Some really great stuff coming up for Jack and Jennifer, everybody. This scene is rightly ranked up there with the all-time classics:
(The background: Jack’s past has come back to haunt him in the shape of an article from a rival paper. Harper is seeking parole, and the article mentions Jack’s past in connection with that. One of Jack’s advertisers decides to pull his ads. After that blow, Harper himself calls and asks Jack to write some sympathetic stories in the Spectator to help Harper win his parole.)
I really like how after Jack has (mostly) redeemed himself with Kayla and Steve, and the show has milked Melissa’s hatred just about as much as they can (at least for the moment), they find another way for Jack’s past to come back to haunt him.
But this scene is mostly about Jen and her faith in Jack. I love how she manages to break through initially by playing a trump card: that he’s a different person now and everyone knows it, even Steve (pause) and even Kayla. It is also a reminder that Jen understood, and gave credit, to his attempts to make amends and be a better person before anybody else did. That’s what lets Jack open up a little, by talking about Harper calling him today. The Harper call is perfect, because it gives Jack a way to open up without just talking about his feelings. He can come at it indirectly by opening up to her about something that happened.
Then we get a peek at the essential question for Jack in all of this: how much is Jack doomed to be like Harper? He tells Jen that if you ask anyone who he is, they’ll say he’s Jack Deveraux, Harper’s son. I love this part because it’s consistent with what we saw when Jack first came to town: Jack and Harper were close, Jack did look up to him and want to be like him. Then I love, love, love Jen’s response: she says she doesn’t believe what anybody says, and she doesn’t even believe him. She believes in him.
Whoever wrote those lines deserves a daytime Emmy, I think. Here Jen is telling Jack she can see through those smokescreens he always hides behind, to the person he’s trying to be. He really has been working hard to be a better person and make up for the past, and here Jen is telling him she sees that and values it (even when he’s been trying to hide it from her). That’s incredibly seductive—so of course it leads perfectly into a really great kiss. What I really like about this kiss is that after Jen initiates the first one, Jack pulls back, touches her face, and initiates the second. This is more than just a moment of weakness.
But, after the second kiss Jack glances over at that portrait of Harper on the wall. We see him visibly make the effort to put his walls back up. He’s still Jack Deveraux, son of the serial killer, and he can’t let Jen get hurt by that. And so Jen is left in no man’s land yet again. She knows how he feels, the kiss proved it. But, she still can’t get him to admit it. How much longer can she keep running into the brick wall? In the scene right before this one, Jen is having lunch with Emilio. She looks over and sees Jack, and when Emilio asks her what’s going on, she says, “Choices.” That’s what Jen is facing now. Jen is now having to face the fact that if Jack can never let himself admit his love for her, she might have to move on. And she has Emilio right there waiting for her to do exactly that.