Am I hopped up on painkillers, or was Jennifer hitting rockbottom a pretty good episode, even in spite of most of the “story” having taken place offscreen?
Melissa Reeves definitely showed up to work, and there was something incredibly visceral about Jennifer’s simple need to make it to 6 a.m. without taking another pill. The use of Lucas and Julie added some real heft to the episode. (And I guess Doug was there, too, though he didn’t do much of substance.) This felt like a Horton family crisis, though Hope’s absence was glaring. I guess she has her own illogical love triangle and troubled, robotic daughter to deal with, but it’s still damn strange to me that she lived with Jennifer for weeks and hasn’t had anything to say about this apparently dire pill-popping.
But what really made it work was this.
It says a lot that the actor and character who was most necessary to shore up this whole thing was Matthew Ashford’s Jack. He remains Reeves’s best scene partner, and reflecting on her history with Jack and what the loss of him meant went a long way toward finally giving Jennifer’s overnight addiction some context. It definitely felt like a retro-fitted explanation — frankly, for the past few months, I don’t think the writers gave much thought to what was going on in Jennifer’s head or whether she was actually in pain or why she kept taking the pills — but it set a lot right for me.
And look at how young and handsome Jack was back in the day!
I thought Ashford looked better on Tuesday than he did during his last contract run, actually. He seems to have aged into his looks or something. It was just such a pleasure to have him onscreen, especially without any of the forced hijinks they’ve made Jack’s trademark during his last few returns. And how blessed are we that they went with Jack and not Daniel for this role?
Special shoutout to whichever writer had Jennifer finally remember that she was on the other side of this exact same situation with Carly not five years ago, and to whomever picked out that cute dress she wore to her first AA meeting. It even looked relatively comfortable and almost managed to banish my usual thought of “Don’t any of these people own sweatshirts?!” And all that dialogue about writing and the Spectator!
I’m not entirely sure where this goes next — I’m really burnt-out on watching recovering addicts struggle with their demons on this show — but this episode laid out a potentially interesting new path for Jennifer, as she navigates who she is at this new juncture in her life. Let’s see if they actually bother to put any of it onscreen.