Jessica Jones episode 5 viewing notes: AKA The Sandwich Saved Me

Jessica Jones comes to the end of its first act in episode five, with an episode that raises questions about Kilgrave's powers...

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:

After uncovering Malcolm’s deception, Jessica, Tricia and Officer Simpson decide to make their move on Kilgrave before he realises what’s happened. Unfortunately, it goes wrong because Kilgrave has hired security looking after him. We learn a little about how Jessica became a superhero (or rather, didn’t) and while Kilgrave steps up his attempts to control Jessica, Malcolm manages to go cold turkey and free himself.

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Episode Notes:

Well, that abduction attempt went about as well as expected. It’s interesting that they planned to put Kilgrave in a sealed, soundproof room because it means we can discern something about the nature of his powers, or at least Jessica’s interpretation of them. It makes me wonder why she doesn’t just put a pair of earplugs in before she goes to fight him, if she’s worried about being controlled. Is that a plot hole, or something they’ll fill in later? At this point I don’t know.

Anyway, we know his powers don’t work over the phone, so do you have to be near him AND hear him to stay under control? Remember, according to Agents Of SHIELD there’s no telepathy in the MCU, so it probably isn’t that. In the comics, at least, there’s a pheromone-based component to what he does, so that’s likely here too. I reckon an oxygen mask and ear plugs would be enough to get you close enough to land a punch, and that’s all Jessica would need.

I found it interesting that Kilgrave was trying to control Jessica without his powers at the end. Between his attempt to control Malcolm with drugs, his hired security guards who had their own free will, and his manipulation of Jessica, it’s almost as if he’s trying to exercise control without his powers. Is that because his failing kidneys are causing him trouble (that plotline may have been dropped) or because he’s become so bored with using his powers to get everything he wants that he wants to see if he can do it without them?

The look at Jessica and Trish’s relationship pre-brainwashing definitely helps explain why they’re friends, despite having such different personalities and attitudes to life. It’s not just that they’re like sisters – they effectively are sisters. Jessica’s status as an orphan is something brought over from the comics and ties in with her origin. I would assume we’ll see that in considerably more detail eventually, so I won’t explain it all just yet.

Obviously, Jessica’s false-start as “Jewel” gets a little further in the comics (she actually hung out with the Avengers for a while) and that costume is pretty much comics-accurate too. That said, I find it a little textually odd to have Tricia saying “You should be a superhero! Here’s your costume!” when the MCU is largely devoid of heroes with actual costumes. Captain America had one, though they do their best to make it look utilitarian. Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Iron Man are more or less wearing their normal clothes. And at this point in the story I’d imagine no-one’s ever seen Daredevil.

I suppose you can argue that superheroes existed as a concept prior to the coming of the Avengers, but still. Is this the first time anyone in the MCU has been explicitly told “If you’re going to be a superhero, you have to wear the clothes for it?”

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(As an aside, after the Jewel identity didn’t work out, she had an even briefer career as another costumed hero called Knightress, but gave it up quickly. It was when she was Knightress that she originally met and got to know Luke Cage. You can read that story in The Pulse #14 from 2006)

As for the other cast members, Simpson seems to be fully integrated into the cast now as a source of tension between her and Tricia. His temper does seem to be consistent with Nuke as a character, but I’m still hoping that’s not the direction they’re going – not least because it seems a bit too convenient for Kilgrave to have encountered not one, but two super-powered individuals by chance.

I mean, I say Kilgrave, but that scene where Tennant encounters and abducts Jessica is very much The Doctor. We can only assume that’s what the showrunners asked for, but to be honest this interpretation of Kilgrave is working for me even less than Ritter’s Jessica. She’s not the comics Jessica, but she’s consistent. I don’t really buy Tennant as the psychopath we’re told he is at all. At the very least, I’d expect someone as cruel and calculating as him to actively enjoy his abilities, but instead, he seems bored by them. Maybe that’s the point?

Anyway, this feels like the end of the first act of Jessica Jones, and I’m still interested in where the story’s going even if it hasn’t clicked for me as well as it could’ve. I think, given the online reaction generally, that a lot of that is down to my strong relationship with the source material. I’m happy enough, though, and looking forward to seeing what happens between Luke and Jessica.

Read James’ viewing notes on the previous episode, AKA 99 Friends, here.