Emilio Bedelio

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Cave O’Love

As I mentioned awhile back, watching these DVDs has turned me into a bit of an Emilio fan. I found him annoying when he was first introduced 1988, as a gang member with a bad attitude. But once they reformed him and turned him into a good guy, he actually became more interesting, rather than less—reversing the usual trend. Billy Hufsey is really good (in my opinion at least!) playing the sweet, sincere suitor without being saccharine and irritating.

The Jack/Jennifer/Emilio triangle was also, up to a point, executed very well. You can pretty much break the triangle down into two parts: the early phase, where Jack and Emilio were two points on a fairly balanced triangle—when the show hadn’t quite decided which couple it was going to go with—and the second phase, when Jennifer, hurt and frustrated by Jack, gets engaged to Emilio. I talked about the early phase here, and the later phase here. The first phase was a good example of a noncommital triangle, and the second a good example of a triangle that serves the “endgame” couple.

Up to a point—as I said.

I am convinced that something happened to change the plan for Jack and Jennifer after Jack’s dramatic rescue of Jennifer from her wedding to Emilio. Because that is when the triangle, flawlessly executed up to that point, completely falls apart. The whole arc of Jack’s rescue screamed “Big Moment happening here!” There was the tension of the approaching wedding and the tease that Jack had a plan to stop it. And then when we saw the plan! Jack pretends to be a fireman, pumps fake smoke into the bridal room, and rides off with Jen on the fire engine while the show plays “Rescue Me” by Aretha Franklin.

Then, they have some great conversations at the cabin Jack brings her to, and some great UST, and then … nothing. Lots of plot complications ensue, but the upshot of it all is that when they get back to Salem Jen reaffirms her engagement to Emilio.

Now, I want to make it clear that the reason I’m upset with this plot point is not that Jack and Jennifer don’t get together at the cabin. I’m all for near misses and dramatic reversals of fortune. I love soapy angst, especially of the supercouple variety. No, what bothers me is that the way they do it makes no sense.

It’s hard for me to convey exactly what’s wrong with the time period between the cabin and the Cruise of Deception (which is why it’s taken me so long to write this post!), and there isn’t one scene I can post that illustrates it. But I’ll try to sum it up: Jennifer continues her engagement to Emilio, but is never shown spending any time with him. Unlike the leadup to the interrupted wedding, she hardly seems conscious of being engaged at all—she never talks about him or even seems to think about him. And that becomes a problem because she does spend time with Jack, lots and lots and lots of time. Not only that, she continues to press him to declare his feelings, and even kisses him a couple of times. This could be very sympathetic if Jennifer seemed the least bit conflicted about it, but she doesn’t. These “girl marries the wrong guy” stories have to be carefully presented, so we can understand her reasons for marrying someone she doesn’t love, see who she still truly loves, and yet not make it seem she is callous or unfeeling toward the “wrong” guy. A balance must be maintained, and the show did it beautifully leading up the the interrupted wedding. They they threw it all out the window, and it mystifies me.

Even putting her engagement aside, it seems like there should be a fallout from the way Jack kidnapped her and yet didn’t declare himself … again. There are a few scenes that show Jennifer expressing her very understandable anger and frustration at that (like this one) but they are overwhelmed by the many, many scenes that show them interacting exactly like they did before she ever got engaged to Emilio. There is lots of fun banter and comedy, and a little adventure, but in context it doesn’t make sense—to me at least.

Here’s my wish list for what should have happened: I think they should have used this opportunity to put a lot of distance between Jack and Jennifer and give us a bit of angst. Maybe when Emilio discovers them on that ledge, he sees that kiss they share. After he rescues them anyway, he and Jennifer have a big hash it out conversation back in Salem. Emilio confronts her over her continued feelings for Jack, takes some blame on himself (“I didn’t want to see it”) and they end the engagement. But—and here’s the key for me—Jennifer decides that Jack’s refusal to commit to her at the cabin means it is never going to happen for them, that she needs to move on by herself, concentrating on her career and forgeting about both men.

Then, Jack and Jennifer get thrown together over the mystery of the diary pages. They could both be trying to maintain their distance (not just Jack), but we could see the UST building and the pain and love still there. That would build up and lead nicely into all the things that happen on the cruise.

But let’s bring it back to Emilio. I know that Jennifer’s guilt at betraying her fiance on the cruise is mitigated by the fact that Jack and Jennifer were in a desperate situation they might not survive, and also by the fact that Emilio was falling for Melissa at the same time. And when they get back to Salem, finally, mercifully, they put an end to it:

YouTube link

Billy Hufsey gives the scene what emotional resonance it has with the look on his face when Jennifer gives the ring back. Other than that, the general tone of lightness is appropriate, given everything that has happened. I think perhaps the show knew they had leached all the emotional weight out of this non-engagement engagement and they better not try for any seriousness or angst. Under the circumstances, this scene, at least, ends up working pretty well. But my overall feeling is one of relief, that they finally put this thing out of its misery.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Nothing is more important


11 thoughts on “Emilio Bedelio

  1. Excellent post, MP.

    I agree that, prior to the Jen-napping, the engagement had been dealt with almost flawlessly. I mostly understood why Jen was doing what she was doing and her willingness to marry a man she didn’t love was balanced by the fact that Emilio wasn’t completely blind to what was going on.

    But, they just went all kinds of wrong afterwards. You’re right that it’s not just one scene, but the accumulation of scene after scene where Jen pushes Jack to declare his feelings while wearing another man’s engagement ring. I also find it particularly galling that Jen takes her diaphragm on the cruise, spends a decent portion of time trying to seduce Jack, and never once even seems to think of the engagement ring she’s wearing. It just makes Jen look bad to me. It doesn’t matter that she never should have been engaged to Emilio, a good person doesn’t just ignore that kind of commitment.

    I agree that they mitigate Jen’s guilt by having Emilio fall for Melissa and by the time they get back from the cruise, the best thing the show can do is break the engagement with some humor. But, it offends my storytelling sensibilities that Jen never pays a price for her actions. Because without some fallout, the engagement served absolutely no purpose but to make Jen look bad.

    Not suprisingly, I agree completely about how things should have gone. The Jen-napping should have put a large distance between Jack and Jen, distance that survived even when they were forced to work together because of the diary pages. Then the cruise and subsequent sinking could have brought them closer together. All the same emotional beats are hit without all the damage related to the stupid engagement that becomes a huge elephant in the room through most of the cruise.

  2. Wow, this has been a most interesting observation by Mary Pickford and a most excellent response by esp13 :).
    I do agree with both your observations that after the Jen-napping, the total focus has been on Jack and Jennifer with Emilio not really in the picture at all in any kind of emotional way. The only time we see that Jennifer feels bad about the whole situation is when Emilio comes to Jack’s house after Jennifer has spent the night in Jack’s bed due to circumstances about the diary pages. But that doesn’t last too long as once again she is trying to get jack to admit his true feelings.
    When one watches the scenes leading up to the Cruise of Deception, it is so obvious that the engagement to Emilio is just a way for Jennifer to get to Jack. Even during her visit to Dr. Curtis, the kindly, ob-gyn, she demonstrates her lack of interest in her wedding night with her husband to be. The good doctor senses her lack of commitment to the up coming marriage.
    In hindsight, looking at Jennifer’s behaviour during the cruise and on the island itself with regard to her engagement to Emilio, one could say that the perfect pure Horton’s halo was slightly tarnished. Although i was never a big fan of Emilio’s, he did deserve better.

  3. Esp, I agree it’s the storytelling aspect of this that bugs me the most. Why continue the engagement at all? It serves no purpose at the time, and it doesn’t pay off later either. The only thing I can think of is that they needed to keep the engagement as an obstacle to keep Jack and Jen apart until the cruise. And I don’t think I need to point out that there are plenty of issues to believably establish some distance between them.

    love the soaps, that short arc with Emilio being worried about Jennifer and showing up at Jack’s house to look for her is one of the few times they used the engagement in anything close to a meaningful way. Another is when Jennifer is attacked by some thugs and Emilio comes to her rescue, not Jack. They play up the contrast between the two men there, at least a little. I think they could have done more with it. And they undercut it by having Emilio take off right afterward. “Glad you’re alive, Jen! See you later!”

  4. I think a lot of people overlook the problems with the engagement because they don’t like Emilio and figure he kind of deserves what he gets for pursuing a woman he knows loves somebody else. But my problem is not that Emilio is treated badly, it’s that Jen, a supposed heroine and good person, doesn’t appear to remotely care that she’s made a commitment to him. It’s an afterthought at best and it makes Jen look way too glittery when she doesn’t even seem to have a second thought about how she is treating Emilio. Kayla may have been unfaithful to Jack, but at least she wanted to tell him the truth and was never oblivious to her own marriage or how the truth would affect Jack. And, from a storytelling perspective, she paid a huge price for her mistake.

    In contrast, Jen doesn’t care and pays no price. That weakens the story and, even more, fundamentally damages the character. And, even worse, they do it for absolutely no reason that I can see. The writing for Days was way better back then, but that makes these types of mistakes seem even more glaring.

  5. Dear esp13, you have once again made some very valid points about how Jennifer does come off looking badly in this whole scenario. It is true that she seems oblivious to the fact that she is engaged while actively pursuing Jack. It is always interesting to come back and watch old clips from a new perspective. A case in point, is when Jack and Jennifer are aboard the Loretta and Jack discovers the diaphragm. He makes the point that she could have made a mistake as she was packing for her honeymoon and forgot it was there. Then he makes the most valid point that she is still planning to marry Emilio after the cruise and how could she even HINT that she would be using the device in any way before her wedding night. Jennifer does not look guilty or ashamed but just says that he will not be able to run away from her once they are on the open seas. She never refers to her engagement in any way. Kind of cold and uncaring of Emilio, her fiancee.

    Just one point, in the second run when Jennifer was so hateful to Jack and running after other lame men, there was a point when Jack had finally had enough and plants a big kiss on Sami, Jennifer believes it was for show and doesn’t believe that he really wants to move on. Jennifer has a very high opinion of herself, it was fun when Eve in the first run and then Sami in the second run, called her up on her need to seem to have men always at her beck and call.

  6. I never saw their second run, but I know there was unfortunate tendency in later Days to glittrify their heroines. Basically, making the “good girls” have several men in love with them at once, and having the attitude that they would be doing any man a favor to bestow the favor of their presence—and no consciousness that anything else would be important, like fidelity, or being in love with him, or not keeping secrets from him. It’s very irritating. This storyline does, unfortunately, remind me of that a little bit.

    Sometimes when the writing is just a bit shallow (as opposed to completely assbackward), the actors can shade in the “missing” feelings. But this one was too blatant, and it went on for too long, for that. I think MR and MA just kind of gave up on the whole thing and basically ignored Jennifer’s engagement, and that’s pretty much what you have to do as a viewer too. But it does become kind of an elephant in the room.

  7. Valid criticism, MP. J/J could have come together on the cruise as they did if the story played as you described, and the whole thing would have been more in keeping with Jennifer’s character and made more sense, and it’s really too bad the writers let the whole thing slide. J/J’s story isn’t perfect, but it’s full of many truly divine moments; it’s easily my favorite soap love story, even with its little hitches, probably because Jack holds such a place in my heart. Despite the issues with Jennifer remaining engaged; I enjoy watching J/J during the flawed time between the aborted wedding and the cruise. They still manage to be fun and interesting enough that I can ignore the glaring silliness of Jennifer remaining engaged while she continues to throw herself at Jack with almost no thought to the fact that she’s wearing Emilio’s ring and even brings her birth control on the cruise for Jack related purposes. And there you go, there’s the reason she had to be engaged to Emilio at this point. She needed the excuse of the pre-marital OB/GYN birth control visit so that she could bring that diaphragm on the cruise, and “Days” could (awkwardly) pull off their little public service birth control plug. Why Jen didn’t see the OB/GYN about birth control before the first wedding attempt, I can’t figure out, but sometimes I just have to shake my head, remember it’s a soap, and be amazed at how good it used to be anyway.

  8. Excuse that misplaced semicolon. (I’m also an English major, so when I do something like that, it drives me nuts when I can’t fix it. I was an English teacher before staying home with the kiddies, so there’s always this voice in my head, “And you are supposed to teach our children to write?”)

  9. Ah, a fellow English major. 🙂

    You are probably right that the PSA about birth control had a lot to do with the continued engagement. The show made a pretty big deal about Jennifer’s virginity and they probably wanted to set an example for all the young girls watching. Though why they thought cheating on your fiance for your first time would be a good example, I don’t know. Hee!

    And I agree, when I watch these old clips I am amazed at how good the show was then, even with the occasional flaw.

  10. i think the treatment of Emilio was pretty bad.
    While most of the time, he was diplayed as a meathead – he did had some quick comebacks to Jack’s. (Jack :”I’m all ears.” Emilio: “No Jack, you’re all mouth.”)

    Although, for the life of me, I have no idea what Jennifer saw in him – Emilio did love her and treat her nicely.
    Jennifer from her part, did constantly acknowledged and show both her respect, support and ( at the beginning) her interest in him.

    That’s the reason I cannot understand how she could allowed herself to (so agressively) persue Jack.

    Even if Emilio was aware on their second round – that she “has a thing to Deveraux” – I don’t think he would have appreciated her going to Jack’s house and trying to seduce him or even worse – that it will have to be Jack to scolde Jennifer on the COD :
    “How could you even *hint* that you’re going to use this diaphragm in any other way before that time.” (With Emilio on her wedding night ).

    Which means she planned and had intentions to betray her fiancé.

    I just wish they would give Emilio the backbone to confront her (him cathcing them kiss on that ledge , would have been a perfect opportunity, indeed) – or a least gave him a Happy Ending off screen, and send him off to be a huge star.

    • I would have liked a happy ending for Emilio too! He was a truly nice character and I honestly grew to like him quite a bit watching this storyline. Instead he was killed by Melissa 00 he was trying to attack her and I never quite believed how it all played out.

      Anyway, there had to have been some storyline change — I’m guessing that they were realizing J&J were huge and they wanted to have their big moment coming together in the big Cruise of Deception story, so they just hit the pause button. In my mind they didn’t have to keep the Jen/Emilio engagement going in order to delay J/J getting together, but maybe they thought differently.

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