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:
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:
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:
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.