The Missing Heiress

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Ask not for whom the bell tolls

Soon after Jack breaks Jennifer’s heart in the bell tower, Jennifer gets involved in an adventure involving Carly Manning, aka Katarina von Leuchner. I like this turn to the story because it lets Jennifer take the lead in the plot, and reverses their usual dynamic: now it’s Jack running after Jennifer, trying to figure out what she’s up to. But it’s important, as this fun adventure plot unfolds, not to let the hijinks of the plot make us forget the pain of their breakup.

What I think is interesting is that Jack I think is trying to do exactly that. I think he thinks they should just be able to rewind and go back to how they were before. Yes, he’s trying to keep her out of trouble and keep her safe, but I think he also doesn’t see why this little adventure should be different than any of the other ones where they fought and bantered and tried to outsmart each other. If they can reassert their old dynamic—just forget the island ever happened—it’s a way for him to do what’s best for Jennifer (as he sees it), without losing her entirely.

But that’s the last thing Jennifer wants. Right after their breakup, she told him that she could tolerate his walls and game playing, as long as they were moving forward. If Jack wants to go backward, she doesn’t want anything to do with that. I think she is telling him all through this time period, in ways both large and small, “You wanted to break up? Well, let me show you what that means.” My favorite scene for this isn’t on my DVDs (you can watch it at D2D—September 14 1990, in the “Missing Heiress” thread, where Jennifer makes Jack give her the loft key back), but here is another short one that I like:

YouTube link

Jack has just discovered what Jennifer is up to—impersonating the heiress Katarina, about to be introduced to her betrothed, Lawrence Alamain (who we haven’t seen yet). Jack follows Jennifer back to the loft to try to talk her out of this scheme. The beginning of the scene has them in comedy mode, with Jennifer putting on some headphones and a walkman (so funny to see that old thing) and singing so Jack can’t talk to her.

Then Jack gets wound up and ends up saying emotionally, obviously sincerely, that he cares what happens to her. But now, getting confirmation that he cares is no longer a source of happiness for Jennifer–in fact, it’s infuriating. So she calls him on it, saying that he doesn’t want her, but he doesn’t want anyone else to have her either. She’s talking about Lawrence, painfully ironic given what happens later. She’s not seriously thinking she could together with Lawrence, though, just planting the idea for Jack, that she could really move on.

You wanted to break up? This is what it means.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Steve’s death: Jack

9 thoughts on “The Missing Heiress

  1. As always, wonderful analysis. This idea of Jack thinking he can “have” Jennifer but not “have” Jennifer goes through from nearly the beginning. He’s afraid to hurt someone (especially Jennifer)/be hurt again, but he just wants to be around Jennifer too much to sever the tie. The Dr. Baker scenes in which Jack tries to convince himself that he and Jennifer can just go back to before the island come around this same time. I particularly remember when Jack begins to describe Jennifer to Dr. Baker and stumbles on the word “virginal,” as he knows Jennifer isn’t anymore, and has come to feel guilty about it, which is really very sad, considering how beautiful and sincere and hopeful an experience the cave and the island were to both Jack and Jennifer.

    Another thing you point out with the above scene is that wonderful switch from silly to serious that was so characteristic of Jack and Jennifer. The fun and the sometimes goofy are a wonderful part of what Jack and Jennifer are, Jennifer generally playing the straight man to Jack (when it comes to both humor and drama actually). It is a dynamic that works wonderfully with these two. But then, in the 2nd run, this is taken too far. With all of the anticipation about Matthew Ashford’s return to “Days” soon, this is a much discussed idea. Jack’s fans don’t want to see Jack made the buffoon as he was in the beginning of MA’s second run as Jack, but they do want him funny and witty. The goofy in this scene, for example, is right, but Jack falling down while ice skating in a ridiculous hat and such is not right. And yet . . . I see how they writers mistakenly crossed that line from clever, witty, funny, even goofy—to buffoonery. In this scene we see it. Jack bumps the counter, bumbles his way out the door—he’s a bit goofy. But he hasn’t gone too far. He’s still an incredibly serious character who plays humor well too—also, Jack is using humor to defuse a tense, overly emotional moment, which is something Jack does. Anyway, this level of silly in Jack is just right, and we know there’s an edge underneath it. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this thought, it’s just interesting to me how during the 2nd run, the writers saw the funny, but they crossed a line and took Jack somewhere they should not have into clown territory. Sorry, this comment’s a bit of a rambler, but those are some random thoughts your post inspires from me at 1:15 am.

  2. Doch! MP, I think, considering the name of your blog, I just committed a major faux pas and leaked a spoiler. I am so sorry.

  3. No worries, Angie. 🙂 I haven’t been watching the current run, except in bits and pieces, so I’m not that concerned about spoilers. And even back in my most committed spoiler-free days, I always made an exception for casting spoilers.

    And I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about Jack becoming a clown. I’m not as big of a fan of the comedy for its own sake, but I like it a lot when it’s balanced with an underlying serious emotion. The little bits I’ve seen of later Jack go way too far in the goofy, comedy direction. So sad for such a complex character.

    I’ll be curious which version of Jack we get with MA’s return. Here’s hoping.

    • I’m not a fan of “clown” Jack either, and actually thought the show crossed a line into buffoonery with him a lot between 1990 and 1992. Mary, I’m not sure how far you’ve gotten into the Lawrence storyline, so I won’t spoil anything, but I disliked the way the missing heiress storyline seemed to subsume many of the other storylines and make them a sideshow to Jack/Jennifer antics.

      • I probably would have felt the same way back in 1990 if I had still been watching then—I remember having some resentment towards J&J even earlier on, when I thought they were getting more airtime and better stories than “my” couple. But from my current perspective, after experiencing 2000’s Days, all I ask is that the stories be good ones. 😉 And I am enjoying this story so far, on that score.

      • Jess, you’ve probably got a good point about Jack and Jennifer kind of taking over with the missing heiress story, but as I was pretty much only watching for Jack and Jennifer, I guess it didn’t bother me, though I understand the complaint. I do think Kayla should have gotten into it with Lawrence more, since he did kill Steve, for Pete’s sake.

        I recently rewatched Jack and Jennifer’s first run. Love it. But anyway, my point is that it’s pretty fresh in my mind. There were little moments that kinda bugged me (Jack shooting the machine gun on the island after the COD, some of the pre-wedding silliness that went too far, for example), but I didn’t get mad and feel like Jack crossed the line into buffoonery until 1991 and the stupid Baby Howie scam story (hope that’s not a spoiler as MP isn’t there yet with her blogging). I also felt like once that was over, the character was mainly reeled back in, as far as the clowning, not that I was entirely happy with the writing for Jack from 92-93. I would maintain that if it weren’t for Tom Langan’s writing, 2001-early 2002, Jack would not have gotten the “clown” stigma among viewers unfamiliar with the character as originally written. After Langan left, again that buffoonery was reined in, though later Reilly also did some damage, and “In the House” wasn’t the best thing either.

        Mary’s got point though, a good story for any character would be a welcomed change. I’m just hoping Jack’s character gets some redemption and respect after the damage inflicted on the character during the second run (even though I always maintain there were some good moments during the 2nd run—Jack and Jennifer still had that “it” factor). I’ll most likely be disappointed, but I am excited to see my favorite soap actor reprise the role of my favorite soap character anyway.

  4. When one watches these old clips of the intense chemistry between Jack and Jennifer, even when they are at odds with each other makes a person miss the glory Days even more. The soap nowadays is almost unwatchable with characters looking like themselves but bear no resemblance to their former selves.Yes, Ms. Horton, ex Deveraux that means you and your daddy dissing daughter who doesn’t resemble either of you!!
    This stroryline of the Missing Heiress was good as it drew in a whole crew of characters into Alamania with many different
    storylines being intertwined. Those were the days!!

  5. hi mary pickford…
    when are getting a new blog entry??? enquiring minds wants to know
    love the soaps

  6. Hi love the soaps! I totally agree that even when they were at odds you could still see the chemistry there. I do love the long delay in couples getting together—something that is totally gone now. So sad.

    And I know I need to update. I’ll try to do so this week!

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