Carly looks for direction (

As The Word Turns.

Thoughts on the week of November 9-13.

Now that a substantial portion of the recently featured cast (Audrey, Ralph) has vanished and Jack has launched into his “Never Surrender” story, I was expecting the show to feel more focused and fresh. However, something was askew and most of the week felt bland and restless.

The Redemption of Jack. Maybe the emotional lurching in his story has been intended to mirror Jack‘s mental state, but it didn’t quite feel that way. In fact, I’m less sure of what’s going on with him now than I was before. I know he’s exhausted and disoriented, and looks it, but sometimes I get the impression that he’s literally jogging from state to state as he searches for someone to fill Brad’s place, rather than undergoing some deep emotional shift. He went to Philadelphia, they even played the Springsteen song, briefly bumping into Ben before running off to track down Mike. They’re basically re-enacting the old story of the fallen knight looking for redemption. If this was the Middle Ages, Jack would have been a knight who had failed and then traveled through a plague ridden countryside full of monsters. They’ve just updated it so he comes across economic catastrophes rather than more overtly eschatological ones.

Jack’s not so excellent adventure. That all sounds interesting but something about how it’s playing out just doesn’t work. There’s no real emotional center to it. Jack just seems tired. Mike seems distracted and uncomfortable and there’s a lack of underlying depth or scope. Even when Jack told Mike about Brad’s death, all that happened was Mike basically saying, “Um too bad” in the newly acquired accent he’s been flirting with. Compounding the oddness, the week began with what was practically a vaudeville routine as Jack and Irving, the Ben Franklin impersonator, debated whether life was worth living or not and contemplated suicide. Jack saved him, which obviously had symbolic significance, though what it was is debatable. Jack rejected the idea that it was a way of redeeming himself, so what was it? Is this journey meant to be a symbolic attempt at catharsis for America in light of its economic woes?