If doors were the overriding theme of Episode 1, then the word ‘freak’ is all over this one. As is often the case with Jessica Jones, there’s a double meaning in that: people with powers, of course, who are referred to in this show as Supers or Powers (Powereds?), but also the recent run of freak accidents happening to people associated with that mysterious lab, and the people experimented upon.
Jessica, being the noir heroine she is, kicks off the episode with a bunch of performative Bad Behaviour In Bars including far too much whiskey, broken glasses from slamming them down too quickly (her bartender is remarkably understanding) and a less-than satisfying hookup in a toilet stall.
Did I mention that it’s raining? So raining.
(Contains spoilers for Episodes 2.2 and 2.3 only, please try not to refer to episodes beyond this in the comments.)
Season 2, Episode 2: “AKA Freak Accident”
Written by Aida Mashaka Croal
Directed by Minkie Spiro
This episode’s all about good old fashioned detective work, for the most part. Jessica tracks down Dr Koslav, the doctor she blames for giving her superpowers and traumatic flashbacks… unfortunately, he’s recently dead.
Fortunately, Jessica wears black all the time anyway. Perfect to crash a funeral.
The event is full of people raving about the generosity of the good doctor, including a war hero in a wheelchair who credits Koslav with saving his life.
This leads to a back room action sequence which answers the question of whether Jessica would hit a man in a wheelchair… yes, if he’s a trained fighter and hits her first, and if she’s already removed him from the wheelchair.
Turns out Koslav’s death is just as suspicious as the Whizzer’s, and Jessica comes away from the funeral with the name of a prime suspect for these super murders: Will Simpson.
Trish is on her own mission, confronting her awful mother to get contact details for her former director, Max — who preyed on her sexually when she was a teen actress.
This #metoo storyline is highly appropriate for post-Weinstein viewing, but fits perfectly with what we already knew about Trish, her mother and her discomfort with her former career from Season 1.
Something we learned in 2017: whenever you wonder aloud what happened with the career of a once-successful actress you never see on screen any more… the answer may well be pretty grim.
Trish brings Malcolm along to her confrontation with Max, where she tries to use their ugly history as a bargaining chip to get behind the scenes access to a certain hospital Max sponsors… but Max laughs her off.
I’m glad that Trish brought someone with her to this horrible situation, and it’s interesting that she trusted Malcolm as an alternative to Jessica — who knows Trish’s history but can’t be trusted not to start throwing punches. Except Malcolm totally goes after Max and throws a punch… and then vanishes from the episode, bizarrely, leaving Trish alone on the darkened set just in time to get into a whole other kind of trouble.
(He didn’t go back to the car, so… where did Malcolm go? He’s been acting cagey this episode. Weird directorial choice, or clue for something more significant?)
Jessica has a bunch of her own problems, including a pair of earnest cops asking awkward questions about her connection to the Whizzer’s “accident.” She tries to use her new neighbour as a witness that she was at the crime scene but didn’t cause it… but Oscar refuses to admit he even saw her there.
Whizzer’s story comes more strongly into focus when Jessica breaks into his place and, once she’s avoided his bitey mongoose, steals a laptop revealing that he was a regularly commenter on Trish Talk, and has left a series of informational videos.
WHIZZER: With great power comes great… mental illness.
Convinced now that Trish is the link to all the murders, Jessica tries to find her friend. She even confronts Trish’s mother Dorothy, who manages to sneer phrases like “Livin’ in the present, hun you should try it sometime,” when she literally has the Here’s Patsy theme tune as her ringtone, and lives in a shrine to her daughter’s former TV success.
To give Dorothy and Max some competition for Who Is The Worst, Jeri Hogarth deals with some bad news by sinking into a hedonistic personal party of hookers and blow.
Jeri is a simply awful human being, and I can’t decide if it’s empowering or insulting to her gender that she continues to act out like the worst kind of self-obsessed middle aged wealthy white man. Still, if the character was played by Gary Oldman he’d probably have won an Emmy for it already.
Jessica and Trish’s storylines both converge on the darkened, strangely-lacking-in-security film set, where Trish has shot and restrained her super ex boyfriend, Will Simpson.
He insists that he’s not the monster killing people connected to Trish’s case… in fact, he’s been trying to protect her from said monster, which is totally his justification for continuing to (a) stalk Trish and (b) huff super juice from his inhaler.
It turns out Will’s story is right… as is proven when said monster murders him in what looks like, but is definitely not, another “freak accident.”
Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.
JESSICA: Simpson was right, it takes a monster to stop a monster. He just wasn’t the right monster.
Comics & Continuity
Dorothy Walker of Marvel Comics is just as terrible and exploitative of her daughter, though in different ways: she made a career from comic books depicting the fictionalised adventures of Patsy and her friends, and she also promised Patsy’s soul to Satan.
I have my eye on Griffin Sinclair, Trish’s new boyfriend. If it turns out his name is really Daimon Hellspawn, everyone’s gotta watch out. Because yes, Patsy totally married the son of Satan in the comics.
That’s not even the reason her superhero name was Hellcat.
Dorothy’s door gets smashed in… and the bathroom stalls at Jessica’s favourite bar get severely dented. I wonder if she included those damages last time she left a tip.
I also appreciated the cop commenting the awkwardness of how Jessica’s office door works — is this a business or a residence, anyway? That’s gonna be relevant next week.
Episode Title: 2.3 AKA Sole Survivor
Written by Lisa Randolph
Directed by Mairzee Almas
Things start out bleak and only get bleaker in this episode, with Jessica and Trish on a grey beach having quietly disposed of Will Simpson’s corpse.
Jessica confesses to Trish that after her family’s deaths, she considered coming here to end it all, knowing that no one would find a body here.
TRISH: So we just dumped a dead body at your childhood vacation spot.
JESSICA: Not much of a vacation.
Trish is determined to help Jessica solve the case, and uncover her missing memories along with the lost 20 days from Jessica’s medical file.
Her solution: hypnotherapy!
JESSICA: My past is killing people now so not a lot of options.
To the surprise of no one, Jessica Jones does not respond well to hypnosis, a treatment that requires its participant to relax. (The hypnotist tried to use doors as a metaphor, which I enjoyed greatly)
Malcolm is outraged that Oscar the super is evicting Jessica from the building for running a commercial business on a residential property. Jessica duly investigates Oscar’s background and learns he’s not only an ex-con on probation, but he also won favours with their landlord by forging a Green Card for his overseas boyfriend.
They’re clearly trying to build some kind of anti-superpowers bigotry storyline here, which is uncomfortable considering that Jessica is, for all her trauma, still a reasonably privileged white woman complaining about being discriminated against by her Hispanic neighbour.
Don’t be that person, Jessica.
It’s also hard to claim any kind of moral high ground in this situation after she broke into Oscar’s apartment to get dirt on him, and ended up accidentally babysitting/conning his kid.
No, thinking that the kid was probably asleep is NOT a good defence for this behaviour, Jessica.
More domestic shenanigans mix with workplace dangers in our look at the relationship between Trish and Griffin, her celebrity journo boyfriend. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy, and is reasonably understanding of her co-dependent relationship with Jessica, not to mention her nightmare of a mother.
He’s not dealing well with Trish’s independent streak, though, and his own protective streak makes for a bad combination. Trish has worked hard to feel like she can defend herself, and isn’t comfortable with some dude (or as it happens, Jessica) sidelining her from the action of her own story.
She actually tries to pull the ‘we should break up until I’m done with this dangerous thing I’m doing, I don’t want you to be harmed by someone out to get me’ manouever, which is a great piece of gender reversal for a classic superhero trope.
Trish, we know he’s gonna end up either dead or a supervillain by the end of the season. Just roll with it.
Trish confesses to Jessica that she’s in love with Griffin, which makes her extra cynical about what’s probably wrong with him… and Jessica confesses that she previously gave a background check, and he seems to be on the level.
JESSICA: You have often needed protection from your own vagina.
Jeri Hogarth’s spiral into self-destruction continues with an intervention from her fellow senior partners, who have become aware of her troubling medical diagnosis. Contractually, they are in their right to remove her from the firm, but she is determined to make things very difficult for them.
Also difficult for herself, of course. After rejecting the offer of Foggy’s help (oh Foggy, too brief an appearance! How have you been?), Jeri goes to the one person she knows who is more messed up than she is: Jessica Jones.
She confesses to Jessica that her diagnosis was for ALS. She has no symptoms yet, but it’s likely to kill her in the next 2-8 years. Jeri needs dirt on her partners so she can stay working as long as she wants to; the law firm is literally all she has left in her life, and she wants to hang on to it.
Back to the mystery! Jessica has been trying to locate Dr Hansen, who she believes to have been involved in the experiments on her after her accident as a teenager.
Dr Hansen has been disappeared, her name painted out from doors, and her presence erased from the internet. But there’s a skull in her furnace, so things are definitely not okay…
While waiting for the results of the sneaky autopsy they have arranged with fanboy morgue attendant Maury, Trish goes on the air to call for information on Dr Hansen. She receives a message from the woman herself…
And of course, Trish wants to go and meet her, but Jessica has other ideas. No sidekicks for her! She sets TMZ on Trish so she can’t go anywhere in secret, and takes the meeting herself… with a person who is definitely not Dr Hansen.
Dr Hansen was the skull in the furnace!
Still, mystery Doctor Not-Hansen knows a lot about the experiments done on Jessica, and is furious that Trish and Jessica have been spreading rumours that IGH are bad guys. She admits to giving Jessica powers and demands gratitude: after all, she brought her back from the dead.
Too bad for Dr Not-Hansen… Jessica still wishes she had died in the accident that killed the rest of her family. The two of them fight — a proper fight, because as it turns out, this mystery doctor has superpowers too!
Comics & Continuity
In the comics, the accident that killed Jessica and gave her powers was because her family car collided with a military convoy which spilled radioactive chemicals. (This was a common superhero origin trope, shared by Daredevil and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Something I’ve always liked about Jessica Jones, which is becoming clearer in this season, is that her nihilistic personality was not shaped by Kilgrave and what he put her through. As central a villain as he was to Season 1 and Jessica herself, he’s actually not her entire focus.
I’ve seen some complaints (though I’m avoiding spoilers still) that many viewers feel the lack of an equivalent Big Bad to David Tennant’s Kilgrave in this season. I’m okay with that. Superhero stories often default to the villain vs hero dynamic, but detective and noir stories don’t need that at all. Kilgrave was a fantastic, horrific villain which made Season 1 unforgettable as well as harrowing to watch, but I’m fine with our single Marvel superhero series with a female protagonist NOT actually continuing to revolve around, or be defined by, the man who raped her.
Trish’s security these days is interesting. Griffin is able to wander in and surprise her which means he has a key. That’s huge considering her trust issues. She later comments on the stability of her door to Malcolm, rolling her eyes at the idea of Jessica sending him to protect her.
For these last two episodes, though, Trish’s security issues have been represented by her quick draw skills with a gun.
While Jessica has issues with doors in this episode — metaphorical as well as real ones — it’s beds that she’s failing at this week, with her series of horrifying dreams always leading to her waking up on the bedroom floor.
Beds Have No Respect For Jessica Jones.
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 Girl Reporter, a YA superhero novella published by The Book Smugglers. You can find TansyRR on Twitter & Instagram, and sign up for her Author Newsletter.