Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “AKA I’ve Got the Blues” Spoilers for season 1.
Episode 11: AKA I’ve Got The Blues
Written By: Scott Reynolds & Liz Friedman
Directed By: Uta Briesewitz
Here’s a thing about Liz Friedman: many years ago, there was a Hercules: the Legendary Journeys episode set in the present day, in which the regular and recurring cast played the directors and writers of the show. This means that whenever I see Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman credited on anything, I imagine that they are really Salmoneus and Joxer; likewise, Liz Friedman is and always will be, in my head canon, a particularly homicidal Callisto in a business suit and a Hope Van Dyne wig.
Ahem. Also, she writes good stuff. I’m always excited to see Liz Friedman’s byline.
This episode revolves around the friendship between Trish Walker and Jessica Jones, from its origins to the present day. In particular, the theme of the girls saving each other, failing to save each other and promising not to save each other.
Here’s a hint: they’re always gonna save each other.
This is also a mostly Kilgrave-free episode, just to remind us that he’s not the only threat in the world.
When Jessica awoke from her coma after the accident that killed her parents, it was to a surreal wash of passive aggressive sniping between her schoolmate (not friend, yet) Patsy Walker and Patsy’s bombastic mother Dorothy. Dorothy has decided that taking in the poor little orphan is too good a chance to pass up, especially with a new scandal to cover up.
(We later find out that Dorothy doesn’t just ‘take Jessica in,’ she formally adopts her.)
Being the altruistic, benevolent teen celebrity is the new chapter in the Patsy Walker narrative—or as Dorothy gleefully puts it the second Jessica wakes up: “Patsy’s going to save you.”
Gifts from these flashbacks: Patsy’s red wig, the actual theme tune to her show, and the casting of the sisters: Catherine Blades as the strung-out, world weary teen Patsy and the brilliantly named Elizabeth Cappuccino as the cynical, emo teen Jessica. We see glimpses of the formation of the foster sisters’ relationship, as they learn each other’s secrets—Patsy that her mother is abusing her (it shouldn’t be funny, but that time she was stabbed by a People’s Choice Award is bleakly hilarious) and Jessica that she has unexpectedly acquired super strength.
Jess wants to help Patsy against her mother, but Patsy begs her not to save her, especially at the cost of revealing her powers—what would a woman like Dorothy do if she knew her latest charity case had superpowers? It comes to a head when Jessica catches Dorothy trying to force Patsy to throw up her latest meal, and physically hurls her out of the room, saving her friend against her stated wishes.
Theme, theme, theme.
In the present day, Jessica coaches the therapy group in how to lie effectively about Hope’s death, which is the best option to keep the police safe from Kilgrave even though everyone feels really shitty about it. It’s particularly painful for Jessica, though Robyn (of course) is the wild card, and almost gives the game away.
Jessica throws herself into hunting desperately for Kilgrave, while Trish tries to keep her in one piece, worried that Jess isn’t eating or sleeping.
JESSICA: I was unconscious all of last night, that counts, right?
At one point, Jessica half-hallucinates the sight of Kilgrave walking down the street, and walks in front of a truck. She stumbles away from the accident with broken ribs.
Trish wrapping Jess’s ribs with cling film (because she heals fast but needs support in the mean time) is one of my favourite things. Actually, most of this episode is my favourite things.
In case you were wondering, the acceptable term for a platonic female-female friendship being the main focus of a narrative is ‘sromance.’ You’re welcome.
A broken rib or two won’t stop Jessica, and she goes on a tour of the city’s morgues, obsessing over the idea that she will find Albert (Daddy Kilgrave) on a slab. The scene where she desperately tries to use Trish’s celebrity status to bribe a morgue attendant (including singing the theme tune) made me hide my face from the screen, because so embarrassing, Jessica.
She doesn’t find Albert, but she does find the burnt corpse of Detective Clemons.
Will Simpson has officially crossed the line from problematic hookup/maybe boyfriend to scary ex. He turns up at Trish’s workplace, and then again outside her apartment (in both cases, getting past security that is there to keep the uninvited out). He apologises profusely for his aggressive behaviour and swears he is done with the combat drugs, but Trish is having none of it.
Trish assures him that Jessica is now on board the killing Kilgrave train, and he needs to let her handle it, but he refuses to trust either of them. When two goons from ‘the project’ come to haul him back, Simpson swallows one of his red pills and shoots them both point blank.
I’m not entirely sure why he needed to take special combat drugs in order to shoot two people, but okay.
Jessica, still recovering at her apartment, gets a call from Will. He promises her that Trish is already on her way and he’s following. What she doesn’t know is that he has locked a screaming Trish in her own panic room, and dragged the two bloody bodies of his recent kills into her apartment.
What I really appreciated about the Trish-Will scenes leading up to this is that she is always on her guard with him. She never falls for his line, whether it’s about him being sorry, or him trying to convince her that he’s less dangerous than he appears. She trusts her instincts, and she won’t let him turn her against Jessica. The only times she says things that are conciliatory or that imply she still believes they have a relationship, it’s to placate him until she’s a safe distance away.
It’s clear that Trish’s professional life has trained her in dealing efficiently with creepy men thinking they have a right to intrude in her space, and she has firmly put Will in that category.
The lesson we take from this, sadly, is you can make all the intelligent choices, take all possible precautions in a situation like this, and you can still be at risk of being hurt by a violent man. Because, you know. He’s not following any rules. Still, I appreciated SO MUCH that they didn’t make Trish even slightly gullible—the second she saw how scary he was (last episode), her defences went way up and they stayed there.
Likewise, while Jessica mishandles the phone call, she knows Will is lying the second he arrives in her apartment without Trish, claiming that she agreed voluntarily to stay behind.
I love how well Jess and Trish know and trust each other—no dude is getting between them, whether it’s Will or Kilgrave. We’ve had lots of lovely moments between the two
friends sisters in this episode, though there are still secrets to be unravelled—Jessica at one point comments on the tiny number of people she loves enough to be risking them in her war on Kilgrave, and Trish teases her about a slip of the tongue implying a number higher than one, because who’s the other person?
(Jessica has never said a word about Luke Cage to Trish, huh, interesting)
In her office Jessica calls Will on his bullshit and accuses him of shooting Clemons. She read the forensics report that said it was a police issue bullet that killed him. The only question is, did Kilgrave make him do it? Why, no. No, he did not.
Several episodes ago, when it became evident that Will was heading in an evil super soldier direction, I thought to myself, this means we are all but guaranteed an episode in which Jessica gets to punch him a whole lot! This is that episode.
Normally Jessica could take him easily, but there’s those broken ribs holding her back, and once he realises her weakness, he takes her (and her apartment) apart. Including (sob) the glass panel in her door. Simpson has taken way too many of the red pills, and he comes close to killing Jessica… until Trish arrives just in time to knock him around the head with a fire extinguisher.
The two women barricade themselves in Jessica’s bathroom, considering their options. Jessica has stolen Will’s medication, but he hollers through the door that she can’t take it—you have to work up to the red pills, and without the blue ones to bring you down straight after (which he promptly throws out the window) the red would get you so wound up that you’d forget how to breathe.
Yes, that’s what “I’ve got the blues” means in the title of this episode. Oh, show.
Trish is willing to risk it. She takes the red pill, and she and Jessica team up to kick nine kinds of snot out of the super soldier. They use all the furniture, including Jessica’s fridge.
Trish is amazing—the kickass hero she always wanted to be—but the pills get the better of her, and she starts gasping for air. Jessica calls an ambulance, and the paramedics manage to save Trish, barely turning a hair at the revelation that they’re dealing with an entirely new kind of drug overdose.
(At no point does Jessica go to hunt for the blue pills Will threw away, just saying.)
All this and the episode isn’t even over. Malcolm has been dealing with his own drama, because he’s so demoralised by what happened with the therapy group and Kilgrave. The only person he has to talk to about it is Robyn, who is the worst. She basically convinces him that he should give up on believing that humans are capable of anything good.
Malcolm: So what, it’s just every man for himself, then, huh? Everything I learned in church, all the praying that my mom did for the sick and the dying, all the… all the community projects my dad worked on, basically, everything that they taught me… it was all bullshit? They’re idiots and I’m just the only asshole in the world who didn’t know?
Robyn: Yeah, you got duped, mop top.
I really like this sequence because it gives us a little more info about Malcolm’s background, before Kilgrave screwed him over, and the kind of person he is. It also lets us know that he totally has a support network to tap into, which is comforting.
Malcolm’s loss of faith in humanity saves his life. He comes home to see the shattered remains of Jessica’s office and people (Will Simpson’s recovery team) moving about inside, and for once goes quietly into his own apartment rather than charging in to investigate.
Awwww Malcolm, hang in there, it’s gonna get better. I hope. It can’t get worse, right?
Jessica is pulled from Trish’s bedside by an alarming message from the mostly-not-appearing-in-this-episode Kilgrave, referring to having a chat with her boyfriend.
Jessica runs to Luke Cage’s bar, just in time to see it blow up. He walks calmly out and beats the flames off his clothes (unbreakable skin, how’s that for something the bad guy didn’t know), but whoa. Okay then. Something else that Kilgrave has ruined: the cleanest dive bar in New York is no more.
On the other hand, Jessica and Luke totally have to talk about their feelings now, right? Squee.
COMICS AND CONTINUITY
The return of coma-girl! I may have been a little too enthusiastic to see this brief touch from the Alias comics honoured—is it bad that Jessica in a coma makes me nostalgic?
Given that Trish and Jessica went to the same high school before the accident, everyone’s head-canon should be that they both went to Midtown High with Peter Parker, Mary-Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy and Flash Thompson.
I bet Trish totally dated Flash Thompson.
It’s fantastic to see so much angsty teen Jessica in this episode, and the contrast between her and the elegant, hurting-on-the-inside Patsy. I really appreciated the teen-realistic irreverence with which they discuss Patsy’s mother’s abusive behaviour—Jessica flat out teases Patsy with the horrible truth that if it becomes widely known, there will totally be a Lifetime movie made about it.
Anything but that!
Trish goes full on hero in this episode, not only in the blazing fight scene, but in the many other ways she comes to Jessica’s rescue, over and over. I love these two so much.
We’re all pre-ordering Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #1, written by Kate Leth (Adventure Time) with art by Brittney Williams (Lumberjanes), due in comic shops (and Comixology) this month, right? Right?
Um, everything. Jessica’s door (aw, door, no!), everything she owns, her fridge, her walls, and let’s not forget her ribs. Also the truck that was seriously damaged by hitting her. Then there’s Patsy’s place—not only smeared with blood, but she had to bust out of her own panic room, so a locksmith is going to be required.
Most of all, Luke’s lovely bar. Moment of silence.
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 onGalactic Suburbia or the Verity! podcast.