“Hand aufs Herz” recap: Auf Wiedersehen, Jemma!

Ben finds Emma crying in the park. As luck would have it, he just got his driver’s license back yesterday and he’s feeling heroic. He and Emma track down Ronnie, and Emma employs all the Krav Maga skills she learned from her girlfriend, coaxing a gloating confession out of him that his brother overhears. He’s like, “Ronnie poisoned your girlfriend and her parents are flying her to Irish rehab right this very second? Of course I have time to chase down that plane and explain everything to them.”

And so they do. It’s amazing. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Emma with her head out of the car window screaming at the plane as it taxis down the runway, Ben chasing down a jet and just braking right in front of it, hoping it won’t, like, smash them into a million pieces. I mean, I love Imagine Me & You, but hollering on top of a car in London traffic doesn’t have anything on throwing yourself in front of a moving airplane, in terms of true love gestures. Jenny’s gonna have to share some of those Girlfriend of the Year Trophies.

Fortune is smiling fondly on Jenny and Emma today: Jenny’s dad knows Ronnie’s brother, so she he automatically believes what he’s saying about Ronnie roofie-ing Jenny. Meanwhile, in the airport, Jenny picks Emma up and twirls her around and squeals and makes out with her face. She tries to thank Ben for being a white knight, but he’s like, “Eh, it was that or listen to Emma cry her eyes out for the rest of all time.” They invite him to Chulos to celebrate Jenny not being a drunk, but he’s all, “You’ll be canoodling with each other without eyes for anyone else, like always. Probably I’m just going to go home and order pizza and dance in my skivvies and think about how I can’t be with the woman I love.” Jenny’s like, “It gets better, mate!”

Emma drags Jenny away from school the next day because the last thing on her mind is Martin Luther. (Remember when Emma was in the class with those gangbangers? The class that met in, like, the janitor’s closet? God, this show has given us so many good times.) They end up at Saal1 where it all began. It’s empty because there’s a private party that night. Emma fully goes, “I’m in control today.” And it is sexy as hell. They dance, they cuddle, Emma magicks some food from behind the bar. Their chemistry is so good, you guys. I mean, just so good. It’s like Naomi and Emily levels of good. I don’t know how to offer it any higher praise. They cuddle up and talk about how this is the best day of their lives — until they get the phone call that Jenny’s parents have been killed in a plane crash.

I know it’s sad. And I’m sorry. But also it’s so … soapy. Like Jenny excuses herself to the loo and Emma answers her phone and someone goes, “Is Jenny there? No? OK, just let her know her parents have burned alive in a horrific airliner accident.” I know there was a push to see these two on Glee, but with a story like that, they really belong on Pretty Little Liars.

The last few episodes were thrown together over a couple of days, but what’s important is that Jenny tries not to give a shit that her parents died, but when she finally breaks down, Emma stays by her side all day and all night — and promises to stay by her side forever.

And you know what? I believe her. I believe in Jenny and Emma like I believe in the sun.

If you’ve never read The Tale of Despereaux, you should do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s a story about the soul-sustaining power of story. When tiny, sickly Desperaux — a mouse who taught himself to read — is banished to a dank, dark cellar, he clears his throat, lets go of his tail, stands up straight and says, “Once upon a time!” Because “they were the best, most powerful words he knew and just the saying of them comforted him.”

Storytelling is older than science, and it will always be more powerful, because our lives are dominated by the stories we tell ourselves. Stories of quest and stories of love, stories of flights and stories of flops, stories of birth and stories of death, and above all, stories of hope. But we can only tell ourselves the stories we know — and from those once upon a times we reconstruct and deconstruct our own.

These days we’ve shaken down story quantification to a “Like” button, a measure of cartoon stars, 140-character reviews. Our most primal need cheapened to a series of approving or disapproving grunts. Cynicism is easy, criticism is easy, and we are a culture that brags about not giving a single f–k. But the real measure of a story isn’t what the critics say; it isn’t even what the ratings say. The real measure of a story is whether or not it beams its way inside us and fills our busy hearts with light.

And that’s the glory of Jemma, a story on a show that failed to deliver the kind of ratings it needed to stay on the air, but a story that lit up lesbian viewers across generations and oceans and languages and time. It was the way Lucy and Kasia inhabited their characters, the way Petra Bodenbach made them breathe. It was the freedom they were given by the network to express their affection the way any other couple would. It was a story that existed outside the trappings and tropes of lesbian pregnancy and death, a story that got inside us and burned and burned and burned and burned.

Now we add it to our repertoire of once upon a times. We reach for it when we need to be infused with courage. And we reach for it when we need to be comforted. And we reach for it when we need to giggle. And we reach for it when we need to be reminded that love could be lurking just around the corner.

We reach for it, and we stretch ourselves across it, and we retell our own stories.

Without narrative, we are powerless against the tide of a universe that would see us washed away like tears into the ocean. But Jenny and Emma have given us something to hold onto. Their story is now limited by nothing but our own imagination, which is to say that Jenny and Emma are limited by nothing at all.

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