Brothers under the skin

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Jack tells Kayla

Filing charges against Lawrence is just the beginning.

Lawrence out on bail

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:

Jack out on bail

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.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Jo the first


13 thoughts on “Brothers under the skin

  1. Yes, indeed, MP, as usual, you nailed it. If we could only get Jack back with writers who get him like we do, eh? Sometimes during JnJ’s second run, I feel like banging my head against the wall. I guess not as much as I did during that third go round, but the writing for Jennifer (okay, and the wardrobe for Jack) was more the issue there. The prospect of Beth Milstein is rather exciting, but I guess Corday says Ashford isn’t coming back. How can he resist it though? Ashford’s available, and there is so much potential for Jack right now. Ah, well. Back to the subject at hand, is it wrong how much I love Jack when he’s being a jerk? I gotta say, Lawrence is good at being a jerk, but he’s no Jack. Also, the thing about Jack, unlike Lawrence, is that I feel for Jack too. I don’t want to be accused of trying to give Jack a pass, and the system let him off too easily, but I do at least sympathize with what drove Jack to force himself upon Kayla. Lawrence seems more a serial rapist type who gets off on it. Jack seems like a guy who never would have imagined he could do such a thing and never will again. I think of him talking to Kayla right afterward and him saying he never thought he would rape his wife. He already felt disgust with himself and the need for forgiveness, but of course, Kayla was in no way ready to offer him that, as she shouldn’t have been expected to be. Later he tried to bury that self disgust with denial and lashing out against Steve and Kayla, but it was always there. So sometimes Jack’s grand ability to be a jerk adds to his despicability, as in the above scene with Kayla, but that same wonderfully clever penchant to be a jerk is also part of what I love about Jack. He’s a bit of jerk, even when he’s not being evil. He’s a jerk to Emilio all the time. I miss how much the show drained him of his nature to be a bit of a jerk in later years. Anyway, I love how you juxtapose these scenes. Obviously, the writers were trying to draw parallels between Jack and Lawrence, but with scenes like this, I’m not sure if they even realized just how well they were managing it. (Wasn’t there one other time Jack lost it and got physical with Lawrence? I think it was when Lawrence made a reference to Steve.)

    Speaking of wardrobe, Jennifer and these awful jumper suit things! Oy. The outfit in this scene looks just like the one she was wearing when the ship wrecked, but that one was mercifully torn to shreds. Good thing Jennifer was able to find a new one. I got caught up on Abby/Chad (yum!), and I often like Abby’s clothes, but she’s also worn a few hideous numbers. It kinda warms my heart though, like mother like daughter.

    • Speaking of Jack being a jerk, I love how he is a jerk to Eve throughout their marriage. He never softens at all. When she outright asks him for support when she is being charged with Nick’s murder, he just says “That’s what you have Francois for.” Ha!

      Jennifer did love her jumpers. It seems to be a tradition to dress the ladies on our show really badly. I always thought Kayla got the worst outfits, so much so as to be endearing. Although she looks a lot better in 1991 than she did in 1988. I don’t know why they dress Abby is such drab colors. I think she would look so much better in bright ones. But no crazy patterns. I don’t know where they got some of the patterns they have on this show.

      I think we should offer our services as Jack-consultants on this show, when (yes, I say when!) they bring him back next time. I would also be happy to serve as story consultant for Steve and Kayla.🙂

      • I loved Jack and his Designated Shelley. The current Eve really seems nothing like her. I wish so much that DAYS would hire you, MP.

      • Aw.🙂 I don’t think I would be a good head writer – I don’t have that imagination for big dramatic events – but I would love to help with the execution of stories. Thinking about character motivation and the emotional beats that should play out.

        I like the new Eve, but I don’t think of her as the same character. I loved Charlotte Ross’s Eve. And she and Jack are such snarky fun! She made Frankie have a little more snap too.

  2. I love the express parallels they draw with Jack and Lawrence, especially with these scenes. You can’t tell me the writers didn’t make them so similar by accident. It was entirely intentional. And from Jack’s perspective, it’s so very rich. It’s not only him reliving the other side of his own rape story, it also – as you point out – gives him a very unique perspective. He knows how empty Lawrence’s threats really are and he knows that that Lawrence can absolutely lose, no matter how confident he seems.

    But, there’s another side to this that is more problematic for me (and I’m likely one of the only ones). The more they draw the express parallels between Jack and Lawrence, the more it makes Jennifer’s acceptance of Jack’s past awkward and a bit problematic. Because there isn’t THAT much difference between the Jack who threatened and taunted Kayla and what Lawrence does to Jen here. You can find nuances – namely in the way Jack played the immediate aftermath of the rape – but then you have to remember that Jack also pursued Steve and Kayla into the mountains, kidnapped Kayla, held her hostage using threats to Steve, and actually instructed his henchman to kill Steve. That’s not all that different from Lawrence’s actions in Alamainia.

    It just makes the contrast between Jen’s acknowledgment and acceptance of Jack’s past and her insistence that he changed is can be forgiven versus her insistence that Lawrence is beyond evil and committed a heinous and unforgivable act awkward. It leans too much towards making it feel like Jen views what Lawrence did as heinous and unforgivable only because it happened to HER. And I really don’t think the writers intended to make it seem that way. But this is the side they needed to fix. Even if they couldn’t come up with a good explanation, they just needed to have her acknowledge the similarities and the inherent awkwardness in it all. The Jack side of things is good enough that this isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw, but it’s a flaw nonetheless.

  3. Erica, that was always one of the problems of Jenn’s Rape story and using it as part of Jack’s redemption. They tried to draw parallel’s but still need to keep Jack the good guy and considering how mean he was after the rape in tormenting both Steve and Kayla it never really fully worked. They never explored Jennifer’s full acceptance of Jack as Kayla’s rapist. She just stated it was different, he had changed etc. Jack and Kayla kind of keep the awkwardness around, but Jenn always just kind of blindly accepted Jack’s past. Not sure if it was too deep for Missy Reeves to play or that the writers just could never get it quite right. Because let’s face it how do you play 2 rapists 1 good and 1 bad, when well Jack was so bad back in the day? AND the act of rape is so horrible. Now Jack’s action after the rape were motivated by his hurt for what Kayla had done. He did love Kayla and Steve and Kayla blatantly fooled around behind his back. From his point of view he was the victim. Once he raped Kayla it went from hurt to self loathing (because again Jack was never purely Evil in the way Lawrence was), that is the big redeeming thing for Jack he was both horrified by his actions and truly sorry for what he did. Lawrence never showed remorse and therefore always was the better “villain”

    Now I loved Jack, I loved both evil Jack who was never purely evil but oh some much fun to watch and I really loved redeemed Jack. Especially during this timeframe when he supports Jenn so much and he is so vulnerable. No-one could quite play the hurt vulnerable Jack like Matt Ashford could. As much as I wanted to see him kick Lawrence’ butt (ala Steve), I get why they keep Jack controlled and Matt Ashford does a great job just showing how Jack is fighting to stay in control. But I would have loved to have seen some great verbal insults and barbs from Jack to Lawrence. Jack was always smart and used his highly educated vocabulary wonderfully (someone mentioned a previous scene when he brought 3 dictionaries on the train trip). That is the Jack I wanted to see controlled anger with a great dose of smart witty insulting lines. He was always so polite to Lawrence during this time all “please leave” and “thank you” in later scenes. This is the only time I think he actually does lose control and hits Lawrence (at least that I remember)

    As Angie states Jack was fun to watch and later they made him too much of the comic relief and not enough of the fun “jerk” Jack that was so much a part of his character. He lost that along they way during the “redemption”

    • Don’t get me wrong, I get that Jack is different from Lawrence. I watched his storyline and know the issues that set everything in motion for the rape to occur. And while that works for the audience ultimately accepting Jack’s redemption, it still creates massive awkwardness for Jen’s perspective in this storyline. Because the it’s not just different because it happened to her, but because she didn’t do anything to Lawrence to hurt him first.

      My only point is that this issue creates a flaw in the storyline for me and it’s a flaw I have a hard time trying to reconcile with so many good things from the storyline. Part of the fun of MP’s blog is getting to go in depth on some of these things. I’m not looking for an answer because I don’t think there is one. Mostly I’m just musing about it.🙂

    • I think maybe we don’t see the verbal barbs at Lawrence because Jack isn’t pretending like he was with Steve and Kayla, and he just can’t find enough humor in the situation even for sarcastic barbs.

  4. I’ve said before that I wasn’t a great fan of the Jennifer rape storyline, but I just love watching Matt Ashford’s Jack trying to control himself. In whatever situation. There was a ton of passion and anger always bubbling under the surface of his Jack, and it was so enjoyable to watch. MA added so much to the character. Jack’s sarcastic wit. His bumbling clumsiness at times. His inability to express ANY kind of serious emotion. His cheapness (I loved that Jack was cheap). He brought out the best in Missy Reeves as well, and she has never had a scene partner before or since that brought out such good performances. Jack and Jennifer wre fun! There was angst, but also a ton of laugh out loud moments of the kind you don’t see too often on soaps.

    We were so blessed during the time that Matt, Missy, Stephen, Marybeth, Judy, Wally, Peter, Kristian, Patsy and Charles were all on together – just think of how good the acting was. How rich the storylines were. Wow.
    And now so many of them will be back together!

    I’m holding out hope that they ARE going to bring Jack back at some point. That perhaps there are a few surprises in the making for us during this 50th anniversary. Certainly there are no fans clamoring harder, and it’s a perfect time to do it. I wonder is there is any particular reason Corday says he won’t bring Jack back (other than the character being “dead”)? Surely they have to see it would be a great gift to the fans. I know they can’t just rely on nostalgia to pull them out of their ratings slump, but they need to do everything they can to bring viewers like us back, and then KEEP them.

    • I am just so relieved it’s finally here. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever.

      I think Corday’s comment about “dead dead dead” was more to reassure us this is not going to be another Melaswen with the murders this fall. It doesn’t mean they can’t bring back characters who have died.

      And he said in the exact same article that they could bring Jack back in the future!

      I agree that Missy really did her best work with him. He brings out something in her she doesn’t have with anyone else. And with their children front and center, and his brother and sister on the canvas, it just makes sense to bring him back.

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