Filing charges against Lawrence is just the beginning.
Lawrence is arrested, he posts bail, and then shows up at the loft to threaten Jennifer. Michael Sabatino is so good here. He shows the arrest has shaken Lawrence, that he is close to being out of control. He comes in and taunts Jen about all the weaknesses of her case, and why she won’t be believed (which is unfortunately all too realistic). But Jennifer, though he does get to her, maintains her strength and doesn’t back down.
Then, with Jack, Lawrence lets him have it with both barrels. He sneers about how much they have in common. Jack, too, was accused of rape, wasn’t he? But, he says, it wasn’t rape. He crowds into Jack’s personal space, saying women like Kayla and Jennifer, they knew what they wanted and they got it.
And then we see what we see so rarely: Jack snaps and lashes out, physically, at Lawrence, pushing him away and bloodying his nose in the process.
Let’s pause here for a minute. Let’s take a look at another Jack, another time:
The parallels are striking, aren’t they? Jack comes over immediately after getting out on bail, just like Lawrence did. He tells Kayla that no one will believe her. He taunts her and threatens her – just like Lawrence. Both scenes even take place at the loft.
Steve arrives in the middle of this — just as Jack interrupts Lawrence taunting Jennifer. This is where the scenes differ. Steve is physical — he attacks Jack and punches him, then grabs him by the lapels and threatens him. (This, by the way, is the key scene where the scales fall from Steve’s eyes at last, when he finally sees Jack without the protective halo of “baby Billy.” A major turning point for Steve, for Kayla, and also for Jack.)
And as much as I might appreciate seeing the same thing here, Jack punching Lawrence’s lights out, that isn’t Jack. In fact, as Jack tells Jennifer afterwards, he made a mistake with Lawrence when he lashed out at him. He let him get to him, and he can’t do that. He can’t lose control. We see how very important this is to Jack. This is how he can prove he’s not like Lawrence anymore — by maintaining control, by not lashing out.
Lawrence taunted him that he and Jack are the same. There is some truth to it, as Jack knows all too well. That underlies this whole scene — when Jennifer says she can’t understand how someone can be arrested and be out on the streets (or at the loft) five minutes later. Jack understands, because he did the same thing. When Jack says “you know that’s why Lawrence came by” — to get to them, to stir up trouble — he knows because that’s why he came by, back then. But, his understanding of Lawrence also underlies his quiet reassurance to Jennifer that Lawrence isn’t a “force of nature,” as she puts it. He’s a man. He can bleed, he can lose.
When he acted like Lawrence is now, he may have appeared powerful and threatening. But Jack knows it came from a place of jealousy, weakness, and fear. He could bleed, he could lose. And he did — eventually.