what didn’t happen in Juneau didn’t stay in Juneau

In “It Happened in Juneau”, near the end of the third season of Northern Exposure (one of very few TV series of which I’ve seen every episode twice), Maggie flies Joel to Juneau for a conference; they both get lonely, and drunkenly seduce each other. But Maggie falls asleep and cannot be roused, so Joel puts her to bed alone.

In the morning they return to Cicely. Maggie believes that they did copulate, and partly regrets it. Some time goes by before Joel succeeds in telling Maggie what really happened. She is insulted: “Why didn’t you? I had consented!”

Maggie later invites Joel to her house to try again. She asks him to say his desire for her is so strong that he’ll let nothing get in its way. She then finds (or reveals) that that expression of desire, rather than the execution, was what she really wanted from Joel, and dismisses him.

This affair bugs me on two points. First: I can accept that Maggie is insulted by Joel’s inaction, but wouldn’t the insult be outweighed by relief? (Well, the people of Cicely are quirky, and Maggie more so than some.)

Second: what Maggie asks of Joel in the end, taken literally, includes a commitment to rape her. Am I sick for noticing that? On reflection, I guess it’s in character – and suitable for prime time – that Joel is too startled (and perhaps deflated!) by the dismissal to respond with more than a bewildered verbal protest; but I’m still disappointed that the script didn’t explore that point at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.