This Jessica Jones review contains spoilers.
Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 4
This show continues to impress with the accuracy of how it portrays trauma. While in court-mandated group therapy for her anger, Jessica is taught to throw a ball at a wall while talking as a grounding technique. Or as the group leader puts it, “a benign external action to soothe internal strife.” Jessica’s fellow group members describe triggers and panic attacks, though not in so many words. Later on in the episode, the trauma of people experiencing homelessness is folded in as well, both the traumas that cause homelessness, like the violence Inez suffered at work, and the traumas suffered in the course of homelessness, like the reference to sexual assault on the street.
This episode continued to give us a bigger peek behind the curtain when it comes to Trish. In season 1, her past was mostly treated as settled and done: she struggled with addiction, got sober, and was living the kind of life that would set her up to stay sober. But that’s not all that true to life, even in the best of circumstances. Worse, Trish is enveloped in her traumatic past as much as Jessica. Her demons are rearing their ugly head, in a way that Trish really thought she was done with. The idea that recovery isn’t a straight light and has no clear end point is a valuable one, and Jess and Trish are both showing that reality in different ways.
The stress clearly gets to Trish, who takes a hit from Simpson’s nebulizer from hell. For someone who struggles with substance use disorder, a new substance can certainly take the place of an old one. Moreover, Trish’s initial struggle with addiction was strongly linked to her sexual abuse at Max’s hands. It’s not too surprising, then, that being around him, her mother’s victim-blaming comments, and the stress of the IGH investigation, would create a perfect storm and lead to a relapse of sorts.
Completing the role reversal, Jess spends this episode playing good cop. She’s empathetic, patient, and kind to Inez. In a heartbreaking turn of events, no amount of growth ever seems like enough for Jessica, who finds herself in cuffs by the episode’s end, in spite of her alibi.
This episode rather deftly gives Jessica a look at what her life could easily be, if Trish’s mother hadn’t taken her in, if she hadn’t found an outlet for her anger, if she didn’t have a way to make enough money to scrape by. Trish wants Jessica to understand how different she is from Inez and the other homeless folks they come across, but Jessica sees things more clearly: she could so easily be Inez. After all, up until the night before, Jessica had an eviction notice hanging around her neck. Indeed, the episode validates this by revealing that until IGH and the powered woman got through with her, Inez was a nurse. The sharp turn of events is a realistic path to homelessness, other than the experimental super powers.
While Jessica and Inez clearly differ in many ways, Jessica sees their similarities, which helps her see Inez’s humanity in a way that Trish couldn’t. With Jessica’s heartbreaking final lines as she was put face-down on the pavement, this episode has felt more thematic, more complete as an episode of television, than any other of this season so far. A natural side-affect of TV binge culture is episodes that flow directly into one another, focusing on serialized television to the detriment of the pacing and completeness of individual episodes.
Malcolm comes up big yet again, pushing Jessica to take him seriously. He and Oscar also stand as valuable foils to the many disturbing men who populate Jessica’s world. They’re not perfect – Malcolm can’t keep the names of his tinder dates straight, Oscar was willing to throw Jessica under the bus for his kid – but their hearts are in the right place. Sweetly, Malcolm’s first thought when he sees the tabloid cover suggesting he’s with Trish is whether she’s okay. Pryce had to know he had no shot of poaching Malcolm, even if he tried to mess with his head by quoting his dad and suggesting he and Trish would be good together.
This episode’s main conflict showed how Jessica can find another path, when she wants to. Instead of beating Max up (much) or disclosing what Max did to Trish, the two leveraged what they knew to both protect another young woman from Max while simultaneously getting what they wanted from him. I’m also happy for Trish that with her big, round sunglasses, high ballerina bun, and red tank with the interesting silhouette, she looked completely fabulous in these scenes, in particular. It’s never great to have to confront your abuser, but good for her for being in complete control and looking fabulous when she did it.
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to Max – he calls Malcolm thuggy, which is so clearly due to stereotyping alone that neither Jess nor Trish even knows who he’s talking about. Then there’s his creepy insistence that he never abused any other young stars except Trish, and that he loved her. Let’s just say I’m glad Trish is “therapized,” in Griffin’s words. Speaking of Griffin, he seems shadier with every episode.
Later on in the episode, Jessica unwittingly chooses another path. Her instinctual heroism is what saves her from eviction, not getting her hands dirty with PI work. She saves Vido, and Oscar as truly grateful. It’s also worth noting that the season prior, Jessica would likely have tried harder to pretend she didn’t like or care about Vido. Poor Malcolm (and Trish for years!) had to crack that nut, but Jessica is freer with her positive emotions now.
The Griffin and Trish/Oscar and Jessica fake-out actually caught me. It honestly felt like it had taken Jessica an unusually long time to run headlong into sleeping with Oscar. The truth turned out to be not that far removed, though. Oscar’s weirdly sweet about the way he puts a stop to the hookup. And he has a point: while we haven’t seen many people point it out, going from anger to sex in three seconds flat isn’t normal. He’s also careful to say it’s the situation, not Jessica, that isn’t normal. Oscar only got out of prison 6 months ago, and has that whole Robin Hood, heart of gold thing going on. You could say Jessica has a type.