This Jessica Jones review contains spoilers.
Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 12
The two women Jessica Jones loves most in this world, her biological and practical family, are on a collision course. While Trish recovers from the botched procedure to give her powers. Alisa has broken out of prison in order to kill her, under the mistaken belief that Trish killed her beloved Karl. Jess is stuck in the middle, trying to keep them from undoing each other and themselves.
Malcolm and Oscar are momentarily sidelined in this episode that clearly belongs to the women. It’s saying something that this episode is women-dominated, considering that this world is already populated by a much better gender balance than shows usually are, even those starring and/or named after a woman character. Oscar has had an appropriate level of screen time. He’s interesting and occasionally helpful toward propelling the plot forward, but he’s ultimately only relevant as he pertains to Jessica’s life, and she has so many bigger fish to fry right now.
Jeri shows her cold, calculated malice one again as she delivers retribution to Inez and Shane. They certainly hurt her, but her response is still disturbing, and harkens back to the Jeri who went after her wife in such heartless fashion last season. It was interesting to see her so attached to the engraved watch from Wendy, perhaps the last piece she has of her wife. I keep hoping for Jeri to lean into her vulnerability and become a better person, but it seems the betrayal by Inez is sending her back to her old ways, with perhaps more vengeance than ever before.
In a season full of surprising twists and turns, I am perhaps most blown away by the fact that Dorothy Walker was good and kind to Jessica for all of 90 seconds. The jealousy between Trish and Jessica is fundamental to their relationship in a way that wasn’t visible before. For 17 years, each had something the other could never have: powers, and their mother. Much of their early years together involved the two struggling with how to deal with Dorothy. Jessica knew she was bad news, but it’s easier to cut ties with someone who was always terrible to you, and never held any real place in your heart. Now Trish and Jess are struggling with the reverse, but on a compressed time table, and with life and death consequences.
I loved Jess and Trish’s conversation in the morgue – it feels like the two women are facing up to their longstanding shit for the first time. It’s easy to see how Trish could come to feel the way she does, but my god, she is so off base. I hope she has to put in a lot of work to win back Jess and Malcolm’s trust. And I hope that the powers she winds up with are more trouble than she bargained for.
What makes that even better is how Jess talks about Trish to her mother on the phone. It doesn’t matter how pissed she is at Trish, she’s still her sister, and Jessica will always have her back. There’s a great dynamic here, where Trish and Jess are each other’s family, but each only has a connection to their own mother, and suspicion and derision for the other’s mother.
At various points this season, we’ve seen Jessica choose her mother over Trish and everyone else in her life, even if only in small ways or for short periods of time. But it never feels like Alisa has done the same, even though she chose to stay with Jess instead of running off to find Karl. Even when she was ostensibly choosing her daughter, Alisa was always more concerned about Karl.
I’d also like to see Alisa held responsible in a meaningful way for her rage. The dissociative episodes seem to largely be treated as a sort of fugue state where Alisa can’t be held entirely accountable for her actions. But her rage is along a continuum, and it’s not all that clear at what point she’s no longer in control. Moreover, she has expressed a clear-eyed desire to murder several times while calm, such as with Pryce. While Jessica thought her mother should be held accountable, and that the IGH murders were premeditated, she seems to have abandoned that idea for several episodes now. I would love to see Jessica grapple with the richer material of what it means to love someone morally and ethically wrong, rather than grappling with how to love someone with power-induced unpredictability, which is how much of these later episodes have been framed.
Continuing in what is becoming a Jessica Jones tradition of killing off black law enforcement officials, Alisa kills Detective Sunday, in a bloody fashion, and nearly kills Trish as well. Using Jess’s own arm to do it is brutal.
The show makes good use of Alisa’s strikingly Jessica-esque ensemble when she arrives at Trish’s apartment. The shot of the boots, light wash jeans, and dripping blood is a great head fake that drives home once again the parallels between mother and daughter.
So much fiction focuses on fathers and sons that the trope has become cliché. It’s great to see a show instead focus on mothers and daughters, showing their thematic importance to be equally elevated and complex. Jessica Jones even explicitly calls out the complexity inherent in these relationships, via Alisa’s new guard in the previous episode. This is also reinforced with science fiction elements, in the form of Jessica saying, “mom,” being the only thing that can bring Alisa back from the brink.
But will it be enough?