Capable of cruelty

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Story problems

I am coming to really, really like Lawrence Alamain. He’s just so deliciously evil.

Lawrence taunts Jen

I wish that Jack had embraced his inner bad guy in this scene. Lawrence is acting very much how Jack did in his bad days — smooth, unruffled, and utterly ruthless. It would be so much fun to see that Jack go toe-to-toe with Lawrence. But, I think Matt Ashford decided to play a contrast between the two men. Because that’s really what these two scenes are about: how much do Lawrence and Jack have in common?

Lawrence has just discovered (seconds before the scene starts) that Jack was charged with marital rape, and Michael Sabatino plays an underlying glee in Lawrence’s manner throughout the scene with Jack. His mind is obviously busy with how he can use this information.

He quickly finds a way in the following scene, when he meets Jennifer to sign their divorce papers. Lawrence taunts her that now he knows why she has made these vile accusations, it’s a classic case of transference — she’s projected her boyfriend’s guilt onto him. Oh, and by the way, how could you fall in love with a man so capable of cruelty?

Bad guys are again, often the tellers of unhappy truths, and this does get to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? How is what Jack did different than Lawrence? Well — the answer is it isn’t. Jack is indeed capable of cruelty.  But, the crucial difference is that he regrets what he did, he’s apologized, he’s tried to make amends — the exact opposite of what Lawrence is doing right now.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Jack marries Eve


8 thoughts on “Capable of cruelty

  1. I guess this was after the rape slap but before Jen told talk that Lawrence raped her?

    I know they had to play Jack as changed and different from Lawrence but I really wanted Jack to tell Lawrence off or get angrier with him. I don’t recall I scene were he does that. He is always so “nice” to him, “how can I help you?” “what can I do for you” and in later scenes “please leave” etc. etc.

    I think once they made Jack the funny nice guy they took away a lot of his sarcastic charm that worked so well and he could have really given Lawrence a run, it would have been fun to watch.

    Lawrence is a great villain all charm, good looks and control.

    • Yes, this was after the rape slap and before Jack knew the truth. I too wish that Jack had shown more strength with Lawrence. A Steve Johnson style grab someone by the lapels moment would be great, but that’s not Jack’s style. 🙂 I just remember how menacing Jack could be and I want him to bring that out. I do think MA made a deliberate choice not to do that, though, and I can understand why.

  2. What’s even more interesting to me is that while they attempt to paint the contrast between Lawrence and Jack, the contrast only exists based on time. What I mean is that if you go back to this similar time frame with Jack and Kayla, Jack certainly wasn’t expressing regret or making amends. He was still taunting Kayla, trying to find ways to mess with her and Steve, and generally being only slightly less menacing and cruel than Lawrence is here. Lawrence and Jack aren’t so much separated by actions as by timing.

    And that brings the elephant into the room that the show never truly deals with. What Jack did, and how Jack acted for quite a long time afterwards, isn’t that different from Lawrence. That may not be who Jack is now, but it is who Jack was and Jennifer fell in love with him despite his past. The show never really addresses how she can reconcile her love for Jack with her hatred for Lawrence. The easy answer is that Lawrence raped her while Jack raped Kayla. That’s certainly understandable, but not particularly satisfying – particularly to a Kayla fan.

    • Well, I think you are overstating the case a little, though I share some of your frustration. 🙂 Jack did earn his redemption — we saw him come to feel bad about what he did to Kayla and then try to make amends, all the while knowing he could never truly make up for it. So it’s more than “time” separating what Jack did to what Lawrence did — it’s what Jack did during that time to try to apologize and help Kayla. And that doesn’t change who Jack was in the past, but it does make Jack different in the here and now.

      I agree, however, that the show doesn’t have a throughline for Jennifer where she deals with this issue, understanding the past more thoroughly but also maybe appreciating his change more thoroughly. It does come to be an elephant in the room during this storyline sometimes.

  3. I think I didn’t explain myself very well. I totally agree that Jack earned his redemption for all the reasons you say. What I meant is that this scene is only a few months after Lawrence raped Jennifer. If you go back to where Jack was a few months after he raped Kayla, he’s still “capable of cruelty.” His redemption hasn’t begun. He’s still taunting Kayla, somewhat similar to how Lawrence taunts Jen. He’s still trying to mess up things at the community center, etc. Thats what I meant about Lawrence and Jack being separated by time. Jack has had time to go down his redemptive path and become a much different person. Lawrence hasn’t had that “time” for lack of a better word. Now, I’m not saying Jack and Lawrence are the same or that Jack was ever as purely evil as Lawrence appears to be, but there was a time he was a lot closer.

    And what I find kind of fascinating is that Jack’s redemption is fully accepted (as it should be because it was earned), but Lawrence is fully condemned. I guess what I am trying to say is that it would have been interesting if Lawrence had pointed that out. That he would expect them to be more forgiving or accepting of such a crime. It would be a big overstatement, but one with a kernel of truth. Why is what Jack did forgivable and what he did unforgivable?

    On one hand the answer is simply that Jack accepted responsibility and tried to change, I get that. But on the other, it doesn’t seem nearly that easy to answer that question. And that is what really becomes the elephant in the room to me.

    Hopefully that makes a little more sense.

    • Oh, I get what you are saying now. When it comes to Jack’s past, Jennifer doesn’t seem to go further than “he’s changed.” And the question you raise (how can I forgive Jack but not Lawrence?) would be interesting to see Jennifer wrestle with. The question doesn’t even have to be answered fully, but to have her ask it would be very powerful. The few times she mentions it, she mentions it in the context of “but I never doubted we could work things out.” And maybe that’s true for the character, but that kind of raises its own issues.

      They seem to be setting up as far back as the bell tower scenes that in order to move forward with him, she needs to fully accept Jack’s past. And that doesn’t really happen, though they touch on it here and there. I like the scenes where they touch on it, because it makes me think of what the story could have been. Though sometimes as I am watching it, it makes me mad too, like “arrgh, why aren’t you doing this all the time?”

  4. agree with all. I always thought Jennifer just accepted Jack that he had changed (while he had, her comments to me sort of were on the surface…………”oh he is a better person, he’s changed” ). And in the beginning of their relationship I never saw her pull back or think “wait he is a rapist”, let me keep my distance. She always accepted that he had changed and was a better person then people thought. Even when Lawrence raped her never did I see her compare Jack and Lawrence (Jack did but never Jennifer) From my point of view the big reason she didn’t tell him of the rape in the beginning was not because she compared the 2 rapes (hers and Kayla’s) but because she was afraid how Jack would handle it and feel given his past. It would definitely have been interesting to have Jen at least question Jack’s moral character (redeemed or not) from a personal perspective of… that I know first hand how violent and traumatic this must have been for Kayla, how could Jack do such a horrible thing.

    Of course Jack was a different person and never purely evil, the way they portray Lawrence, but some of his actions certainly were.

  5. I think it’s the fact that Jennifer never seems to ask that question thirddp, that bugs the most. She never asks Jack “how could you do to Kayla what Lawrence did to me?” Or perhaps even more importantly, how can I love somebody who did to Kayla what Lawrence did to me?” I think Jack asks himself those questions, but Jen never seems to. And I can understand if there is no good answer to the question, but she still should have been asking them, if for no other reason than to make this journey more about her feelings than about Jack’s.

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