A fantastic scene:
First, a little background: Shane has been in cool, professional work mode through this whole endeavor, pursuing the ISA’s priorities and insisting that everyone else do the same. Jack has just gotten into an argument with Shane about how he wants to focus on rescuing Jennifer, and Kayla wants to show him she sympathizes and understands his point of view. And Jack’s emotionalism (in contrast to Shane’s coolness) gives space to Kayla to confide in him too, her continued pain from losing Steve and her desire for revenge.
Even so, Mary Beth Evans always plays a slight physical discomfort when she is around Jack, and we see it here as well. Then when he tells her, “Violence is not the answer … I learned that from you,” that discomfort turns into shock. It’s a bit of a betrayal, on his part, of the fragile peace they have found, to refer to the rape even obliquely. And we see the pain is still there as she turns away and says they really don’t need to talk about this.
But Jack presses on. I love how Jack refers to the chances he’s gotten, and how he “hasn’t always deserved them.” That’s a great reference to all the chances Steve gave him, when he was the opposite of deserving. And it ties what he says here about how he always thought there would be time to talk to Steve — about the rape. This is really interesting because we did see Jack, a couple of times, come close to referring to the rape when he was talking to Steve, but Steve always shut him down. And as a fan I don’t think I would have wanted to see it either — it’s not Steve’s place to understand or forgive. But I can still sympathize with Jack’s sense of loss that now he will never be able to. His big brother who gave him chance after chance isn’t around to give him any more chances.
But Kayla is still here. And what makes this scene work beautifully is that Steve’s death (and their current uncertain situation) may have been what sparks this conversation, but it is really about Jack and Kayla, not Steve. And what he does is apologize, which is wonderful and necessary, but he also finally, fully acknowledges what he did — rape. This is important because at the time Jack always denied it, and trying to force his acknowledgment was one of the reasons Kayla decided to press charges. But then he used the fact that he was “only” convicted of assault to claim that his version was vindicated. All of this is why I particularly like what he says here: “it’s just like you said in court.” He’s telling her, finally, not only that he is sorry but that she was right.
His line that they “could have been friends,” is interesting, and I think goes along with how this is about the two of them, and not their relationship as it relates to Steve. First of all, it calls all the way back to the way they were friends, back when they met in Hawaii, back when Jack first came to town (I’ll also take it as a shout-out to my man Joseph Adams, the forgotten Jack!) But even later, after their marriage fell apart, he could have chosen a path that would have honored the feelings he had for her, and that maybe, maybe could have preserved their friendship. (Jack’s feelings for Jennifer have helped him realize this too—he sees now how selfish his love for Kayla was, now that he knows what a more unselfish love is.)
This relates to another layer I see in this. I think Jack might be cautioning Kayla not to make the mistake he did, not to let her love for Steve turn into the justification to do something ugly. Seeking revenge against Lawrence is not on the same level as raping the woman you claim to love, of course. But there is a similarity, in the desire to lash out, in your pain and rage, when you lose the person you love.
I also like that Kayla apologizes. This could be read as just “I’m sorry you did what you did, too,” but I think she is referring also to what came before that — the lies, the affair. She’s sorry for hurting him too. That makes this a wonderfully healing moment, for both of them.
And then, lastly, a very nice touch by Mary Beth Evans: after Jack leaves, she looks up for a moment, a glance at the heavens. It’s a way to bring Steve back into all this. She’s clearly thinking, “Did you see that, Steve?”