“It’s not an easy place to start,” says Page of how Jack feels about Phryne following the reveal that she is not, in fact, dead. “Because, you know, when all the other characters are sort of celebrating, I’m not sure if he can. I’m not sure if he could. It’s too easy to make that decision as an actor. It’s too easy to make that decision as a character and to go, ‘Oh my God, you’re alive, you’re fine.’ There’s got to be so much more turmoil, or tumult, to this reconnection, of that string that they always had to give up.”
Jack is understandably upset that he was left to think that the woman he loves was dead for so long (at least the length of the journey from Melbourne to London in 1929), but Crypt of Tears only leaves him so much time to indulge in that complex emotional reaction. Phryne and Jack are quickly pulled into the mystery of the massacre of Shirin’s village when she was just a girl—a mystery that involves an ancient tomb and a priceless treasure.
Phryne has empathy for Jack’s feelings, as she always does, but she’s also not going to apologize for something that was not here fault. (She had not been aware that her loved ones thought she was dead.) She’s happy to see Jack, but she is not going to abandon Shirin and the mystery of her village to assuage his concern that something else might happen to her. That is never how their dynamic has worked.
“You want Jack to be an attractive man who’s strong and capable and heroic and kind of step in and help,” says Davis of the dynamic, “but you also want to go, ‘Hold on a minute. The reason he likes Phryne and the reason Phryne likes him is that she’s completely independent.’”
“I guess the great mistake could be to play him too lightly or whatever and emasculate him,” reflects Page of this balance. “If he’s played as emasculated, she’s not as strong. He has to be strong in order for her to be super strong. And I think that equation works. Well, I think it works really well. That’s just how it works in my head, is that he’s got to be a strong man and it just makes her stronger.”