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.
Flashbacks show us the origin of Jessica’s powers, and how she came to live with Trish “Patsy” Walker. In the present, Jessica helps the “support group” get their lies straight with the police. Trish and Jessica bribe and sneak their way into some morgues to see if Kilgrave’s father has turned up, but he hasn’t. Sleep-deprived, Jessica wanders into traffic. Simpson tries to patch things up with Trish. Jess discovers Clemons’ body and realises Simpson did it, and although he’s gone nuts Trish manages to take him down by stealing and using his pills. She’s taken to hospital and barely survives. Kilgrave contacts Jessica and tells her he’s gotten hold of her “boyfriend” – she races to Luke’s bar, just in time to watch him torch the place and stumble out, confused.
It’s fair to say that after a parade of episodes that seemed to be written specifically to upset me, things are slightly getting back to normal in this episode. We’re back in familiar environs and pursuing leads like a proper detective investigation.
That said, after several Kilgrave-heavy episodes, it’s kind of strange that he should be shuffled off just as we’re heading into the final arc. It’s probably necessary to build up some of the mystery they traded away once he became a bigger presence in the cast, but it does make the episode feel a bit inconsequential even though it’s clearly not.
The return of Luke was particularly welcome, and that explosion was a really affecting moment because of the work they did building up his bar early in the series. That makes it a huge shame that the location disappeared for basically 4 whole episodes, because seeing it destroyed might have had more impact if we had spent more time there recently. Maybe I’m just more invested in the Luke and Jess side of this story than the rest of it, but as soon as Luke left the cast, I thought this show lost all of its direction and drive, so I’m crossing my fingers that his return brings some of it back.
I would guess that this episode finally gives us the answer as to why Simpson’s in the cast, too. Essentially, he’s there to give Trish her “Hellcat” moment (although in the comics, Hellcat didn’t use drugs to bolster her powers, much less Nuke’s drugs.) I liked that stuff in its thematic capacity as a feminist power fantasy, but in all honesty I don’t think it justifies Simpson’s heavy presence in the story. If I was really stretched I’d have speculated that he was here to be Kilgrave’s muscle (since Kilgrave obviously can’t take Jess in a fair fight) but it seems less likely than ever that he’ll end up in that capacity after the beating he just took from Trish. Once your sidekick has beaten a villain, there’s no point bringing him back for the big guys.
The flashbacks also seemed pretty weak, in general. I felt like it was too late in the series to be establishing Jessica and Trish’s relationship in the terms they were, and while I enjoyed the mixture of suburban life and superpowers, I liked it more when it was called The Secret World Of Alex Mack. Points for a near-exact translation of Jessica Jones’ origin, though.
Finally, I have to point out: it’s been 11 episodes without anyone other than Kilgrave cracking a smile, and suddenly we get some deliberately offbeat vox-pops during the initial interviews, and later Trish and Jessica are joking around while hunting for a corpse. A little levity is certainly not unwelcome, but it could’ve maybe come before all the awful stuff happened to the characters. They’ve just experienced some pretty big losses – some huge ones, in fact – and yet I don’t get the sense that they’re cracking jokes as a coping mechanism, which would at least make sense. Instead it’s like the writing was just more naturally quippy than in previous episodes.
I wouldn’t call this episode a return to form, but I did enjoy it more than the last few. It feels like a straightforward story is being told again, and I’m happy about that. If anything, my big complaint about this episode is that the characters are too stable, given the hell they’ve all just been through. But then, poor Malcolm seems to be the only person who recognises that he’s living in a completely insane world. If I had to peg any vaguely main character for death before the series is out, it’d be him. If Kilgrave wanted to show us what a monster he is, he’d kill – or maybe try to kill – the one person in the cast who’s unambiguously selfless, even to a fault. Fingers crossed he doesn’t get the chance.