New recaps of Jessica Jones will post Mondays and Thursdays.
With the stunning revelation at the end of episode two of Jessica Jones that Luke Cage does in fact have his patented unbreakable skin, Jessica and Luke get down to business of…getting to know each other a little better. There’s a nice quality in this scene with the two superpowered protagonists sleeping together in that they’ve not only found someone who may connect with them emotionally, but also someone who has experienced the same trials and tribulations when it comes to having special abilities. One of the strongest aspects of their relationship is that Jessica usually appears to be the one in full control, splitting the scene when she becomes freaked out after seeing a picture of Luke’s deceased wife for example. The danger of having another big Marvel player as a supporting character is that Luke would overshadow Jessica whenever the two were on the screen, but regardless of his stature, Krysten Ritter holds her own and it’s a testament to her strengths as an actor in bringing Jessica to the screen that allow her to do so.
What’s also great about the budding relationship between these “Defenders” is the conversation that directly follows their bedroom activities with the two asking one another questions about their powers. On paper, Luke and Jessica’s powers are fairly similar, minus Luke’s bullet-proof skin, so it helps in having the two connect even more at that point. The Avengers are briefly mentioned but for all intents and purposes, the two have yet to really encounter anyone else with their gifts, minus of course Jessica’s horrible run-ins with Kilgrave. The isolation of the pair is palpable and played well, cementing the duo as one of the strongest relationships to be found in the series, along with Trish and Jessica’s bromance. The weakest part of the show when it comes to relationships is the one to be found between Jessica and Hogarth. Hogarth acts as a necessary means to an end for Jessica in combating Kilgrave and protecting Hope, but her prickly demeanor and general coldness makes it difficult for the audience to pull for Jeri during any point in the series. If you want to devote time to a subplot and the characters involved are all somewhat unlikeable, you need to have a fairly strong hook to reel audiences in; the bubbling divorce between Jeri and her wife just isn’t clicking with me.
The episode starts veering once again toward Kilgrave with Jessica using her friendship with Trish to spread Hope’s message to the airwaves. Walker takes the opportunity to lambast “The Purple Man” – never referred to as such in the show – over the airwaves by heavily emasculating him. Jessica begins freaking out at the idea that Kilgrave may actually hear this and take out his anger on Trish, which he does by first calling the studio, and then by sending a mind-controlled police office to Walker’s house. This wasn’t as heavily explored in the comics, but this aspect of Kilgrave’s powers are terrifying and create a whole new dynamic to the show that we have not really seen. I find it strangely reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing, only turned on its ear. You cannot trust anyone in the show and so you can never get comfortable. While we may not be in a government installation in the Arctic, the sense of claustrophobia remains strong here, with anyone seemingly able to be a pawn for Kilgrave. What’s also strong with the antagonist is the level of dread that Jessica and others exhibit when referring to or encountering him. His powers are scary, and they are treated as such, especially considering his sociopathic behavior.
Jessica manages to save Trish’s life by administering a drug meant for Kilgrave which knocks her out, and then follows the cop back to the apartment where the big bad is sitting around, drinking a beer, and watching soccer as an unwilling woman stands idly by. Another strong aspect of David Tennant’s character here is that he has one of the most dangerous powers we’ve seen in comic book media, but he uses it as if he were a 12-year-old kid, simply walking into peoples’ lives and having them make him dinner, keep him company, or do random menial tasks for him. Here, we don’t have a man who is looking to use his abilities to enslave the population, rather, we have a man-child lashing out at the world because he was never taught any differently. As Jessica comes face to face with Kilgrave yet again, he cuts out with the quickness while having the family under his spell come at Jessica to slow her down. Once dealing with them, Jessica discovers a hidden room that has pictures of herself strewn all over the walls. It’s a creepy scene and goes even further to demonstrate the kind of man that we’re dealing with in Kilgrave. This finale seemed very reminiscent of the relationship between Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs.
With “AKA 99 Friends” the series sees a bump in the road in terms of quality, leaving the main Kilgrave plot and focusing on a wife employing Jessica to find out whether her husband is cheating on her. To be fair, Kilgrave is never too far from the proceedings with characters still trying to figure out how to combat the guy, but if you’re going to have a diverging path, it needs to be a little stronger than something you’d see on your standard fare police procedural. Of course, the nice twist that redeems this plotline is the idea that Eastman, the woman who hired Jessica, is in fact attempting to kill Jessica as revenge for the loss of her parents during the Chitauri battle at the tail end of the first Avengers movie. Ms. Jones had absolutely nothing to do with any of that, but the average civilian would simply blame all people with powers if they didn’t know any better, and that makes for a nice look into the inner working of the average mind of a Marvel Universe bystander. Jessica lashes out in an uncontrollable rage after being shot by Eastman, ripping apart the apartment the two were in and smashing her hands against a mirror on the wall. Jessica remains a very broken human being and it’s a nice, yet ultimately sad, approach to see that seep into every other aspect of her life.
Another interesting idea that’s presented here, which again was nowhere to be found in the comics, is the group of survivors of Kilgrave’s mind control who hold weekly meetings to talk about their encounter with the monster, as well as attempt to piece their lives back together. This of course leads to the shocking revelation that Malcolm, the drug addict who has been living next to Jessica this entire time, is in fact a man under the control of Kilgrave, taking pictures of Jess to fulfill the villain’s sick desires. It’s another neat building block in establishing that you can’t really trust any of the characters outside of Jessica in the show and continues to explore the theme of horror that Marvel studios had rarely touched.
On the supporting character side of things, a relationship between the police officer under Kilgrave’s control, Will, and Trish begins to heat up as Will continues to feel extremely guilty regarding trying to murder Walker against his will. At this point in the series, I don’t much care for Will. I don’t think he offers anything vastly different that we haven’t already gotten from Jessica or any one of the other victims for that matter. His interactions with the rest of the gang seems to be mostly an opportunity to chastise him for being out of his depths and re-establishing the menace of Kilgrave, but the other scenes in this episode are doing that just fine.
Ultimately, we’re still seeing a strong output from Jessica Jones, and while “AKA 99 Friends” may not be as high quality as the proceeding three episodes, it’s still a very good outing and isn’t any reason to step out of the world of Jessica Jones.
AKA It’s Called Whiskey –★★★★★ Excellent
AKA 99 Friends –★★★★ – Very Good
AKA Purple Notes:
– When exactly does this series take place in relation to Daredevil and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season I wonder? I ask because at both of those points, powered people have been revealed to the general public outside of the Avengers, so it would make the discussion between Luke and Jessica strange in terms of thinking they were the only two powered folks around.
– The scene where Jessica and Jeri are attempting to find victims of Kilgrave through face-to-face interviews at the Hogarth firm was fantastic. It gave the audience the opportunity to play gumshoe themselves by figuring out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth as each participant tells their story.
– Damn this show’s hard to watch sometimes! The cringe-worthy scenes supplied by Kilgrave throughout truly do cement him as one of Marvel’s best villains. You can just tell that Tennant is eating up everything with regards to the role.
– Trish: “My mom blew half the jury.”