As a risky plan to capture Kilgrave (David Tennant) is executed, Marvel’s Jessica Jones flashes back to happier times.
Let’s bitch it out…
1×05 ‘AKA The Sandwich Saved Me’
Episode five does something that the other episodes haven’t really done: offer us a glimpse of pre-PTSD Jessica. So far we’ve seen Jessica when she was under Kilgrave’s influence / on the night that Luke’s (Mike Colter) wife Rena (Parisa Fitz-Henley) was killed. We’ve never seen what Jessica was like before that, though. It’s fun to see her as a smiling, slightly obnoxious protector of Trish (Rachael Taylor) and minor blackmailer of douchey corporate drones. The contrast in Ritter’s performance offers a night and day perspective that clearly separates pre-Kilgrave times from post-Kilgrave. There was normalcy, and now there is darkness.
That darkness seeps over into Operation Kilgrave as the episode goes into heist film mode. Jessica, Trish and Will (Wil Traval) hatch a plan to use Malcolm (Eka Darville) as bait to lure Kilgrave out so that they can abduct him. The plan sounds fine in theory, provided that everything goes right, but the fact that they want to move so quickly turns it into a very risky proposition. There’s a great deal of tension milked from the inevitability that something will go wrong and writer Dana Baratta wisely makes it seem as though the group has circumvented disaster when Jessica has to reveal herself in order to distract Kilgrave so Will has time to take the shot that knocks him out. Of course, it’s not quite that easy. The surprising force of the armed men, who surprisingly are not under Kilgrave’s influence, is a nice reversal of expectations and the plan is quickly tased into oblivion.
The aftermath is suitably grim, but important. Now that Malcolm’s role in shadowing Jessica has been exposed, his connection to the purple man (and the drugs that Kilgrave provided) is severed. I really appreciate that Jessica ends up helping Malcolm to curb his addiction, despite the fact that Malcolm confesses he took the photos of her of his own volition. The pair have a complicated relationship (evidenced by their first encounter on the night she met Kilgrave), but it’s pretty obvious that Jessica is only lying to herself when she tries to insist that she doesn’t care about him. The flashbacks exist to reinforce that she has always been cynical and anti-social, but the brittle shell she now wears exists because of what happened with Kilgrave. Jessica Jones has now introduced another character (after Will) with shared experiences to her, so it is significant that Jessica tells Malcolm to stop the self-pity and sober up. Fundamentally she believes that others can return from the darkness (possibly more than she has), so it’s only natural that she would acquiesce to Kilgrave’s demands for a picture in order to protect Malcolm after she sees the flushed drugs. She may act like she doesn’t care, but it’s clear as day that Jessica is secretly a softie.
- After being MIA for a few episodes, Ruben (Kieran Mulcare), Jessica’s weird neighbour, is back. He spends the episode observing her with Malcolm, baking her banana bread and asking her to the movies. Her less than civil reactions to him are fun. He, unfortunately, is not.
- Hope (Erin Moriarty), meanwhile, finds herself in Orange Is The New Black territory. She demands money from Jessica to avoid becoming a prison bitch and gets attacked in her cell at night. It’s all a little too cliché for my tastes.
- The flashback to Trish presenting Jessica with the Jewel costume is a loving easter egg for comic readers, who will immediately recognize the sparkly white and blue outfit. Naturally TV Jessica is far too dismissive to ever consider wearing it. The result is one of the series’ best comedic scenes so far.
- Obviously after all of her training and other efforts to become self-sufficient, it is understandable why Trish is upset that she is knocked unconscious by Kilgrave’s bodyguards so easily. Let’s be honest, though: most people are not going to do well when tased. Chin up, Trish!
- Finally, “two for one hoagies” Jessica is my favourite Jessica persona thus far. Seeing Ritter in that costume definitely made my day.
- Trish (trying to explain Jessica’s strength to bar staff): “She did Jillian Michael’s thirty day shred.”
- Jessica (when Trish declares her superhero name should be Jewel): “Jewel is a stripper name. A really slutty stripper name. And if I wear that outfit, you’re going to have to call me cameltoe.”
1×06 ‘AKA You’re A Winner!’
After the excitement of another odd episode, once again the even episode disappoints. I won’t say that ‘AKA You’re A Winner’ is a bust, but it feels less substantial compared to ‘AKA The Sandwich Saved Me’, despite the emotional weight of exposing the massive secret in Luke and Jessica’s burgeoning relationship.
In some ways this episode is like 1×04 ‘AKA 99 Friends’ and the case of the week is a bit of a MacGuffin. While technically ‘AKA You’re A Winner’ is dedicated to Luke Cage’s efforts to track down the teenage son of an informant, it is really about the lengths that he will go to for closure in his wife’s death. Luke has (rightfully) suspected that there is more than meets the eye to the case, but the plot to find Antoine Greer is simply an excuse for Jessica to fret about his inevitable discovery of her role in Reva’s death.
It is dishonest to suggest that that’s all there is to the episode, though. Jessica’s unearthed memory that Reva was used to identify the location of a buried USB stick will likely turn out to be a significant plot point, but for the most part, 1×06 is concerned with Jessica’s desperation to hold onto the happiness that Luke offers. At this point in the series Malcolm and Trish have been sucked into Kilgrave’s world and poisoned by their interactions with him. Although Luke has been harmed by Kilgrave, his involvement is (kind of) at arm’s length. There’s a sense that if Jessica can only keep him away from discovering the truth of her involvement, their relationship can continue unabated and Luke won’t be tarnished by Kilgrave’s influence.
By revealing the truth, Luke now has a better understanding of how powerful the Big Bad is, and – more importantly – Luke’s role as a distraction to Jessica has been rescinded. It feels like a lot of time and energy dedicated for the pay-off, but the truth had to come out at some point. Better to get it over with now and move on as we head into the second half of the season.
- Jessica’s dumb blonde phone voice continues to amuse. At times you can see traces of Don’t Trust The B*tch in Apartment 23‘s Chloe in Ritter’s performance (not a bad thing), particularly the silliness of Jessica’s phone trickery.
- If there’s one story line from this episode that improves on the last, it is Hope. While I felt fairly dismissive of it in ‘AKA The Sandwich Saved Me’, the reveal that Hope orchestrated her own attack by Sissy Garcia in an effort to rid herself of Kilgrave’s progeny is deeply unsettling. The series has done a masterful job at showcasing how truly damaging Kilgrave’s physical and mental rape is, and Hope’s desperate determinedness to end her pregnancy speaks to the fashion in which rape continues to affect its victims long after the actual act itself has passed. It’s frank and disturbing and Jessica Jones deserves all of the accolades for refusing to water down or brush aside its relevancy.
- Kilgrave gets his own B-plot as he quietly goes about secretly buying Jessica’s childhood house. Initially I wondered why he buys it instead of just ordering the homeowner like he does with everyone else? Presumably he wants to keep the purchase of his new sanctuary secret. As always Tennant’s quietly malicious performance is pitch-perfect – malevolent with just a touch of flair/camp.
- Is the gambler ramming his head into the post Jessica Jones‘ equivalent of Daredevil‘s head smashed in a car door scene? Ugh.
- We learn that Jeri (Carrie-Anne Moss) wants to marry Pam (Susie Abromeit)? I still don’t care. I want more Moss in this series because I love her, but there had better be some pay-off with this story line down the road or I will be annoyed.
- Luke (when Malcolm worries Luke will hurt Jessica): “I don’t think that’s possible.”
- Jessica (when Jeri inquires if she was rude to Pam): “I’m rude to everyone.”
- Luke (when Jessica asks if the dogs are OK): “Of course they’re OK. I don’t hurt dogs.”
- Luke (after Jessica reveals that she would have kept the details of her involvement in Reva’s death quiet): “I was wrong: you are a terrible person.”
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available in its entirety on Netflix. Tune in Thursday for reviews of episodes 1×07 & 1×08.