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:
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:
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.