Jessica Jones is Untethered

We roll to an appropriately noir conclusion, with every character competing as to who can make the most terrible choices in the same week.

(Obviously Daredevil wins that contest, despite not appearing in this show, but I digress…)

 

Season 2, Episode 12: “AKA Pray For My Patsy”

Written by Raelle Tucker & Hilly Hicks Jr
Directed by Liz Friedlander

This entire episode is structured around women having hurtful, powerful and painful conversations with each other, mostly about themselves or other women, not men. A rare thing in drama, but especially in drama involving superheroes.

Jessica and Dorothy hover at Trish’s bedside. In a surprising turn, Jess does not (yet) get a barrage of abuse and guilt-tripping from Dorothy, who is weirdly supportive. Possibly she’s in shock.

Trish is by no means the first person to use a backyard quack to try to gain superpowers… which is a disturbing trend you don’t hear about in the Avengers movies! Time for Bruce Banner’s “Trust me, just say no to weird medical experiments, look what happened to me” campaign, surely.

Detective Costa and the still-unfriendly Detective Sunday interview Jessica about her mother, now on the lam. Jessica actually tries to be helpful and dips into Dr Karl’s journal, where she learns that her mother has a tendency towards dissociative rampages, often fixating on a single obsession.

When they learn that Alisa crashed Trish’s old radio station (quite literally) Jess guesses that Trish is Alisa’s target; after what went down between them, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Alisa blames her for Karl’s death.

This wouldn’t be a problem if Dorothy wasn’t talked (very easily) into giving a detailed TV interview about “my Patsy” and her condition, blaming an unethical doctor to take the heat off the ‘it’s a relapse/overdose’ narrative in the media.

The interview includes specific mention of which hospital Trish is currently staying in, which was a really dumb move even if she was just an ordinary celebrity who didn’t have an enraged killer tracking her down.

Jessica runs from the cops and makes it just in time to stop Alisa killing Trish, though it’s a near thing — at one point, Alisa uses Jess’s own arm to strangle Trish. It’s clear Alisa blames Trish for everything including her perception that she lost Jessica as well as Karl.

ALISA (to an unconscious Trish): You stole my family!

JESSICA: Mom, stop, please don’t take mine.

Just as Alisa snaps back to a more reasoned state, everything is shaken up again by the appearance of Costa and Sunday. Alisa grabs Sunday and Costa hesitates to take the headshot to take her down; to everyone’s horror, Alisa ends up throwing herself out the window with Sunday in her arms, leaving the cop a bloody mess on the concrete below.

In the aftermath, Jessica and Dorothy fight. Turns out that yes, Dorothy not blaming Jessica for everything had a very brief window.

Jessica turns it around on Dorothy, for giving the interview that led the killer straight to Trish.

DOROTHY: I was trying to save Patsy. Her brand is her legacy.

JESSICA: You can’t stop selling your daughter.

Trish is on life support in a room hidden deep in the morgue, under high security. Jessica shares a quiet moment with her, confessing that she was always jealous Trish had her mother even though Dorothy is awful.

(I was gonna say “the worst” but let’s face it, Jessica wins the bad mom booby prize.)

Costa is no longer prepared to include Jessica in the hunt for her mother, and Jess knows the police will be shooting to kill (though to be fair, I think they’ve been TRYING that for a while now).

In the morgue, Trish wakes up. She and Jessica discuss who is the asshole in this relationship — both of them, obviously, though Trish is edging ahead in the current race.

Even though they fight bitterly about how Jessica wastes her superpowers and Trish judges her for it… when Jessica gets a call from her mother, it’s clear that she is furiously defensive of her sister even now. Trish is Number One in her life.

Jessica catches a ride with a corpse to ditch her security detail, and heads to a clearly doomed encounter with her Mom.

Meanwhile, a vengeful Jeri tracks down Shane and Inez by systematically being awful to every pawnbroker in town. She’s gonna end up as one of those pictures they stick behind the till… but finally she finds someone she can bribe for her possessions back, and information on Inez.

Reuniting awkwardly in Jeri’s car, Inez tries to convince her that the sexual relationship between them wasn’t part of the con… and Jeri retaliates by going full Kilgrave, convincing Inez with her honeyed words that Shane was corresponding with other women while in jail, and using them to collect funds he never shared with his down and out girlfriend.

(Whether it’s true or not is almost irrelevant… it’s the manipulation of Inez towards a specific homicidal goal that’s truly chilling here.)

Inez confronts Shane with the gun Jeri provided her, and ends up shooting him. Calmly, Jeri calls the cops to report the incident. Revenge level unlocked.

Trish is overcome by a belief she’s about to die, but as ever Dorothy is more concerned with how to stage her career comeback.

DOROTHY: You’re everything I wanted to be.

It’s never been more clear that Dorothy’s jealousy of and pride in her daughter is reflected in Trish’s relationship with Jessica… toxic relationships all around.

Trish convulses and goes into spasms. Is she dying, or metamorphosing? Only next episode will tell.

Alisa and Jessica have a painful showdown, and Jessica calls her mother on her inability to take responsibility for her actions.

JESSICA: There is always a choice, your brain is just too damned broken to see it.

Jessica can’t bring herself to kill her mother. Instead, Alisa knocks her unconscious (I’m on Jessica’s side mostly but this does feel like a karmic response to all those concussions she wielded in Season 1).

Alisa drives an unconscious Jessica off into the sunset in an RV in a ghoulish fascimile of a family holiday.

JESSICA: What happens to our dreams when we realise they’re never going to come true? They turn into nightmares.

Damage Report

  • Alisa throws a radio producer through a plate glass window.
  • Jessica kicks out a police car door because SHE HAS NO RESPECT FOR DOORS.
  • Trish’s entire body is rebelling against her poor life choices this season.
  • Parts of Shane are all over the wall.
  • Jeri still has a degenerative disease.
  • All I can hope at this point is that Malcolm, at least, is taking a quiet day to himself somewhere, with a cup of tea and a good book.

 

Season 2, Episode 13: “AKA Playland”

Story by Jesse Harris
Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg
Directed by Uta Briesewitz

Jessica awakens in the RV to find herself on the road trip from hell with her mother, who recently punched her unconscious.

Trish awakens in the hospital when her mother yells the name “PATSY” at her. Trish’s first concern is Jess, which irritates Dorothy, who is busily planning how their life will look now (she thinks) Patsy is coming home to her. They have a career to rebuild!

Jessica is insistent that the only place she goes with her mother is the Raft, but Alisa will have none of it. She’s making plans too, determined that she can cross over into Canada and they will stay together forever.

So… many… parallels.

ALISA: I want to make it hard for you to leave me

DOROTHY: I’m going to get your old room ready!

Malcolm, in a sharp suit with freshly clipped hair (oh Malcolm, your HAIR), presents himself to Jeri Hogarth, along with the evidence she needs to get exactly what she wants from her partners.

(He finished the home repairs at Jessica’s apartment first, before leaving the key behind — his work habits can best be described as thorough. If he needs a job reference, I’ll write him one.)

In her glamorous office blacks, Jeri strides back into her old office to cheerfully inform her partners that she knows what they’ve been up to (not the gay club thing, no one cares about that, Benowitz) — mostly that they’ve been involved in laundering money for clients.

Chou is skeptical that Jeri would pull that trigger, knowing she has just as much dirty laundry. But Jeri reigns supreme, demanding that they hand over all of her clients (62% of their business!) so she can go independent.

JERI: You should be very afraid of the woman who has absolutely nothing left to lose.

Malcolm is expecting to get to join Jeri’s new firm as investigator, but she casually kicks him to the kerb, claiming he’s too amateur. But she does like the suit.

Jessica and Alisa have an ongoing conversation about family, heroism and power as they trundle along in the RV.

JESSICA: If you say with great power comes great responsibility, I’ll throw up on you.

Just as Jessica compares her mother to Kilgrave (which offends Alisa mightily) they drive into the aftermath of a fiery car/truck collision, including a happy family they previously spotted at the gas station.

Alisa flies into action as a superhero on the job, and Jessica follows her lead. Between them they sweep the child out of danger, throw cars off both parents, and Alisa even manages to save the truck driver from an explosion which — for a moment — Jessica thought had taken her out.

Alisa is buzzed by their actions, high on good deeds. Jessica, certain now that there is something innately good about her mother, impulsively agrees to cross the border with her.

Oscar, who is literally the most understanding boyfriend in the history of superheroing (even Steve Trevor was never quite this accommodating) drives up to help Jessica out with false papers for Alisa.

He is horrified to realise that Jessica plans to leave too. He had clearly been hoping that he and Vido were going to be part of her life on an ongoing basis.

Jessica compares how Oscar sees the world through the lens of father and son, with how she felt all these years after the loss of her birth family. She has been untethered from the world, and Alisa offers her a chance to feel… something she hasn’t quite put her finger on.

It’s all too late, though. That pesky painting in Jessica’s apartment warned the cops there was a connection between her and Oscar, so of course he was followed.

Alisa is ready to stop running. A recent conversation with Detective Costa has her thinking about Jessica’s future, and how dangerous their life will be together.

Costa has been busy lately — he also tried to get Trish to help him out, infuriating Dorothy who doesn’t want Trish involved.

Where Jessica is concerned, Trish will always be involved.

Jessica and Alisa arrive at Playland, an amusement park that’s closed for the season (or the night?). Alisa turns on all the lights and rides, as a beacon calling out for the cops to come and find her. In a last poignant mother-daughter bonding session, she and Jessica return to their conversation about heroism, and whether Jessica has been wasting her powers as she wanders numbly through a whiskey haze.

Alisa knows the end of her story is coming.

ALISA: Maybe I don’t have to be amazing. Maybe I just made you.

In a jarring blur, Alisa slumps in their Ferris Wheel carriage, covered in blood. Shot from a distance — not by the approaching cops, but by Trish, who got there ahead of them.

Trish claims she did it to save Jessica, so she wouldn’t get hurt in the inevitable crossfire. Jessica sends her away, devastated and furious — and certainly not ready to have a conversation about whether or not Trish has super powers/reflexes now. But that was a very good shot.

When Costa and the cops arrive, Jessica is curled up with the body of her mother. Everyone assumes that — as with Kilgrave last season — she killed a monster on behalf of humanity.

Life goes on.

One evening some time later, Jessica stops a grocery store robbery by throwing a whiskey bottle at the head of a junkie holding a gun. She returns home to find Trish, still desperate for forgiveness.

Trish wants her sister back, but Jessica is unrelenting, and claims she lost her only family all over again. All Jessica sees when she looks at Trish is the person who killed her mother.

JESSICA: If murder is how Trish Walker does hero then get used to people being pissed off.

Trish walks away, miserable, but a chance accident with her phone gives her hope that maybe she has come out of all this with superpowers after all.

Jeri Hogarth is thriving in her new business. In a fashion move I can only call a Reverse Servalan (she’s all in billowing white after a lifetime of rocking the all black ensemble), she presides over the building of her new firm.

Pryce Cheng arrives to sign on as her official investigator, with his new associate, the beautifully dressed Malcolm. Oh Malcolm, curse your sudden and completely evitable betrayal.

Jeri appreciates sass and irony, and welcomes them both to her new team.

Jessica returns to the thread about how she has felt untethered from life since her family’s accident, without living relatives. She’s been acting as if she died with them.

So, with barely a glance at her neighbour Malcolm’s suspiciously beautiful suit, she heads down to Oscar and Vido’s apartment for a family dinner, to try to figure out how to start living.

VIDO: Did you save anybody today?

Comics and Continuity

This is all very well, but does Foggy still have a job? He was working for Hogarth, Benowitz & Chou, but he clearly hasn’t gone with Jeri. Can the other partners afford to keep him on? I worry about Foggy.

I also worry about Malcolm. I do not think Pryce Cheng is a good influence on him. Then again, he managed somehow to make Jessica be a good influence on him despite her worst instincts. Yeah, Malcolm’s probably going to be all right.

I wanted to call attention to a comment from one of my previous posts, which suggested Trish’s ‘got powers’ storyline actually does reflect her comics history, because she made a metaphorical (rather than literal in the comics) deal with the devil. Great point! I am hoping for a Trish costume in our future. HELLCAT.

One of the key elements of the noir detective, from story to story, is that they rarely experience growth and change. That’s not their job. Their job is to be cynical in the rain, to catch beautiful blondes who throw themselves in their general direction, to drink whiskey and to solve crimes.

Has Jessica changed? Perhaps not, but she’s trying.

This whole season has been about Jessica coming to terms with two big changes in her life: the absence of Kilgrave (except for that one time he guest starred in her waking nightmares) and the fact that she committed murder to save the world and herself from him.

Alisa is a representation of Jessica’s worst self, her darkest vision of where her powers might take her — and that dread has clearly been a big part of why why she avoided using said powers for so long, why she’s so uncomfortable with the ‘hero’ label, and why she drinks.

Opening up to the relationship with Oscar and Vido is an interesting choice for her, even as she slams the door on Trish.

The original Alias comic ended on a similar note, if from a different direction [SPOILER]. Jessica had to embrace a sudden change in her life of bad choices and irresponsibility after she learned she was pregnant. In the sequel series, The Pulse, she tried her hand at superhero journalism on the grounds that it was a ‘safer’ job with more consistent hours, for someone with a baby on the way. (It wasn’t that much safer, but she had to figure out how to take care of a baby during the Civil War crossover, so.)

If we get a Season 3 of Netflix’s Jessica Jones (and there are so many interesting character threads to unravel!) it would be very interesting to see what changes Jessica makes to adapt her life to one that involves occasionally picking a kid up from school or, let’s face it, teaching him how to pick locks and blackmail his teachers.

The future might not be so noir.

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. Check out her Kickstarter to bring an award winning fantasy trilogy back into print!

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