Mr. Simple

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Wedding Day

It tickles my funny bone that Jack, the man who was introduced as the uncomplicated nice guy foil for Steve, now has a uncomplicated nice guy foil of his own. It’s also amusing that that uncomplicated nice guy is a former gang member. I love soaps.

The nice guy foil usually ends up being either a doormat, or an oblivious prig constantly saying “I know what’s best for you.” (Usually a little bit of both.) But initially, when it’s done right, the nice guy foil is genuinely nice: straightforward where our bad boy is secretive, considerate where our bad boy is moody. He might think the girl should forget about the bad boy, but it’s because he sees how much he hurts her, not because he has a superiority complex.

Jen sees Jack at the hospital visiting Isabella (who is in a coma). From the way Jack is acting, she thinks he has feelings for Isabella. Still upset, she runs into Emilio:

Jen and Emilio on a date

Poor Emilio! I can’t help feeling sorry for him. But there’s a really good dynamic here, that perfectly sets up Emilio as a foil, not a rival. When Jen asks him out, we can see her heart isn’t fully in it. When Emilio agrees, he’s not quite sure what he’s getting into. It’s obvious for these two, even when they’re not talking about him, that Jack is the elephant in the room.

Then on their date, they do talk about Jack. Jen is evasive on her feelings for him, and Emilio’s jealousy comes through, but somehow it doesn’t feel as though Jen is being unfair. She’s been hurt by Jack again and again, and she doesn’t know what else to do but try to move on. She clearly wishes she cared about Emilio, and even hopes that someday she will again. I like the way Melissa Reeves plays the lines about Emilio being her “best friend” (Billy Hufsey does a great reaction shot to that line, showing his disappointment) and how he makes her happy. She sounds like she’s trying to convince herself too. But, it’s also clear that Jen isn’t wholly pretending: she does like being with Emilio, she is happy.

And of course, in perfect soapy timing, Jack comes in just in time to witness this heartwarming exchange. Jack’s decision to suddenly show up with flowers isn’t really explained, but his feelings for her are well enough established that I think it still works. And the “you make me happy” line is perfectly pitched to discourage Jack, because that’s what he wants for her. Jen has tried to tell him that she wants him, not Emilio—but he’s hearing right from her own lips that she could be happy with Emilio.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Jen gets a job offer

2 thoughts on “Mr. Simple

  1. Like you, I love the irony of Jack, the good guy foil for Steve, now being the bad boy with a good guy foil of his own. The irony is particularly delicious since the “good guy” is a long haired, leather jacket wearing, former thug. There is just something wonderful about Jack’s view of things (and himself) changing to so much that he now sees the blue collar guy as the better choice for Jennifer, whereas he could never understand what Kayla saw in Steve.

    In any case, this scene has a lot of excellent elements to it. The girl trying to make herself let go of the guy who just keeps pushing her away, but not really being able to. The good guy who could be a great match if she could somehow will herself to love him, and the bad boy who can’t let himself show his feelings, but can’t completely suppress them either. And then we have the wonderful soapy timing element of the bad boy weakening just in time to see (and misinterpret) a close moment between the girl and Mr. Simple. It’s a soap staple of sorts, but when done right, it doesn’t matter that it’s not necessarily original, what matters is that it hits all the important emotional beats.

    Another little thing I find kind of ironic is that if anyone could understand how Emilio feels, it’s Jack. He knows what it is like to care about/love a woman who is totally in love with somebody else.

  2. I totally agree that a situation doesn’t have to be original as long as they hit all the emotional beats. If we care about the characters, and the story focuses on their relationships with each other, the rest of the story doesn’t have to be an earth shaker. I’m all for originality but somehow along the way soaps lost sight of the fact that characters and the story construction are the most crucial elements. In my opinion, anyway.

    This little one-episode arc is a good example of plain, workaday soap writing, and I think it works beautifully.

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