Nothing is more important

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Emilio Bedelio

Another installment in that ongoing love story: Steve and Jack.

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As always, every conversation between these two is a potentially explosive minefield, and it’s a testament to how much they both want this relationship that they keep persisting in trying to have it.

Way back during the Marina story, I speculated that Jack couldn’t move on from his troubled past until he could somehow make things right for Steve and Kayla. I think there is something similar operating here: Jack can’t move forward with Jennifer unless he somehow gets big brother’s approval. His awkwardness is very endearing as he stumblingly says “Jennifer and I got close on the island … ” (Steve’s suspicious “how close?” is wonderfully big brother-y.)

Then when Jack defensively backtracks a little (in the face of Steve’s gruffness, I think), and says “I tried to stop it, to put the brakes on … because of before,” just like that, one of those mine fields is tripped. Stephen shows Steve’s visceral reaction with his sharp line reading of “You don’t have to bring that up now, do you?” while abruptly moving away, as if he has to put space between him and Jack at that moment. The fact that Jack actually does find a way to go on after that shows both how their relationship has changed, and how much Jack needs to tell Steve about this. Jack’s slight smile as he tries to tell Steve about Jennifer tells Steve more than the words he says. Then when he trails off and just softly says “Steve”—it’s an implicit plea, and a lovely moment of vulnerability.

When Steve tells Jack to sit next to him, Jack does so, looking like he’s at the principal’s office. Then Steve’s version of his love story with Kayla is a nice parallel for Jack’s dilemma now (though I have to laugh at his “before you knew it, we were together.” I don’t remember it being quite that simple, hee!). His “I don’t know, maybe you and Jennifer can have something” is extremely tepid, but it’s what Jack needs, and it reveals that this is difficult for Steve too. I’m glad that Steve hasn’t turned into Jack’s cheerleader quite yet. That makes it all the more meaningful when afterward, he invites Jack to stay and hands over the baby.

I love that final exchange, when Jack offers to leave. I think Jack is partly trying to get away for his own sake (too much intensity), but also trying to be considerate of Steve: here he comes and brings up all these bad memories, and then asks for something from Steve that might not have been that easy to give. I think, having gotten what he came for, he feels he shouldn’t stick around and burden Steve with his presence. Steve’s response, in that context, is perfect, calling him “uncle Jack” and saying “after all, she is your niece.” He is implicitly telling Jack that he wants not just to make peace with the past, but to have an ongoing relationship in the future. It’s what he told Stephanie at the beginning of the scene: that nothing is more important than family. It’s perfectly played by Stephen—he makes Steve sound gruff, almost annoyed, as he asks Jack to say. That works to smooth over the intensity of the moment, but is also a mark of Steve’s continued guardedness with Jack. But, we know that Jack has taken Steve’s real meaning: left alone with the baby, he gets a reverent look on his face and gently kisses the top of her head.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: The killer inside me

9 thoughts on “Nothing is more important

  1. Sigh. I love that scene. Everything about it is pretty much perfect. Steve and the baby (so dang cute), Jack watching, the awkwardness and guardedness between Jack and Steve, Jack stepping on a mine, but not backing off, Steve giving a little big brotherly advice, and Uncle Jack.

    I love the way MA gives that little smile when he talks about Jen’s determination, showing how much Jack wants to believe it too. And I love how Steve way oversimplifies his and Kayla’s early relationship. And I love how Steve talks about how he looked in the mirror and saw a bum and I always think that Jack gets a little guilty face there thinking of the time when he viewed Steve that way too. So much good stuff.

    And I totally agree that this is Jack needing Steve’s approval on some level. He needs to know that Steve (and Kayla by proxy) thinks it’s okay for him to find someone and be happy. It’s all wrapped up in Jack’s conviction that making things right with Steve and Kayla is the key (or at least one of the keys) to making things right with himself.

  2. Excellent point about the look on Jack’s face when Steve says he used to think he was a bum. It’s amazing the distance that these two have traveled together. Great stuff.

    And I agree that Steve is so cute with that baby. Stephen’s ad lib when the baby burps, “Excuse you,” is really great.

  3. I like when Jack first shows up and listens to Steve tell Stephanie that there is nothing more important than family. You can see in Jack’s face how much he longs for that now. He thought he had it with Harper, then lost it all and resented the Johnsons. Now here he is, alone and longing for a family – and the brother he so viciously rejected and minimized is the only one he can go to and talk to and ask for advice. There’s that question in the back of his mind, will Steve reject me like I rejected him, does he really love me as his little brother, can I approach him as my big brother? So many layers in such a little scene.

  4. I love the way the Steve/Stephanie scene sets up the Jack/Steve scene too, Kathleen. Jack is obviously struck by Steve’s words about family, and wondering if Steve is including his when he uses that word—“family.” That’s what makes the end of the scene so great, too, when we see that Steve does mean it, he does want that relationship.

  5. Wow, another great blog. I have missed your observations. In some ways the storyline of Steve and jack coming together as brothers is a greater accomplishment in writing and acting as opposed to the romance of Jack and Jennifer. i never followed days so closely when Jack was married to Kayla and the aftermath of the rape, when jack was truly a very bad character. The scene that you have highlighted showed how far Steve and Jack had come to becoming close as a brothers.

  6. Yes, it’s amazing the journey these two went on, isn’t it? It’s so well done, not forced or rushed at all. I just love the long shadow that the Steve/Kayla/Jack triangle has for the three characters. So many interesting issues that they can keep using—even two years later.

  7. Perfect analysis of this scene. Could not have put it any better. There was so much going on in that scene.

  8. I love this scene. Watched it over 50 times at least. Steve and Jack have this fascinating and complex relationship that can go on much longer, They are appointment viewing for me. Just priceless.

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