Jessica Jones episode 4 viewing notes: AKA 99 Friends

Jessica Jones is getting a lot of things right at this stage, not that it makes it an easy watch. Here are our episode 4 viewing notes...

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available to view now on Netflix, and as with Daredevil we’ll be providing (mostly) daily episode-by-episode coverage for those who want to follow it with us. Each instalment of these viewing notes will look at how the show’s plot, characters and story relate to the comic source material, providing background information and pointers for those who want to know more.

Please note that while we might occasionally reveal the way plots developed in the comics, we are trying to be sensitive to any surprises the TV show may have in store. These notes are written immediately after the episode is watched, so any speculation about the way the story may go is purely that!

All we ask is that if you’ve seen future episodes that confirm, contradict or otherwise twist things we talk about in this piece, please respect people who don’t have the luxury of binge-watching and please don’t put spoilers for future episodes anywhere in the comments. You can, however, swap spoilers in our ‘What Did You Think? post. Thanks.

Episode Recap:

Jessica tries to find out who Kilgrave is using to tail her. Meanwhile, she’s asked to spy on a cheating husband for a new client. The cop who tried to murder Tricia for the Purple Man helps Jessica out and eventually convinces Trish to trust that he’s on their side. Jessica sets up a support group for Kilgrave’s victims which helps her track down the guy who’s been following her: it’s her neighbour, Malcolm.

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Episode Notes:

For the most part Jessica Jones hasn’t been especially noir despite pretensions of it, but I think this episode finally nailed the tone. Lots of paranoia from every direction, for both Jessica and Trish, and even to some extent Wil Simpson, the cop from the last episode. In the case of the latter, they built the relationship up quite well, and it illustrates the difference between Jessica and Trish’s situations well. She’s got the luxury of being left alone by Kilgrave, whereas Jessica’s taking a much bigger chance by trusting anyone.

That said, the main villain of this episode, such that there is one, is Audrey Eastman. She’s not a comics character, but the actress (Jessica Hecht) did once portray a Daily Planet staffer in Lois & Clark. (I’m taking that as firm evidence that Lois & Clark takes place in the MCU.) I quite liked the dark comedy of her encounter with Jessica at the end of the episode, but it was quite a bizarre scene in the wider scheme of things, especially since it had nothing to do with Kilgrave. Maybe they’ll come back, maybe not, but at the moment I’m not sure what the point of the thread was.

Generally speaking, I was surprised that Officer Wil Simpson came back (if I was better with casting news, I might not be) not least because he’s apparently an original character. I’ve seen some speculation that he’s related to/a version of Frank Simpson (the super-villain Nuke) in that he’s a former Special Forces agent with the surname “Simpson”, but that seems tenuous to me.

Nuke is one of those borderline insane villains who hangs around the Marvel universe as a failed attempt to make a follow-up super-soldier, so he’s the kind of character you’d expect them to save for a Captain America movie (in the unlikely event that Marvel/Disney wants to bet several hundred million dollars on a character who is essentially a walking critique of the Vietnam war). It’s not completely impossible that he’s Nuke (they could easily have changed his name from Frank to Wil because they’re bringing in another war veteran named Frank in Daredevil S2) but I’m sceptical we’re going to see him with an America flag painted on his face. Still, stranger things have happened.

Speaking of flags, we get another couple of coded Avengers references, and I think Jessica Jones is getting them about spot on. Agents Of SHIELD crowbarred one into every episode regardless of how much sense it made, where Daredevil did its best to roundly ignore the idea that there were super-powered people out there to the point where it was baffling that no-one brought it up. But in the context of discussing superheroes, how they inspire the characters and how they’ve negatively affected their world? Yep, I’m on board.

The support group is an interesting idea, too, though given how Kilgrave seems to use his powers it seems like an excessively small club. You’d think, after this long active, there’d be a huge number of people coming forward – he’d be almost like an urban legend. Still, the interview process gave the series such much-needed levity without completely destroying the tone of the episode, so I’m thankful for that at least. As much as I’m getting into this show, the lack of any Foggy Nelson character to defuse the grim seriousness of it all means I’m not exactly having a good time watching it.

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As for Malcolm being revealed as the photographer, that was smartly done. Kilgrave hiring a junkie (or creating one?) to do his work makes a lot of sense, because it means he’s still got power over Malcolm even if his abilities wear off (and we’re told they’ve got a 10-12 hour time limit). For a while I suspected Luke (because she said there were no pictures of him), but Malcolm was the most logical option, if not the most surprising. If they were really on the ball it’d be possible to go back into previous episodes and spot Malcolm hanging out in the background, but I guess this does, if nothing else, explain those few random encounters she’s had with him.

I am slightly surprised by the pace the “capture Kilgrave” plot is moving at in general, though. I can’t see them stretching it out until the finale at this rate, so I guess a big twist is coming sooner rather than later.