What if I told you I was raped?

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Jack marries Eve

I’m not going to talk much about the train storyline for Jack and Jennifer. It wasn’t too bad, a lot of fun in spots, but it’s really mostly plot. Instead, I’m going to jump right to this:

Jennifer tells Jack

I’m glad that it is Jennifer who tells Jack the truth, rather than him finding out some other way. And it’s appropriate that she tries to recreate the island setting before telling him, because we’ve seen over and over again that that is where she felt the fewest barriers between them, where their relationship was strongest. By setting up this island atmosphere, she is asking Jack to be his best self.

And when she finally blurts out the truth, I like the way Matt Ashford says the line “it was Lawrence, wasn’t it?” It shows how everything is falling into place for Jack. What she’s been keeping from him, why she’s been pulling away from him, why she called him a rapist. And Jennifer desperately grabbing onto that straw — “see, I was talking about Lawrence!” –- it’s simplistic, but it captures her wishful thinking, that now that Jack knows, it won’t bother him anymore. But of course he makes the connection: that he and Lawrence did the same thing. And then he just has to get out of there.

I wish they hadn’t given Jennifer the line “It’s not the same thing, because I don’t feel that way about you.” Because, of course, it is the same thing. In general, I find Jennifer’s side of this conversation a little underwritten. For one thing, I wish she got mad at Jack for running away. Frankie comes in and voices that anger, but I think it should come from her. I think she should be thinking of her own pain, not Jack’s. I would like to see Jack have to work a little harder to earn back her trust, even to get to the point where she lets him try to help her.

But, Jack’s wood chopping is pretty awesome. It reminds me of Steve, the way we would see him working out his frustrations (about Jack, usually) on the punching bag at the community center.

Then it gets even better:

Jennifer tells Jack, part 2

Words cannot express how much I love this. I love how it starts with Jack walking in on Frankie and Jennifer hugging. We see his jealousy, and his guilt that he’s not the one offering that comfort. Then, as he listens to Jen’s story, Matt Ashford is just so incredible in his reactions. When he remembers he was supposed to meet her in Lawrence’s room, it’s like he’s been stabbed.

Most of all, I love the moment when Jack tells her it wasn’t her fault, and he says he knows what what it’s like to be that angry, and how he is obviously reliving it as he speaks. It shows how the rape is still with him, how it will always be with him.

What also comes through here is how Jack slips back into his self-hating ways, and how that’s a retreat. I get the sense that it is easier for him to wrap himself in his self-loathing than step up and be there for her. Even as he is apologizing to her for thinking only of himself, he actually is still doing that — thinking how bad he is, true, how unworthy he is to help her, but still — of himself.

It’s not until the next day that he is able to think of her and what she might need, and even then he does it indirectly. But indirectly is now they communicate, so this is a really lovely moment:

The introduction of the famous jade plant. I love the meaningful use of a good prop, and the jade plant is a great example. I like how it’s clear Jack is not saying their problems are fixed — he’s just pledging to try. It gives them a place to start from.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: How far would you go?




10 thoughts on “What if I told you I was raped?

  1. OMG – I just typed up some really long comments (so much good stuff) and them lost my page and they were lost!

    I am going to bed so I will re type when I have time, just wanted to let you know I was still watching.
    I do have a question what do you thing Jack means at the 10:47 time when he says to Frankie “this is how people get hurt”?

    Is it that he feels he has hurt Jennifer or that he wants Frankie to leave him alone or he will get hurt.

    Another thing that always bothered me during this story is that Jack feels totally responsible, even when he says “I apologize for getting you involved with Lawrence” ——-Jack tried to keep her out of the “missing heiress” story and kept warning her that it was dangerous, I kind of hated that he took all the blame. Of course what was he going to say “I told you so”, of course not but once I wish Jenn would admit that Jack tried over and over again to protect her and keep her safe.

    • Oh, so sorry about your comment disappearing! I hate that. If you can, please try to retype – would love to hear more of your thoughts.

      I remember that line — during the woodchopping scene, right? I took it as him telling Frankie not to interfere. There might be a flavor of “I hurt everyone around me” to it too.

      I know what you mean about Jack taking so much blame on himself when he actually warned Jennifer repeatedly that this caper of hers was dangerous. I agree that it would be nice to bring that out somehow. I’ve thought before that this is an aspect that Jennifer could be thinking about, how she just rushed in despite everyone’s warnings and assumed that she would be fine. Just showing her growing up a little, realizing that sometimes things really are dangerous. There’s a line in a later scene that I love, which I’ll post about soon, where she refers to herself ruefully as “Pollyanna,” and I think that would be great if it were developed more.

  2. May take me a while to reply in full because I am away on vacation and trying to unplug, but I will get to it as this is one good scene! I love how Jack is spot on with what Jenn if feeling, how she made the “island” so SHE could feel safe and how he goads her to tell him what happened and thinks he can “handle anything”.

    The chopping wood, I actually have mixed feelings about. To me it is an “un-Jack” thing to do (as you mention it is more Steve). But I don’t know how else they could have expressed Jack’s pure devastation at the news.

    Love Matt Ashford during these scenes when he blames himself and his quiet devastation is so clear. The fact that he can relate to Lawrence’s actions and how he makes the connection of how can Jenn be with me when she knows what I have done? is just perfect. The show never could fully reconcile this and never really explored this side of the story, just concentrated on how Jenn loved Jack, period. Although when he describes what it is like to “want someone” and to “hurt them so bad”, to me shows how different he is from Lawrence, yes the violent act was the same but his reasons to me are different. Jack’s rape of Kayla was based on hurt and betrayal and Lawrence’s was just well evil and more in character as the villian

    I love when he apologizes to her and just totally gets why Jenn got involved with Lawrence because she was so mad at him. Shows such good insight on his part to what motivates her. (although I still wish she would take some of the blame)

    I actually watched the scenes you don’t have posted and especially the one when he goes back in the morning has some good lines on Jack’s part. Worth watching the scene right before the Jade Plant.

    And I always loved the Jade Plant prop even if they overused it at times.


    • I love too how Jack catches on so quickly that the island is there for HER to feel safe.

      The writers at this time (1991) were mighty fond on props. In the Shayla story we’ve got a music box and an emerald ring that they definitely use a lot too. I like the good use of a prop but it can definitely be overdone.

      I agree that there is a difference between Lawrence and Jack in their motivations for rape. Jack’s was perfectly set up in my opinion, how he had waited and been patient for months and months, and then the shock of the pictures of Steve and Kayla together. It doesn’t justify him, of course, but it makes it human and believable. Lawrence’s they didn’t do as well because they tried to set up a little human motivation by having him thinking of Carly. There’s a moment when he seems almost delusional, thinking Jen is Carly. I think they might have been thinking even then they would want to redeem him later, and that’s why they did that. But, it didn’t really work, I don’t think.

      I like the conversation the next morning from Jack’s side (love his “pro” and “con” lists), but I kind of hate what they did for Jen’s side. They have her say, contrary to what we’ve seen on screen, that actually Jack has been helping her for months and months to get over the rape. WTF? And they also have her say that actually she’s realized she has to accept all of him, the good and the bad. I like it on one hand because it kind of acknowledges the elephant in the room, but it’s enraging too because that’s not what we saw her do at all. Plus it’s very glib.

      Enjoy your vacation! 🙂

      • Yes Lawrence’s action were somewhat out of character since he was always so controlled and he knew jenn was not Carly, even knew about jack and never show anger towards jenn, threats and intimidation yes but never physical harm. I see it as a way to develop the jack angle. I doubt mind it as it was a great dramatic arch and gave us such good angst for our J&J!

        I have the same reaction to Jenna comments the next day. She says the only thing that helped her get over it was thinking that she could be with jack? Huh? That was never hinted at or implied In Jenna actions, in fact her actions pushed him away did nothing but confuse him and put a wedge in there relationship. I really liked Jack during this entire storyline from alamania all the way thru the rape trial. He is really both supportive and insightful of jenn and realistic where jenn tends to state romantic notions jack always doubts them.

        the pro and con I like also and I really like how jack blatantly says “I raped someone you were raped” they always used euphemism to say what he did (hurt lost control, something terrible etc). But Jack just puts it out there, it is kind of a relief to hear him say it.

  3. You know, it occurs to me that if the show had been really brave, they would have actually explored those differences between Jack and Lawrence. It’s a very fine line to walk because it’s difficult to discuss where Jack was at emotionally without it seeming to justify what he did. And maybe the writers felt that they couldn’t walk that line – although I think MA could have pulled it off. But it would have been an awesome way to really talk about the elephant in the room – how can Jen be in love with a man who did to Kayla what Lawrence did to her?

    I’m not sure who the person to talk about the differences would have been though. The most logical is Jack, but I don’t think he’d see it that way in the midst of his own self-loathing. Having Kayla do it in any way would be insulting, pandering, and awful. Maybe Melissa? I mean, she was involved with Jack after Kayla’s rape allegations so she might actually have some understanding of Jen’s conflict. Maybe she could explain that she didn’t reject Jack at that time because she’d seen everything that had happened – the fact that Kayla was still in love with Steve, the way Kayla rejected Jack, etc. And though she was horrified by what he had done (because he does actually confess it to her right after it happens), she could see that it was driven by his hurt and anger and betrayal although it didn’t mean that Jack shouldn’t have paid for what he did. And she knows none of that applies to Lawrence. What Lawrence did wasn’t driven by anything other than a desire for violence and control. And nothing Lawrence has done since has demonstrated that it wasn’t just another part of his sadistic personality.

    I don’t know, even writing it out I see the difficulties. And maybe it would have been worse to try than to just offer that single line and let it go. But I do think I would have liked to see them try, or have Jen openly admit that she can’t explain it, that logically it doesn’t make any sense. But she loves the man he is now and she won’t let go of that.

    There is a lot of good in this storyline, some of which I had completely forgotten. But that big elephant in the room casts a large shadow at times.

  4. Erica,

    Good comments who would really examine the differance between the two? Rape is rape right? Well not on soap opera life! Even in some of my comments I feel like I almost defend jack because he was so hurt and betrayed and blame kayla which if course I don’t mean to do. Plus there is A lot of time in between these stories and it helps take the edge off of Kayla’s rape. If they had tried this earlier it never would have worked (and that shows some great talented writers they they could even pull off not only a “nice” jack but a super couple jack you love and root for). and a lot of work on the part of the writers to redeem him.

    Good soapy fun!

  5. I don’t think the writers ever figured out the right tone for these two, post-rape. I think this storyline reached its apex during the rape slap and I am not sure how they go from that and it’s pretty ugly aftermath to this train story.

    The physical comedy and fun banter that opens this scene is what made most of us fall in love with the couple of Jack and Jennifer, but I don’t think the show earned that back. Like you and the other commenters have so eloquently stated, they never really show Jennifer’s point of view in this storyline.and that they don’t really explore the differences between Jack and Lawrence. At this point in the story,mite not enough to remind us that these two people are fun together.

    Ultimately, I think the show screwed up by having Jennifer raped. In some ways, it let the, off the hook from having Jack and Jennifer really work through what it meant for him to rape Kayla. Instead, they created this kind of shorthand whereby Jennifer could only really understand if she went through it herself. And in that, she loses some of the spunk and courage that was so important to her character and to creating balance in the couple.

    In some of your earlier posts in Jack and Jennifer, you say that you don’t think that the writers ever intended for these two to become a couple, but the chemistry really propelled them forward. I wonder how much that contributed to some of the clunkiness that happened later during this storyline.

    All that said, Matthew Ashford’s acting in this scene is pretty phenomenal. And I think they create real dramatic tension with him coming and going, which is totally in line with his character.

    I really grew to loathe thar jade plant.

  6. Apologies for the grammatical errors above–the hazards of typing on an iPad.

    One other comment–I think that this is the last time that we really see Jack’s volatility, which I always thought was a really interesting undercurrent in their relarionship. He could be scary and forceful, even when it wasn’t his intention.

  7. Hee! I haven’t gotten sick of the jade plant yet, but I can tell that these writers reeeeeally love their props!

    There are just a couple of times that I know of that we get to see Jack be volatile again, coming up — once with Lawrence and once with Jo, when he finds out she kills Nick. But I do think this is the last time with Jen. I love dark Jack, and that’s part of why I don’t know if I would give up this storyline, for all its flaws. But there have definitely been times, watching it, when I wish they hadn’t done it – mostly to do with this issue, of how Jennifer sees Jack. (The other issue I have is the same one you mention, the way the show veers between the fun comedy and the dark angst. That did work in the past for them, but not in this story.)

    I like your word “shorthand” to describe the show’s approach to Jennifer’s point of view here. I think they told this story with one hand tied behind their backs – they wanted the yummy angst for Jack, making him doubt himself and hate himself, but they were too chickenshit to explore how it might change how Jennifer felt about him. And that just ends up creating all kinds of problems, large and small. They have to contrive a situation to get Jennifer to slap him and call him a rapist, without having her actually think of him as a rapist. They give Jennifer lines that seem to excuse Jack’s rape of Kayla — “it’s not the same.” They even give up the chance to have her get angry at him for his reaction when he does find out, and instead she seems happy to applaud his every move. Jack really does step up in a big way going forward, but it doesn’t happen without its fits and starts, and I think they could have had Jennifer be more angry about that.

    But there is a great scene coming up that actually shows Jen’s point of view in a really interesting way – it doesn’t make up for the mistakes, but it is really fantastic.

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