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:
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.