“If you want to dump me, it’s because of who you are, not who I am.”
– Caleb, to Jarek
“The Gold Coin Kid” is notable for the absence of Alderman Gibbons, whose presence usually looms over the series like a grey cloud. This gives it a chance to perform a character study of Jarek, through the prism of secrets and lies.
Jarek has issues with getting close to people. He has no problem being outspoken about his beliefs, but he keeps everything personal close to the vest. One gets the sense that Jarek isn’t terribly close with his fiancée. Obviously, Jarek is cheating on her with his ex-wife, but it seems as if Jarek doesn’t even have a level of basic emotional intimacy with her, dismissing her concerns about their wedding as something to be discussed later.
It’s not that Jarek doesn’t like emotional intimacy; it’s that he pushes people away because he fears getting hurt. It’s why he goes searching for ridiculous reasons to have Caleb reassigned. He finds himself trusting Caleb more and more, and he’s worried that Caleb will break that trust. But in his selfishness, he neglects the impact that this distancing is having on his partner. Caleb is tired of being left out of the loop and being told to do menial tasks like fetching lemon meringue pie. More than that, though, he’s angry that Jarek would hide personal secrets from him in plain view; it’s insulting to his intelligence. He’s a clever guy, and he immediately catches on to the fact that Jarek is cheating on his fiancée with his ex-wife.
To its credit, “The Gold Coin Kid” doesn’t feature a hug-it-out moment between Caleb and Jarek. In fact, the episode ends with their conflict unresolved, hinting that Jarek is going to have to do some serious thinking about what he wants out of his life and whether he’s willing to put in the work to get it. At this point, the only person he truly trusts is Teresa, not his partner or either of his romantic interests. Teresa, for the most part, reciprocates that trust. It’s why they have such a strong friendship. But a single strong friendship isn’t enough for Jarek.
That’s why Jarek is so fiercely protective of his niece. Though he doesn’t fully trust her, he at least has a closeness with her, and he feels responsible for her well-being. That’s why what he thinks is a slip-up from her is so worrying for him; he sees it as a breach of trust. Luckily, Vonda reaffirms that trust by revealing that she was just covering for Moose in an effort to get into his good graces.
So, by the end of the episode, Jarek knows that he can trust both Vonda and Teresa, and he also knows that he should trust Caleb. Whether or not he’ll take that extra step and finally trust his partner completely remains to be seen.
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