I believe in you

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Jen gets a job offer

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.)

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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.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: My Two Dads

14 thoughts on “I believe in you

  1. wow, this was a powerful scene. this just demonstrates the faith and power of jennifer. she BELIEVES in him and for a brief moment in time, jack believes it himself. these were the glory times for days. i just have to say, Rest in Peace, Frances Reid,( Alice Horton) you were truly the best, her belief in love and family made these stories so believable.

  2. Heart-wrenching, in a good way.

    I just hope that the show honours Frances Reid and her character appropriately and doesn’t use it as an opportunity to trash what little is left of the integrity and history of the show.

  3. This is a great Jack and Jennifer scene. Re-introducing Harper into the mix is brilliant. We’ve moved past (mostly) Jack’s past with both Steve and Kayla recognizing that he’s a different person now. But, Harper’s reappearance allows the show to highlight that, for Jack, it doesn’t really matter that everybody else thinks he’s a different person — he doesn’t believe it. As you say, we see the first appearance of the essential question that Jack faces — who is he really? Is he the good guy who did a horrible thing once, or is he the guy who has that monster always lurking under the surface.

    And clearly, Jen knows who she thinks that person is. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, including Jack, she believes in him. And, for a moment, he wants to believe that way too. But that puts Jen in danger of being hurt, emotionally if nothing else, and that’s the one thing Jack will never let happen. So, he pushes her away again, refusing to realize that he hurts her far more that way than he ever could if he let himself love her.

    And, as you say, that puts Jen to her choice. How long does she run headlong into the brick wall before she decides the pain isn’t worth it anymore? It’s shades of Steve and Kayla, but in a really wonderful way.

  4. All the daddy issues really mess up poor Jack, don’t they? Does he really have no choice but to be a monster? On one side, he was raised by a man he loved and respected who turned out to be a serial killer. If you try to argue that Harper doesn’t matter because Jack was adopted, you have the wife-beating, daughter-raping Duke to look to on biology’s side.

    You know, the first time I watched the rape of Kayla and its aftermath, I remember thinking, “Even though I know he turns ‘good’ and all, I could never root for this man!” Shows what good storytelling can accomplish, doesn’t it? 🙂

  5. It really does. If you had asked me in February of 1987 if I could have ever accepted Jack as one of the “good” guys and as a part of Steve and Kayla’s life, I would have said not just no, but hell no.

    But, the show laid the seeds of redemption even before Jack turned “bad” by the way they set up the rape storyline, and by the way the writers made sure that Jack always had a layer of guilt/awareness even during his worst time period. Then they took their time in redeeming him and never required that people forget what he had done just because he now felt bad about it.

    It’s a tour de force in good soap storytelling.

  6. That is exactly it. I was too young when it first aired (I was born in ’84) to watch, so I had to go back and find clips and the like. Keep in mind, I became an invested viewer long after S&K left the show, so Jack as he became was all I ever knew. He was a slightly bumbling, self-effacing type with a quick wit and quicker tongue.

    That all changed once I saw the rape story. That story erased the years of viewing and all goodwill I had for the character of Jack. The sight of Matt Ashford actually made me ill (which is a testament to his talent). If I had stopped watching S&K’s story right there, I would have never been able to accept Jack as anything positive. Ever.

    The years of growth for this character were crucial in his redemption. There was no backing away from what happened; no sweeping it under the rug. He had to realize what about himself had caused him to do such horrible things and what he had to do to change himself. He also had to accept the fact that, even if he did change for the better, there were things he would never be able to mend. *This* is what allowed the audience (including me) to allow Jack back into their good graces.

    Oftentimes today, we see the monkeys trying to jump from “Bad Billy-Jack” to “Romantic Hero Jack” without the work in between. There is no commitment to the storylines they present. EJ goes from rapist to poor, sad, lied to daddy in the blink of an eye. If you’re going to have a character do something horrific, there simply have to be consequences. You’re writers, people, so I don’t want to hear nonsense like, “Well, we can’t have the actor off-screen for a long period and prison garb doesn’t showcase his abs, so we’ll just forget about what happened and hope everyone else does, too. Cool?” Isn’t it in the job-description to be creative?

  7. There is no question that the writers today seem to refuse to engage in any kind of long-term redemption stories – or long term stories at all. A storyline may go on for a long time (i.e. the babyswitch) but I have no doubt that when it’s finally over, there will be no long-term consequences for anybody.

    But, the Jack/Kayla/Steve storyline really played out for about 4 years. Starting when Jack first comes to town in the spring of ’87 (my post above should have said February of ’88) and continuing through at least Jack and Jen’s wedding in May of 1991. Even when Jack has been mostly forgiven by Steve and Kayla, the impact of what happened most certainly plays into his love story with Jennifer, especially after she is raped by Lawrence.

    And, just as importantly, nobody is overlooked. They don’t force Steve and Kayla into “propping” mode when they decide to redeem Jack. Being sorry isn’t enough to just make it all go away and be forgotten. It’s a complete story in every sense.

  8. Wow, there are some very powerful observations and discussons going on regarding this part of the j/j storyline. i think that in today’s soap opera climate, this type of storyline, is just swept under the rug, a la ej and sami. do we see ej feel remorse?
    when you come to think of it, the whole premise of the j/j storyline is really pretty shocking if one thinks of the plain facts. the pure innocent shining star of the then ruling family of Salem, Jennifer, is becoming involved with the son of a disgraced senator who is a serial killer. Not to mention that the afore said son, Jack, has raped his own wife and was totally unfaithful and dishonest when engaged to her own cousin. is it any wonder that her family had doubts as to her total belief in Jack? That is what made this storyline so special, the writing and the acting made us believe that it could be so. just have to say RIP. Frances Reid, you were the best and hopefully you will get the tribute you deserve, and not with carly and melanie as first mourners. peace

  9. It is pretty shocking when you think about the bare facts, love the soaps. I think the show knew that and their reaction was to tread very carefully, as we’ve been talking about. I get fuzzy on timelines watching in clip mode, but hasn’t it taken more than a year for Jack and Jen to get to this point? They’ve been dancing around it for a long time. I can picture TPTB sitting around the writing table saying “Can we really do this? Really?” They do a great job inching them forward in baby steps. The only thing I really quibbled with is that early on sometimes it seemed like Jen’s faith in Jack wasn’t really warranted by anything she saw—but then that’s sweet in its own way.

    Jack’s redemption is an amazing piece of storytelling all around. Like RileyKay and esp13, I came at this from a Steve and Kayla fan perspective. Plus, as I may have mentioned before, I was a big fan of Jack #1. I thought he was perfect as Steve’s foil and long-lost brother (he resembled Stephen). Then Jack #2 came along and I haaaaaated him—terrible actor, terrible writing for the character. Then when recast #3 came around I was not inclined to give him any benefit of the doubt. I could see he was better than Jack #2, but no thanks.

    I had been really invested in the “Billy” storyline as it was first introduced, and I was mad that they made Billy/Jack such a villain … because of course at the time I thought there could be no going back. I mean, he raped Kayla! Come on!

    But as you know, they managed to pull it off. It’s a tribute to Matt Ashford, and a tribute to the writers. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

  10. It’s been right around a year for Jack and Jen at the time of the “I believe in you” clips. Their first big interaction was the Baby Hannah story which, I think was in March/April of 1989. The “I believe in you” scenes aired in March of 1990 (at least I’m 99% surre of that). So, it has taken Jack and Jen about a year to get to this point.

  11. True, true, about the time and distance travelled to get to this point. I think that jack almost from the beginning of this very special storyline recognized how important and life-changing, this young girl, which she was at this point of time was to be in his life.
    The baby steps mentionned in an earlier post before were crucial, as he really didn’t believe that anyone as jennifer was innocent could trust/love someone like him, which was a point which would be reiterated again and agian throughout their romance. But i am getting ahead of myself.

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