Kayla and Jack

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: You’ve never had a …?

It was a stroke a genius to bring Jack into the Marina storyline, and the show gives us a further twist by having Jack be the only one who figures out that Kayla is pregnant. Jack already wanted to help Steve and Kayla, but this amplifies that desire, and shifts his focus to helping Kayla above all.

I love this for several reasons. One is that I think the Kayla/Jack relationship is often not the focus, when Steve, Kayla, and Jack interact. Kayla is often caught in the middle, but the focus is usually on Steve and Jack’s difficult brotherly relationship. (And don’t get me wrong, I love me my Johnson brothers.) But because Kayla was the one Jack hurt the most, it furthers his redemption if he can help her in some way.

But, of course, he has to earn it. Kayla, of all people, is not going to give Jack the benefit of the doubt. It all happens very gradually and believably, starting with Jack being in the privileged position of the only one who knows about her pregnancy. That’s the wedge from which everything else follows.

Another reason I love this is the same thing I love about the Britta triangle at the beginning of the Steve and Kayla story. One thing that storyline did was lay the ghost of Britta to rest so Steve could move on to his supercouple story with Kayla. Jack/Kayla/Jen are never a triangle, of course. But we get to see that Jack still cares for Kayla during this story, and I think the show is bringing up those old feelings as a way of laying them to rest.

Kayla sends Steve off to Italy with Marina to help find the key she’s looking for, to get her out of their lives, and also so he can deal with any lingering emotions he might be feeling. She doesn’t tell him about the pregnancy because she wants him to choose her freely, not out of obligation because she’s carrying his child. Jack doesn’t know all these details, and thinks that if Steve knew Kayla was pregnant, he would stay home (which is very true). So he hightails it off to the airport to tell him. All this ends with Kayla confiding in Jack about why she doesn’t want Steve to know about the pregnancy, on the airport tarmac, in the middle of a rainstorm, at the the top of her lungs. Not, to put it mildly, anything Kayla would ever have expected she would do.

This takes place soon after:

Jack helps Kayla 1

Finding out that Jack already has a file on Marina immediately raises all of Kayla’s suspicions of Jack once again, suspicions that were somewhat allayed by his actions at the airport. However, I love that we can see that Kayla is partly just reacting to the pain of the articles she’s reading about Steve and Marina, and Jack is a convenient target. I love Matt Ashford’s resigned, and yet hurt, expression when Kayla tells Jack that his show of caring at the airport was all an act. We can really see how much it hurts Jack not to be able to change Kayla’s opinion of him, and not to be able to help her.

This is a good scene for Jack and Jen, as well. I like how Jen knows that Jack wouldn’t want her to show the file to Kayla, and that it will make Kayla more suspicious of Jack. In the end, though, she feels that Kayla has the right to see it. It’s nice that Jen shows her independence in making that choice, and even though she thinks Jack has good motives, she doesn’t try to defend him. (And the way Jack picks Jen up bodily and carries her out is delightful.) But the way she watches him, after Kayla has gone out, also shows her recognition of his pain about all of this.

It’s Jen’s idea, too, for Jack to convince Kayla to go to Italy to see Steve. Kayla refuses and accuses Jack of just trying to stir up trouble, make her think that Steve is cheating on her. But Jack eventually prevails:

Jack helps Kayla 3

Jack helps Kayla 4

Jack helps Kayla 5

There are so many great moments here. But the best scene is after they have seen Steve and Marina together (one of those soapy misunderstandings, mostly). Kayla is devastated and just wants to go home. Jack still thinks that there is a logical explanation for what they saw (and I love to see that faith in Steve) and tries to convince her to stay. And again Jack becomes her accidental confidant, as Kayla opens up and explains why she can’t see Steve right now, and ends by pleading, “If you ever cared about me, Jack, just take me home.” He can’t refuse that plea.

And then there’s a lovely coda at the end where Kayla is sleeping on the plane and Jack tenderly covers her with a blanket and says he’s sorry, “for everything,” obviously not just talking about what she saw in Italy. When Kayla wakes up and sees Jack, for the first time we don’t see an instinctive recoil. He asks her if she’s okay, and she gives a very slight smile as she nods. The wall between them has been breached.

Back in Salem, though, Jack is still trying to convince Kayla to give Steve a chance to explain:

Jack helps Kayla 6

We get another peek at Jack’s motives here. When Kayla angrily asks him why he cares whether she talks to Steve or not, Jack first says that the baby that she’s carrying is his niece or nephew and he just wants it to have a happy home. Then he says, what have the last three years been for if not for this? We know that Jack is doing this for Kayla’s sake, and for Steve’s, but here, we see he’s also doing it for his own. When he talks about what they have been through together, he includes everything—not just the rape and the things he did, but what Steve and Kayla did to him. It implies a journey by Jack that isn’t really shown onscreen, but is still very believable—that he was gradually reconciled to losing Kayla, being cheated on, and being humiliated by Steve and Kayla, by the fact that they had a deep and real love for each other and a happy ending. His marriage was destroyed, but it was for a love that he grew to admire and maybe hold up as an ideal. That love redeemed what they all went through.

Jack’s sincerity reaches Kayla. I love the irony that Jack became Kayla’s confidant accidentally, against her will, but now he’s the perfect one to know how much Steve and Kayla went through to be together. And if Jack of all people believes in their love, there must be something there.

And then of course it all falls apart again when Jack finds Steve and Marina’s marriage license—but I’ll save that to talk about next time.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: What’s the Plan?


9 thoughts on “Kayla and Jack

  1. Sigh, Jack and Kayla. I think that it might be my favorite part of this storyline, at least in some ways. I love seeing Jack making the decision to try and help even though he gets rejected time and again and even though everytime he tries to help it blows up in his face.

    I also love the way the show forces Kayla to accept Jack as her supporter and confidante because of his knowledge of her pregnancy. And that relationship allows Jack to be the voice of reason (sort of) in the time of Kayla’s greatest doubts. Thus the man who, at one time, took every opportunity to point out Steve’s flaws and voice his opinion that Steve could only hurt Kayla now becomes the man who reminds her of the love she shares with Steve and maintains the faith that Steve has not done the unforgiveable at a time when she can’t have that level of faith.

    The scenes outside the house after the return from Italy are some of my favorite all time. I love how they finally come to the head of things when Kayla asks why Jack cares so much and he talks about the baby and how it should have a happy life — his childhood and Steve’s childhood are all wrapped up in that. Then his emotional questioning of what it’s all been for — the hurt, the lies, the pain — if not for this. I just love the implication that if Steve and Kayla don’t work things out, then all that suffering (by all of them) has been in vain.

    MA and MBE just rock all of this stuff and this is especially great for MA because it’s a side of Jack we don’t see anywhere else at this point because he’s not showing that side to anyone else just yet. It’s really quite fantastic.

  2. Definitely agree that the best part of this storyline was Jack’s role and the closure it offered for him and Kayla. His words about the pain of the past three years were SO well-written, reflecting volumes in just a few sentences. Everyone involved set the perfect tone for the situation.

    Great example of how to redeem a character in a slow, credible way.

  3. I don’t comment often but I do enjoy reading these glimpses to old and classic storylines, especially since I wasn’t watching back then.

    For the longest time MA was my favourite actor on the show and when I read about Jacks tortured past I loved him just a little bit more. Now, I get to see that past. Thank you.

  4. esp, great point about how Jack used to take every opportunity to point out Steve’s flaws, and now he has more faith in Steve than Kayla does. What a great twist. The show could have taken this in the direction of having Jack be firmly on Kayla’s side, and therefore against Steve, in all of this. The fact that he doesn’t do that makes this so much more complex and interesting.

    Melaurus, I totally agree that this is a great example of how to redeem a character in a slow, credible way. The fact that Kayla and Steve are constantly suspicious of his motives, and yet that doesn’t dissuade him from trying to help, earns our sympathy for him.

    rameau, thanks for commenting! I love hearing that even though you didn’t see this back then, you can enjoy reading about it and seeing these scenes. That’s good motivation for me to keep doing this. And I agree that Matt Ashford is terrific. 🙂

  5. I loved Jack’s involvement because Steve and Kayla needed help and he provided it whether they wanted it or not. Jack is good example of how to redeem someone in a good way and not rushed.

  6. I also loved the way Jack would just pick Jennifer up and move her when she wouldn’t listen to him or when he thought she should leave the room. It was fun. It emphasized the physical difference in their height, but not in a creepy, exploitative way. In a way, it emphasized their equality. She was so stubborn and sometimes the only way he could get her to listen was by physically removing her from the scene. It’s interesting because Kayla is also tiny compared to Steve but he never carted her around in that way. When he carried her, he was being passionate or protective, it wasn’t like it was the only way to get through to her. I also love it when Jack points out that if he was trying to change, no one would ever notice.

    I think you’re right that this storyline demonstrates that something was broken in Kayla when Steve gave her away to Jack. She had always been so fearless and so ready to believe in him. Now, she knows that he will lie to her and hurt her for his own reasons. Something was lost and it hasn’t been totally found again.

    The scene with Jack and Kayla on the porch is really exceptional. Good writing, good acting, great sense of the characters’ history. This storyline does have its own rewards. But I still hate4 it that he didn’t tell Kayla about Marina. Though, in a way, it does reinforce the idea that she can’t really trust him, that he will always lie to her when it suits his purposes.

  7. Flaco, I also hated it when Steve didn’t tell the full truth about Marina (that they were married) after Kayla found out everything else. I feel like the show didn’t really address why he held that back—I think they sacrificed that in order to go for the big surprise here. I can fanwank that Steve was just in denial about the whole thing, or he was afraid to tell her at a time when she’s already doubting him. But, unlike with the initial secret keeping, which I do feel was adequately explained, the show doesn’t really show it.

    I think what the Jack breakup did to Kayla was destroy the unquestioning faith Kayla had in Steve then. She recovers faith in him, but it’s no longer with the idea that “Steve would never do that” (lie to her or hurt her). And that makes her more likely to doubt him here.

  8. Definitely a genius move to have Jack involved in this story and really by sheer force of his will become the one that Kayla is forced to turn to. Jack never gave up on Steve or Kayla during this time. Everyone is spot on that this is about Jack forgiving Kayla and Steve, he see’s how much they love each other and as much as Jack said he loved Kayla when they married, it certainly was not a deep love. I always viewed it as a convenient selfish love, because at that point Jack really did not know what a true loving relationship was. Jo in a previous post says to him that the Senator and his wife never showed him how to care and not hurt people’s feelings. That is such a perfect statement, at the time of his marriage Jack really only cared about himself and how Kayla fit into his carreer and the life he imagined for himself.

    Well back to this video post. I so so so love that the feeling I get is that Jack wants Steve and Kayla together so that all the pain they all had would be somehow worth it if they have a happy ending. I think he feels if they have a happy ending and he helps them somehow it will help him also.

    Such great writing and this was over such a long period of time.

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