Thank you

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Smokescreens

I don’t know how to introduce this except to say that I really, really love this scene:

Steve thanks Jack

I could go through this line by line, I think, elaborating on every nuance and undertone, but I’ll try to restrain myself. First there’s the scene-setting conversation between Jo and Jack, where she praises him for his actions helping Kayla. But Jo’s approbation is not what Jack is looking for (it’s almost too easy for him to get it). It’s when Steve comes in and says that he believes it too, that we see Jack’s shock—and hope.

I love Jack’s studiedly casual manner as he says, “You actually believe me, huh?” And when Steve falters halfway through his speech, Jack prods him to continue. He wants to hear the words so badly. (There also might be a hint of brotherly rubbing-his-nose-in-it, forcing Steve to say the words even when he doesn’t want to). When Steve continues, saying it’s not going to kill him to admit Jack did a good thing, both his tone and the line reveal that, while it might not kill him, it certainly isn’t easy. I really love the awkwardness here. They each don’t know quite how to reach across the divide, but the attempt is being made.

If the scene had ended there, it would be great enough. But then the show complicates this lovely step forward and shows how tentative it really is. Jack asks about Kayla, and Steve doesn’t like that. All his prickly defenses come back, and that leads nicely into Steve’s suspicious reaction when Jack won’t repeated his muttered statement (about Isabella’s mother’s diary, but that doesn’t really matter). Steve says Jack is the “same old Jack” and Jack just looks resigned and says he guesses he is.

I think that resignation gets to Steve, perhaps because it’s so reminiscent of Steve’s own sense of hopelessness and futility during his bad-guy days. Perhaps he senses he’s being unfair. Or perhaps not, but he doesn’t want to leave this conversation on a note of suspicion and blame. Not when he started out trying to thank Jack.

I love the way Stephen Nichols says, “Jack …” and then, rather helplessly, tells him stay out of trouble. Whether Steve likes it or not, Jack has engaged him again and he cares what he does. Not that he ever stopped caring, of course, but he’s been pulled closer to Jack and his actions again. Whether Jack is up to no good or not, Steve can’t pretend indifference as easily. Then Steve makes an even greater effort and says that Jack really helped him get Kayla back, he appreciates it and he won’t forget it. I love the awkwardness again here, it shows again how hard this is for Steve to say, and that makes it even more meaningful.

Jack doesn’t say anything, but we can see he is moved. I like how Matt plays Jack as very guarded through all this. He doesn’t throw himself sobbing on Steve’s neck. He’s been working to help Steve for months without any encouragement or thanks, and now that it’s finally coming he doesn’t quite know how to respond. But mainly, I think, he’s afraid. He’s afraid to trust this step forward precisely because of how much it means to him. If he were to lose it again now, it would be devastating.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Best Man

5 thoughts on “Thank you

  1. The whole Jack/Steve dynamic was so cool – they are compelling to watch when they are together and I feel that Jack lost a major foil when Steve ‘died’. The show tried to create that tension again with Kayla… but other than a few rare occasions – it made no sense to have them seek each other out. Steve and Jack were obviously thrown into each other’s orbit for many reasons.

    Your commentary of this scene is spot on. I love the look on Jack’s face when Steve walks in.. after the shock – the hope is right there. And I love how Jack doesn’t say anything at the end. You can just tell that he knows it’s a great moment for him and after almost backsliding seconds ago – he doesn’t want to risk anything tainting the moment again.

    It says something about the quality of the writing and the acting when a silence can demonstrate so much more than words.

  2. I just love this scene shows both the strength and the tenuousness of the connection between the brothers. On some level, the fact that they have come so far shows that the bond couldn’t really be broken. But, at the same time, all the history between them makes the better connection they have now, very easy to break. Both are afraid to really trust in it, yet Steve has proven in the past that there is almost nothing he wouldn’t do for Jack (at least if his life was on the line) and, more recently, Jack has proven a similar loyalty.

    It all makes for a wonderful dynamic in that there is all kinds of awkwardness, distrust, and fragile connections on the surface of a very deep and very strong bond. And both actors are wonderful at conveying just how much these moments of connection really mean.

  3. I really like what SN and MA do with the silences, too, Spruce. They have some good dialogue in this scene, but they make it so much better with how they play their body language and their nonverbal reactions to each other.

    Esp, I just love the dynamic you mention—that the bond between them is both tenuous and can never be broken. It’s part of what makes their relationship so interesting, and rewarding to watch.

  4. I often get the feeling that Steve is almost ashamed of still caring for Jack, or at least embarrassed by it. His feelings for Jack ended up hurting Kayla and he’s determined not to be fooled again. And we know Steve — once he’s hurt emotionally by something he’s inclined to run away from it. (As opposed to physically, in which case he just runs at it and gets hurt again…and again.) But I think that feeling makes him resistant to the idea of a “new” Jack. And, as we know, Jack’s really into self-protection, too. I love the way the two of them blunder around, constantly on the verge of destroying a connection they both want.

  5. Great insight that Steve almost feels ashamed that he still cares for Jack. I think that’s where a lot of his resistance comes from during this time period. He loved Jack so much before that he couldn’t see him clearly as the bad guy he was (then). Because of that Steve probably doesn’t trust his own judgment of what Jack is really like.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s