Slap in the face

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: I never mean to scare you

Again, sorry for the long delay. I’ve known that my next post would be on the “rape slap” and breakup for Jack and Jennifer. And it’s quite a topic to take on, so I’ve been dragging my feet.

Jennifer slaps Jack

There is so much good writing and good angst here, both before and after the slap, but let me get one thing out of the way first: the slap itself feels contrived. I don’t like how long Jack holds her while she struggles, but mostly it’s the line itself:  “Don’t touch me, you rapist!” It feels awkward, and it’s a sledgehammer in the scene. I can feel the strings being pulled to generate a specific reaction from Jack. I’ve been racking my brains for a way to stage this better, and my simplest idea was for Jennifer to be asleep, having a nightmare about Lawrence, when Jack kissed her. Perhaps, in her dream, Lawrence would be saying, “I’m your husband,” and when Jen wakes up and pushes Jack away, she cries out, “No, you’re a rapist!”

And, just to get my other criticism out there up front, I think the show needs to pay a little more attention to Jen’s side of the equation here. First, I think they should have given us an extra reason that Jennifer doesn’t tell Jack about her rape afterwards. I’m very willing to concede that this would be a difficult thing to say, and I’m mostly willing to go with it.  But I think it would help if, for instance, Lawrence had specifically threatened Jack’s life if she ever told about the rape. I think it would lessen the feeling of “Argh! Just tell him! Just tell him!” which it is very easy to feel through all of this. That feeling tips the balance of sympathy more towards Jack, which I don’t think is right. I also wish that we felt a little more anger from Jen here: fairly or not, his reaction is making life a lot more difficult for her when she is already dealing with something difficult, and I think she could have lashed out at him because of that. It would also give her another reason not to tell him the truth:  again, fairly or not, why should she confide in him when he’s making it all about him?

All right, now we’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s talk about some of the awesomeness of this. I really love Jack’s speech that opens the scene. It shows how far Jack has come since their early days, how much he has let his guard down. It’s agonizing to think how difficult it is for Jack – of all people! – to ask her why she flinches when he touches her. And my favorite line of all, when he says that love and commitment have been nightmares for him. That sums up so much of his relationship with Kayla, all of it, not just when he raped her. His openness and honesty, his plea to let him help her, make what follows extra painful (the show really knew how to up the angst factor then). After the slap, after the initial shock, I love the transition in Matt Ashford’s body language. You can see the difference between Jack’s “you just said it all” followed by “so, you think I’m a rapist,” between those two lines Jack’s walls, and his cynicism, have snapped back into place.

Jen’s denials, of course, sound pathetic, as they are meant to, and I love how Jack cuts through her stammering excuses with one word:  Kayla. It’s a perfect way to cut through not only the bullshit of the moment, but all the times the show has played coy with who, exactly, Jack raped.  (Another scene around this time has Frankie saying to Jen that “Jack hurt a woman” like that woman wasn’t his adopted sister.)  Jack is in fine sarcastic form as he adds to the list Jen starts making of the reasons she has to be upset right now (always plenty to choose from in Salem), and tells her “it’s always been there, hasn’t it?” It has always been there for Jack, and his belief that it didn’t matter to her has always been shaky.

His anger here is wonderful, as is its cause.  I love the hurt that comes through when he says he can’t count the number of times she told him he had changed, reformed, “and I bought it.” (I also love when he tells her “don’t touch me,” just like she told him.) That sums it up.  He was the chump, the chump who got suckered. No matter what she says now, his self-loathing won’t let him believe her.

But then the show introduces a lovely little seed of doubt. Jen’s best line in this whole scene is when she says that if it were true (that she thought he was a monster), they never would have made love in the first place. Missy Reeves plays the depth of sincerity really well, and Jack’s look of vulnerability in response is perfect. He knows that is true, but when she can’t explain why that has changed (and here is where we are all surely screaming at the TV “Just tell him!”), that is it for him. The storyline he has created – that she sees him as the monster he always knew he was – is too seductive for him to resist.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: John Deveraux

8 thoughts on “Slap in the face

  1. I recently found your blog and have so enjoyed the high quality of writing and analysis.

    Upon rewatching the whole rape era, one of the things that struck me is how similar this scene is to the “no one is every going to love you the way that I love you” scene in the villa. I love the scene and I think it also shows how much Jack has evolved, specifically when he says, “I would never stick my neck out this far for anyone else.” However, he is fairly rough with her, the way that he spins her around, forcibly kisses her and then holds onto her. It’s just a few days after the rape, yet she doesn’t react nearly a strongly as she does in this scene.

    Overall, I think that the storyline is a good one, but as you note, it is Jennifer’s point of view that seems to get short shrift at times.

    • Thanks, Andrea!

      I know the scene you are talking about. It struck me at the time that it was a poor decision on the show to have a “forced kiss” type scene right then, though it was a good one if you didn’t think about the context.

      But the fact that Jack did this exact thing before and Jen didn’t react the same way, makes this scene all the more problematic.

    • I have been watching these clips and it did bother me how Jack forced this kiss on her. The “no-one is ever going to love you…” line was a bit more gentle in that she gave him a nod and then he kissed her. It also makes me think of the pushy kiss, given Jack’s rape of kayla it always kind of bothered me that he was a bit rough with some of the kisses!

      • Jack’s speech in the beginning is so perfect. He is knows something is wrong and keeps asking Jen to not walk away and give up. To trust him they way he trusted her. When she calls him a rapist every fear he ever had about himself (being a bad guy and not being able to change) and that Jen would eventually realize this and reject him comes out. There is a great scene after this when he brings her back to the loft and he yells at her that of course he is the same person. And that is Jack’s greatest fear that he is deep down a horrible person and that Jen would one day realize this. When Jen calls him a rapist and he says “it’s always been there”. It HAS always been there for him because he never forgave himself or understood how he could do something so horrible to Kayla. Wonderful acting by Matt Ashford and WOW Days writers really knew how to create layers in a flawed person
        and a good back story.

  2. Hey, MP, I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m happy to see a new post. And on a doozy of a scene too. Delicious! Yesterday, for some reason, I went to Youtube and watched Jack and Jennifer’s “first scene” when she goes to him wanting to write the story about the horse. My word, the goldmine is already so obvious in that scene, even though the show wasn’t quite thinking of going with it yet. It is quite a long time before the show even puts them in the same room together again. But I love that. I love the sort of organic nature of this romance. Suffice it to say, I didn’t stop with that scene, and Steve just roughed Jack up a little and made him go to Jo’s house for dinner. (It might be wrong how much I love it when Steve roughs Jack up a little.) My husband will be so annoyed with me for starting to watch this love story yet again. I made him watch with me last time though, and he was not an unwilling participant.🙂 But I digress. Watching Jack and Jennifer again made me think of your blog and how I hadn’t checked it out in awhile. Glad to have found something new here! As usual, I think you’re pretty well spot on.

    I love this scene, but the “You rapist!” line has always grated on me too, because I never quite believed it. I don’t know that they needed to do anything other than cut the line. I think Jack would have gone there without the actual word being spoken by Jennifer. As to Jennifer not telling him about Lawrence, of course we know the show didn’t want Jack to know yet. Not only does the show want to milk this situation for another set of big scenes when she does finally tell him, but if she told him now, he couldn’t get angry. And we love him getting angry. It is such gooey, dripping drama. I love angry Jack, and we see him so rarely once Jack comes to accept and take the blame and the shame for raping Kayla. It is right that we see him rarely, as Jack, because of what he did to Kayla, has a terror of his own rage and what he might be capable of doing, but when angry Jack does emerge, it is a thing of beauty. But I can see where you’re coming from, wanting to give Jennifer more of a reason not to tell him. Yet I buy it. A lot of rape victims have trouble telling people, and on top of that, I think Jennifer can’t believe Jack will ever be able to be physical with her again if he knows she is a victim of rape, as it might cause him to cast himself as rapist. (Speaking of which, I have always felt deprived that the show gave us so little of a love scene after Jack and Jennifer’s wedding. Not so much because I like love scenes—-I often don’t, but because their first time after the rape should have carried some drama.) Also, Jennifer doesn’t want to hurt Jack. Obviously, she hurts him pretty badly here (and this is all so harsh when she shouldn’t have to be worried about trying not to hurt him, as she is the one who was raped, yet it is the reality of the situation she is in). It would force him internalize what he did to Kayla on a deeper level. It would put him in the position of feeling rage at Lawrence that can only lead right back to rage at himself. We know when she finally tells him, he does have to take some time to go chop some wood and be yelled at by Frankie, but relatively quickly, he goes back to her and lets her know he is with her. However, he has by then been given a little time to work out what had already come to fore with the rape slap, and he’s also spent some time trying to give her up and realized that he can’t do it.

    As you and Andrea both point out, though it’s full of awesome, this whole story line is problematic in that Jennifer’s rape is often all about Jack. But there’s such good drama in it for Jack. I don’t blame the show for milking that for all it could. Perhaps more could have been given to Jennifer though. It is believable that Jack needed to get to a place where he could make it all about her, but maybe the show didn’t give us enough of him doing so when he got there. And I guess we could have gotten some more Jennifer-centric scenes all the way through. I also agree that some anger toward Jack on Jennifer’s part would have been justified. At one point she does yell at him, “Dammit, I’ve always been there for you!” But I think we could have been given more along those lines. Also, after digesting the truth, Jack maybe should have done some apologizing for making everything about him.

    Yeah, Andrea makes a good point. As much as I love it, the “No one is ever going to love you the way that I love you” scene is problematic in context. Maybe Jennifer’s still kinda in shock?

    Shoot, I do go on and on, but thanks for your thoughts, and I look forward to more!

    • Angie, thanks for stopping by! I know I have been terribly lax about posting here. But I will continue, sporadically, as I have time!

      I really like Jen’s line about “I’ve always been there for you,” and the edge in her tone there. I think that is exactly the type of thing we need more of.

      I agree with you about angry Jack. I like Jack best when he is more gray, and his humor has a bite to it rather than being silly. And I agree there is a sense, sometimes, that he cannot get angry, he must not get angry – because of his history. I just watched the scene where Jen finally tells him about the rape, and the wood chopping scene, this week. I think those scenes are great, and will post about them in due time.🙂

    • Angie, funny you mention the first time they make love after the rape which is their wedding night and it is never mentioned during that time. This always bothered me too. Prior to the wedding Jen states a few times that she wants to wait until they are married to make love again (and this gives Jack that Angsty vulnerable-ness when he thinks Jen will never marry him, but also shows him supporting Jennifer which I love!) . Then they get married, have a wedding night and it is NEVER mentioned. They did a similar thing with Kayla didn’t really address the emotion of the first time after the rape. It is like the writers played the emotion for all it was worth, the couples are were they should be and let’s forget that nasty rape thing……

  3. can’t wait for you post… I loved reading them and have been watching from the start all way through to wedding… The angst and love and romance and feels…love it… and this scene is amazing.. In one word everything crumbled, jacks self loathing and sense of worth gone.. It kinda takes them straight back to square one…him pushing her away because he is no good enough…. thanks for the great blog and great memories!!

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