Jo the first

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: Brothers under the skin

Now that we finally got to meet Joe Johnson (16 year old version), let’s spend a little time with his namesake, shall we?

After Jo is arrested for killing Nick, she accepts a plea deal that allows her to serve her time at Bayview. Here, Jack and Jennifer come over to say goodbye to her:

Jo leaves for Bayview

First, the setup. Jack is at the Spectator in manic mode, babbling about everything he has to do to get Lawrence. I love how Jennifer banters and argues with him, gets him to admit (sort of) that he wants to help Jo, then points out quietly that the way to help her today is to go see her. And without saying anything, Jack acknowledges she’s right, by going with her.

Watching this scene, I realized something: that even if she had returned his feelings, Jack and Kayla would never have made a good match. She’s so direct and straightforward, and I think she would have been frustrated by his indirection, his tendency to talk around things. What can’t he just say what he means? Jennifer, in contrast, seems to be charmed by it, and is usually ready to join in. She understands that this is his way of saying what he means.

When they arrive, Jack tries to stall Jennifer so she doesn’t leave them alone, but she goes anyway. And Joy Garrett does so well showing Jo is scared and worried, but she’s putting on a smile for Jack. And then a lovely scene of Jack and Jo. I love that it’s important to Jack that she understands he isn’t going to forget Steve, that he’s still determined to do something about Lawrence. Jo isn’t so happy about that – she doesn’t want him risking his life too. I love the intensity that comes through when Jack says Lawrence is still walking around, alive, happy, while Steve is … it just isn’t right.

[I have to say it’s a bit surreal to watch this, where Jack is alive and Steve is dead, when now it’s the opposite. Soaps!]

Then, when Jo tells Jack that he sounds like Steve, that Steve would have been proud of him, Matt Ashford kills me with Jack’s reaction. He wants to believe that so much, and maybe he doesn’t quite — but it still means a lot to hear her say it. He’s so overwhelmed he has to change the subject, babbling about Bayview and the meatloaf.

When Jennifer and Neil come back in, and it’s time for Jo to go, I love how she starts tidying up to cover her nervousness and fear. Jennifer serves as a nice buffer for Jack in these final moments. It allows him to say he’ll “tag along” when Jennifer visits Jo, rather than him saying he’ll visit her himself. And when Jo hugs him and says she loves him, and he can’t say it back, Jo just smiles at him in response. She understands him perfectly in that moment.

We see just how perfectly when, on her way out, Jo looks at Jen and points at Jack, signalling her to go comfort him. When Jack berates himself for not being able to tell Jo he loves her, Jennifer says it’s all right, Jo knows. A mother knows.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Speechless

21 thoughts on “Jo the first

  1. Great observation on why Jennifer works with Jack and Kayla never could have. And, ah, the surrealism of soaps. Sometimes fun, sometimes irritating. What fascinating relationships DAYS created in the Johnson family. The Hortons and the Bradys certainly offer a lot to this show, but I will always love the Johnsons best.

  2. Jennifer’s outfits during this era were just the worst. Fashion notwithstanding, this is a lovely scene–thanks for choosing it in light of the return of Joey.

    Reflecting on this scene, I was reminded of how many times Days has tried to manufacture families. One character strikes a chord and all of a sudden, they have multiple siblings, absentee fathers, and long-lost uncles. Not many of those worked, in my opinion, but the Johnsons have really stood the test of time. I love the way the show took time to establish a different dynamic between each member of the family. Steve’s relationship with Jo was different from Jack’s, but they both worked.

    Now, if we could just get some Steve-Adrienne scenes this week!

    • Andrea, I hadn’t seen your comment when I started posting mine but I am glad to know someone else appreciated the differing dynamics between Jo and each of her children. i agree that the Johnson family was a big change for Days and a lot of Daytime really. People made a big deal about Days bringing on the Brady Family in the early 80s (I think Roman came to town in 81 and others soon followed.) I guess the Brady family is considered daytime’s first blue collar family. Obviously the Brady family was a great addition to the show as was the Johnson family 5-6 years later.

      • Even though there have been attempts (most recently, the Hernandezes), I can’t think of a fully successful family intro since the Johnsons. I like your comparison with the Bradys. Even though they were blue collar, I would say that the Johnsons were downright poor. I couldn’t agree more about your assessment of Joy Garrett. She was a fabulous actor, as were the rest of the actors who played the Johnsons.

    • Agree with both of you that the Johnsons were a great family and a great addition to the show. They kind of took a big risk, introducing them all so close together and putting them on the front burner, but it totally worked. I love too that they are a cohesive unit and we really saw their family dynamics play out over several years. I think the Brady unit of MBE, PR, PP, and DH was also really believable, and they did a good job using those dynamics in storylines.

      Let’s see how they do with the Hernandez family this fall. God knows we need fresh blood in Salem!

  3. I always enjoyed the Jo and Jack relationship and appreciated the fact that there was a connection there before Jack even knew he was Billy. I know at times it seemed her affection for Jack would be at Steve’s (or Kayla’s) expense during certain parts of the storylines but I appreciate the fact that Jo built unique connections and relationships with each of her 3 children. She didn’t treat them all the same and some would say she didn’t treat them equally but I prefer to just look at each relationship individually. Obviously the closeness and the affection she shared with Adrienne was different than what she had with either son because she raised Adrienne. I think she had an admiration, respect and trust of Steve that was different from the other two. But her feelings for Jack always seemed to be more about what he needed than what she needed. It just always felt like she was trying to give him something that he didn’t have…essentially it was love since he grew up in such a privileged upbringing and wanted for nothing I guess her love was all that really had to give him. Joy Garrett was an amazing actress and I don’t know I fully appreciated her performances until I re-watched the All in the Family playlist that Bradyclanfan put together.

    • I always loved that Jo was flawed, that she loved her children but made mistakes with them. I would get angry with her when her partiality for Jack hurt Steve and Kayla, because it did, but it felt very real. Jack was her baby, even more than Adrienne. Steve she treated like a partner almost, and a coparent of Jack, especially. Of course Steve kind of saw himself that way too, and it was probably the relationship he would most accept.

      Anyway, I too love the attention to detail of their family relationships, how each pair was different. The only neglected pair is Adrienne and Jack. I wish that had been explored more. They could have explored the Jack = Duke aspect with that relationship, considering Jack did to Kayla what Duke did to her.

  4. Oh, and my goodness, Jennifer used to be wonderful. I mean, Jack was always the main draw for me, but Jennifer was really a great character once.

  5. The writing for the Johnson family was real and honest. We had a lot of flawed people trying to do the best they could. I think they also stayed true to the characters and emotions throughout the years. What I liked about them was that their history wasn’t forgot through the years they were on together like so many other characters on soaps are. Kayla always showed that she was uncomfortable around Jack. Steve was always Adrienne’s hero. Steve’s abandonment by Jo was there eventhough he learned how to forgive her. Steve and Jack had a great dynamic too. We saw the layers of their emotions through their body language so the audience who had followed their sl continued to understand how their past continued to impact their current relationships. I hope I’m making sense. It sounded better in my head.

    • I know what you mean, and I think it sounds good on paper too. Or the screen.πŸ™‚

      I think the Johnsons benefit from being introduced when the writing was good and getting out, most of them, before it got bad. So the family didn’t disintegrate into nothingness with too many WTD stories and writing that ignored their history! Like I said above, the Bradys were a great unit for awhile, and they did the Bo is Victor’s son story and the Shayla story, that both used their family dynamics in interesting ways. But later you had too much switched parentage and too many long lost kids, and the Bradys lost their cohesion.

  6. I wonder if they are just waiting to bring back Jack next year some time. Maybe there’s just so much going on storywise they couldn’t fit him in. I really MISS him and Jennifer is not the same without him.

    I’m wondering when Steve and Adrienne are going to meet up. I can see her giving him one of her hugs. πŸ˜ƒ I think it’s funny and endearing how she does that. I think it threw Steve off a little back then. Lol. He has been on 3 days this week..I’m already spoiled and hope he is on tomorrow and the next day and the next day. πŸ˜€

    • That’s what I am hoping too, that Jack will be back next year. There is going to be crowded canvas for the fall! I think Jennifer needs him back too, but we need a different kind of storyline this time – Jennifer should be trying to win HIM back. Was it Andrea who suggested he come back thinking he’s Billy Johnson? That would be so cool!

      And I agree, Steve and Kayla could be on every day and I wouldn’t complain. Other people might, though.πŸ™‚

      • I would assume it was Angie who had the idea to bring Jack back as Billy but then again she would do just about anything to get him back.

      • That would be meπŸ™‚. I’ll take a bow. Hee. I was on vacation when you posted this so couldn’t claim my brilliance LOL! I would LOVE that. Not only because it would make Jen have to fight for Jack, but the idea of Matt playing a more Steve-like character just tickles my funny-bone. I think Jack WILL be back. The story needs to be STRONG this time. Got knows maybe Stefano has him stashed somewhere and will pull him out as a carrot on a stick in order to get the land he wants from Abby. Maybe Jack is living as Billy Johnson on that island, and that’s why Stefano doesn’t want Abby to have it. Could have nothing to do with money at all!

      • Ah, mystery solved! Kudos, Denise! This idea has lodged itself in my brain, and I really want it to happen!

        I am hopeful that we’ll see Jack back in 2016, and I love your idea about the land in Ireland being connected to Stefano having Jack stashed there somehow. I hope that the land in Ireland has some other special purpose, but I’m willing to go with it as just a kind of MacGuffin that everyone wants. Like the bonds for Stockholm.πŸ™‚

  7. Ha, Shea! I would indeed. I’d take him back reincarnated as a space alien, as long as he was still played by Matt Ashford, but I can’t take the credit for the Billy Johnson idea. Wish I could.

    I agree, MP. I don’t know why the show is so unwilling to let Jennifer have to fight for Jack again. I mean, that really was the winning formula with them. But the show doesn’t even seem willing to acknowledge that she’s ever wronged him at all. Though, in fairness, I’m not sure Jack has ever thought she wronged him either. I could totally see him saying he can’t make her happy and being unwilling to go there again though. However, if in Jack’s eyes Jennifer were to fall off the pedestal upon which he has always placed her (and it’s hard to blame him for putting her up there—she was probably the biggest reason he ever decided he should be allowed any happiness), I think it could be really good stuff.

  8. Wouldn’t you love a scene with Jo ( I wish it could be Joy) and Steve now regarding how to handle Joey’s reaction and rejection of Steve’s abandonment of him. The whole idea of trying to convince someone you have always loved you even though you left them for what you thought was a good reason is great angst. It would be excellent writing to address this generational pattern currently.

    • I’ll settle for a scene with Adrienne where she is reminding Steve of how hard it was for him to forgive their Momma when she came back into his life. I can’t believe Steve has been on 4 shows (5 if you count the 30 seconds we got last Friday) and he hasn’t had a scene with Adrienne yet.

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