Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “Episode 6—AKA You’re a Winner.” Spoilers for season 1.
AKA You’re A Winner!
Written By: Edward Ricourt
Directed By: Stephen Surjik
Malcolm is now in recovery from drug addiction, and he’s being a model patient. He’s attending group therapy far more often than Jessica, and after some soul searching he is all aboard the Anti-Kilgrave Committee with an unprecedented amount of enthusiasm.
JESSICA: I preferred your brain on drugs.
Luke Cage returns to Jessica’s door, this time coming as a client. He’s searching for a man called Antoine who has gone missing while owing a large sum to loan sharks. Luke promised to get Antoine back safely to his sister Serena, but he remains cagey (ha!) about how he knows Serena, and why he’s going to so much trouble for her.
Despite Malcolm’s best attempts to guard-dog Luke away from Jessica, she agrees to take the case because she owes him a favour. Luke isn’t keen on this being a favour and attempts to pay. Due to a quirk of editing/directing, it’s not actually clear whether or not he takes the money back.
In any case, Jessica gets to show Luke her capabilities as a PI, using time honoured techniques such as checking wastepaper baskets and sending a perky ‘You Totally Just Won An X-Box’ message to Antoine’s phone. In return, Luke prevents Jessica from starting an all out street war with the loan sharks, proving that he is the calmer and more sensible half of their team.
LUKE: Take it down a notch, Jones.
You know how in romantic comedies, we are shown how perfect a couple are for each other by seeing them demonstrate expert teamwork and/or mutually beneficial shenanigans? This is totally that. With the added bonus of some steamy, highly symbolic ‘holding him close while sharing a motorbike’ scenes. There is a lot of bike in this episode.
Luke Cage wears a helmet and has a spare for a guest, because that’s the law, which makes him 10 times more responsible than Captain America, just saying. Put a damn helmet on, Steve, the kids are watching.
I think even the loan sharks are shipping Luke and Jessica at this point. More importantly, Malcolm ships it, which is why he blurts out an awkward but well meaning shovel speech to Luke after seeing how cold the two are with each other.
To Jessica’s horror, Luke returns to her office armed with her tragic backstory (or as much as Malcolm was aware of) because her neighbour can’t keep his mouth shut, and has issues with boundaries.
Knowing what he does now about Jessica’s past with Kilgrave—and realising that she tried to open up to him about it back when they were still booty calling each other—Luke has thawed like a snowman in summer.
Jessica makes a slight effort not to fall back into bed with him at this point, but come on, we all know if she could resist Luke Cage’s smoulder she would have resisted the first time. He counters her passionate speech about what a piece of shit she really is with loving support, and kind eyes. And also with really great sex. Luke Cage is her kryptonite.
Let’s leave them in their happy post-coital bliss to cover the important subplots in this episode:
Jessica takes a morning off the Antoine case to visit Hope in the prison hospital and discovers, after interrogating Hope’s top dog gal pal Sissy Garcia, that Hope used Jessica’s money to hire Sissy to beat her up. Hope reveals the horrible truth after Jessica confronts her—she is pregnant. With Kilgrave’s baby. OH HELL NO. Given that the waitlist for a doctor in this place is two months, she opted for the “accidental” miscarriage option. It didn’t work, which leaves her desperate.
Jessica arranges abortion meds for Hope via Hogarth, and begs the lawyer to stay with Hope through the process. Hogarth, despite being about as comforting as a metal filing cabinet, reluctantly agrees in exchange for Jessica’s vow to expedite her divorce.
As a side note, Pam is amazing in this episode. Major shout out for her adorable bright dresses, which are sometimes the only spot of colour in her scenes, and her general loving attitude towards Jeri. I enjoy that she brings the snark to Jessica in the face of total and complete rudeness every time.
Jeri’s declaration of love for Pam in this episode is a genuinely sweet moment amongst so much angst and pain. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to Jessica and Jeri that Pam would have been a much better option to hold Hope’s hand through the abortion process (even though she is a complete stranger) because she is sunny and warm and generally wonderful in the face of all sarcasm and bitchiness that is hurled her way. I am on Team Pam.
Just as it looks like Jeri Hogarth might have a smidgen of compassion for Hope, we see her covertly arrange to have the foetus delivered to a lab on her own behalf. OH, JERI, NO.
Weirdly, the comic relief portion of the episode goes to Kilgrave. We watch him charm and bully his way through a million dollar poker game (only causing one major head trauma), shop online for real estate and finally talk the owner of his chosen house into selling it. I was startled at him choosing to buy a house rather than merely forcibly kicking the owner out, but a throwaway line about buyer’s remorse made his reasoning explicit—with a purchase this big, he can’t afford to have the seller get all legal on him when his influence wears off. And of course, he doesn’t want anyone tracing him to this purchase. So he’s practically legit.
It’s almost entertaining watching Kilgrave try to remember how to do things without falling back on old habits—right up to the point that he peels off a key piece of wallpaper and we learn exactly why he wants this particular house. It’s Jessica’s childhood home. OH KILGRAVE, NO, YOU SADISTIC BASTARD.
The final shot of this sequence shows the street names which we have heard Jessica use repeatedly as her therapy-advised mantra for dealing with panic and flashbacks—the same technique she tried to teach Hope in Episode 1. So he’s even taken that from her, then…
Ahem. Back to the romance. Surely we’ll get some happy times over with Luke and Jessica? Well, yes, briefly. They Nick-and-Nora their way around the disappearance of Antoine, only to find him happily growing weed in an abandoned warehouse. Cos he’s an entrepreneur.
Jessica has learned that Antoine’s sister isn’t a friend of Luke’s at all—Serena works at the hospital and has some key information about the bus crash that killed his wife. Luke knows Riva had something important buried under a building nearby, but couldn’t find it. It’s a shock to Jessica that Luke is still investigating Riva’s death, and she’s terrified of what Serena has to tell him. After a truly spectacular battle between the superheroes and the loan sharks (in which many, many marijuana plants die tragic deaths), Jessica grabs Antoine and gets him back to his sister to make the trade ahead of Luke.
She isn’t fast enough, and Luke gets hold of the file that reveals the bus driver (who survived the crash) had his alcohol reading hushed up, and is still driving the same route. So Jessica’s in the clear! But her new BF is totally about to murder a dude.
Luke goes Terminator on the bus driver after hours, and Jessica comes to his rescue, getting between them and giving the driver a chance to escape. When she realises the extent of Luke’s obsession, and that he will never let the driver live, she confesses the truth—the driver didn’t kill Riva, Jessica did. The bus crash happened because the driver swerved to avoid the body in the road.
(We also get the intriguing extra information that Riva was there that night because Kilgrave wanted the item she had buried, a USB in a tin box, which he had Jessica dig up with her bare hands. But let’s shelve that for now and move on to the ANGST.)
Luke is wrecked by Jessica’s revelation—crucially, because he was primed by Malcolm to get the whole Kilgrave business, he does not hurl blame at her for killing Riva. He knows that part wasn’t her fault. However, he is furious that she allowed this sexual relationship to develop between them, knowing this terrible secret—that she touched him with the same hands that killed his wife. As he rightly points out, Kilgrave did not make her do that.
He concludes, in a scene that’s devastating for them both, that Jessica Jones is indeed a piece of shit.
Oh, my poor, broken sweeties.
COMICS AND CONTINUITY
We see a lot more of how Luke’s powers work in this episode, notably that his strength is at least a match for Jessica’s, as they tussle in the final sequence.
His unbreakable skin also comes up in a scene where he stands between Jessica and a couple of snapping guard dogs, on the grounds that dealing with sharp teeth is his specialty. Adorably, when they get back together, she asks after the dogs and he replies that they’re fine. “I don’t hurt dogs.”
Mostly pot plants and glass, especially the front window of the bus, for which I presume Luke Cage is not planning to compensate the city of New York.
Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Marvel Comics tragic, and a Hugo Award winning blogger and podcaster. Tansy’s latest piece of published short fiction is “Fake Geek Girl” at the Review of Australian Fiction, and she writes comics reviews on her own blog. You can find TansyRR on Twitter & Tumblr, sign up for her Author Newsletter, and listen to her on Galactic Suburbia or the Verity! podcast.