EPISODE IN DEPTH: Exploring...
OUT OF THE PAST
As the title suggests, this episode is all to do with Starlight History rather
than Starlight present. Its all tied up with the Benton family and the background
of the Starlight Foundation as told through the diary of Emmet Benton. Considerably
late in the series for a "how it all began" type episode, this is nevertheless
the only time you see Aja and Shana as small children.
The most key thing about Emmet's diary in one way is the fact that he kept
one at all, bearing in mind Kimber's love for her Diary, which is so well
depicted in Scandal. It's well known that Emmet and Kimber were close and
you wonder if this was just another think Kimber picked up from Daddy.
Emmet records many important events in his diary. You discover through his
words that his wife Jacqui was a foster girl herself, that he promoted her
as a singer - the entire reason for the creation of Starlight Music - and
that after her death, when building Synergy, Emmet was still thinking of
his long dead wife, because he programmed the computer with Jacqui's personality,
vague appearance and musical files. It would not be wrong to suggest, therefore,
that Emmet's apparent resignation to the fact he himself was dying was because
he held onto a hope that at least this way he and his wife would be together
again and at peace. He says himself that the children are his reasons for
going on - but by the beginning of Truly Outrageous Jerrica, Kimber, Aja
and Shana are no longer small children. We do not know how long Emmet was
ill for, because his diary is not clear on the fact and it was not something
he ever confided in the girls before it happened. It is possible that he
kept himself going through failing health simply to make sure his girls did
not wind up foster girls themselves. We will never know.
Jacqui and Emmet's relationship is indeed a strong one, however it is not
the only relationship he refers to. Aja and Shana he includes in his writing
as if they were blood family, rather than fostered, and though it is never
said as much, there is almost a pseudo-adoption situation going on there.
Somehow Aja and Shana are depicted differently from the other Starlight girls
- as real members of the Benton family.
JACQUI BENTON AS A MOTHER
Jacqui Benton is an enigmatic character. A popular singer who toured yet
died before she was able to cut an album (this seems a contradiction, but
let's work with it anyway.) Her music was evidently highly important to her,
however, because she goes on her tour despite the pleas of Jerrica for her
to stay. I don't interpret this as bad motherhood but I do see it as a lack
of understanding on Jacqui's part - maybe because of her own lack of maternal
advice growing up. (She says herself that she was passed from pillar to post
with no home to call her own.) With all the new foster girls, and Jerrica
growing up, it is natural for her to want to spend some one to one time with
her mother, and so resents Jacqui going away. Jerrica's relationship with
Jacqui is as strong as Emmet's is with Kimber, and on occasion you see indications
that Jerrica is not altogether happy with the new Starlight setup. There
is a scene where Shana is new and Jerrica is in the kitchen with Jacqui,
asking if she can help her mother. Jacqui sends her out to Shana, hoping
that Jerrica will bring the girl into the fold, but again she is thinking
as a foster girl (as if she were Shana) rather than as a blood child (as
if she were Jerrica). I don't think Jacqui pushed her daughter away - Jerrica
clearly adored her. But I do think Jacqui's own upbringing often made her
put other things (the foster girl project, her musical career) before intuitive
needs of her children.
This might also explain why Jerrica is so overly maternal towards Kimber
on occasion - as if to make up for something both girls have long since lost.
Kimber is very young when the plane crash happens, and, probably because
she is always depicted as closer to Emmet, she is less upset at the idea
of Jacqui going away on tour, though obviously she is as heartbroken as anyone
over her death. It is Jerrica, however, who has to live with the guilt of
their last tragic parting for the rest of her life. Though in this episode
Jerrica says that she had forgotten how mean she was to Jacqui the last time
they saw each other, I believe it is within her subconsciously all the time.
This too is a reason for her overprotectiveness of Kimber. It is almost like
she is repaying her mother a debt by looking out for Kimber in the way Jacqui
was prevented from doing herself.
JERRICA, RIO and ERIC RAYMOND
I'll start this paragraph by saying the thing which will horrify Jem fans
to the core. I believe that at one point, deep in the distant past, there
was some tiny spark between Eric and Jerrica. I don't think for one moment
it was a serious relationship - at least, not for Jerrica. She used him to
make Rio jealous - which worked - as Emmet records in an amused way in his
diary. However, there is always a hatred between Jerrica and Eric throughout
the series and I often wonder if a little part of that hatred is because
of this small incident Emmet recalls when Jerrica is using Eric to
make Rio jealous. Whether Eric ever had feelings for Jerrica is beyond anything
more than speculation, but nevertheless I do think he thought himself onto
a good thing when the boss's elder daughter showed some interest in him.
Emmet (though in failing health) must have trusted Eric, because not only
did he allow them to socialise, he also left them half of the record company
each in his will. It leads me to wonder, therefore, whether Emmet doubted
that Rio was the right man for Jerrica, and perhaps even envisaged that Eric
would be the way Jerrica went in the future. Of course, it is equally easy
to speculate that Emmet left Jerrica and Eric the company in the hope that
Eric would teach Jerrica what she needed to know to run it, and then between
them they would promote Kimber as the star of the company. It seems fairly
clear after all that it was Kimber, and not Jerrica that Emmet groomed to
be the starlet.
I think that Eric's resentment of Jerrica -whether love related or not -
can be picked out clearly in this episode by one action which is entirely
out of character for him. The burning of the master tapes. If we are to consider
this a rational act performed by a character whose main interests in life
are money and saving his skin, then we have to assume that somewhere inside
of him burns a flame of pure hatred for Jerrica Benton. And in order for
that flame to have been ignited, Eric must have some real reason to despise
Jerrica that goes beyond the Battle of the Bands and Starlight Music. For
him to burn something which he could easily have made money out of - who
was to say that the rights were not his and that Emmet did not give them
to him if he was questioned on the subject? - meant he really wanted to hurt
Jerrica badly. This suggests to me that he *was* interested in Jerrica at
one point. This would be further backed up by the hostile relationship between
Rio and Eric and the fact that Jerrica did not see Eric's true colours till
after Emmet's death.
I don't necessarily believe Eric was truly madly deeply for Jerrica, since
it is not his style. But he is a businessman and I think he could see a partnership
between himself and the heiress of Emmet Benton becoming infinitely profitable
in the future, whether a business one or one on a more personal level. Evidently
he believed that he had manipulated the father and could also manipulate
the daughter, and did not appreciate being proven wrong.
Of course, in Eric's favour (and I do not dislike Eric, by the way), it is
possible that he liked and/or respected Emmet and simply wanted to carry
on the company in it's successful vein without the interference of what he
would term "kids."
Would Eric have signed the Misfits if Emmet had not died? This is a question
we will never know the answer to ;)
"I am Synergy - I am no more and no less. I am your father's gift of love."
Synergy in her own words, describing her role once the Holograms discover
that Emmet based her on Jacqui. Though the girls have always adopted her
as a mother figure, they have never made the connection between Jacqui and
Synergy, and I think the reason for this is clear. As Synergy herself says,
she is NOT Jacqui Benton. However, that is not to say that she is not capable
of independant thought (She proves several times that she is), or that she
does not love them like a mother figure would. She is the guardian hand-picked
by Emmet for Jerrica and Kimber as they go into the world on their own. I
have never been sure why it is Jerrica and not Kimber that Emmet leaves the
earrings to, but my assumption is that, because Synergy's main function is
holographic, he feels that the responsibility is better in Jerrica's hands
rather than Kimber's rather airy fairy grip.
Though Synergy introduces herself in Truly Outrageous, this is the only time
we get the real background of the computer's origin. Though she is Emmet's
gift of love, she is also his labour of love - his tribute to his wife and
his replacement as carers for his children.
Synergy's role in the Jem series must *never* be underestimated.
The saddest part of this episode is the plane crash, when the plane has come
down and you realise that yes, this really is a part of the Benton girl;s
past. Jerrica and Kimber would have grown up with a happy, normal upbringing
if it wasn't for fate stealing their mother and ill health stealing their
father. It explains so very much - Kimber rebels against her sister's mothering
because Kimber has, essentially, never had a mother. It also explains why
the girls turn so much to Synergy - Kimber especially for personal and secret
advice - because she is the missing mother figure that sometimes they feel
Unfortunately, the depth of this episode means that once more Raya is left
on the outside. She is not a part of the remeniscences because she never
knew Emmet or Jacqui and cannot share the memories that Jerrica and the others
share with even the most minor of Starlight Girl characters.
My real gripe with this episode is the music. Starlight (Jacqui's song) is
not so very bad, but "First Love" is just terrible...
Episode rating: 9/10, if you happen to be a Hologram fan.