Jackie may never get the closure she needs after Wednesday’s tear-jerking episode Conners.
After an absence of two years, he rose Roseanne Spinoff welcomed back Estelle Parsons as the mother of Jackie Bev, who was now suffering from dementia. Jackie initially convinced herself that her mother was faking it, but the truth about her Alzheimer’s disease came to light when the 94-year-old inquired about Roseanne.
Dan agreed that Bev did not deserve Jacqui to take care of her, and encouraged her sister-in-law to confront her emotionally manipulative mother when she seemed more visible. But when Jackie confronted Bev, she was met with a blank stare. Biff suddenly looks at Jackie like she’s a complete stranger, then deduces that Jackie’s abusive father Al – who died in the middle of the road RoseanneHer original run – he had just asked her out on a date. That was when Jackie realized her mother needed round-the-clock care.
Below, executive producers Bruce Helford and Dave Kaplan discuss Bev’s return, and how her condition will affect her only living daughter.
TVLINE | Jackie has been having all this good luck lately. She finds a deeply devoted husband in Neville, turns her lunch box into a success story… With everything going so well for her, why did she feel now was the right time to revisit the most toxic relationship of her life?
Helford | As a result of having all this awesomeness in her life, what matters most to her is her mother’s approval. This is frustration. Was Bev going to give her the benefit of the doubt? Now you will never know.
Kaplan | And to answer your question about timing, I think when you’re going through some big storms in your life, you start to think about unfinished business. For Jackie, unfinished business is approval from Biff and getting some kind of closure.
TVLINE | Did Estelle offer an opinion about Biff’s dementia and the direction of her story?
Helford | We were worried. Estelle is clearly not a spring chicken, and we were wondering her reaction to doing this kind of story, but she seemed happy. She is a person [still] Able to perform and do all the things at her age, she’s already a prodigy when you think about it. She’s 94! She has come to me yet [taping] And he said, “That was a very good script, wasn’t it?”
Kaplan | Everyone on stage pays homage to Estelle. Even after the audience bowed, I saw John Goodman and Laurie Metcalfe bow to Estelle. The actors, writers and all involved think it is an honor to be there. And then when you’re complimenting the script, it’s a huge treat for us.
Helford | She was so happy to be back on the job site with the gang. We showed footage of her receiving the Oscar [for Best Supporting Actress for 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde; embedded below] for a studio audience, which I was really surprised about. That was great.
TVLINE | Have you had any conversations with Laurie about revisiting the Jackie/Bev relationship in light of this?
Helford | I don’t remember it having any real reviews. It’s funny, because she can only add to the anger because he was so ingrained. The thing we did was, “Would Jackie come up as a bully if she was confronting a woman she thinks has dementia?” But the connection between the characters was so cemented over all these years that Jackie was able to really pull off it—you know, “She didn’t worry about my vulnerability, I’m not going to worry about hers. I want to make that statement before I can never make that statement again.” .
TVLINE | when jackie She invites Biff to come with her during the Roseanne She said, “My life would be better without you, but it would be so much better if you were better with You.” But things didn’t get better, and they probably never will. Did Jackie come to terms with that by the end of this episode?
Helford | I don’t know if she can come to terms with that. I think she accepts that she will be the caretaker for her mother…but Bev is a very selfish woman, and there were episodes after that [one you mentioned on The Conners] where [she was considering] Give money to Harris or Mark. Biff has never been supportive of her family, and she loves to play one against the other.
Kaplan | I think there’s a really great moment where you see Jackie realize she’s never going to get what she wants from her mother, and decide that she still has the duty and the need to take care of her. It’s all done without dialogue, and it’s powerful as hell.
Helford | My favorite part of it [scene] is where she hugs Jackie, but she hugs her because Biff thinks she’s weird. It’s like, come on!
TVLINE | Is this moment as close to an end as Jackie will get?
Helford | At this time, yes. We left it open, because we’d love to have Estelle back… Also, for many of us who’ve gone through it with our families, dementia can be on and off. Suddenly, one day, she became very lucid. I had a dad who, if you gave him a glass of bourbon, which was ultimately what was killing him, became quite obvious, and he was far from it when he didn’t have it. We may visit moments of clarity with Bev and see what comes of that.
TVLINE | With or without Estelle’s appearance, will we see the impact of this on Jackie throughout Season 5?
Helford | There are still some matters to deal with… and that is definitely affecting her. They are likely to appear in unexpected ways.
TVLINE | At one point, Harris suggested that perhaps Bev was suppressing how awful she was to Jackie. Do you think there is any truth in that?
Kaplan | As people get older, they start to look back on their lives and sit with their regrets, and think about the things they could have done differently. There is just something about the later part of your life that gives you that perspective. So we debated whether it was too painful for Bev to deal with, or whether it was really the onset of dementia.
Helford | I don’t think it’s entirely clear whether or not that Bev is there, and that’s what makes it all the more interesting for us.
What do you think of Biff’s comeback? Conners? Sound out in the comments.
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