Since I keep saying Jennifer’s rape storyline is flawed, and then posting all the best scenes from it, you might wonder what the heck I am talking about. So I thought I would devote this post to talking about some of my frustrations with this story.
Some of it is just tonal. The show jumps back and forth between comedy and angsty scenes like the ones I’ve posted, without always showing a throughline between the two. For Jack, it works. He’s such a buttoned up character I believe he could bury his pain about being called a rapist by Jennifer and act much as usual. But Jennifer is not like that, so for her to be agonizing about the rape in one scene and then exchanging witty banter with Jack in the next feels off.
But, I would say my main problem with the story is about the lost potential. Most of the lost potential is on Jennifer’s side of the equation, that has the effect of weighing the story toward Jack and making him the star of Jennifer’s rape story. It didn’t have to be this way. There are lots of interesting issues this story could raise for Jennifer.
This scene is a case in point. The premise is rife with meaty potential. Kayla and Jennifer talk about Jack! And rape! Wow!
But the writing just isn’t there. In fact, it’s so bad that I wonder what they were thinking. Keep in mind that this is the only scene where Kayla and Jen ever talk about rape. And this is all we get!
First of all, why would Kayla bring up the Crossfire segment (where Jack debated with another reporter whether a rapist could ever reform) at all? And given that she did, why would she bring it up and say it must have been hard on Jennifer? In what universe is that logical?
Then, Kayla goes on to say that she got over the rape when she realized she couldn’t shut people out, that she had to go back to work, go places, see people? What? She has no idea Jen was raped, so this “advice” on how to get over a rape is totally out of blue. (And, since I have watched Kayla’s rape storyline, this completely generic summary borders on the nonsensical. No way Kayla would sum it up this way.)
And I have to criticize Missy here. Clearly she had no idea how to play this scene. She is talking about rape, and Jack, to the person that Jack raped. She should be, at the very least, extremely uncomfortable. But instead she plays it with a smile. Nothing to see here, people!
I can believe these two wouldn’t necessarily have a heart to heart about this. (Though I think it could be a powerful scene if they tried.) But this gets to the heart of the lost potential of this storyline. The refusal on the part of the show to let Jen see Jack differently, to question whether she can be with him, to see more clearly the side of him that did this horrible thing. What Jen should be wondering about — not necessarily asking about outright, but wondering about — is not how Kayla got over a rape, but how she got over Jack raping her. Does she really think Jack has changed? How does Jennifer reconcile the Jack she knows now with what she knows he’s done?
Jack always accused Jennifer of being in denial about who he “really is,” not being able to accept all of him. And we saw that there was some truth to that. So this story should have afforded Jennifer a chance to have that denial cracked, back off for a bit, and then be able to come back to Jack and appreciate, perhaps more fully, how much he’s changed. And that’s just not what happens.
You can watch Jack’s segment on Crossfire here. Matt Ashford is amazing.