This Jessica Jones review contains spoilers.
Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 2
After a slow opener, the mystery of Jessica Jones’s own origins takes off in earnest in this faster-paced episode. It only took until a couple of minutes into the second episode this season before somebody suspected Jessica of murder, which is a bit predictable, but this world is interesting enough that it feels new. Adding to the intrigue is Jessica’s super, who left her hanging when she needed him to be her (honest) alibi. What’s the over/under on when those two sleep together?
While last season focused on Kilgrave, the current one digs into Jessica’s powered origins, which brings with it some welcome backstory on her life generally. We already knew the basic outline, but flashbacks to her family’s funeral and seeing her be more vulnerable in front of Malcolm and Trish is a welcome deepening of the character. And Jessica isn’t the only one whose past we’re learning more about – Trish is showing us more of her past, and Malcolm is getting more screentime in the present.
Jessica crashing a guy’s funeral service to rifle through his things is…depressingly on brand. Not surprisingly, it turns out that in yet another “freak accident,” Koslov is both dead and only the tip of the iceberg. His former patient, a double-amputee, scopes out Jessica and is rightfully pissed at her for her behavior, but it makes him appear suspicious all the same.
Also on-brand is Trish’s mother, Dorothy, who is still utterly terrible, in the most hate-able way possible. With another actor or a lesser script, Dorothy might come across as a flimsy caricature of a stage mother. Instead, her malice is specific, grounded in her own neuroses that ooze out of the performance on all sides. Her relationship with Trish adds to the show’s theme of life beyond the glamorous façade that is so important to Jessica Jones. I give a lot of credit to actor Rebecca De Mornay, as well as Melissa Rosenberg, who has written the entire series. Beyond that, Jessica Jones really is Rosenberg’s baby, soup to nuts. She’s the series creator, writer, showrunner and executive producer, and the care with which she approaches each of the characters and the serious themes is both a testament to Brian Michael Bendis’s work in the comics, and a phenomenal standalone work.
Jeri Hogarth is having a Bad Day. In the aftermath of her diagnosis, she’s trying to party away the pain with drugs, booze, and some sex workers. She ignores Pryce Chen’s call, though he shows up, undeterred, and questions her fitness to work on his case. He’s not wrong. The distractions can’t shake Geri of the knowledge that she’s not okay, and there’s no one left who cares.
Not surprisingly, Simpson is still alive and he’s the one following Trish. Over the course of one episode, Simpson goes from the specter of the violent wild card that we know from last season, to being about as redeemed as he could get, by way of dying to protect Trish. It’s common for wayward villains to be redeemed immediately before their death, particularly if that death is a sacrifice for the greater good. While it’s clear that Simpson was loyal to Trish till the end, allowing his heroics to wipe the slate clean of his past transgressions is troubling. After all, his loyalty to Trish and insistence on protecting her no matter what were never in question. Rather, they were the problem. His (literally) toxic masculinity is why he insisted on carrying out violence in Trish’s name, regardless of what she wanted or the fact that his choices sometimes put her in more danger.
The Max storyline, which chronicles Trish confronting the man who sexually abused her when she was a teenager, hits even closer to home now than during season 1 when it was introduced. His defense is reminiscent of so many of the non-apologies that we’ve heard lately, from claiming she wanted it to trying to say she was mentally older than her actual age. Dorothy’s role in both facilitating the abuse, denying it ever happened, and blaming Trish for it, is a reminder of the many ways the deck is stacked against survivors. The idea of the casting couch has taken on a lurid feel that is more evil than sexy, as the general public has come to realize that it’s often the site of abuse, not a consensual quid pro quo. Although really, when has transactional sex ever been free of the power dynamics and financial pressures that necessitate it in the first place?
Like Jessica last season, Trish shows herself to be a more complicated person than survivors of sexual violence are typically allowed to be in media. Having previously vowed to never see Max again, Trish decides it’s worth it to confront him if it helps her figure out what happened to Jessica. All the same, she knows how explosive her sister can be, and that’s not productive here, nor is it what Trish wants. So she keeps Jess out of it and takes Malcolm, with a don’t-fuck-with-me warning that they will never again be discussing what he learns about her from her exchange with Max.
This episode makes particularly great use of Malcolm, as he helps both Jessica and Trish in a way that no other character could. His gentle kindness is most moving when he found Jessica with her brother’s ashes everywhere. Malcolm is a true friend, and it seems that he and Jess will never become physically or romantically involved, which is for the best. The same can’t necessarily be said for Malcolm and Trish (there’s a little something there, right?) but that would probably be a positive for Trish, as opposed to a self-destructive move from Jessica.
I want to like Griffin, I really do. But there’s something about the way he was looking through her files – supposedly to help find her – that has my guard up, and Jessica’s too. While it was completely reasonable of him to dislike Jessica calling Trish in the middle of the night, the way he expressed it smacks of manipulation, and a desire to make the pair a little less codependent. Again, reasonable goals, but something is off with that guy. Jess seems to be trying to not piss him off, since Trish likes him and there’s currently no concrete reason to hate him. We’ll see how long that lasts.