Jessica Jones, Episode 11: AKA I’ve Got the Blues

And now, a conundrum. AKA I’ve Got the Blues is an episode that focuses on Jessica and Trish’s relationship but also features a whole lot of Evil Simpson (a plotline that, as I mentioned in my last recap, really bugs me) and doesn’t move the Kilgrave needle forward hardly at all. So what wins out: The “I heart female friendship” Jenny or the “get a damn move on with the plot already” Jenny?

Let me tell you what tipped the balance.

AKA I've Got the Blues

Patricia. Come on. Jessica just got hit by a truck. When someone is in great pain and sadness, you do not waft a blanket gently atop them. They will never feel secure in that case! You have to unfold the blanket and check that it covers all exposed parts of them below the neck, and then you have to tuck it in at the sides and bottom so they feel safe and secure. OTHERWISE WHAT IS YOUR LOVE WORTH.1

We finally get the Trish-and-Jessica origin story we’ve all been waiting for, and a reminder that Jessica Jones goes light on flashbacks but makes ’em count. Little Jessica, fresh from the car accident that killed her family, is just starting to discover her powers. Little Trish is rebelling against her TV show, her wig, and her abusive mother. It’s an angry-girl match made in heaven.

While I do not, as previously mentioned, care for the way in which Simpson’s storyline was handled, the show still does such a great job with the tension between him and Trish. Simpson comes to Trish’s work (red flag!) to apologize for scaring her, minimize what he actually did, and Find Jessica Prime Directive. Par for the Jessica Jones course, Trish doesn’t let Simpson control the narrative. When he says he was an asshole to her, she says, “I deal with assholes every day. You were violent and scary,” and she does her level best to keep him out of her office and away from Jessica.

AKA I've Got the Blues
This is a thing that goes both ways and it is the best thing about this show lady friendships always <3

Of course, this doesn’t work. Simpson lurks at Jessica’s office, pretending to still be her ally, and Jessica — who still has bruised ribs from getting hit by a truck while hunting half-heartedly for Kilgrave — pretends to believe him. They are not very good pretenders. Throwing each other through walls ensues.

Did I mention Simpson’s started taking these mysterious red pills that give him super strength? Well, he has. They have some weird side effects, such as saying the same words twice in very quick succession, and being extra-violent and scary. This is how he is able to throw Jessica through a wall. Trish shows up to save the day, but she and injured Jessica are no match for Superpowered!Simpson, until Trish takes one of Simpson’s pills.

“Without the blues to bring you down, you’ll die!” Simpson warns her. Trish coolly stabs him and says “Worth it,” and then she and Jessica tag-team beating the living shit out of him. And like — okay. I don’t think ladies on TV always have to be able to beat people up in order for them to count as strong. But also, it was fun to have this moment for Trish. As the greatest badass of our time and my favorite character on this show, I love her having the opportunity to be the heroine for Jessica that she’s always wanted to be. Her throat closes up and she has to be rushed to the hospital, cause Simpson’s red pills are shady af, but hey.

AKA I've Got the Blues

AKA I've Got the Blues

End of episode, Jessica gets a text from Kilgrave threatening Luke Cake. She gets to his bar just in time for it to spectacularly blow up. Luke Cage is okay, though; he has unbreakable skin. Mike Colter looks quite as attractive when on fire as at any other time. Big surprise.

“But Jenny,” I hear you say, “doesn’t Jessica spend any time at all in this episode hunting for Kilgrave?” She does, a bit, checking morgues for dead people of Albert’s age. It’s not, let’s say, her most dedicated Kilgrave-finding effort.

So, like, 9/10 on feelings. 2/10 on plot.

Jessica breaks things: Her ribs, walking into a truck. A pane of glass at the morgue as she’s trying to get in to see the John Doe who’s been brought in. A lamp on her desk when she kicks the desk into Simpson. Surprisingly few other things during her fight with Simpson, but that’s mainly because he’s doing most of the breaking.

  1. This worldview brought to you by: My dad, an inveterate and energetic tucker-inner.

Jessica Jones, Episode 10: AKA 1000 Cuts

In the cage room that is now a super-gross murder scene, AKA 1000 Cuts picks up right where AKA Sin Bin left off. Kilgrave compels Jeri to drive him to medical care, while Jessica rallies her remaining allies: Trish, Clemons, and a still-compelled Albert. Clemons takes over like a boss, ordering Trish not to call an ambulance until he can get some guys he trusts on the scene.1 Meanwhile, Jessica will go in pursuit of Kilgrave, and Trish will take Albert to a hotel where they can start working on a vaccine: Kilgrave’s power, Albert reveals, is a virus, and one to which Jessica’s blood may hold a cure.2

Left to his own devices, Clemons putters about the crime scene long enough to give Simpson time to show up, murder him, and set the whole crime scene on fire.

AKA 1000 Cuts

Bro, like — even if your plan is to murder Kilgrave, are you sure you don’t want this exculpatory evidence that provides proof of Kilgrave’s evil powers that nobody believes in? And also, even if Plan A is murder Kilgrave, is it that terrible an idea to have Plan B (vaccine) and Plan C (trial) underway as failsafes?

The Simpson plotline actually frustrates the hell out of me. Theoretically I could have been way into a story about how “Nice Guy” Simpson becomes a dangerous enemy under the influence of some misguided idea of What Masculinity Should Look Like (i.e., saving the day and getting the bad guy). But the way it plays out is kind of troubling. The primary ideological disagreement between Simpson and Jessica (both of whom are past victims of Kilgrave) is whether or not to let Kilgrave live.3 And as you know if you’ve watched the season all the way through, Jessica does eventually come around to Simpson’s way of thinking. So like — why was Simpson being so vilified for wanting to do the exact thing Jessica ends up doing?

The answer is supposed to be, I think, that he doesn’t listen to what Jessica wants. Of course, she doesn’t listen to what he wants, either, or to what Hope wants, or what any of the other Kilgrave survivors want. It’s odd! For a show that’s superb on the gaslighting of and violence against women (of which more in a minute), it weirdly gaslights Simpson (though not Hope, who wants the same thing Simpson does), then forestalls any potential argument in his favor by turning him into a murdering, unequivocal villain.

AKA 1000 Cuts
RIP, dude. It didn’t really make the world’s most-ever plot sense for you to be killed, yet here we are.

Meanwhile, in the grimmest of team-ups, a wounded Kilgrave forces Jeri to take him to a doctor she trusts: Her soon-to-be-ex-wife, Wendy.4 A stray command from Kilgrave accidentally makes Jeri reveal that she helped Hope abort Kilgrave’s child and kept the remains. On his way out the door, a furious Kilgrave orders Wendy to perform “death by a thousand cuts” on Jeri. Pam and Jessica show up in the very nick of time, and Pam — who continues to deserve better — knocks Wendy out with a heavy piece of bric-a-brac. Wendy hits her head on the corner of a glass table, and then all the lesbians are either dead or murderers. SHE SAID WITH A HEAVY SIGH.

On the other hand, it sets up an interesting parallel between Kilgrave and Jeri. As Pam realizes, with increasing horror, exactly what Jeri did, Jeri tries to replace the real story with a different one, a narrative more favorable to herself. “I didn’t do anything,” she says, in a scene chillingly reminiscent of Kilgrave’s insistence that Jessica was at fault in Reva’s death. “You chose to pick up that thing and crush her skull.”

AKA 1000 Cuts

There follows one of the best scenes in the series — predictably, between Kilgrave and Jessica. Having arrived at Jessica’s apartment with his demands (she gives up Albert in exchange for Kilgrave arranging Hope’s release), Kilgrave insists that she chose to stay with him. For eighteen seconds, he says.5 For eighteen seconds, on a rooftop, he was not controlling Jessica, and she still stayed with him.

But here’s what Jessica remembers: She was free, so briefly, from Kilgrave’s power, and for eighteen seconds she tried to shake free of the hold he had on her mind, to convince herself to jump off the rooftop. Just as she was making her decision, though, Kilgrave called her back. And then he came within a hair’s breadth of forcing her to cut off her own ears as a punishment for not listening to him right away.

I love this show for the way it takes on gaslighting. Women get this always. Didn’t you really want it though? Shouldn’t you have been walking in a safer area? Was it as big a deal as you’re making it? Aren’t you bringing it on yourself anyway? Kilgrave tries all of these tactics on Jessica, and neither she nor the show gives him an inch on it.

AKA 1000 Cuts

Through a series of events too stupid to rehearse here6, Kilgrave gains access to the entire Kilgrave support group and uses them as failsafes in the event that Jessica tries to kill him. He offers her a trade: Hope for Albert. Hope begs Jessica to kill Kilgrave7, and when Kilgrave explains that nah, Jessica will never kill him while she has a chance of saving Hope, Hope stabs herself in the throat with a piece of glass. She bleeds out in Jessica’s arms.

AKA 1000 Cuts
Downer episode, bro.

Jessica breaks things: The glass in Wendy’s door, to break in? I think. That could have been Pam actually. The pipe fixture in the restaurant where Kilgrave’s holding the support group, to save them all from death by hanging.

  1. Lester. Goddamn. Holt.
  2. I guess Albert just has vaccine-making supplies on hand wherever he goes? Like all scientists do?
  3. Hope thinks not, BY THE WAY.
  4. Again: Do all doctors keep medical bags in their house? To do stitches on private citizens? I am pretty sure scientists don’t actually keep vaccine supplies lying around, but the doctor-medical-bag thing could be truth in television. Anyone?
  5. The title of this episode should have been “18 Seconds,” incidentally.
  6. Malcolm blurts, is the short version
  7. MAYBE SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE ASKED HER OPINION EARLIER.

Jessica Jones, Episode 9: AKA Sin Bin

After the mesmerizing two-hander episode from last week, AKA Sin Bin is a bit of a letdown. It’s a perfectly serviceable piece of television in that it gets Jessica and Kilgrave from point A (he is captured) to point B (he is freed) without too much of the lagging and lying around that plague this show.

(Jessica Jones would have benefited by being ten episodes, rather than thirteen. Discuss.)

Compared to last week, which was nothing but beautiful character notes for Jessica and Kilgrave, while also advancing the plot in wonderful and surprising ways, AKA Sin Bin sets character-building to one side and focuses solely on the plot. Jessica has Kilgrave now, and she hopes to beat a confession out of him, for the camera. Of course this backfires, because Jessica — as we’ve seen before — doesn’t have it in her to play the long game, and Kilgrave plays nothing but.

AKA Sin Bin

He knows that he has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by revealing the truth to Jeri or the camera, and he behaves accordingly. And in any case, as Jeri explains icily to Jessica, the confession won’t be any use if it occurs under duress; it has to be witnessed by an officer of the law.

This sounds like a case for: LESTER HOLT.

AKA Sin Bin
ilu Lester Holt

Lester Holt (okay okay his real name is Detective Clemons) is disinclined to acquiesce to Jessica’s request. He is two years away from retirement with his full pension, and he doesn’t have time to be chasing after ghosts.1 But Jessica gets him to come to the Cage Warehouse and handcuffs him to a wall so he can watch Kilgrave reacting to the other half of Jessica’s plan, which is:

HIS PARENTS. Using clues from the video of Kilgrave’s tragic childhood, Jessica’s able to track down his parents. As extraordinary luck would have it, they are currently in New York. His mother has been attending Malcolm’s survivors’ group anonymously, and Jessica recognizes her from her picture. This is exceptionally convenient as plot points go, but since I don’t want this to be dragged out any more than it needs to be, let’s say it’s fine.

The Official Plan is to let Kilgrave’s parents in to talk to him, have his mother betray him by stabbing him suddenly, and then watch as he mind-controls them for the camera. But oh no! When Jessica punches the electrocute-everyone button to stop Kilgrave’s mother from stabbing herself to death with her Knife o’ Betrayal, nothing happens!

GUESS WHY.

AKA Sin Bin
THIS BITCH RIGHT HERE

Okay, here is my problem with this. My problem is not that it was foolish of Jessica to leave the Neutral Evil Jeri alone with Kilgrave.2 It’s not even that I don’t believe Jeri would be stupid enough to trust Kilgrave.3 It’s that I find it absolutely impossible to believe that Jeri couldn’t think of any other way out of the Wendy situation.

The premise of Wendy that we are asked to buy into is that she is so extremely good and virtuous that Jeri has no way of blackmailing her out of the proposed divorce settlement.4 And we are asked, further, to believe that Jeri cannot think of any single alternative method of stopping Wendy from doing exactly what she wants.

Y’all, before I continue, I want you to understand that the following gif is an accurate depiction of the inside of my brain.

I like following rules (Agents of Shield)

Jeri, by contrast, is supposedly the sharkiest lawyer in town. And yet: Threaten Wendy’s friends (you know who they are). Threaten her pet projects you’ve been funding (she cares about those). Threaten her relatives (they can’t all be living blameless lives). See how easy this is? Are you seriously telling me that Jeri Hogarth was able to think of zero of these ideas? There aren’t elements of Wendy’s life that she’s unwilling to live without that Jeri can hold over her head? BULLSHIT.

Anyway, whatever. Because of Jeri’s signal failure of imagination, Kilgrave is able to murder his mother and escape from his cage. Jessica grabs him to stop him from leaving; he orders her to let go; and she doesn’t. This triggers a flashback to when Kilgrave ordered her to come back to him after she killed Reva, and she didn’t do it, and it’s like, a big revelation moment.

Except, I mean — didn’t we already know this? We have seen that flashback a few times now. Is Jessica only just now realizing that she has some measure of immunity to Kilgrave’s powers of persuasion? BECAUSE WE ALL ALREADY KNEW THAT.

All in all, a frustrating episode, which brings to a head a number of the plot problems this show has been struggling with along, while doing very little of the character and theme work that I enjoy.

Oh, and Simpson heals mysterious quickly from his bomb-induced injuries, with the help of a mysterious doctor and some mysterious pills. Snore.

Jessica breaks things: NOTHING. Jessica breaks NOTHING in this episode, if you can imagine such a world. By contrast:

Trish breaks things: The glass cell where Kilgrave is being kept, in an attempt to stop Kilgrave. This does not work. It opposite of stops him. Good try, though, Trish. Your heart was in the right place.

Lester Holt breaks things: His goddamn wrist, trying to get out of his handcuffs to obey Kilgrave’s command to come with him. Oh Lester Holt. Oh honey. Stay with us, baby. We love you, stay with us, stay aliiiiiiiiiiiiiive.

  1. Hands up everyone who heard this line and immediately knew Lester Holt was going to die.
  2. It was, but Jessica has a lot on her plate right now, and I’m not surprised she didn’t think of that.
  3. I can maybe buy that she would, although it’s a stretch.
  4. Never mind that there’s nothing stopping Wendy from releasing the damning emails after she takes the divorce settlement — a consideration absolutely nobody ever mentions. Ugh I can’t with this plotline.

Jessica Jones, Episode 8: AKA WWJD

“AKA WWJD” is my favorite episode of this series, even though (or maybe because!) it’s mostly just characters chatting. The closest thing to action is a whispered, cautious exchange of punches between Jessica and Simpson, when he’s trying to get in the way of Jessica doing what she wants.

After the events of last week, Jessica has given up: She’s going to live with Kilgrave, in his creepy recreation of her childhood home. Though the house is full of servants and bodyguards who will kill themselves if Jessica attempts to harm Kilgrave, Kilgrave still insists that he wants her to have freedom of choice.

AKA WWJD

Krysten Ritter and David Tennant are spectacular together. Ritter’s playing the hell out of her part (as always), and Tennant does the impossible and makes the viewer genuinely buy into the notion that he’s in love with Jessica, at least to the extent that he understands the concept of love. He’s charismatic and funny, or he would be if everything he’s doing weren’t designed to control Jessica’s behavior. And meanwhile, of course, he lets himself off the hook by never actually magic-compelling her to do anything.

To make matters more interesting, Jessica gets the idea to harness Kilgrave for the power of good, at which point Whiskey Jenny and I exploded with delight1 and tried to sort out if it was okay morally for us to want the rest of the season to just be “Kilgrave and Jessica fight evil.”2 Jessica takes Kilgrave out to the scene of a hostage crisis and walks him through getting everyone, including the hostage taker, out of the house safely. Kilgrave loves it.

AKA WWJD

So then the question becomes, does Jessica have a moral obligation to stay with Kilgrave, to teach him to use his compelling superpower in a way that helps, rather than hurts, people? That she comes to this question after a huge fight with Kilgrave in which he utterly refuses to admit that what he did to her was rape (“Ugh, I hate that word”) makes her dilemma even more impossible.

What’s that? It sounds like this is a problem for Trish Walker? THE DEVIL YOU SAY.

AKA WWJD
Me, any time a Jessica Jones episode doesn’t heavily feature Trish.

In pursuit of an answer to the question “What would Trish do?” Jessica gets permission from Kilgrave to leave the house for a while. She lays the whole dilemma before Trish and asks what Trish would do. “I don’t know,” says Trish. “Yes, you do,” Jessica answers. “You just don’t want me to do it.”

I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

Ahem, anyway, so Jessica heads back to Kilgrave’s house with Chinese food, knocks out his servants so they can’t hurt themselves, and then gags Kilgrave so she can inject him with sufentanil. “This is what Jessica would do,” she snarls at him while she’s needling him in the neck. I’m going to assume this is a plan she concocted with Trish, because, well, I love it when they concoct plans together.

AKA WWJD
Or hug.

Simpson tries to get her to murder Kilgrave, but SHE WON’T GODDAMN DO IT. Jessica. SERIOUSLY. The collateral damage stacking up behind you not killing Kilgrave is becoming untenable. Get a damn grip and kill him already.

Jessica breaks things: Does tearing things count? If so, the dress Kilgrave buys her, which is purple AF. A wine bottle when she’s having dinner with Kilgrave (I would too, hell).

Perhaps the most restrained Doctor Who reference imaginable: Kilgrave tells Jessica the woeful story of his life, how his parents experimented on him medically throughout his childhood and then abandoned him when he was ten years old; and she says, “You’re not ten anymore.”3

AKA WWJD
in my heart anyway

What are Jeri and Pam up to? Not much. Pam has two separate cleavage-revealing wrap dresses in this episode, and Wendy’s demanding most of Jeri’s assets in the divorce. Oh, and Jeri texts Jessica demanding dirt on Wendy, but Kilgrave has her phone. He texts back, “Bitches, right?” Ahahahaha. I demand the Jeri/Kilgrave spin-off that we all deserve.

Drinking game rules: Drink whenever there’s unnecessary camera close-ups of needles. It’s not that this happens so often in Jessica Jones. It’s just that I hate needles and need compensatory alcohol in order to deal with them.

  1. We love a team-up. We love a team-up so much that it sometimes blinds us to reality.
  2. Probably not.
  3. Did I notice this only on a rewatch and scream “OH MY GOD TEN TEN TEN”? Maybe. I don’t have to tell you all my secrets.

Jessica Jones, Episode 7: AKA Top-Shelf Perverts

The good thing about “AKA Top-Shelf Perverts,” the mid-point of this season of Jessica Jones, is that it sets up a crucial turning point in the over-arching plot. No longer will the show waste our time pretending to care about Jessica’s private-eye business; from here on in, it’s going to be all Kilgrave all the time. This will not only permit us to really dig into the fascinating, creepy, nuanced performance David Tennant is capable of bringing to what could have been a very one-note villain. It also lets the show get back to doing what it’s truly good at: exploring how this damaged protagonist (and Krysten Ritter is just excellent in the part) will find a way to keep surviving in the aftermath of her trauma.

It’s just…

Okay, well, I’ll run you through the events of the episode real quick. While Jessica’s out trying to drink away her misery over what happened with Luke last time, annoying neighbor twin Ruben is getting murdered by Kilgrave for trying to bring Jessica some banana bread.

AKA Top-Shelf Pervert

Upon discovering this, Jessica has a breakdown and develops a plan to get herself locked up in a maximum security prison. Once she’s there, she reasons, Kilgrave will have to compel his way past a whole bunch of levels of security, the whole thing will be captured on surveillance videos, and she’ll have proof. This is a Trauma Plan not a Proper Plan, but Jessica commits to it anyway and refuses to be talked out of it by Malcolm, Trish, or Jeri. She shows up at the local precinct with Ruben’s head in an effort to unnerve Lester Holt into tossing her into supermax.

AKA Top-Shelf Perverts
Lester Holt’s actually more skeptical of this murder confession than you might expect. Cause he’s Lester Holt. He knows what’s up.

Sadly for her, Kilgrave foils the plan, showing up at the precinct to erase their security footage, take off with Ruben’s head, and — by the way — profess his undying love for Jessica.

On a first watch, I was mainly annoyed that the show went to the trope well and came up with “sexually obsessed with Our Heroine” as a motivation for the villain’s behavior. I’m willing to let in slide, in retrospect, just because I do think the show finds new things to do with it in the upcoming episodes, and because David Tennant sells the material so well. A line like “You are the first thing — excuse me, person — I ever wanted that walked away from me” could have been a disaster if anyone else besides David Tennant was saying it. In his delivery, it’s flawless.

Actually what’s wrong with this episode is that it’s so earnestly writerly it’ll make your teeth hurt. “Tell Ruben we can go to the zoo,” intones Annoying Alive Twin Robyn yearningly, like she’s whatever theater girl played Emily in your high school production of Our Town. “I’ll take him to see the giraffes.” Or across the way there’s Luke Cage’s substitute barback wisely asking Jessica, “You know the trouble with burning a bridge? You have to learn how to swim. . . or fly.”

AKA Top-Shelf Perverts

Per uzhe, the best, least forced, moments are about Trish and Jessica’s friendship. Trish, in a persistently unsidekicky manner, has been pursuing her own lead on Kilgrave, because she’s awesome and unrelenting. On Jessica’s farewell tour of New York City, she stops by Trish’s estranged mother’s studio to threaten her with bodily harm if she comes near Trish ever. “You will respect Trish’s wishes,” she informs her stonily. “Which I will enforce.” (It’s Trish and Jessica’s relationship in a nutshell!) And:

AKA Top-Shelf Perverts

AKA Top-Shelf Perverts

YOU TWO.

Over in Jeri-land, Drinky Jessica tries to strong-arm Wendy into signing the divorce papers so Jeri can marry Pam(‘s boobs). Wendy takes exception to this and shows up at Jeri’s office with print-outs of emails Jeri wrote to her about bribing jurors. She demands seventy-five percent of Jeri’s assets, she says, or she’s calling the New York Bar Association. Pam is super cool about it because Pam is Anne Boleyn but also SERIOUSLY GIRL you are going into court and I can see like eighty percent of the surface area of your boobs so RECONSIDER YOUR WRAP DRESS MAYBE.

Jessica breaks things: A lock on the door to a bridge cause she wants to climb up it and gaze down at the city as part of her farewell tour, while the show’s theme song plays in the background. Her handcuffs, in the interrogation room, to prove to Lester Holt that she has superpowers. A chair in the interrogation room, same reason.

Jessica Jones, Episode 6: AKA You’re a Winner

And now, the case of Luke Cage’s dead wife. In “AKA You’re a Winner,” Luke hires Jessica to investigate what appears to be a missing pothead but actually it’s stealthily about Luke trying to find out what happened to his wife. You remember Reva? Kilgrave ordered Jessica to kill her? And then he got hit by a bus right afterward, and Jessica’s failure to double-tap in that moment is what led us all to the events of this show?

The first problem with centering an episode on Reva is that we are all tired of the trope where the superhero is motivated by the brutal death of his wife. Since Reva’s one of a very small number of black ladies in this show, it’s particularly frustrating that she’s so unpresent in this show as a character, even though she is very extremely present as a plot device. “AKA You’re a Winner” brings all those issues to the forefront, and even Mike Colter’s flawless face and cuticles cannot unscowl my scowl.

AKA You're a Winner
He’s too cool for fools.

The second problem with centering an episode on Reva is that we, the viewer, have already solved the mystery Luke is trying to solve, and that means that the tension has to live in the question of when and how Luke’s going to find out that Jessica’s the weapon Kilgrave used to kill his wife. The easiest and most sensible way for this to happen, of course, would be for Jessica to tell him. There is, in particular, a moment when Luke comes to her, all sorry and guilty that he didn’t believe her when she one time tried to sort of tell him about Kilgrave, and strongly emphasizing that the things she did under Kilgrave’s control aren’t her fault.

Believe me when I tell you that this scene was the death of Whiskey Jenny. “I’m a piece of shit,” says Jessica. “You have no idea what I’ve done.”

I HATE THIS TROPE, howled Whiskey Jenny.

“It doesn’t matter,” says Luke Cage. “It was him, it wasn’t you.”

THIS TROPE IS THE WORST TROPE IN THE WHOLE WORLD, Whiskey Jenny screamed.

(says Luke Cage)

Then Jessica still doesn’t tell him the truth, and then she and Luke have sex, and Whiskey Jenny died of rage, and now she is dead and I’m going to have to find a new podcast partner. Any volunteers?

Eventually, Jessica does tell the truth, like you always knew she would have to, and it is awful. Luke Cage says this:

AKA You're a Winner

and my whole binge-watching team went “ewwwwwwww.”1

While the A plot is grinding its tedious way to its inevitable conclusion, Hope Schlottman tries to procure an abortion in the B plot, Kilgrave having evidently impregnated her. This is remarkable mainly in how little anybody tries to talk her out of it (though the show seems to think we will need to be talked into siding with Hope, which I did not), but also because it gives us revolutionary new information about Pam and Jeri. Please help me parse this, friends. I missed it the first time around, and I fear I am misinterpreting it now.

Jessica calls Jeri to ask her to get an abortofacient for Hope, and she is rude to Pam when Pam answers the phone. Pam is wearing another wrap dress that made me go “Boobs! Boobs!” so drink, I guess, for that. When Jeri gets on the phone with Jessica, she defends Pam hotly, insisting that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Pam.

AKA You're a Winner

Now. On my first watch,2 I laughed at this scene and said we should just append “‘s boobs” to anything Jeri was saying about Pam because there was no way Jeri was for real that in love with Pam, or if she was, the show had signally failed to show it or make us care for it. But here’s what I missed.

After Jeri (having made this declaration of love) gets off the phone with Jessica, she reaches out for Pam’s hand in a sexy manner, and Pam says, “I want to. I really, really want to. But first, the divorce.” As she leaves the office, she looks back and says, very adorably, “I’m Catholic!” Am I interpreting this right? These two are not having a sexy sex affair, as I had been assuming? Jeri wants to have an affair,3 and Pam’s keeping it to kisses and snuggles in the limousine.

Y’all, I have misjudged Pam all this time. Pam is playing the long game with Jeri, Anne-Boleyn-style, and I LOVE IT.

Meanwhile, Kilgrave takes more minutes of screen time than are strictly necessary to buy Jessica’s childhood home. The one on Birch Street (the Birch Street of the cognitive behavioral exercises Jessica has been doing all this time to calm her PTSD). Not cool, Kilgrave.

Jessica breaks things: The padlock on the pot warehouse door. Some pot tables in the pot warehouse. Luke’s heart for real this time by not just GODDAMN TELLING HIM THE TRUTH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Drinking game rules: None to add. Except if you are watching anything with me, drink when I comment on how attractive someone’s hands are. Mike Colter, for instance, has exCEPTionally well-tended cuticles. He has nice hands generally, but then his cuticles are like, really on point. It’s distracting. No wonder Jessica can’t get any work done when he’s around.

  1. Except for Whiskey Jenny. As I’ve mentioned, she was by this time dead from furiousness, and that situation is ongoing.)
  2. I was, you understand, distracted by my dear friend’s sudden death from rage.
  3. Who could blame her? Pam has A+ boobs.

Jessica Jones, Episode 5: AKA The Sandwich Saved Me

It’s toxic masculinity ahoy in “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me,” as Jessica teams up (rather grudgingly) with Simpson to track Kilgrave down and tranq him with Jessica’s newly acquired sufentanil. Simpson usefully discovers an old CDC facility with a hermetically sealed soundproof room where Jessica can keep Kilgrave once she’s got him.

On my first watch-through of this show, I hoped that Jessica and Simpson were enjoying the kind of enmity that would later grow into grudging respect and then total trust. I can’t tell you how excited Whiskey Jenny and I were for Jessica to make use of Simpson’s exfiltration army guy skills (perhaps even his quote-unquote boys?) in a glorious team-up. And yes, this may have blinded us to what was really going on with Simpson. In our defense, Trish liked him.

In Trish’s defense, she sleeps with him and enjoys it, but she never likes him enough to let his opinion take precedence over Jessica’s (or her own).

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me
NEVER CHANGE, TRISH

Nor does she like him enough to not call him on his bullshit, such as when he reassures her that the getaway van she’ll be driving is an automatic: a remark I missed the first time around (I was cooking and also drinking and that is why), but which on a rewatch made me howl with rage.

Can I tell y’all a real story from my real life? When I lived in New York (a town of relatively few drivers) and it would come up in conversation that I can drive stick, very often dudes would first say, “Wow!” and then they would say, “I mean, it’s a completely useless skill at this point.” And I want to take this opportunity to say to all those dudes that while you covered super smoothly, I nevertheless managed to deduce that I had made you feel less manly, AND I LOVED IT.1

Anyway, the team’s plan to follow Malcolm to Kilgrave (while wearing super-stealthy hoodies to conceal their identities) and then tranq him works perfectly, except that Kilgrave has failsafe thug bros standing by, plus a tracker in his jacket to assist his thugbros in finding him. Not for nothing, but if Simpson’s boys had been permitted to come on this mission, they’d’ve been awfully useful in the ensuing fight. A fight which, I may add, Jessica’s very small, Simpson’s-boys-less team loses, and Team Thugbro wins.

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me
It super bums out Trish.

The scene where they’re driving away from Union Square with Kilgrave’s unconscious body in the back of the automatic-transmission van is the first time2 that I howled at the screen “WHY DON’T YOU JUST KILL HIM JESSICA.” The answer, as we’ll find out, is that it’s all for Hope’s3 sake, but not for her sake in the sense that Jessica ever asks for Hope’s opinion or provides a satisfactory explanation for why Hope’s freedom is more important than the freedom and safety of all the other people Kilgrave will compel, injure, and murder going forward.

Speaking of which, since Kilgrave got Malcolm hooked on heroin in the first place, in order to ensure his cooperation in taking photographs of Jessica, Jessica feels she should help Malcolm get off the drugs. She handcuffs him to the toilet and gives him a tough love speech about fighting real hard and making good and moral choices, then leaves him a whole bunch of heroin. Get it? Cause if he takes the heroin that’s a good choice, but if he doesn’t it’s a bad choice?

Like the g.d. hero of a future social worker we all knew him to be, Malcolm flushes the heroin down the toilet — but, hey, show? You know that addiction doesn’t equal moral weakness, right? I am sure you do know that. And you just did not make it super clear in this one moment. Good talk, show. I am happy we are on the same page about this and many other important social issues.

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me

There are also some flashbacks, which are interesting but not particularly integrated. Some things we learn about pre-Kilgrave Jessica:

1. She used to work for basically the tiny angry Wallace Shawn character from The Incredibles.

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me
This is how Jessica reacts to him, too.

2. She did not appreciate it when bros disrespected Trish.

3. She was permitted to sit with her boots up on Trish’s khaki-colored sofa. I love my sisters a lot, but nah.

4. She didn’t want to be a superhero nearly as much as Trish wanted her to be a superhero. Nor as much as Trish wanted (and wants) to be one. Trish even made her a superhero costume.

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me
Sister-friends! Also, I want that sweater.

I’m going on recapping hiatus for the holiday, but I will be back in the New Year to complain about the Hope thing and the Jeri thing but to sing all the praises of Trish and Jessica and Luke Cage.

  1. Not having a car-related skill doesn’t make you seem less manly to a neutral observer. Getting all insecure about it does tho.
  2. But oh! so very far from the last
  3. Yes.

Jessica Jones, Episode 4: AKA 99 Friends

The most important thing about Jessica Jones is its vehement assertion of the personhood of its characters. David Tennant’s villainy, as Jessica’s unintentionally-formed Kilgrave support group makes clear, is that he sees attributes and not people, and responds accordingly: a car and a driver (not a man with a toddler son); beautiful music (not the cellist creating it).

The case of the week1 reflects this. What seems — once Jessica finally decides that Jessica Hecht from Friends isn’t a Kilgrave henchman2 — to be a routine infidelity case turns into a trap: Jessica Hecht lost her mother when the aliens invaded New York, and she’s looking for revenge on someone with superpowers. Jessica’s just the superpowered person she happens to be able to find.

Unsurprisingly, Jessica can’t with this.

AKA 99 Friends

Nobody on this show will ever again remember that Jessica is supposed to be a private eye. Jessica Hecht from Friends‘s bigotry and annoying voice turn out to be functionally the last nail in the coffin of Jessica Jones’s burgeoning(ish) career as a gumshoe.

Her nonpaying career as a Kilgrave-tracker-downer, however, continues apace. Following last week’s revelation that someone has been photographing her, Jessica spends most of AKA 99 Friends feeling haunted and watched. There’s one scene in particular, where she’s thinking of Kilgrave and walking through the streets of New York, and she’s hyperaware of every noise on the street, from car horns to catcalls. Knowing that she’s being watched and followed, every tiny thing around her feels like a potential threat (: The Being a Lady Story.).

In a law office across town, the beautiful and talented Carrie-Anne Moss is setting herself up for ruin. From the minute she says this,

AKA 99 Friends

you know things are going to go south. Kilgrave isn’t reducible to his power, and Jeri’s inability to remember that won’t work out well for her.3

Pam’s boobs continue to be shockingly prominent for a business law firm office where important law business is conducted, but she acquires another attribute besides boobs: sometimes disagreeing with Jeri.4 When Jeri takes Pam to lunch at the same restaurant where she proposed to her wife, and then they run into said wife (Wendy! still a jerk!), Jeri says, “She does not get this goddamn restaurant.” And Pam says, “Yeah. She does.”

Great work, Pam! Way to stand up to your sharky girlfriend when she’s in the wrong! Also, and I’m saying this as a friend, you might consider finding some dresses that show less of your boobs. And hey, since I’m giving you advice anyway, don’t date your married boss probably. That doesn’t work out well even for people who don’t live in universes where mind control is a thing.

AKA 99 Friends
Enjoy this gif; you will probably see it on this blog again at some point

After Trish’s near-death experience last time, Jessica and Simpson (you remember him? the cop who got Kilgraved to kill her last time?) both do their best to protect her. Simpson brings her an illegal gun and chats to her for hours outside her apartment door, which culminates in some hearty sexing.5 Jessica talks her into giving Kilgrave an on-air apology for what she said about him last time. Guess whose plan works out.

Y’all, I just love Trish. Even though she makes some choices in this episode that I wouldn’t’ve (accepting Simpson’s present in a box; chatting to Simpson through the door; letting Simpson into her apartment even though last time he was there he tried to kill her; sexing it up with Simpson), I love the trust and admiration between her and Jessica. Trish tries to make Simpson feel better by saying, “What Kilgrave did to you, he did to Jessica. It doesn’t matter how strong you are.” Lady frieeeeeeeeeeeeeeends!

Jessica breaks things: The padlock on a building where Jessica Hecht from Friends is practicing her gun-shootin’ skills. A glass panel in Jeri’s office when Jeri starts getting too sympathetic/interested about Kilgrave. Some plaster, a chair, a mirror, a bed, the radiator, and some very attractive double doors in Jessica Hecht from Friends‘s creepy murder building. The lock on Malcolm’s apartment door.

Drinking game rules: I was going to say, Drink if someone comes to Jessica with a case; but she literally will never have one again after this. So it would be sort of a waste of a drinking game rule.

Watching TV with Whiskey Jenny: When Simpson helps Jessica find out who’s following her, he says “I’ve got your six.” Jessica rolls her eyes at this. Whiskey Jenny and I both shrieked “HE HAS HER SIX! TEAM-UP TEAM-UP!” That…is not ultimately exactly how this plotline ended up going.

  1. HA HA, just kidding, Jessica doesn’t have cases every week, did you think this was a procedural or something? (Legitimately, though, I think this would have been a better show if Jessica had solved more cases during it.)
  2. How is Jessica paying her bills, though, seriously? She can’t be paying them with private eye work, since she doesn’t trust the one single private eye client she’s had in weeks.
  3. I mean, SPOILER, it’ll still work out better for her than it will for literally any other queer person on this show, but still not great.
  4. Why yes, I am writing a recap centered around recognizing people’s humanity and how bad a person you are if you reduce them down to a single one of their attributes. What was the question?
  5. It’s not the choice I would have gone with but you do you, Trish!

Jessica Jones, Episode 3: AKA It’s Called Whiskey

What’s that you say? It’s time to talk about Mike Colter now? YES OKAY.

Up to now, we’ve mostly seen Luke Cage in a state of chilly calm, whether he’s offering Jessica free drinks or fussing at her for sending cops his way. And don’t get me wrong; Mike Colter is amazing at chilly calm. But in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey,” he and Jessica are getting to know one another, and it’s fun to see both of them a little more relaxed and getting to know each other. Mike Colter’s cheekbones are just really really on point.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
mmkay will try not to then

Plus, how often do we get a smile this genuine out of Jessica? It’s nice, right?

AKA It's Called Whiskey

If Mike Colter’s considerable charisma weren’t enough to get me excited for the Luke Cage show (it is), and if I didn’t care that Alfre Woodard is also in it and it’s got a black showrunner (I do), the fact that his superpowers are the result of an experiment would do it. If I’m very, very good and eat all my spinach, can the Luke Cage show please, please, pretty please be as incisively critical of America’s history of medical exploitation of black bodies as Jessica Jones has been of rape culture?

Sadly, their chemistry/true love isn’t meant to be, because the picture in the medicine cabinet is of his dead wife, and flashbacks reveal to us that Jessica — under Kilgrave’s influence — is the one that killed her. By the end of the episode, Jessica realizes how messed up this all is, and breaks things off with Luke Cage. Good call, Jess. I mean, a better call would have been NOT GODDAMN SLEEPING WITH HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE, but I understand we’ve moved past the point where that was a possible outcome.

Speaking of medicine and black folks, Jessica’s still on her quest to score some sufentanil.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
Your daily reminder that Trish is the best.

And on this quest, she does the purely shittiest thing we’ve seen from her so far: She makes it look like Malcolm (remember him? her peanut-butter-loving junkie neighbor?) has attacked a hospital nurse in order to create a distraction that will allow her to swipe the anesthetic. Dude, come on. You couldn’t think of literally anything else that would create a comparable distraction?

AKA It's Called Whiskey
YES. AND NOT IN A FUN WAY, EITHER.

(Oh, before she does that, she tries to get Jeri’s wife Wendy to score her some drugs. Wendy doesn’t believe the story Jessica’s telling her about Kilgrave, and she writes her a prescription for an antipsychotic. Which — dick move, Wendy? And also, I’m pretty sure it’s unethical to write prescriptions as a punchline?)

Jeri — sharky lawyer that she is — uses Trish’s radio show to put out a call for more Kilgrave victims without making it seem like she believes in mind control. Smart, Jeri. When she ridicules the notion that Hope was telepathically controlled, Trish completely loses her temper and talks all the shit about Kilgrave that she can before Jessica stalks into her recording booth to break her microphones.

Trish: So he gets to run around, destroying lives, destroying your life, and I have to just sit here and shut up?

I mean, yeah, sort of, hon. But I love that you’re this pissed off about it. A running theme in Jessica and Trish’s relationship is that Trish is the one who truly wants to be a hero, and Jessica’s the one who’s actually equipped to do it. When Kilgrave, inevitably, sends a brainwashed cop to kill Trish as a punishment for her mouthiness, Trish fights like absolute hell, but Jessica still has to show up to rescue her. (Poor Trish.)

Thinking fast on her feet like she do, Jessica convinces the cop he’s killed Trish, slips Trish’s phone (which has a tracking app) into his pocket, and then tracks him to his rendezvous with Kilgrave.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
Finally getting a look at him! Kilgrave!

The full flashback happens with Luke Cage’s wife now. Kilgrave told Jessica to “take care of her,” and Jessica punched Luke Cage’s wife so hard that some combination of the punch and the fall killed her. Then, as Kilgrave called her back, Jessica continued to walk away from him. So it seems that Jessica has at least some measure of resistance to Kilgrave’s compulsion powers?

Though she’s now armed with the sufentanil, Jessica has to put off drugging Kilgrave in order to stop the poor Kilgraved cop from jumping off a roof. Then she has to fight off, but not kill, the three residents of the house where Kilgrave’s been staying, all of whom have instructions to stop her from following him. When they’re finally all unconscious, Jessica finds a large room that absolutely plastered with recent photographs of her. It is truly the murderiest of murder walls.

AKA It's Called Whiskey

Next time, we’ll be dealing with the fallout of this time, particularly with how it’s affected Trish. (Trish!) And also with the question of who the hell’s been taking all those photographs.

Jessica breaks things: A pane of glass in her apartment, while sexing Luke Cage (so that one’s on both of them!). Luke Cage’s bedframe, also while sexing (ditto). Trish’s recording equipment, to stop her from badmouthing Kilgrave on air. The new lock on her newly-repaired door. Luke Cage’s heart a little bit. A bunch of miscellaneous items in the house where Kilgrave’s staying, as she fights off its brainwashed occupants.

Drinking game rules: Drink for super-obvious product placement! Such as Jessica’s Acer laptop. (This is a universal drinking rule in fact. Except maybe don’t do it when you’re watching Jane the Virgin, because I don’t want you to ruin your liver.)

Jessica, private-investigating: “He teaches in the biology department, or chemistry, I don’t know, is biochemistry a thing? I don’t know which one, it’s science.”

Jessica Jones, Episode 2: AKA Crush Syndrome

“AKA Crush Syndrome” opens on Jessica being interrogated by the cops in the wake of Hope’s parents’ deaths. The scene has the kind of framing I love in this show, where we observe Jessica at an odd angle — through a window, behind a door, in a mirror. We’re watching Jessica, of course; but more importantly, the way this show’s shot doesn’t let you forget that Jessica is constantly being watched. The camera literalizes the feeling Jessica (and, to a lesser extent, ladies in public spaces) has of being perpetually on display for an unseen audience. It’s a neat trick that HOLY GOD IS THAT LESTER FROM THE WIRE?

AKA Crush Syndrome
I HAVE MISSED YOU SO MUCH LESTER

Wow, I did not notice this my first time through. On a rewatch, I noticed as soon as he looked at Jessica over his glasses said “I love antiques,” because — well, see above. That was a very Lester Freamon thing to say.

Sadly, Jessica doesn’t know he’s Lester Freamon from The Wire, so she gets out of there as fast as she can. She goes home to gaze sadly into the mirror and take mercy on a cockroach she finds in her bathroom. She will later have to kill this cockroach when it crawls back up out of her sink. It’s not the subtlest of metaphors, but then, I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining about subtlety considering that Jessica’s next move is to head to the jail to visit Kilgrave’s latest victim, Hope.1

From Hope, we learn a little about Jessica’s time with Kilgrave, and Jessica discovers that Kilgrave blames Jessica for leaving him behind, injured, in the aftermath of the bus crash that she believed had killed him. And when Hope says, “You should have stayed to make sure,” it’s hard, as the viewer, not to think, YES JESSICA, YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED TO MAKE SURE. But the show never lets you forget about the trauma Jessica herself experienced with Kilgrave; and beyond that, it’s a recurring character note for Jessica that she’s not quite as careful as she should be.

(Have I said that I love how the show makes Jessica smart but not perfect? I LOVE THAT.)

Jessica goes by Jeri’s office to ask her to represent Hope, and Jeri agrees that she’ll do it, if Jessica can convince her that Hope was the victim of mind control.2 Off goes Jessica on her quest to discover how Kilgrave survived, what he’s up to now, and how she can defeat him. This quest features my most favorite moment of the episode:

AKA Crush Syndrome

And my least: Jessica tracks down ambulance driver Jack, who was coerced into donating both his kidneys to Kilgrave following the accident. He’s on a dialysis machine full-time and has recently had a stroke, but he manages to write “KILL ME” on a piece of paper to Jessica. Show. Show. Can we not proceed on the assumption that being on a dialysis machine while recovering from a stroke is an a priori reason for someone to want to die? Yeesh.

Anyway, Jessica tracks down the doctor who did the kidney surgery, makes him tell Jeri about what happened (independent corroboration of Kilgrave’s powers!),3 and discovers that Kilgrave insisted on remaining conscious for the entire surgery, rather than accepting a general anesthetic. “That’s it,” Jessica whispers. “That’s his weakness.”

You know what your weakness is, show? It’s insisting on explaining everything to us like we are idiots. HAVE SOME FAITH IN US PLEASE.

Over in the B plot, my former enemy Trish is convincing me to love her. Granted, she sends a strange man to Jessica’s apartment with power tools, but she does it out of love, to replace the broken glass in Jess’s door. The excellent thing we get to see is that Trish is a good complement to Jessica: perhaps not as quick on her feet, but she makes Jessica think her problems all the way through.

AKA Crush Syndrome
Trish!

It’s going to grow into a lovely relationship, and we see the beginnings of that here. Please note that when Trish shows up with bruises and a bloody nose, my whole binge-watching team diagnosed leukemia. NOPE. Trish is taking lessons in krav maga with a personal trainer, because Trish is a damn baller.

“I’m life-threatening, Trish. Steer clear of me.”

“I don’t do that.”

I heart you, Trish Walker.

Elsewhere, we meet Jessica’s neighbors, the twins4 and discover — when Jessica tries to rescue Luke Cage from being beaten up at his own bar by a cuckolded husband — that Luke Cage, too, has superpowers. He is super duper strong, fights people without breaking shit, and not even power tools can harm his perfect, perfect skin.

AKA Crush Syndrome

(My binge-watching team was shocked when the show cut to credits after the above. We were all like, “Wait, what? He’s unbreakable and she’s not going to hit that right now?” But, uh, stand by.)

Drinking game rules: Drink if the show overexplains something you had managed to grasp on your own. Drink once if Pam’s wearing a wrap dress. Twice if her wrap dress makes you say “Boobs! Boobs!”

Jessica breaks things: Two locks on hospital lockers. The chain on the twins’ apartment door (good). The guy Trish hired to fix her door. A subway car window as she’s having a particularly vivid flashback. A table and a lamp at Luke’s bar. A bunch of glasses at Luke’s bar. The payphone at Luke’s bar.

New Yorkers complain about New York stuff:

“There’s no Walmarts in New York!”

“He means she got the gun at Walmart in Nebraska and BROUGHT it to New York.”

“I don’t think DiBlasio would care for this.”

and:

“That apartment’s way too big.”

“Bro, don’t be a poop, they have to have a big enough space to film in.”

“It’s way too big, she couldn’t afford that place.”

“It’s also her workplace! She gets most of the rent as a tax write-off, I bet.”

  1. Yes.
  2. In this scene, Jeri also learns that her wife has discovered her affair with Pam, but I’m ignoring that because I feel like Carrie-Anne Moss deserves better material than this. And also, Jeri, good Lord, you can’t conduct your affair with any discretion? Really? REALLY?
  3. They’re in a basement, but Jessica somehow still gets perfect cell phone reception. I’m going to assume that she also has a superpower relating to maintaining cell service underground.
  4. Ugh.