Episode three of Jessica Jones gets right into it. And by into it, I mean super-sex. As could be expected, when two damaged people who’ve already been intimate discover that they both have superpowers that make them nearly indestructible, they get it on. And it’s a little shocking how aggressively the scenes are shot as Jessica (Krysten Ritter) and Luke (Mike Colter) go at each other with an intensity that damages furniture and would seriously injure a normal human being. This isn’t the romantic Marvel of Captain America, the tragic loneliness of Bruce Banner, or even the playful sleaze of Tony Stark. This is visceral and violent. This is something we’ve not seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s both startling and refreshing. I said this before, but Jessica Jones does for Marvel sex what Daredevil did for Marvel violence; this is grittier, exhausting, and has a level of realism to it that really makes these characters seem like more than the cartoons the Avengers can sometimes be. Ritter’s and Colter’s chemistry is perfect and their “date” is charming; sharing secrets about each other with just enough detail to make us curious, but not enough to overwhelm the exposition. We’ll get those origins later, I’m sure. For now, we just need to know that they’re both special and have more than one thing in common. Hell, the look on Luke’s face when Jessica shows she’s stronger than him is priceless. These are living, breathing characters; even moreso than the cast of Daredevil. This is a Hell’s Kitchen of passions and sweat. Once we get past the romantic and the inevitable flair-up of Jessica’s psychological inability to be intimate, we are back to the story of Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty). The fact that nobody believes her story is devastating to Jessica. This is when the narrative exploration of domestic abuse survivors really comes to the surface the most so far. There’s an anger in Jessica’s responses to unbelievers that is impossible to deny. She knows what Hope went through, but even in this post-Avengers New York, the idea that a super-villain can control minds just doesn’t play with the public. Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) put it succinctly last episode, a drunk driver is still responsible for their actions – even Patty Hearst went to jail after being brainwashed. Hope is being held accountable for something that nobody else can really understand unless they’ve gone through it. Empathy just isn’t enough in this case. We also get some character development for Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) this episode, when Jessica discovers that in the time she’s been withdrawn, Trish has taken it upon herself to learn how to fight. That training we saw last episode and this is about empowerment. Jessica had apparently always stood up for Trish, and with her gone, it was time she stood up for herself. Plus, it helps to maybe move her closer to becoming the Hellcat that she is in the comics! However, when a radio interview with Hope turns ugly thanks to Hogarth’s manipulations, Trish takes that new confidence a little too far, calling out Kilgrave (David Tennant) as a coward and a pervert, thus making herself a target. The home invasion by a police officer (Wil Traval) is disturbing but not surprising. Even Trish knows she shouldn’t be letting him in, but he’s an authority figure. This dynamic is something that isn’t really explored so far in the series, but Kilgrave is about as clear a manifestation of male entitlement and social authority as we’ve ever seen on television. Meanwhile, Jessica demonstrates that she’s willing to use any means necessary to get her hands on the anesthetic drug that she hopes will depower Kilgrave. She tries to blackmail Hogarth’s estranged wife (Robin Weigert) and when that doesn’t work, she’s not above sacrificing her junkie neighbor Malcolm (Eka Darville) as a distraction that allows her to slip in and steal what she needs. This might be the first time in the series that Malcolm is portrayed as more of a sad figure instead of the typical comic relief he’s been so far. The look of betrayal on his face as Jessica leaves him with the police is painful. It’s also something to take note of for later. This episode features the first real confrontation we get between Jessica and Kilgrave, and it quickly becomes clear that he has other plans. Rather than take control of her then and there, he instead feints by ordering the officer who attacked Trish to jump off the building, distracting Jessica long enough to slip away – but not before ordering the other residents of the penthouse apartment he’s commandeered to keep Jessica from following him. This is when she discovers the big secret that was hinted at in the stylistic flourishes of the first two episodes. Those focus pulls and framing elements weren’t just about representing the world Jessica lives and works in, or showing how isolated she is emotionally. They also signaled that she was being watched and followed, photographed and observed. Kilgrave has been hovering around just out of sight for weeks. She’s been under watch and never even knew it. Talk about feeling violated and powerless. The only thing she can do is try to make sure Luke doesn’t get caught in the crossfire, so she makes it clear that they shouldn’t be seeing each other. He thinks it’s because the picture in his medicine cabinet is his dead wife and she can’t handle it. She can’t tell him she’s dead because of her. It’s good, emotional stuff that only slightly veers into melodrama. But what’s a good noir with secrets and lies? “99 Friends” slows down the forward movement a bit as Jessica tries to figure out just who the hell has been following her and taking pictures without her noticing. Having the tables turned on her like this is not only disconcerting, but frightening. The fact that Kilgrave has been keeping tabs on her for weeks just emphasizes the sense of helplessness that her flashbacks keep pushing her toward. But there’s also anger. This episode then advances on three fronts. First, Jessica is hired by an obnoxious woman (Jessica Hecht) to follow her husband and prove that he’s cheating on her. With all the other drama going on, it’s a little distracting, but it helps drive home the realism of Jessica’s situation. She’s got to keep working despite the fact that life is overwhelming. Been there. Of course, after her last case went ballistic in the elevator, Jessica isn’t quite so easy to trust. It’s a bit of a distraction to the main plot, but it allows for another nice exploration of what life is like in New York since superheroes appeared and aliens came tearing through a hole in space. Audrey Eastman lost her mother in the Battle of New York and blames the “superheroes” who destroyed part of the city in the process. This may be the first time we’ve gotten a glimpse of the human cost of the climax of The Avengers that helps to counteract the whitewashing of violence that the film did. I don’t think the fact that there were casualties has ever been denied, but the films and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have completely avoided addressing the issue – a point that defenders of Man of Steel love to bring up (without acknowledging that the attempts to save people is what made the Avengers morally superior to Superman in the comparison, not the body count). Anyway, when Eastman’s real motivations are revealed, it’s one of those moments that has defined the Marvel Universe since Stan and Jack created the world back in ’62. The citizenry of New York (in particular) are paranoid and will turn on those with powers at the drop of a hat. Again, this is something that doesn’t really get explored in the films, although it actually is popping up here and there in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This isn’t the black and white fear that the Warner Bros. films appear to be prepping to exploit, but is a much grayer area of whiplash-inducing praise and contempt. Secondly, we have the return of the police officer from last episode, Officer Will Simpson, and he’s suffering from the same sort of PTSD that Jessica is. He’s bordering on losing his mind, believing that he killed Trish. Jessica does what she can to help him deal with his actions and he becomes a surprise ally in the fight against Kilgrave – although having him around is extremely disturbing for Trish, who can’t stop seeing him as the monster who tried to murder her. There’s a long sequence of their interaction that goes a long way toward building them both as characters and developing a bond between them. It’s not the greatest writing, but it serves its purpose. And that purpose seems to be to introduce a masculine perspective to the mix, but one that is perhaps a bit cartoonish in its intensity. He gives Trish a gun as a “sorry I tried to murder you” present, after all. It’s not really obvious at this point, but Simpson is actually an interpretation of another comic character: the drug-fueled psychotic mercenary, Nuke, from Daredevil. It’s a weird addition as he has nothing to do with Jessica Jones in the comics, but I’m intrigued to see just where this is going. In the meantime, Jessica convinces Trish to go on the air and apologize for the things she said about Kilgrave and in an extremely disturbing scene, Kilgrave lets Jessica know that he forgives Trish. Of course, sending the message in the form of a foul-mouthed, abusive eight-and-a-half year old girl makes it all the more threatening. Literally anyone walking down the street could be under Kilgrave’s control. It’s enough to make a girl paranoid. Then, in what is a truly inspired bit of writing, Hope’s radio interview has inspired dozens of people to show up at Hogarth’s offices claiming to have been controlled by Kilgrave. And it turns out some of them are telling the truth. Suddenly being confronted with others who have been under Kilgrave’s control opens Jessica up to an emotional area she’s avoided dealing with for the past year. And that’s a good thing. She helps set up what is essentially a self-help group for Kilgrave survivors and listening to their stories provides her with an opportunity to discover who’s been following her. The revelation that Malcolm is working for Kilgrave isn’t exactly a surprise, but makes sense. Hell, he might not even be mind-controlled. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.