Previous Jack and Jennifer post: The other siblings

Since the world-rocking events of the key kiss, I’ve been dying to see Jack and Jen interact again. Is Jack’s rejection going to make Jen give up on him, or is his kiss going to inspire her to keep pushing? How much did she believe him when he said he didn’t want her? If she does keep pushing, is Jack going to be able to keep holding back?

Enquiring minds want to know!

So, of course, the show makes us wait. Jack is off in Miami … then Italy. Jen is missing from my DVDs, which is frustrating because it’s mostly Jen I want to know about.

Then, finally:

Jack and Jen after Italy

The show takes a sideways approach to this by making Isabella the topic of conversation. No one has thought to tell Jack where Isabella has been hospitalized, and Jen is helping him out trying to locate her. Jen starts pressing him about how he feels about Isabella—in a series of long run-on sentences, very cute—asking if it’s just gratitude or if there’s something more. Jack finally says that there’s a lot more, but he looks uncomfortable. Since we know how Jack feels, we can see he’s having trouble lying. But, to Jen it isn’t so clear. Jack never talks about his emotions, so his discomfort could also be read the other way, as a mark of how much he cares about Isabella. Is he awkward because he’s lying or awkward because he’s telling the truth? We see Jen’s hurt as she tries to process that.

Then Jack decides to go a little further, and Matt Ashford does a good job introducing an artificial note to Jack’s tone, when he moves away and says Isabella is “quite a girl.” That note of artificiality leads nicely into Jen rallying and deciding to push a little more. She points out what we know is true, that Jack is hiding behind his feelings for Isabella, and insists he say straight out that he cares about her. Jack continues to look uncomfortable and shifty-eyed. He finally shouts, “I care about her!” Jen backs off.

Jack says after she leaves, looking rueful, that it’s the only answer he could give. So we see clearly Jack’s state of mind. In the past, he’s allowed Jen to believe that there is something going on with him and Isabella, but this is the first time he’s outright lied about it. By taking this extra step, we see that Jack feels the need to keep throwing up walls and smokescreens in order to keep his distance—showing indirectly that it isn’t easy for him to keep that distance.

But what about Jen? I think Melissa Reeves most clearly conveys Jen’s state of mind with her look by the door: uncertainty. But it’s an uncertainty with multiple layers. What does Jack feel? Jack does care about Isabella and he is legitimately worried about her, that lends credence to his words. And we see Jen hurt by that. But there are enough false notes too to give Jen reason to keep pushing, if that’s what she wants. But does she? That is the real question. Even if Jack does care about her, as she suspects, what is she going to do about it?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Thank you

13 thoughts on “Smokescreens

  1. Since you uploaded the clips to youtube I have been impatiently waiting to read your thoughts regarding this scene. You are spot on that Matt changed the inflection in his voice at the ‘shes quite a girl’ comment. What I like is the fear in his eyes after he tells Jennifer he cares for Isabella. The way his eyes track left and right quickly. But what is he afraid of… that Jennifer won’t believe him… or that she will?

  2. Ooh, that’s an interesting reading of Jack’s expression at the end there. There might be a part of Jack that is hoping against hope that Jen will see through all his smokescreens and keep pressing. I like it.

  3. There’s been a bit of discussion around here as to why Jack seems compelled to reject Jennifer (other than soapy plot device reasons). He was potentially putting her in danger for a while, but everyone knows where Isabella is now. I suppose he could be shielding her from the repercussions of his theft of the diary. But still…

    I made the argument to my daughter that he’s just flat out scared after the whole Kayla disaster, but even Steve seems inclined to accept him back in the family (to a certain degree). So what gives?

    My latest theory is that it’s an inherent Johnson family disease which forces male members of the family to protect themselves from emotional pain at all costs, even if that means self-inflicted emotional pain caused by pushing away the women they love. Steve used to be the prime sufferer from this disease, but he seems to have more or less recovered. (Except for his strange propensity to keep secrets at all costs.) But, really, Jack was a lifelong sufferer. He might recover for brief moments of happiness, but then he would do something stupid and be forced to fake his own death. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only explanation. He couldn’t possibly think she’d be better off with Emilio. (Unless this is a case of reverse Johnson syndrome — Steve used to think Kayla would be better off with Jack, the rich man’s son. Jack thinks Jen would be better off with Emilio, the poor man’s version of Steve.) It’s definitely inherent in the Johnson family, because Jack wasn’t raised as a Johnson. Adrienne shows some signs of this syndrome, but much less severely, so Abby is probably all right. However, I fear for Joe and Jack Jr.

  4. Here’s the thing, though: The show did try to explain the similarities (the “disease” if you will) by retconning Jack’s relationship with Harper.

    From the moment the Deveraux family entered Salem, they were portrayed a a very close-knit political family. Jack was a remarkably well-rounded guy who was very close to his father and stepmother.

    Then the Kayla thing happened. For plot purposes, Jack was given this enormous ego and sense of entitlement, when before he was more of a “help those weaker than I” self-effacing type. Then the rape, Harper’s insanity, and Anjelica/Alexander required that he go down a dark road and then be redeemed. Harper was a convenient scapegoat in that. I remember being absolutely flabbergasted when I watched a scene where Jack described his (newly retconned) past with Harper as a father. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of Harper being this distant, cold, never-satisfied parental figure.

    Luckily, they seemed to drop that quickly. In my mind, the Deveraux individuals were all pretty messed up, but as a whole, they were actually a pretty darn good model of a family. They held each other up. They didn’t start to fall entirely until outside circumstances prompted them to leave the fold. If any one member was gone, the whole thing imploded.

    Wow. I just blathered on a bit more than I intended. What is it about these characters that inspires such discussion?

  5. Well, Flaco, you do know how to propose a question worthy of a doctoral dissertation, don’t you?

    I think in both Steve’s and Jack’s case, it comes down to a belief that they are not worthy of love from these women, and a sincere belief that they are better off without them, that the best thing they can do to ensure their future happiness is to stay far, far away from them. This conviction stems from each of their previous bad-guy actions.

    Beyond that, though, I think their pathologies stem from different sources. Steve has his horrible childhood, of course. His father didn’t love him. His mother rejected him. His brother was taken from him. He grew up associating love with pain, rejection, and loss. That was compounded by his experiences with Britta (and I suppose, Marina) and Bo. So in addition to believing Kayla was better off without him, Steve was afraid. Afraid of another rejection, afraid of getting hurt again. It was safer to be the one doing the rejecting, first.

    For Jack, I think it’s different. I am not a fan of the Deveraux childhood retcon RileyKay describes above. It seems a cheap and easy way to try to gain sympathy for Jack. More than that, I think it is unnecessary. Jack has plenty of reason to push Jen away. Look what happened the last time he fell in love. He pursued her and pursued her, even when he knew she loved someone else. He couldn’t let her go and ended up raping her. I think Jack doesn’t trust that he’s changed, that if he allows himself to fall in love again he might be a danger to Jen. Added to that is the conviction that I mentioned above, that by doing what he did last time, he doesn’t deserve for someone to love him.

    And I do think the Emilio thing is Jack deliberately making the opposite choice to what he did last time. Last time he arrogantly assumed he was better than the good-hearted, rough-around-the-edges guy. This time he’s making the opposite assumption. Both times he’s wrong.🙂

    That’s my quick version of the Johnson boys’ pathologies. I’ll get back to you with that dissertation, hee!

  6. Not surprisingly, I totally agree with MP’s analysis (and share RileyKay’s dislike of the Harper/Jack recton).

    I don’t necessarily see the issue as something “inherently Johnson-ish.” I think it is a product of the both Steve and Jack’s circumstances. As MP so eloquently put it, for Steve, love was about loss and abandonment and the only lessons in love he had received were that if you love someone you let them go for their own good. His mother did it and Britta claimed that was why she left him. So, I think Steve’s fear of being hurt again and his fear of being like his father, and his belief that Kayla could do better all combined to drive much of his actions.

    Jack may have acted in a similar manner, but I think his motivations were different. I think Jack’s primary motivation was what MP described above — the last time he fell in love, he became obsessed, and he hurt the person he claimed to love the most. I think he’s utterly terrified to love Jennifer because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her, and not just emotionally. He doesn’t trust himself at all.

  7. I think, too, Jennifer’s inexperience (which she has openly confessed to Jack by this point) plays into his fears a great deal as well. She has had little experience with relationships and none with sex, while he has had much, and most of that has been portrayed in a negative light (the rape, his penchant for prostitutes, etc.). I think he sees her as this sweet, innocent girl that definitely deserves someone good like herself. And, as we observe, Jack does not see himself as someone good at all.

  8. You all make good arguments and I admit the logic behind them. But though Steve and Jack may have different origins for their fears, they’re playing out in a very similar fashion. Soon we’ll be seeing Steve propping the Jack-Jen relationship in the same way Adrienne propped him and Kayla. I still think there’s a touch of Johnson syndrome in Jack.

    I join everyone in abhorring the retcon. The Devereaux were a highly functional, if strange, family. Harper as slasher came out of nowhere.

  9. domina89, good point about Jen’s inexperience. It was good they had that “I never had a lover” scene so Jack could be sure to know she was a virgin. It gives him that extra reason to stay away.

    Flaco, you might be right that there’s a genetic component to the “Johnson syndrome,” at least the tendency to play God and make decisions for other people—for their own good, of course—that Jo, Steve, and Jack all have. In that light, pushing Kayla or Jen away for her own good would play right into that.

  10. You said: Jen is missing from my DVDs, which is frustrating because it’s mostly Jen I want to know about.

    You really want to know what Jennifer is doing at this point? Almost nothing. There are some scenes of her working at the Spectator trying to help Jack. One of her eating pizza with Scott and Emilio and mostly thinking about Jack and work. And than a cute little fantasy she has about Jack reading her diary. Otherwise, the girl is doing almost nothing… well if you consider mostly thinking about Jack as nothing. 😉

    D2D has all of this in the WATB clip library if you want to see them.

    (and I’m the one who keeps pimping your site over there… we love it!)

  11. Aw, thank you, Kris. Thanks for linking to me from D2D! I really appreciate it.

    Thanks for the update on Jen. I figured she must have been onscreen at least a little bit, so I knew I was probably missing something. I really wanted to know where she was emotionally after all the key kiss stuff, not in how much she cared for Jack, but how much she believed him in his rejection and what she was thinking about doing about it. I might have to go check out her diary fantasy.🙂

  12. There are some scenes from directly after the key kiss between Jennifer and Emilio where she tells Emilio that Jack only sees her as a little kid (I forgot all about it in the my earlier reply). That is are worth seeing, and so are the Jack reading her diary scenes.

    And you are most welcome for the pimping on the D2D board. 🙂

  13. I do have the scene with Emilio, Kris, and I agree that one is well worth seeing. I think Jen’s theory that Jack just sees her as a little kid is very believable. I don’t think he does, but it makes sense that she would think so, given his protectiveness of her.

    But I’ll be heading over to D2D later, for the other scene!

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