennifer at this point that romance is in the offing. He’s so much older, he’s her boss, he’s had a rather “colorful” past (to put it kindly). He’s more like a friend she may or may not be able to depend on than a future lover. So although there is that “good girl, bad boy” thing going on, it’s kind of different than S&K. For one thing, it’s always funnier. S&K could be funny, but it wasn’t really built into the story. And I think people aren’t warning Jennifer off because, though they think it’s weird for her to be hanging out with Jack, it doesn’t seem like a possible romance at this time. Kayla clearly was attracted to Steve and he to her from the beginning.

    They do make Jennifer far too wise at times. But on the other hand, she’s about to get involved with Emilio again, so she’s also capable of major errors in judgment And not the Kayla “I’ll-do-anything-to-be-ministering-angel” kind of errors in judgment. Just plain bad choices.

  11. You make a good point. I have watched a bit further now than the baby Hannah story, and I really like the plateau they reach after it’s over. Like you say, Jen seems content to be friends, and Jack seems to feel a bit more than that, but is in denial.

    So even though my preference would be for Jen to seriously reconsider even being his friend at some point because of his past, I am pretty happy with where they ended up. Considering that the show didn’t even have a plan in place for Jack and Jen (and they may not have even decided they were the rooting couple yet), they are walking the line very well.

  12. I actually like Jennifer’s comments to Jack that she knows him. Although I agree it would make sense for Jen to at least get a bit more realistic about the fact that Jack raped Kayla and would bring it to the forefront that this is not a guy she wants to hang out with.

    I love how Jen doesn’t let him blow her off and grabs him “that’s too damn bad” and “don’t walk away from him”. Jack shows anger but also shock, clearly he is not used to people standing up to him. And that fact (early or not for redemption) that she did strike a cord with how he was feeling and really sets the stage for how Jen did get Jack, even when Jack wouldn’t admit it. He clearly likes to be challenged and she challenged him from the beginning.

    There is the line when Jack says “you don’t even know me” that echo’s a later (or earlier I can’t remember) conversation he had with Jo, when she comes to his office and Jack put’s her off with the same line “you don’t even know me”. It is one of Jack’s feelings that no-one knows him (of course Kayla didn’t) and why he was so hurt at her rejection.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • I love your point that Jack feels that no one knows him. I think that is very true. In a conversation he has with Kayla maybe a few months before this, she says she doesn’t understand him. He says, “Kayla, you never even tried.” So part of what draws him to Jennifer is that sense that she knows him — it’s seductive. And you’re right, she challenged him from the beginning and he obviously likes that too.

  13. The “you don’t know me” line I think is important – how many times did Jennifer say she understood him even if Jack didn’t tell her how he was feeling. That is the entire beginning of their relationship.

    Also Jack even though he says he doesn’t care, does care what people think about him. That is why the social worker got to him. He feels that no matter what he does people will never see what he really is. Of course he is torn himself is he a monster or a good guy? (of course Jennifer see’s the good in true supercouple set up).

    But no-one does know Jack, not even himself. Because at this time he really is still a superficial spoiled rich kid. You could even correlate the later Harper story (although I don’t think the writers planned that far ahead, jut shows how they stayed true to the character arc) , Jack said he always wanted to be like Harper. He never really knew what he was.

    Think of the “I believe in you” kiss (which is one of my favorites) jack is saying to Jennifer that no matter what ask anyone and they will say he is Harper’s son “onehand wields a pen and the other weilds a sword” and Jennifer cuts through his arguments with I don’t believe what people say and “I don’t even believe you”.

    ahh makes me want to watch that scene again!

    • I love that “I believe in you” scene, Dawn. It sums up so much of what makes Jack and Jennifer special. Brilliant.

      I agree Jack cared what people thought of him, though he tried to hide it. Showing that was part of how MA gave Jack some layers from early on. That he was lashing out because he felt trapped by everyone’s opinion of him, how he could never change it so he refused to try.

  14. All good points as usual Mary.

    So happy I found your blog – at the perfect time after a 20 year absence from anytype of soap. I stumbled across some youtube clips and got hooked on watching S&K and JnJ stories in full. Now with the 50th and some buzz I am going to try and start watching again.

  15. First, I must confess I never heard of this Johnson family or even the Brady sisters – (Blasphemy, I know.) before recently discovering J&J’s first run.
    I do plan to “patch up” the hole in my knowledge soon.

    When I just started to watch the old clips, from where Jack was stabbed and went to Kayla’s clinic and when later offered Joe a nicer accommodations – I was puzzled why this ragged Patch dude, always shaking, pushing and generally abusing the poor, well intentioned, clean cut (and oh, so pretty…) Jack – and why Jack kept seeking any kind of contact with them.
    – Only when seeing those scenes, I started to realized how exactly Jack “earned” their treatment.

    Speaking of Jack and Steve dynamic,
    It’s interesting to see that even while standing up to and provoking both of them (with Kayla’s earrings for ex) – Jack, most of the time, looked physically intimidated by Steve.
    For ex, When Steve returned to the loft, you can see Jack genuinely scared, almost shaking behind the closed door.

    It’s like he is committed to put on this vile façade – even at the cost of his own safety.
    Like he felt comfortable playing games on people because it enjoys them, and also as a way to reinforce how he perceived himself – mostly as a “win at all cost” ,cold hearted and calculated man.

    Even when he tried to help Hannah, It felt more like a game he played with Jennifer, and not a sincere care.
    This time the rejection hurt him, not only since he lost the game – but also because he didn’t had clear ulterior motive – and it was personal.

    Jennifer is a beautiful, pure hearted and innocent girl – who can and does challenge jack who is intrigue and drawn to her.
    and Jack does gives a powerful, dangerous and handsome vibe – no one like Jennifer have met before.

    But I didn’t feel J&J were going in this romantic direction yet , or that Jennifer was overly supporting of him.

    On the contrary, Most of the time she looked unease and nervous around him and showed no sympathy shutting down his self pity rant sharply.

    Her wanting to spare his feelings and to avoid talking of the real reason they were rejected – was more to do with trades of her own character than Jack’s.

    Same with Jennifer touching him and covering Jack’s hand at the pub.

    I think Jack pulled back his hand very quickly not only because he was in “Strictly Business” mode –
    But also giving his current pariah status in Salem – he did not expect or used to anyone (except maybe Angelica) giving him a tender touch. or even show care.
    He was clearly uncomfortable, and taken aback.

    But while currently there is a distance between them – you can also sense – Right from the start – they have an undeniable physical attraction between them.
    which hint there could be more to their relationship.

    • Dafi, ha ha! I could see why knowing nothing of their history, your reaction would be “Who the heck is this guy and what is his problem?”

      The Steve, Kayla, and Jack story is so so so good. I highly recommend checking out the backstory. You’ll see a lot of the redemption part from this point on, but it’s really interesting to see Jack turn from Kayla’s clueless husband to the man who rapes her to the vindictive bad guy. And from that to his redemption. Matt Ashford is sooo good and it gives you a lot of insight into the dynamic you see here.

      I love your take on the baby Hannah story, especially your point that even with the “good” deed of baby Hannah, Jack was just thinking about winning, though there were some good motives mixed it. And I agree that MA does a good job making it clear that Jack is much more strongly affected by Steve and Kayla than he lets on to them. Those reaction shots after the scenes, when the mask falls away, do so much.

      As I wrote above, I was surprised, seeing this the first time, by how quickly JnJ they settled into the bantery JnJ dynamic. Maybe it’s easy to read too much into that bantery chemistry. I wanted a little bit more second thoughts for Jen for Jack’s past, because I think it would have been a good beat to play. But I like your point that her words to him were more about her personality than his — I’ll have to think about that a bit more.

      • One of the best things I think the writers did, considering JnJ did fall into that banter early on and with the Baby Hannah story it appears they are clearly setting them up as a couple is put it all on hold, while Jack works on his redemption. I believe after this story, they don’t really have them together for awhile. This gives us time to start to “like” Jack again. After all how to you get us rooting for him after the Kayla rape?

        Having Jack focus on the Johnson family and his relationship with them worked and got us rooting for the good guy in Jack.

        Dafi, the Jack, Kayla and Steve story to me is the gold standard by which all soap stories are measured. Starting well before there was even a character of Jack with Steve’s story and how they worked his lost brother “billy” into it. I think all in all it probably covered 2 years! But just so well done and complex. Definitely go back and find S&K story starting in 1986 you will love it. Plus you must get to know the Brady’s and Johnsons of the 80’s early 90’s!


      • They really did a nice job — which I didn’t fully appreciate when I wrote this post, since I hadn’t watched it yet! — with the pullback after this storyline was over. I was just revisiting that part of the story as I was reposting clips today, and Jack really had the bulk of his airtime after this devoted to the Marina story and how he was trying to help Steve and Kayla.

        In that story they seemed to be chem testing him a bit with Isabella and even Marina, but he still had enough scenes with Jen to keep that possibility open too. They really did a great job mixing him up with the cast as they developed him into a leading man. Ahhh, Days was so good at this stuff back then.

  16. One thing always bother me when I watch the first Clip:
    what’s wrong with the loft’s tap water? And Why MA had to drink the whole glass? did he lose a bet ?
    even their crappy apartment years later had a clear water…

    Regarding Mixing the cast – MA said that after the rape story, he was “untouchable” and they didn’t know what to do with him – so it’s logical they try to mix him with other cast member to see what works best.

    I’m glad they didn’t pair him with Isabella , because I obsoletely adored them as best friends.
    Jack was a great best friend, loyal, supporting and dedicated, and he got what he wished for – someone to “not remember” what he did.

    Dawn and MP,
    Is there any site/Channel/Blog similar to D2D, for Steve and Kyla Story? listing Clips in order with some background ?

    I just watched the first Clip you shared – when Steve is Hired to Stalk Kyla, and I might say –
    Steve was VERY creepy and gave a strong “Predator” vibe – which is a real testament to Stephan Nichols acting. I read an Interview with him and watch a SOD award he received with MBE – and he seemed a very nice, down to earth family man.

    DAYS used to have a very talented cast, I wish they could have kept them.

    • They were testing him with Diana too, I think, with the Spectator stuff. They just did a great job establishing him as bad Jack even apart from Steve and Kayla, taking their time until they found the right person and the right story.

      I love Jack and Isabella’s friendship too.

      So there is a place for you to watch full S&K clips in order. I will email you the link because she got deleted from YouTube and is reuploading her clips on Google Plus, and we’re all a little paranoid about copyright infringement now! D2D is such an awesome site. I wish there was something like that for Steve and Kayla.

  17. MP if you are talking about the old “bradyclanfan” on youtube channel, it is the absolute best place for S&K clips, shows everything in order and has some funny analysis for each episode. Much of the good playlists were taken off of youtube (such a same)

    For JNJ I actually can search for “salem spectators” channel on youtube. That one hasn’t been taken down yet and goes thru Jack before Jennifer and the beginning of their relationship.

    The original Bradyclanfan channel was what made me start watching Days again after a 20 year absence and how I found MaryPickfords blog after really appreciating the S&K storyline again and realizing how well it stood up 25-30 years later as just good compelling storytelling.

    Have Fun!

  18. I don’t understand the logic behind the Copyrights craziness.
    We are talking about ~30 years old edited clips or DVDs.
    Clips that, as far as I know – NBC or SONY never offered or released for purchase.

    So what’s the harm?
    If anything, It will give the show free (additional) online presence and increase the chance to bring (back) some viewers to check what’s going on now.

    • Dawn — It’s not bradyclanfan, unless she’s going by a different name, though her channel was deleted too. So much work all down the drain.

      I agree that the old clips are good advertising for the show. So shortsighted to just delete everything. I know that people watch these old stories and get hooked on the characters and then tune into the current show just to keep up with them. And they need every viewer they can get!

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