Tectonic Shift

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Fun and Games

Welcome to leading man status, Jack.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Isabella’s appearance is the major key (key, get it, get it? Oh, groan.) to Jack’s redemption, and the true beginning of Jack and Jen’s love story. As a new character who has no previous knowledge of Jack’s past, Isabella can form her opinion of Jack solely on what he does now, instead of his past. This allows her to be his cheerleader and his friend like no one else can. Also, one thing about Jack up until now is that Jack has no sounding board. Jo is probably closest, but their relationship is more thorny and difficult. In Isabella, Jack has someone he can talk to, or even when he doesn’t want to open up (which is frequently), she can ask him questions and we can usually see something about how he feels from his reaction. That’s crucial on a soap, where it’s so important to know how the characters feel about each other and what is going on.

But here’s where the fun really begins, when we get to see Jen’s reaction to Jack’s new friend:

Jen meets Isabella

There’s a lot of talk about trust in these scenes. When Jack tells Jen that she has to trust him before he can ask for her help, she gets a wry look as she says, “Somehow I always do,” like she can’t quite figure out why. I love that. But Isabella can be perfectly sincere about seeing him as a hero. Jack doesn’t quite know how to respond when she tells him so, as he says no one has trusted him for a long time. Isabella says she doesn’t believe that, and I love Jack’s line, “Believe it.” Jack knows that he’s earned his reputation, but also that he’s trapped by it. (There’s also the sense that he thinks Isabella won’t view him as quite so heroic once she knows the truth.)

Isabella also quickly clues in to Jack’s feelings for Jen, when they get to the loft and see Jen and Emilio kissing, and he isn’t able to completely cover his reaction. But then Jen comes in, and she is taken aback in her turn at Isabella’s appearance.

After months and months of seeing Jen at the center of a triangle with Emilio and Jack, suddenly seeing her wondering about Jack and Isabella is a major shift, and a welcome one. My absolute favorite moment here is after Jen offers Isabella the guest bedroom, and Jack says, “What about me?” Missy Reeves does a great reaction shot to that, her eyes going from Isabella to Jack and her uncertainty written all over her face. It’s wonderful to see her off balance and vulnerable. Then Jack says he’ll take the couch, and Isabella seems to be reassuring Jen a little bit here, when she quickly agrees.

But, when Jen says that Isabella must have meant a lot to Jack in order for him to help her, Isabella just says she’ll have to ask Jack. I love that Isabella chooses not to answer and defers to Jack instead. Later, Isabella is a great cheerleader for both of them, but here it’s an interesting dynamic to see her as Jack’s friend and not Jen’s.

The scene ends with an awkward moment of Jack putting his arms around both of them and talking about how much time they will be spending together. I love the reaction shots of the two women, Isabella’s uncomfortable look, and Jen’s more jealous and suspicious one. Though all the awkwardness, Jack seems to be enjoying himself. I think Jack has picked up on Jen’s jealousy vibe and is liking it, even though he believes that things won’t ever happen with her. In fact, that very certainty might make him more inclined to enjoy these little moments when they come. That lends a bittersweet flavor to the scene.

Next Jack and Jennifer scene: Jennifer’s choice

16 thoughts on “Tectonic Shift

  1. You know, I would have been fine with a Jack/Isabelle relationship. But funny enough, I knew back then that wasn’t where they were going. Yet another difference of soap writing from long ago. Writers had no qualms making characters just platonic friends. Nowadays there is no such thing. Every character MUST be tested with the other of the opposite sex (unless your name is Nick Fallon).

  2. I really enjoyed the friendships that Days used to have. It’s a great way to chem test people without committing to the couple (and then possibly having to backpedal later). And even if the coupling doesn’t work out, then you have a friendship to add to the mix, as they do here.

    And yeah, Nick. (sob!) I thought he had chemistry with Stephanie and Morgan as well as Chelsea and Melanie, but his scenes with them were never real chem tests, just cast interaction.

  3. Right. They weren’t even actual FRIENDSHIPS (he almost got there with Stephanie) since they never attempted to check up on him after Chelsea broke his heart.


  4. “Sigh” Nick. What a wasted opportunity. The waste of Nick really caused me to check out of Days. Losing Steve & Kayla was just the final nail in the coffin. I really want to get invested in a soap opera again. It was so much fun! But every time I get involved in a storyline, it gets trashed. How I miss the glory days of Steve & Kayla and Jack & Jennifer! Is it too much to ask for a well developed storyline that unfolds in a reasonable amount of time — well acted, well written? Never mind — I know the answer.

  5. Okay, I finally got time to watch the clip. I never really took to Isabella back in the days. It may have been the hair. (Have you noticed she has the exact same hairdo as Emilio?) It may be because of all the pain her “amnesia” caused Kayla. Based on other people’s comments on the character, I probably didn’t give her a fair chance. It’ll be nice to revisit her story.

    In some ways, I think Jack had even less hope for his relationship with Jennifer than early Steve did for his with Kayla. At least Steve & Kayla had this red hot physical thing going, even when Steve was sure he wasn’t the dude for her. But Jennifer was so virginal and Jack was so scared of making the wrong move. As a result, I think he was always happy to get any strong reaction from her — sympathy, trust, rage — as long as her attention was on him. So his relish of her jealousy and the prospect of sharing time in the apartment makes perfect sense. And it has the additional advantage of throwing a wrench into her relationship with Emilio — something he was always eager to do, no matter how little hope he had for himself.

  6. I think you’re right about Jack’s past making it harder for Jack (and for MA) to show much UST or attraction. Sometimes we see him very deliberately pulling back when she touches him or gets close to him, like he has to be extra careful to always be holding back and in control. That’s part of why the verbal banter is so important with Jack and Jen. It’s how they show the growing intimacy between them.

  7. I wasn’t watching back then, who exactly was Isabella Toscano?

    Thank’s for the clip, and the blog. It’s the tortured side of Jack that I adore and the bittersweetness behind those quips he uses to hide himself.

  8. Isabella Tuscano was Marina Tuscano’s sister who nobody knew about at first. Jack found her at the Bayview Sanitarium when he was investigating Marina to try and help Steve and Kayla get back together. Eventually, it was discovered that Isabella was actually Victor Kiriakis’s daughter, the product of an affair between Loretta Tuscano and Victor. Very soapy stuff.

    I absolutely agree that Isabella’s arrival is very much a major element in Jack’s transition from bad guy to leading man. Because she has no knowledge of his history and is completely isolated at first, she can only judge him on how he treats her and how he helps her. She only sees the good and kind side of Jack. By the time she learns (to one extent or another) of his more sordid past, it doesn’t matter because she has faith in the Jack she knows.

    That, in turn, allows her to be his supporter and cheerleader in a way not even Jennifer really can (at least not at this stage). It also allows her to be a person Jack can really open up to because he can believe in her faith in him. And, plot wise, it allows Jack to play hero which is never a bad thing.

  9. Thank you esp. Was this Isabella the one connected to John Black (Brady-DiMera-Alamain-etc etc)?

    All your comments make me wish I had been able to watch the show back then, when it was still well written.

    • Yes, this is the Isabella who married John Black after he discovered he wasn’t really Roman. She is the mother of Brady Black, half sister of Bo. Died tragically of pancreatic cancer when Brady was a baby, back when characters who had great deaths actually stayed dead (except for the occasional appearance of her ghost to help John or Brady).

      For awhile, Isabella actually inspired Victor to try to clean up his business and go legit, leading to an interesting truce between himself and John. For those who recall Victor’s nice eulogy after John’s “death” a couple of years ago, there was a lot of history there.

      BTW – in case you are wondering, Belle WAS named after Isabella (actually Roman’s idea, before anyone knew she was John’s daughter).

      Hope that helps!

  10. Rameau, yes, Isabella had a very nice love story with John Black (when he was still Roman). She died and has actually stayed dead, amazing.

    Thanks for your comments—I love bad boys too.πŸ™‚

    esp, good point that Isabella can be Jack’s cheerleader in a way that Jennifer can’t—or at least it works better for the story that she not be quite yet. This way Jen can waffle and have doubts, while Jack still has that cheerleader in his life (which I think it’s important for him to have).

  11. Great comments everyone. This was the beginning of one of my favorite story lines, “The Cruise of Deception” or as Jack referred to as the “Cruise beyond description!” Great writing and acting and I loved how the writers took their time in allowing the story to unfold.

    On another note, you would think that Victor, with all his money, would learn to use birth control. The number of children he fathered without his knowlege was an overused plotline on Days, but I always thought rather funny.
    Also, I sometimes wondered what it might have happened if Isabella hooked up with Emilio instead of John! All that hair!
    Izzy was a great friend to Jack and I loved how he could his naturally gentle self when with her.

  12. smflan46, you’ve given me a great visual of Isabella kissing Emilio. It would be like watching one great big Brillo pad.

    I’m excited the see the Cruise of Deception storyline. I missed a lot of it the first time around and don’t really remember what I did see.

    I always think of Stefano as the king of having mysterious new children popping up all over the place, but Victor definitely had his share. The funny thing is that here was a guy who thought he didn’t have ANY kids, and then in the space of a few years he finds out he has not one, but two grown children.

    Melaraus, I do have to quibble a little bit with the idea that Days used to let their characters with good deaths stay dead. Days used to do the back from the dead plot pretty frequently then too, with Stefano, Marlena, Roman, Shane, and others. But I will agree that they did it better back then, at least they used to work a little harder to sell it us. Nowadays they don’t seem to care, the prime example being John’s latest return from the dead. Only three months after he died, and they never even bothered to explain it, just Rolf’s magic and a downloaded CD.

    • MP: Oh yes, there were certainly more than enough “back from the dead” storylines back in the day, but TPTB also seemed to know that sometimes it pays to leave even a beloved character dead. Isabella’s death was such a four-hanky weeper it would have been a rip-off to make it fake. Nowadays death never seems to be permanent.

      re: Stefano and Victor’s children. The many Dimera spawns always seemed more intentional to me, as it was established early on that Stefano had many mistresses and he seemed obsessed with producing heirs. I’m sure he NEVER used contraception [good Catholic mobster, ala Michael Corleone].

      With Victor, the irony of his unknown children seemed much greater. Upon discovering the truth about Bo, he told Caroline his life would have been completely different if he had had children. His attempts to reform for Isabella indicated his sincerity, which made you believe perhaps he would have been a different person. Of course, Phillip has been trying to emulate the ruthless Victor, but with a mother like Kate, he has other issues to deal with!

      Just my two cents.πŸ˜‰

  13. Thanks for that link, RileyKay. The answer to the question posed by the title (Should Female Inmates Raise Their Babies in Prison?) is clearly yes, because the alternative is being kidnapped by a psycho nanny and being spirited off to Australia.

    Good point about Victor’s children, Melaraus. I too remember how they played up Victor’s aloneness and lack of an heir during the era where Bo was revealed to be his son, and when Justin came to live with Victor. That was a part of his character in a way that it never was with Stefano.

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