Season Two: Exploring BRITROCK
OVERVIEW... Britrock website copyright EA Woolley
There are very few Jem episodes set within my native country, and of the three that spring to mind, only this one has any real semblence of sanity anywhere involved in it. Suffice it to say that the writers of episodes such as "Renaissance Woman" had such a feeble grasp on British history and culture as to make the whole thing unbelievable - but here, in Britrock, the setting could actually be England. Since this episode gave this website its name, I will endeavour to do the episode full justice.
This story has two main feeds, and a third underlying story. It is another story where the Holograms are inadvertantly there to upset the Misfits' plans, rather than the other way around, since there is no active attempt by any Misfit in this episode to challenge Jem or the Holograms' activities. It is a tale of Jetta and pride, of Stormer and family loyalty, and over it all, a tale of greed. The main theme that ties all of these together, however, is to do with family.
Jetta is a very secretive character from the moment that she steps onto the Jem screen. She only appears in maybe twenty episodes, compared to the number that the other characters appear in, and as a result far less is ever known about her. However, this episode is one of the most telling for her, being that, instead of keeping her in the shadows, it brings her forward into the limelight as the story's principal character.
I have discussed Jetta's mismatched background location at length in her character profile, so I will not dwell on it further here. Suffice it to say that the stories that link her with the royals of England are all fantasy, and she is really the daughter of two no good working class layabouts - Bertie and Flo Burns - whose main hobbies, it seems, are making money on the horses and lounging about their house. Jetta might have two parents, but from the off it's fairly clear that there is little or no family love between parents and child. Money-hungry as the pair are, it takes the lure of gold plus the added threat of Jetta returning to live with them to induce them into taking her up on her wild scheme. Equally, at various points during the show you see no evidence of any real family bond - Jetta's overdone greeting is as false as it is dramatic, and once mother, father and daughter are in private, the feeling between them changes. Bertie and Flo are conartists and greedy for quick money, but Jetta is clearly the brains of the family, for they look to her for a lead in the scheme. Nonetheless the devious gene is genetic, since it is down to Bertie and Flo's conniving that the Burns family secure not only a large estate but a posh car at short notice.
The most obvious thing, though, that indicates how thin family loyalty runs within the Burns family is at the end, when fingers are being pointed and Bertie has no qualms about blaming Jetta for what has gone wrong. Unlike Roxy and her crowd back home, Jetta has nobody to fall back on or rely on back in England when the going gets tough. In short, it is very unsurprising that she goes to such lengths to become a new person when entering in the American rock scene.
I have often cited Jetta's pride as being the root of her downfall and her principal sin, rather than compulsive dishonesty. Jetta is not a compulsive liar - not by a long shot. She knows the stakes she is playing for and is well aware that the consequences of her bragging could get her kicked out of the Misfits. It's interesting, therefore, that she goes to such lengths to protect her facade - not because she wants to steal Pizzazz's money, as so many people have claimed before - but because she wants to keep her stake within the Misfits. America and the band is everything that she has now - this is made plainly obvious by the lack of relationship with her hopeless parents. Therefore it is of paramount importance that, on a trip to England, she protect herself wholesale.
Roxy is another big problem in the issue of Jetta's pride. It's Roxy's goading which often brings about Jetta's bragging, and Jetta is a competitive soul, as well as a clever one. She knows that Roxy has the advantage of having been a Misfit since the start, and she needs something to make herself stand out - to make herself important in the hierarchy. Britrock is the culmination of many episodes of this back and forth banter, with Jetta's lies getting more and more unrealistic as time goes on, yet the other Misfits' blank ignorance also helps her to develop them without suspicion. (At the start of the episode Jetta mentions playing darts with the Queen Mother and Pizzazz immediately assumes this means the Queen, even though the Queen and the late Queen Mother are/were two entirely seperate people).
The prime motivation in this episode for Jetta is to keep one pace ahead of Roxy, and keep in with Pizzazz. She has gained admiration and attention through her facade so far and she has no idea of that stopping. Truth to tell, Jetta is as ashamed of her background as Roxy is proud of hers.
Something very significant to cite here is Between Me and You - Jem and the Holograms' closing song. It has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on Jem's relationship with Mason or anything that really happens between Jem and the rest during the show. The song is a blatant "don't judge someone by their means" song, but if you read the lyrics, they seem all the more applicable to JETTA than they do to Mason:
You have a place in my heart, whether you're a peasant or king
What we feel is what we feel, all the rest is no big deal
What we have is good and true, and it's only between me and you
Did you think I'd change my act, finding your secret out?
I liked your style from the start, that's what it's really about
Between me and you, if you are with or without
I don't really care, we can work it out
THE WISSEX ESTATE
As I mentioned above, this is one of those rare episodes where the Misfits are not in it to wreck Jem's plans. They are merely taking a holiday in England - at what Pizzazz and Roxy at least believe is Jetta's family's country estate in Wissex. I honestly find it hard to understand the continued ignorance of Pizzazz once they are there - Pizzazz knows the rules and regs of living in a big house better than Jetta does, can ride her horse like a pro, and yet is not at all suspicious when Jetta and her family start trying to sell her bits of the furniture.
What Jetta and her family do not realise, of course, is that whilst they are manipulating Pizzazz, they themselves are being manipulated for a bigger scheme. Lord Trevor is determined that his nephew Mason Hawthorne should never turn twenty one and come into his inheritance at the Wissex Estate, and so is paying a couple of thugs to take care of the problem. Trevor's gambling debts inspire him to take Bertie and Flo up on their proposition to use the Estate for Jetta's scheme, but at no point do Jetta, her family or the Misfits know what is going on behind the scenes. Occasionally Jetta becomes suspicious, but is firmly told that it's none of her business and that he just needs the money before eight o' clock on the night of Mason's birthday.
(Of course, this in itself is slightly odd, because although Mason could certainly come into the inheritance at twenty one, there would probably not be a specific time of day which this would happen. And, additionally, Mason would probably already be the Earl, even if he did not have the estate, and Lord Trevor would simply be the estate;s guardian. We presume, therefore, that Trevor is brother to Mason's father, who must have died to leave his son the Earldom. Ok. Dynastic lesson over.)
Mason Hawthorne, of course, just happens to be the leader of a Rock Band called the Blue Bloods, who are playing at a club in London. It is here that he meets Jem and the Holograms - and yes, you start to see how it all ties together now!!
STORMER, CRAIG AND AJA.
At the close of Talent Search, one of the key questions on the lips of most Jem fans is "how is the Aja and Craig thing going to end?" Aja has a few love interests in the Jem series, but only Craig is really a serious one, considering he only appears in Talent Search and Britrock. Things are even more complicated for the pair, since Craig is Stormer's brother, and rather than reveal his sister's secret to Aja after the Talent Search, he leaves America, coming back to Europe and signing up, we presume, with the Blue Bloods. When Jem and the Holograms meet the Blue Bloods in the Unicorn Club, Aja is delighted to see Craig again, and they greet like long lost lovers. There is no doubt that Aja is well and truly smitten with this guy, even if she hasn't seen him in ages. Yes, folks. It's the real deal.
However, Stormer is also somewhere caught up in this confusion too, because this is one of those episodes where she exercises independance from the Misfit and chooses to do her own thing - picking to go to London and see Craig rather than go to Jetta;s Estate. In contrast to the Misfits being the most central thing in Jetta's life, Craig and her family ties are more important to Stormer - at least in this episode. Maybe in a way she wants to see him to prove that yes, she really is okay after everything that happened in Talent Search. She greets the Holograms with some consternation - because the Misfits are not around, you can only assume that what is on her mind is Aja and the fact that the Hologram does not know Craig's secret. It's probably true to say, therefore, that she tries to leave to protect Craig and prevent Aja from getting angry. The reaction surprises the Holograms, who seem perfectly all right with the idea that Stormer is there (a throwback to The Bands Break Up, perhaps?) so long as the "other Misfits" aren't around.
Aja's immediate assumption when Craig tries to explain to her about Stormer is that Craig and Stormer are married. This is a highly ludicrous assumption, and can only be explained by the fact that Aja is somewhat insecure about the whole Craig relationship anyway. However, it is important to note that, despite the wheedling of his friends to go after Aja and make things right, it's only Stormer who manages to coerce her brother into putting his pride to one side and going after her. Stormer's words are "He's right, Craig. She really cares for you - Come on!". It's very clear, therefore, by this point that Stormer has not only acclimatised herself to the idea of her brother dating a Hologram, but realises that both of them would be much happier together. It's possible that such an understanding was reached whilst she was with the Holograms recording Back2Back with Kimber. We shall never know for sure, but Stormer's good heart and romantic streak win through again.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS
Well, Jem and the Holograms are in England to play at the Unicorn Club, which is the victim of a bomb attack by Lord Trevor's thugs, almost killing Stormer, Craig and Aja into the bargain. After this, Mason is determined that he has to go to Wissex to sort out his uncle once and for all, and Jem, Kimber and Raya go with him, to see what can be done.
Mason reclaiming his estate is one thing. It's his by right and Lord Trevor has been trying to kill him, so yeah, something does have to be done there.
However, Britrock provides perhaps the best example of Jem's capacity for vindictive spite. Let's reiterate - the Misfits are in England, but they are not involved in the scheme to de-throne Mason. They do not even know what is going in behind the scenes of the Wissex Estate, and believe Lord Trevor is the real Earl.
So, then, what justification has Jem got to "punish" the Misfits for their behaviour by making them work in the kitchen whilst the Holograms put on their concert at the Estate? Absolutely none. It's an act of pure spite. Sorry Jem fans, but there you go.
The most important conclusion of this episode is the fact that after the Wissex incident, Jetta is not kicked out of the Misfits. She took on Pizzazz out of desperation and she lived to tell the tale. For the first time ever in the series we have a real indication that yes, Jetta is someone Pizzazz likes and even on some levels admires. This is strong enough to KEEP Jetta with the Misfits, despite the charade. It's possible that, after the anger has died down, Pizzazz is impressed by the lengths Jetta went to. Who knows? At the end of the day, the group survived as a whole and it says a lot for their team spirit that even Jetta's panicked attempt to pull the wool over everyone's eyes and maintain her charade did not result in band destruction.
Since this is about as much as there is for Jetta's background, it also shows us the pitiful kind of upbringing Jetta must have had. No wonder she doesn't want to use her real name ("Call me Jetta, will ya?"). No wonder she is miles away from her homeland, making up stories to cover a painful, loveless childhood.
In many ways, Britrock destroys Jetta's calm collected manipulative veneer and shows her as she really is - someone trying to run away from who she really is, whose imagination gets the better of her, and whose pride makes her take her assertions too far.
And, of course, there is that cosy Craig/Aja scene in London, too ;)
Episode rating: 8/10.
Original site concept c. 2001
This version c.2014
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Britrock website copyright EA Woolley