I never mean to scare you

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Secrets

I think this might be my favorite scene from Jennifer’s rape storyline:

Jen and Jack on the couch

Jack already knows something is wrong.  Jen has not wanted to sleep with him since they’ve been back.  He’s taken the rejection calmly, but we’ve seen it sting.  I love the puzzled, watchful expression on Jack’s face in this scene, even as he goes through the motions of their romantic evening.  I especially like the moment when he says that if he had told her earlier how he felt, it might have prevented her from plunging into this adventure and ending up in Alamania with Lawrence.  It shows his thought process, his sense that something went wrong there, and seems to be a way to invite her to open up.

Nothing comes of that, so, what now?  Well, she is still here … still saying she loves him.  Maybe he should just carry on as though nothing is wrong …

They kiss, they head to the couch.  Jennifer says, “I just want you to know that whatever happens, I love you.”  That’s not ominous or anything.

Jack kisses her again.  We can see Jen begin to panic.  Frankie’s entrance is perfectly timed, saving Jen from having to pull away, or rather, having to explain why she’s pulling away.

Frankie’s entrance is perfectly timed for Jack too.  Here is a possible explanation for why Jen is pushing him away.  Every demon from his relationship with Kayla must be screaming at him internally.  That was the last time a woman he loved put him off with feeble excuses, asked him to be understanding, to wait.  And he did wait.  He carried on as though nothing was wrong …

Kayla avoids sleeping with Jack

(I have always loved this scene.  Kayla and Steve really did carry on right under Jack’s nose, and I don’t give them a pass for that.  It’s true that whatever they did, it doesn’t justify the rape.  But then, the converse is also true:  the rape doesn’t justify what they did.)

“Frankie coming in like that … it spoiled the mood for me.” 

“I just feel funny, being here in my mom’s house with you.”

Last time, the woman he loved was making excuses because she was really in love with someone else.  Maybe history is repeating itself.

And if history can repeat itself in one way, maybe it can in another.  He says to Jen here, “I never mean to scare you, or hurt you.”   But here’s the thing:  he never meant to hurt Kayla either.  He said to Kayla, “I’ll wait.  I won’t push you.”  And that was true … until it wasn’t.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Slap in the face

14 thoughts on “I never mean to scare you

  1. Yay! A new blog.

    The parallels between what is happening with Jen and what happened with Kayla are very interesting. On some level, Jack has to know it’s different simply because Kayla never showed the love/attraction for Jack that Jen did up until Alamania. But, by that same token, Frankie’s reappearance in Alamania does provide the perfect explanation for why Jen’s feelings/attitude seem to have changed. And given his basic self-doubt, it’s easy to see that he could be feeling a big sense of deja vu.

    And I love his line about how he never means to scare her or hurt her. It ties directly back to Kayla in two ways. First, it is a recognition that he did hurt someone and trying to be clear he won’t let that happen again. Second, and more interestingly, it’s a parallel to all the times he told Kayla he would be gentle, etc. And, in the end, he was as brutal as a person can be.

    Yet, in the end, I think the parallels serve the purpose of showing that Jack has changed and/or that his love for Jennifer is much different than his love for Kayla. Because, this time, his patience is genuine. His confusion makes him shy away, not become more aggressive. But, that doesn’t mean that little bit of uncertainty doesn’t linger. The monster took him over once after all.

    Oh, and I love your point about the rape not giving Steve and Kayla a pass for their actions. I think that is very true and I wish the show would have explored that a little better – although I do think they felt that it might make it seem like they were justifying the rape. It’s one of the reasons I love Kayla’s “I’m sorry too” in the scene in Alamania. Because they did all hurt each other.

    • You are right — in the end it is clear how much Jack has grown and changed, and how much more mature and unselfish his love for Jen is. It’s a win-win for the storyline — bring up Jack’s demons for the angst, and still show true love winning out.

      I really like that moment too, when Kayla says “I’m sorry too.” So much summed up in those words. I agree that exploring it too much at the time would come very close to appearing to justify the rape. They use it well by having Jack refer to it in order to justify himself (in his mind) but the show clearly shows that he is wrong.

  2. Oh, this brings back how conflicted I was with this segment of storyline. I disliked Jack, for coming across as an entitled spoil brat, but hated that Steve and Kayla were sneaking around behind his back. But I had waited, what seemed like forever for them to get back together, so I chose to let it slide. My favorite couple were finally back together and that was all that was important.

    I never doubted that Jack loved Kayla, in his own way, but it always seemed such a selfish love. He had to have her, it never appeared to be about Kayla, just what Jack wanted. Before they were married he whined, played on her guilt and sympathy to get her. After they were married he made all the choices,without consulting her ie, buying a house, having his parents live with them, running for office, moving to the loft. He was set up wonderfully to fall hard.

    Then all the ensuing stories of the rape, divorce, Jack’s road to redemption, even Steve’s death, added layers and depth to Jack’s character that allowed him to truly respect, love and appreciate Jennifer in a way he never really did with Kayla. The “Catch 22” in all this is that with this new found depth of character, is the insecurity and fear of his own demons and doubting of Jennifer’s love. How could the crown princess of Salem’s first family actually love and believe in him after all he had done?

    As much as Jack, deep down, never meant to hurt or scare anyone, because he did, he would never have real peace or trust in himself again. It forever followed him and came continually between he and Jennifer. In doubting his own worthiness there was always that seed of doubt of Jennifer’s unconditional love. But no matter what he kept coming back.

    • At the time I was very happy Steve and Kayla were back together too. And we had no reason to be very invested in Jack at that time, but the show does a good job not making Steve and Kayla completely sympathetic in this. They are just so blatant in their affair. It made sense that they — Steve, especially — wanted to spare Jack what they could by letting him keep his career (by not losing the election). But, it also made sense after their long estrangement Steve and Kayla couldn’t keep away from each other. And I love that — that they couldn’t be noble.

      (It also leads to a great character journey for Kayla, later, after the rape, when she has to stop letting Steve be the one in the driver’s seat.)

  3. Hello there!

    It is true that S/K’s affair was not really justifiable.

    Thanks for the J/J scenes, I didn’t catch all of the Alamain story so this looks new to me. (But then, it’s been so long. SO VERY LONG) It is nice to see Jack be patient (and the tragedy of what has happened to Jennifer).

    I love your line about trying to be gentle but in the end he was as brutal as a person can be. Just as eloquent as you were during our Nick 1.0 time.

  4. Great analysis. I agree that cheating on Jack was wrong, and i don’t give it a pass, per se, but I do think that the cheating was beside the point by then, the real problem was that Kayla married him in the first place, for all the wrong reasons. Kayla didn’t love Jack, that’s why she didn’t sleep with him but did love Steve and did sleep with him; that’s pure. Marrying Jack meant something different to Kayla than it did to Jack, and when he figured that out it took a hit to his self-esteem. I also think that a commenter who said that Jack’s love for Kayla was selfish was spot on. His love for Jennifer was pure and came from a place that finally made Jack feel real love. I suspect he never was in love with Kayla, but he was with Jennifer, and once that realisation came over him, he understood with far more depth just how wrong raping Kayla was. The clips you chose were perfect for your great analysis, Mary Pickford, thank you!

    • Thanks, FM! I like your comment about how marrying Jack meant something different to Kayla than it did to Jack. I love how Kayla never pretends with Jack, not really. She doesn’t say she’s in love with him, and she doesn’t act as if she is. If she lies to him, it’s more a lie of omission — allowing him to hope when there is no hope. Going back to before they were married, when everyone was pressuring her to “give Jack a reason to live” (groan), that’s pretty much what they all told her. Don’t pretend you love him now, just let him think it’s a possibility that you’ll love him someday. Even Jack knew it! And Kayla was so hurt and reeling from Steve’s rejection she let herself be persuaded. What’s one little lie against saving Jack’s life? But from that lie we end up here.

      I think it’s interesting that the show is kind of agnostic on whether Steve was “right” to reject Kayla for Jack, or Kayla was “right” to marry him, whether saving his life was worth it. We viewers tend to think NO WAY IN HELL but at times the show seems to endorse it more than I feel comfortable with. (I myself love this story very much, but not because I feel like they all make such good, good choices!) But, one thing I love is that Jack never, ever feels grateful or sees it as a good thing. Yes, they saved his life — soap cancer can only be cured by love — but even putting aside how he ended up a rapist (which was his own fault), they deceived him and played God with his life and everyone else knew more about what was going on in his life than he did.

      Anyway, rambling now, but I like how Jack knew Kayla didn’t love him when she married him, and he thought he didn’t care. (I don’t care how you feel, the most important thing is what I feel.) That’s the root of the selfishness. And then of course he found out he did care.

  5. I love that Steve and Kayla couldn’t be noble, not matter how much they may have wanted to be. I also love the irony that by trying to be kind, they ended up being far more cruel than they would have been had they (or at least Steve) not cared so much about Jack. It’s a great way of showing that good intentions and even “selfless” motives can, when taken too far, be very destructive.

    I was thinking about this yesterday and I’m not sure I can explain it properly, but while Steve and Kayla’s actions don’t justify the rape, they are in some ways the key to Jack being redeemable. What I mean is that because the story played out with Jack snapping when he finds out about the affair, it leaves room for the writers to bring Jack back from that. And, wonderfully, they do it without making the rape justified, or even “understandable,” but by showing that there was a kind of unique set of circumstances surrounding everything that happened. So it does all tie together in many ways.

    And I’ve always sort of thought that Jack’s redemption isn’t keyed by Steve and/or Kayla’s forgiveness of him, but more by his forgiveness (for lack of a better word) of them. That is, once he lets go of some of his anger, he can no longer use it to justify his own actions and that’s when he really starts to accept what he did. Plus, there is that great scene with Jack and Kayla outside S&K’s house after Jack brings Kayla back from Italy where he asks her what all of the pain and hurt has been for, if not for the love that Steve and Kayla share that is now represented by the baby she’s carrying. I love how it shows his belief that if Steve and Kayla don’t make it to happily ever after, then all the crap they all put each other through will have been in vain. Steve and Kayla being together somehow makes his own pain worth something. It just shows how much he’s changed in his view of them.

    Then, in this storyline, they can and do use some of the wonderful parallels that are mentioned. It’s more implicit than express, but the similarities serve the purpose, as I said above, of showing all the ways Jack has changed in how he reacts to Jennifer’s withdrawal from him. It’s really another great example of how affair/rape storylines continue to reverberate for years afterwards. I know I’m biased, but I will always believe that the Steve/Kayla/Jack relationship from 1987 to 1991 was storytelling at it’s very finest.

    • Oh, excellent point that Steve and Kayla’s mistakes here help to make Jack redeemable later! If they had done everything right, if they had been able to stay away from each other, Jack’s turn to the dark side would be even more evil than it was. It’s strange, because obviously his actions were in no way justified no matter what, but it does spread the guilt around a bit and make them all human and flawed, and somehow that works to make him redeemable in the end.

      And I love your point too that the key to Jack’s redemption is him being able to forgive them, not them forgiving him. I love that scene you mention, where he asks Kayla what it all was for, if she and Steve aren’t together at the end of it? It’s a wonderful indication that he sees their love as somewhat redemptive of everything they all went through, a happy ending that helps him make sense of it all.

      And I agree, I keep coming back to this story because there’s so much there, so many complexities and layers, that keep reverberating through the years after.

  6. Such good good insight, I had to add my own. I think Jack did love Kayla but it was in such a limited selfish way. Even when he came to Salem (as Jack 1.0) it was to pursue Kayla because HE wanted it, she was the right fit for his life, career, family etc. and to help him win elections. It was never about what Kayla need to make her happy it was always about what Jack wanted and he thought Kayla was the right girl for him.

    She was there to support him and that was that.

    Now to Jennifer, and it was opposite, she pursued him because she thought he was the right guy for her. For the longest time Jack kept pushing her away because he did not think he was the right man for her. Totally different and I think it shows that in Jack’s mind (at that time) that this was all the love he could give her to protect her from himself. While his relationship with Kayla was about what HE wanted with Jennifer he builds the relationship with what SHE wants and what will make her happy. When they finally do get together and it goes wrong he shows her that he blames himself (never her) for what has happened. Selfish love and completely different from his “love” of Kayla.

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