Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Many Loves of Jason Quartermaine

Although I think I began to watch General Hopital long before Jason, Robin and Karen reached high school, the young love triangle is my first real memory of the show. I liked Karen - she was a somewhat-curvy redhead and I was going through early puberty as a chunky redhead. So, I found a little comfort in watching her as the love that good guy Jason sought. Robin was annoying to me (kudos to the actress for maintaining character traits for such a long period) but she played her part as the lovesick little girl very well. Then there was Jagger. Jagger with his black leather coat. Jagger with his motorcycle. Jagger with his charming smile. Jagger who helped women in crisis. Jagger.

To say that I had a MAJOR crush on Jagger would be akin to pretending I didn't wear a New Kids on the Block t-shirt. Some things are just bald-faced lies. As soon as Jagger entered the scene, I saw no other man for Karen (or myself). I was a Jagger-Karen fan and as Karen revealed her sexual abuse and went through soap self-destruct mode - it was Jagger that I wanted at her side.

And that made me sad for Jason. Jason was always so good and dependable. He was the responsible peace-maker in his wacky home. He was pitted against his brother (through no fault nor desire of his own) and felt guilty about AJ's self-destruct. Jason was honorable. He let go of Karen when he saw where her heart found home and he never held her responsible. I loved Jason - the good, decent, kind, loyal person as he was written.

I cried the day of the accident. In those days, soap reports were vague and there were no Internet spoilers. I was sure that Jason would be a tragic figure in GH. I couldn't imagine that Jason would be taken from us by AJ - AJ who was the victim of his parent's limitations. I wanted redemption for AJ (and did until the day of his death), not another reason for him to be belittled in a verbally abusive home. But there was Jason lying with "permanent brain damage" and I knew enough of soaps to be sure the outcome would be unusual at least.

Jason woke up, eventually, but with a radically changed personality. Jason woke up and wanted black leather coats, dangerous women, motorcycles, and to rescue women in distress. Jason wanted to be Jagger. When his mind got fritzed and he could choose who he would be - he chose Jagger. And there was only one reason I could see: Jagger had won a women whom Jason had loved completely. I realized at that moment that if Jason were a real person, I would have had to acknowledge the toll that Karen's preference for Jagger had exacted of Jason.

I can make no claims that the writers thought this through but it's been a defining lens through which I view Jason. My original compassion for him has only grown through the years. Jason seems never content with the options he has. Just like Jagger, Jason doesn't want the hot and available women who toss themselves at dangerous men though he falls in love with them whenever they need his rescue (see Carly & Sam). Like Jagger, he has no use for the overtly moral and grounded Robin. But despite the fact that Jason has truly embodied Jagger (and I refuse to accept Jagger as reinvented on Port Charles - publicity stunts are not characters) and yet failed to get his version of Karen.

I suppose I should mention who Karen was (this is some of the worst writing I've ever done but I have 10 minutes and I'm not going to postpone again). Karen was smart but weak. She was a little bit spineless yet lovely. She self-destructed after she revealed sexual assault. She lived at Kelley's for a time and she loved a good motorcycle ride. She was beloved by the Quartermaines, especially Lilah, and she was soft-spoken and struggled to reveal her emotions. Not the classic heroine and not a beloved set of qualities, though a character we saw resurrect - in Elizabeth.

Yes, we've arrived. On the eve of what will likely be (I am choosing to be unspoiled because it will ruin Friday's loveliness for me) the end of Liason (again) due to ongoing violence and Sonny's current "I get to leave the mob but nobody else can" storyline, I am going to write the reason I will always believe that Elizabeth is Jason's true love. Even if I never see them on-screen again in a romantic sense (and the past 2 years were quite lovely - thank you, TPB, though I wish I had seen them truly live this whole story), I will always believe that Elizabeth is the woman Jason wanted as Jason Quartermaine and as Jagger 1 (aka Jason Morgan). It's all about Karen.

In order for Jason to have a "true love" that woman would have to be equally appealing to the internal person that was Jason Quartermaine and the external skin personality of Jason Morgan. Because no amount of brain damage can truly change every aspect of personality. Jason Quartermaine influences Jason Morgan. And when Jason got to choose who to be - well, he chose to be Karen's true love reincarnated. So, only a reincarnation of Karen would meet the need.

Elizabeth was so like Karen. She kinda bumbled through her life. She was best friends with Emily Quartermained (aha, the Quartermaine connection) but never could define herself. She has strength - but mostly she is weak. She lived at Kelley's and she loved motorcycles. She had an innocence that never seemed to fit her lifestyle. She felt out of place, unloved, and victimized - something that also defined Karen as she struggled to choose between Jagger & Jason.

When Elizabeth was raped just as Jason went through the loss of Michael, I wondered if the writers were purposefully revisiting Karen & Jagger. It was a good storyline - and that's likely the only reason they chose the replay. But I found the similarities between Jagger & Karen to be so obvious. The chemistry was good between the characters - they relax with each other and I often find them at their most interesting when paired - it's as though new life shows up for each one. They were happy together, but neither could really give up the outer piece of themselves - Liz is plagued by a need to be properly accepted by society and Jason is thwarted by his need to be properly rejected by society. It's a good old-fashioned love story - and it would fade if I hadn't noticed the Jagger & Jason connection. It just seems to me that Elizabeth is the only woman Jason has ever met who would have been loved by Jason Quartermaine (remember that JQ found Robin a wee bit annoying) and Jason Morgan.

I see the possibility of both people teaching the other one so much about life. To me, that is rich storytelling. I long for them to plant their feet on the ground and refuse to give up. I want to see Monica's line to Elizabeth (You remind me so much of Emily.) to be portentous. Elizabeth, as the chain between Jason Quartermaine and Jason Morgan, could also be the Lilah/Emily figure now missing from the Quartermaine melee...and she could help Jason to be a full person while breathing new life into the family. It would be a redemption for both Jason and Liz, though, because Liz needs to finally take a stand in her life. The Karen in her needs to choose Jagger. I saw her do that on Friday - but can it last? I don't know. I've been watching for 15 years to see what I saw on Friday....and I have no idea if it will continue. I wish it would. Stories of redemption wtih this much context are such a rarity in TV these days. And the ability to unite and ignite history - infusing a sense of tradition and longevity into the show - could change soaps from a dying brand to the place to go for grand, far-reaching a time when many people feel that love is a lost concept.

So, that's my take on Jason. I hate where he may be on Monday (at the head of the mob, I assume) - I want Friday and all its promise of a new forward-moving storyline that incorporates growth, renewal, and reconnection with the Quartermaines.


Lola and Ava said...

Jason/Liz have always been one of my favorite couples since I find them to be a nice balance. Ever since the first lucky left, I've never bought her with the other two. Probably the same can be said of the Carlys. One of the reasons that I stopped watching was the constant couple-switcheroo. Maybe this summer, I'll give it a whirl again.

Ironically, my sister and blog parter, has met Steve Burton and says he was kind of a tool. Sigh.


Ashlin said...

Sigh.....why can't Jason & Liz be together finally! Ugh....violence.
I must admit I enjoyed the Johnny & Lulu moments the last 2 days.

Nancy said...

I won't spoil you but I will say have faith from what I'm reading it may all be ok sooner rather than later.

Great post by the way. You made great points. I wasn't a Karen fan but I totally get the parallels.

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