Is Jackson Just a Glamoured Charles? Part Three: Something’s Off About Jackson:

In this section, I am going to lay out everything weird about Jackson. Then, I will see if assuming that Charles is Jackson makes any of this make more sense.

A) A suspicious meeting

A1)

We first meet Jackson in chapter 3, after Zade has had her measurements taken for the wardrobe department. While exiting, she bumps into him, and he romantically catches her in his arms. Right away, Zade finds him extremely attractive, calling him “exactly my type, if I ever had one,” and she feels like she’s “turned into a silly fourteen-year-old girl”. She describes his eyes as “sparkling” and comments on his “perfect, white teeth.” She has a difficult time speaking; that is how enamored she is.

But when he introduces himself, he thinks they’ve already met:

“I know who you are I actually came up and talked to you right after your audition. I was one of the many fawning over you. I’m Jackson Milsap.” (chapter 3)

The obvious response to this is to ask how Zade could have not noticed someone this ungodly sexy. So obvious, in fact, that Zade thinks it outright:

Oh my God. Why can’t I form sentences that actually make any sense right now? That answer was ridiculous, and even worse, he says we met before. I can’t remember that! How would I have possibly forgotten someone so gorgeous? (chapter 3)

Zade thinks it must be because she met so many people, but I for one don’t buy it. She doesn’t remember this guy who affects her ever more than Cam or Mac did? Bullshit.  Jackson is definitely lying.

For the rest of chapter 3, Jackson is turning up the charm. When she mentions playing guitar, he calls her hot. When she asks what he’s doing here, he explains:

 

“I was sent here to grab you. I volunteered to give the pretty new girl the nickel tour and introduce you to everyone.” (chapter 3)

Sent by whom? We never find out. But we do know he thinks she’s pretty, and this revelation makes Zade do “somersaults in her head.”

Jackson is simply too good to be true: As Zade tells us later:

Jackson and I agreed on almost anything that came up and everything seemed easy with him. If I had written on a piece of paper all the things I wanted in a guy, well, he would have fit it to a T, except my ideal guy would also have powers (chapter 10).

A2)

If we assume Jackson is actually Charles, it makes perfect sense why Jackson hasn’t appeared until now: when Zade first auditioned, Charles would have had no way of knowing she would affect him so much. If you recall, Zade and Charles have their real reunion off-screen.

By the time Jackson is introduced, it’s been about a week since Zade’s auditioned and met Charles. This is plenty of time for Charles and Zeb to come up with their plan. Charles, who we know is an experienced lady’s man, turns on his old charm. And unlike Dela, Zade’s not a tough sell. He has her eating out of his hand in seconds.

B) Odd timing, unlikely knowledge

B1)

The next time we see Jackson, Sofia has just fallen 50 feet into water, and had been taken to the hospital. Zade and Mac have just become friends, and even flirted a little. As soon as Mac departs, Jackson arrives:

I couldn’t have been out on the dock alone for more than a few seconds when Jackson came out to the dock as well (chapter 6).

Strange. It’s almost like he was waiting for Mac to leave. I find this strange, considering Mac and Jackson must know each other fairly well: in chapter 1, we’re told that Mac has worked for the show for eleven years, and in chapter 6, Jackson implies he’s worked for the show for quite some time as well, since his rationalization for Zeb not liking Zade much is that she’s only worked on the show for a few months.

Anyway, when Jackson arrives, he once again lays it on way too thick:

“Found you. I came looking for you to see how you were. By the way that was incredible. You never cease to amaze me” (chapter 6).

Woah, dude, you’ve talked to her like literally one time. Even if Jackson isn’t Charles, he’s clearly just trying to get in her pants by complimenting her excessively. But his forwardness doesn’t stop there:

He sat next to me on the dock but much closer than Mac had sat. Jackson’s leg was pressed against mine (chapter 6).

Even before I suspected the truth, I was certain that Jackson had ulterior motives. He’s obviously not here for Zade’s sparkling personality; all she did when he met her was babble incoherently. Nope. There’s something predatory here, even if he’s not secretly her lustful father.

As you’ve probably noticed, all of this can adequately be explained by Jackson being a pickup artist type. But next, Jackson shows that he seems to have knowledge that he probably shouldn’t be privy to.

Now, it’s probably been much less than half an hour since the paramedics came and took Sofia away. After the paramedics left, Zade went to grab Jackson’s guitar. At the same time, Tad and Mac had a 22-line exchange, and then Mac went for a smoke break where he ran into Zade, who was already there.  They then had their 50-line, 1000ish-word-long exchange; during this time he finishes one cigarette and lights a second. Since it takes about 6 minutes to smoke one cigarette, and the average rate of speech is 150 words per minute, this makes me think that  Mac and Zade were probably chatting for 10 minutes at most, and since his conversation with Tad was much faster-paced, they probably only spoke for about 4 minutes, at the most. Giving Mac 5 more minutes to mosey his way out to the deck, it’s still only 20 minutes between the time the paramedics take Sofia away and the time Jackson arrives to talk with Zade.

But, for some reason, Jackson knows Sofia’s status. In chapter 15, we learn that it takes 2 minutes to get to the hospital. So realistically, Jackson talks to Zade 18 minutes after Sofia’s been assessed, meaning that this information has just come in.

But why would Jackson know this so quickly? He doesn’t like Sofia, which is shown at the end of chapter 6. He’s the band leader. Sofia doesn’t come to the Plain White T’s show, meaning that she’s not friends with its members, either. I simply can’t see Jackson hanging around to see if Sofia’s OK.

B2)

But If we assume Jackson is actually Charles, his knowledge makes complete sense. Charles is Sofia’s boyfriend. It doesn’t seem like Charles was present for Sofia’s fall, or that he went to the hospital with her; in fact, he’s never mentioned in chapter 4 at all. Charles would definitely be the first person she’d call with the news of her wellbeing. And Charles, knowing that Zade would be mildly traumatized and would want to know what happened, took the opportunity to put on his Jackson face and go continue his project.

But why was Charles waiting for Mac to leave before arriving on the scene? I honestly don’t know. He might just want privacy while he puts the moves on Zade.

C) The Camping Trip

C1)

I’ve gone over this one a bit already, so I’ll keep this brief. On the company camping trip, Zade struggles to pitch her tent. Eventually, she covertly uses magic to get it set up. Then, she sees Jackson and Zeb hanging out together:

When I reached the campfire I noticed Jackson and Zeb sitting next to each other talking. They were sitting close enough to the fire that the warm glow reflected off of Jackson’s face making him look almost angelic. For a split second, though, the glow off of Zeb’s face somehow made him look just a tad . . . evil (chapter 6).

The wording here is blatantly ominous. But why does Zeb look evil? Why does Jackson look angelic?

Anyway, Jackson seems to have noticed Zade’s difficulty with the tent:

I guess Jackson wanted to change the subject and quickly changed gears to ask the mundane question. “Do you like camping? Are you an outdoorsy kind of girl? I mean … I kinda thought your tent was gonna take you down in the fourth round” (chapter 6).

Does Jackson know about Zade’s use of magic?

C2)

Zade’s observations about Zeb and Jackson never come to anything, unless the reader goes above and beyond to interpret them, they don’t build to anything. But assuming Jackson is a façade constructed to seduce Zade, it makes sense he looks “angelic” because he’s been specifically engineered to be the perfect guy. But, as shown in chapters 3 and 4, he’s too good to be true. Here, though, he is shown consorting with the evil-looking Zeb, which immediately makes Jackson suspect.

Almost more intriguing is that Jackson has taken note of Zade’s struggle with her tent. If Jackson is Charles, he would know about her magic, and would know that Zade probably used magic to get it set up. Admittedly, there’s no reason why commenting on her magical tent-assembly would help Charles in his quest to seduce Zade, but I read it as Charles not being able to resist giving her a bit of a hard time for being so sloppy with her secret.

INTERLUDE:

I can hear you now:

“None of this is evidence that Jackson is actually Charles. Yeah, Jackson’s shady, and he might have some connection to the magical world, but that doesn’t mean he’s Charles. And if Jackson is a recent invention, why aren’t people surprised at his presence? What about his band? They clearly know him.

I will admit that the “evidence” I’ve presented here doesn’t yet conclusively connect Jackson to Charles. The most significant moments come later. As far as Jackson’s presence being accepted, I would postulate that Zeb’s modified people’s memories in some way. We see that memory magic exists when Zade uses it to witness events she was unconscious for. For Zeb, it shouldn’t be too hard to make everyone think that Jackson’s been around forever. In the case of the band, Zeb’s probably had to put in a bit more work. And yes, this is purely speculation.

But isn’t it strange that the Plain White T’s, a famous, real life band featuring its real-life lineup, suddenly has this fictional character as its lead singer? It’s almost as if Sarem wants Jackson to seem as though he’s been hastily edited in to a preexisting world; how hard could it have been to make up a fictional band where we’d have no reason to find his presence so jarring?

Anyway, let’s get on to the meatier bits:

D) Zade’s tarot:

Because once again, this essay has gotten unwieldy, my amateur cherrypicked analysis of Zade’s Tarot reading can be found here

E) The Smoking Gun:

E1)

While Zade is hanging out in her dressing room, Jackson comes to visit her. He invites her to one of his shows, but Zade declines, saying that she needs to “work with Charles on the new illusion.” Jackson flirts with her for a bit, before leaving. But then:

It took me a moment to notice the sunglasses that Jackson had been wearing were still sitting on the couch where he had left them. I grabbed them, jumped up, and bounded toward the door to return them. When I reached the hall Jackson was nowhere in sight, but Charles and Zeb were in the hall and they seemed to be having a heated discussion (chapter 11).

Zade says it only took her a moment to notice that Jackson left his sunglasses, but somehow, Jackson has gotten away. In his place are Zeb and Charles. How could this be?

E2)

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, Jackson is no longer there because Charles has shapeshifted back into his original form. If it’s not important that Zade leave IMMEDIATELY behind Jackson, why specify that she did? If Sarem DIDN’T want us to infer that Jackson is actually Charles in disguise, why play up the fact that Jackson has vanished, only to be replaced by Charles and Zeb? It’s too peculiar.

F) Misc.

F1)

In Chapter 1, this is how Charles is described:

It was like someone had written his dialogue for him. The man oozed charm the way most normal people sweat in the Vegas heat.

And then, in chapter 12, Jackson gets this description:

Charm just flowed out of him the way most people sweat in the Sun on a hot August day in Tennessee.

Coincidence? To me, this is a much too weirdly specific description to not signify a connection between Charles and Jackson. 

F2)

In chapter 13, after watching Deadpool together, Jackson says this:

“And here I was beginning to think my love spell wasn’t working.” For a split second I felt my heart race, then I realized he was joking and giggled. I still found his joke interesting, though, to say the least-all things considered.

Even Zade thinks this was odd. After Jackson’s comment about Zade’s tent in chapter 6, he is definitely hinting that he knows something’s going on.

 

G) Jackson in Act 3

G1)

After Zade’s performance goes wrong, Jackson isn’t seen until the second-to-last chapter. He doesn’t make an appearance from chapter 15 to chapter 20, and goes unmentioned completely from halfway through chapter 15 to halfway through chapter 19. And the only reason he’s mentioned in chapter 19 is because Charles specifically brings him up.

The context of this is important, though.

Charles explained that when you don’t want people to ask too many questions you try to make sure they feel like they are in the loop with information so they don’t start poking around. It made complete sense, and Mac saw how good Charles and Dela both were at making sure people only learned what they wanted them to -even though they made everyone feel like they knew everything. Charles told Mac that he had made a special call directly to Jackson, ensuring him that they would also keep him in the loop. Charles knew that Jackson hadn’t been thrilled that Mac went to the hospital when he wasn’t able to since he was still on the floor with the band, unaware what had really been going on backstage. By the time Jackson learned anything, Mac had already been on the way to the hospital. On the other hand, Jackson did not know that Mac had made the trip to Tennessee (chapter 19).

Charles has just told Mac his philosophy about warding off unwanted scrutiny: give people some information, and they don’t get suspicious. Mac notes how manipulative Dela and Charles can both be, and then we immediately get an example of Charles giving Mac information. It’s not huge leap of logic to assumes that Charles was using his tactic on Mac, so that Mac won’t go asking about Jackson when they return.

But if we really think about Charles’ explanation, it doesn’t make sense. How would Charles know about Jackson’s feelings about Mac going to the hospital? How does he know about when Jackson supposedly learned about what had happened? Sure, Jackson could have stated this when Charles supposedly called him, but why would Jackson complain to his boss (with whom he does not appear to be close) about personal grievances concerning who got to accompany Zade to the hospital?  This simply doesn’t make any sense. The only explanation can be that Charles is making this all up.

G2)

While Zade is recovering, Jackson makes plans to come visit her, but that falls through:

Jackson was the only one who put up a fight about it and was going to come, but then a quick tour opening for Imagine Dragons came up that timed perfectly with our break and his band had to take that.

Really? How convenient. I don’t buy this at all.

G3)

The final mention of Jackson isn’t even referring to Jackson himself.

Tom from Jackson’s band got on the mic. “Can I get everyone’s attention please? It’s time for the bouquet and garter toss. Can I get everyone up to the front of the stage? All you single ladies line up, please!” (chapter 21)

This is during Charles’ and Dela’s wedding. If you recall, Jackson is the lead singer of the Plain White T’s in this universe, and yet for some reason, it’s Tom Higgenson, the real lead singer, who is doing the announcement. To me, this indicates that Jackson isn’t even present, despite his band playing there. And this makes sense, because, of course, Charles is the one getting married, and thus cannot be present as Jackson.

Conclusion:

While the strongest piece of evidence for Jackson being Charles is the instance during chapter 11 when Jackson mysteriously disappears, only to be replaced by Charles, there is plenty of evidence that Jackson is a shady fucker. Given the warnings about Jackson not being who he seems, Zeb’s likely magical abilities, and Charles’ clear interest in Zade, the only possible explanation is that Jackson is actually just a glamoured Charles.

9 thoughts on “Is Jackson Just a Glamoured Charles? Part Three: Something’s Off About Jackson:

  1. Excellent job! It’s not just a tinfoil hat; it’s a broad-brimmed wizard replica made out of aluminum! Of course, it’s purely the author’s laziness when stitching things together, and a serious lack of critical analysis, but that isn’t our fault. This could even be a subtle did from ghost writers, for all we know! We’re just exploring what we were given. 😉

    Unless… Maybe she intended Jackson to be a homunculus created by Zeb? And then our wondrous Zeb was reading the mind of Charles? But in that case, it never pays off and dear Zeb is putting himself at risk for no real benefit, since he’s using chaos magick on a semi-regular basis.

    I really hope Zeb was able to make it out of this franchise alive, like Sofia. OR DID SHE?!

    Let’s pray. I worry for both of them. 😔

    Because once again, this essay has gotten unwieldy, my amateur cherrypicked analysis of Zade’s Tarot reading will be posted separately tomorrow.

    Oh lord, and there’s still more for the future! I can’t wait to see that. Don’t worry btw, I’m sure pretty Lani Sarem is an amateur at Tarot too. 🤣

    Also, I sort of began a fanfic with Zeb as the protag, even though I told myself that I wouldn’t. 💃

    So far, Zeb and Cam eating ice cream when a frantic Charles calls Zeb, ’cause Zade made her first call ever to Charles. *dunDUNduuuunnn*

    I’m not sure what else I’ll do with it. Figuring I’ll skip around pretty hard. I don’t wanna fall into the trap of do boring rehash type stuff. Just some of the off-screen shenanigans for djinn!shedim Zeb and maybe more of lovely, man bun coifed Cameron™ (donut steel.) I guess it could be drabbles. (The temptation to write porn is strong though… I need Zeb to save me from myself, so I can save Zeb from me, ’cause I can’t be trusted apparently.) 😝

    At least if I never add more, it could sort of stand on it’s own, I think. There just wouldn’t be a ton of depth, other than friendship yay. Okay, now I shall shut up about that.

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  2. Jackson and I agreed on almost anything that came up and everything seemed easy with him. If I had written on a piece of paper all the things I wanted in a guy, well, he would have fit it to a T, except my ideal guy would also have powers (chapter 10).

    Also, it just dawned on me. If Jackson is her absolute yes, it’s probably because Zeb read Zade’s mind, either digging in, without her realizing it, or perhaps lightly eavesdropping while she was comparing Mac to her want list. We don’t know exactly how it works, but perhaps Zade was unintentionally broadcasting towards Mac and Zeb caught wind of it? Also, Jackson feels like magic, which is a plus, but confuses Zade’s magic-dar, since he’s only an illusion on top of a muggle.

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  3. There is this bit from chapter 6:

    Jackson seemed to be reading my mind, his next comment and question were exactly in line with what I had been thinking. “That’s a ways away. You miss it?”

    I didn’t include this because asking someone if they miss their hometown is just so obvious, but it is odd that Zade speculates that he’s a mind reader (even if she is just joking); maybe her magic-dar is picking up of mystical goings-on and she’s subconsciously interpreting it this way?

    I don’t think we necessarily need to assume that Jackson’s perfectness is highly tailored specifically for Zade; I always just imagined that Charles was playing the part of “generic dream guy” (there’s nothing super specific about Jackson that makes him super desirable, besides being really hot and maybe playing guitar?) but who knows? Magic seems like a pretty limitless power, so maybe there is mind reading going on.

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  4. Please link to your fanfic when you have some! I’d love to read it!

    I can actually see Jackson being revealed to be a homunculus in Book 2, assuming LS knows that that even is. But that would be a clever way of explaining why he feels so bland and shoehorned in to everything.

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  5. I didn’t include this because asking someone if they miss their hometown is just so obvious, but it is odd that Zade speculates that he’s a mind reader (even if she is just joking); maybe her magic-dar is picking up of mystical goings-on and she’s subconsciously interpreting it this way?

    Hrmm, yeah, I forgot when she speculated about that, but I was thinking of that bit. Wasn’t that Charles though? So yeah, kinda weird she’d mention it and of course she holds her breath over the love spell joke (which seems like proof there are love spells in this universe, come to think of it… lol Maybe Charles is under one of those, and it doesn’t affect lust at all? Correlation doesn’t equal causation, or whatever would count in this case.)

    I don’t think we necessarily need to assume that Jackson’s perfectness is highly tailored specifically for Zade; I always just imagined that Charles was playing the part of “generic dream guy” (there’s nothing super specific about Jackson that makes him super desirable, besides being really hot and maybe playing guitar?) but who knows? Magic seems like a pretty limitless power, so maybe there is mind reading going on.

    That’s a good point… It’s possible the glamour just follows the intuition of the viewer, which would explain why Jackson tries to spend minimal time with most other people? Or he simply looks like Jackson Rathbone. Being literal is the easiest way to go about that! 😆

    Then again, Zeb could’ve been gleaning info before, like during their introduction, when he stared hard at Zade before shaking her hand. We don’t get any info on how it feels to be probed, so maybe she went briefly catatonic while he skimmed her mind, and it’s possible Zade doesn’t even recognize that? Hrmmm. It could explain why Zeb wasted time just gawking irritably when he told Mac to stop fighting it and ignored Zade’s compliments in favor of telling her to hurry up with her audition (probably because he knew she never set anything up in the first place and he knew it was all a formality, since Charles was certainly going to hire Zade.)

    Maybe it’s a mix of all that? I don’t expect Zeb would run the risk of reading her mind very often, so he probably did make the glamour something simple and Charles provides the oodles of charm.

    OH… You know what? It could be, besides looking like Jacksone Rathbone, Zeb’s glamour just includes the irresistible nature of Zade’s people? After all, she supposedly found Cam too pretty (although maybe that’s code for Cam being too feminine in her mind), and yet she falls all over herself in a way that she doesn’t when faced with Charles normally. Hah! So, not really tailored, other than the compelling sensation of immortality? Hrmm.

    Please link to your fanfic when you have some! I’d love to read it!

    Sure! I’ve been mulling over a few more scenes. Hopefully I can have more soon. 😋

    I think at the very least I need to follow up with the conversation that he has in person with Charles later that day… Oh, wait. You know what? I can share the Google doc and show you what I have for now. Sorry, this is a rough draft with only a little editing… 😅

    Feel free to ignore it if you’d rather wait until I’m more or less done.

    I can actually see Jackson being revealed to be a homunculus in Book 2, assuming LS knows that that even is. But that would be a clever way of explaining why he feels so bland and shoehorned in to everything.

    Yeah, it’d be a great reveal, but I suspect he’ll just be another whitchka at best.

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  6. I still can’t figure out if Lani was trying to make the readers think Charles was a potential love interest or not. I mean, looking at how he(and Sophia) are introduced-

    ‘Charles was older, but still a very handsome man. I would describe him in a similar way that one might describe Harrison Ford.’
    ‘Standing next to Charles was a much younger woman who could have easily passed for his daughter, had she not been so tightly coiled around his arm.’

    Like, I’ve read enough of these kinds of sporkings/reviews that my first thought (knowing nothing about the book/plot/the ‘he’s her father’ twist) was that he was a potential love interest. Because this is usually how they’re introduced, the attractive male love interest with the clingy, “bitchy” girlfriend that immediately hates the protagonist(which means that the protag will eventually replace her).

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  7. When I first read HfM, I did think Charles was going to be the third corner of the love triangle, after Mac. Then Jackson showed up and I was like “wha?”

    But yeah, I think that Charles was always going to end up being her father, but in the film, Jackson wasn’t going to be present and the Charles/Mac conflict would be more significant.

    It would have been weird, but it would have made sense narratively. With Jackson plus Lambo Girl, everything went wonky.

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  8. Nice idea, but the only thing that troubles me is the assumption that Lani Sarem was actually clever enough to create this theory int eh first place.. The writing up to this point suggests otherwise. I’m thinking it’s more of a modified Hanlon’s Razor scenario for writers: “Never attribute to cleverness what can properly be attributed to lazy writing.” The fact that the story points line up the way you suggest may very well have been completely accidental.

    No way to know for sure. But I don’t want to give her credit for being that clever just yet.

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  9. I wrote this because white reading the novel, I kept coming up with alternative interpretations of what it all could mean, and there were moments where I genuinely felt like I was going insane because I couldn’t tell what was intentional subtext and what was just word vomit. So this is basically just avant-garde fanfiction.

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