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'Alice & Jack' Recap: Episode 1

Daniel Hautzinger
Alice and Jack sit in front of two large tunnels and some skyscrapers
Alice and Jack aren't together long, but their relationship is profound. Credit: Fremantle

Alice & Jack airs Sundays at 9:00 pm on WTTW and streaming. Recap the following episode.
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“Who are you?” It’s the first question Alice asks Jack when they meet in person at a bar after connecting on an app. He’s a biomedical researcher working on autoimmune disorders. This is the first time he has dated through an app, so he’s nervous. Alice’s intense, uncomfortably intimate questioning doesn’t make things any better. And yet he ends up going to her home to spend the night after she asks directly about the plan for the evening.

Or not spend the night. After they have sex and he falls asleep, she wakes him up with a repeated, increasingly insistent “Are you awake?” She asks him to go home – but not before telling him that he’s great, kind, handsome.

He tells her he’ll call; she says she’d rather he didn’t. He says he’ll text; she doesn’t respond but kisses him and then holds him in a long hug. She watches him leave from her window.

The next day, Jack’s friend and coworker Paul tells him not to text Alice after hearing about his night. She couldn’t have been more direct. But Jack thinks there was subtext - the great, kind, handsome, the long hug. So he texts her, just after she started writing her own text to him. Instead, she deletes the text conversation. A coworker and self-proclaimed friend of hers asks her what’s up, telling Alice she can talk to her. But Alice dismisses her: Alice pays the woman, so she can’t be her friend.

That evening, Jack sees Alice leaving the same bar where he met her – with another man.

Who is Alice? All she told Jack about her work was that “I make money” – which is evident from her spacious, modern home and her choice of a bar in the financial district. She’s both puzzled and charmed by Jack’s altruistic goal to help cure a disease that neither he nor any of his loved ones have – something without a clear “reward calculus” is confusing to her.

Three months after they meet, Jack makes a breakthrough at his lab and calls Alice. She asks to meet in twenty minutes to talk about it. When they meet for this second time, Jack tells Alice he hasn’t been with anyone else since her; she set a high bar. She says he did, too. He says he saw her with another man and asks if she has ever been with the same person twice. She responds that tonight will be the first time.

Back at her place, she shaves his beard he has grown in the intervening months and tells him she’ll try to be careful with him – she understands that this relationship is different. But she doesn’t want to discuss it any more.

This time, Jack starts getting dressed to leave after they have sex, and she asks him to spend time with her the next day. He agrees, and she asks him to stay the night. He accepts. She clings to him in bed.

She wakes up the next morning and screams when she finds him gone. But he has simply left for coffee, croissants, and a new razor to replace the one she used on his beard. She tells him to never do that again.

They go to a museum together, and Alice asks the front desk about a specific artist. She’s rude when the woman can’t answer satisfactorily because the computer system is done. Jack tries to intervene, telling her to be a grown-up; her behavior is not okay. She responds that this was a mistake and leaves.

She won’t pick up when he calls later, instead texting him to say that she thinks the world of him and doesn’t want to be poorly remembered, but they should just let it be.

He’s devastated, but Paul again tells him she couldn’t be clearer in her instructions. Jack can’t eat or sleep regularly for months. Paul meets a woman, Donna, in a bar when she is stood up and overhears the anti-romantic Paul inveighing against love to Jack, who has had a hole blown in his soul, in his words. Donna and Paul end up in a long-lasting relationship.

So does Jack. He went to see Seven Beauties, thinking it was a rom-com from its title. The “Italian film about the horrors of Fascism” instead shocks him, and a woman strikes up a conversation with him about it afterwards. They go for a walk and a drink and end up dating.

And then Lynn, the woman, gets pregnant. She’s worried it will ruin things, and thanks Jack for how glad he has made her. She has an abortion scheduled, but they also discuss and dismiss alternatives such as adoption or raising a child out of marriage. He almost casually brings up marriage; she thinks it’s crazy, since they haven’t been dating long. He tells her she’s the kind of person he always imagined he’d end up with when he was younger and asks her to consider it.

Jack then calls Alice; she doesn’t pick up or respond. He takes that as confirmation that marrying Lynn is the right decision, if she agrees.

The next day, Lynn does. In a car outside a clinic before her scheduled abortion, she and Jack decide that they shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. She asks him if there’s anything she should know; he thinks of Alice and tells her nothing that matters now. She kisses him and agrees to marry him.

So when Alice suddenly calls Jack a year and a half after they last saw each other, he’s newly married, with an infant daughter named Celia. He’s grilling at home and burns the sausages when Lynn sees his phone ringing and asks who Alice is. He tells her she’s an ex and doesn’t answer.

Nor will he call Alice back, he tells Paul at work. But Alice shows up at the lab, excited to see Jack. “Oh shit,” he says, before holding up his be-ringed finger to show her. “Oh shit,” she repeats.

He fills her in on his life on a walk, telling her he started seeing a therapist. She says she’s had numerous, endless therapists. She apologizes for calling and showing up; she stupidly thought his life had stood still, like hers. Her mom has just died from alcoholism, to which she was driven by her husband. Alice couldn’t imagine facing her dad – or many other things – without Jack.

But now she’s happy for him, she tells him, before getting into a taxi and leaving.