Monday, November 30, 2015

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 2, "AKA Crush Syndrome" REVIEW (SPOILERS!)

As the second half of the plot from episode 1, “AKA Ladies Night,” the second episode of Jessica Jones picks up right where that one left off and continues the theme of introducing the villain.  Additionally, we learn more about Trish and her relationship with Jessica.  Luke gets quite a bit more screen time in this episode, which only serves to expand on the complexity of his and Jessica’s relationship—and you think you’ve got issues! And by the end of the episode, Kilgrave is in a good position to begin creating more mischief.  All in all, these two episodes fit together quite well and help to set up the rest of the series.

The episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Jessica in police custody being interviewed by Detective Clemons following the grisly murder in her apartment building’s elevator.    He is suspicious of her involvement in the murder because the victims had been in her office before the event and she started to skip town right after the event.  Evidently the police searched her office without a search warrant because they considered it to be part of the crime scene (which is a bit of a stretch).  This—and particularly the fact that they have her pictures of Luke—upsets her because that kind of publicity would be bad for business (who’s going to hire a private investigator who can’t keep her clients… private?).  However, the pictures of Luke and the two police officers interviewing him are especially upsetting to her for some reason, but we do not discover why in this episode.  She tries to explain it away as a client who hired her to take pictures of his wife sleeping with Luke (a married woman named Gina who always took off her wedding ring around Luke), an explanation which he accepts, though he isn’t thrilled with the fact that she slept with him as part of the “investigation.”  Later in the episode Gina comes to see Luke, who chases her away and tells her to talk to her husband.  This causes even more problems, as Gina’s husband Andre never hired Jessica in the first place, so this is the first he finds out about the affair.  Now he is going to take a bunch of his rugby buddies to beat up Luke to teach him a lesson for messing with Gina.  Gina tells Jessica all of this, and Jessica rushes over to protect Luke because she believes it is all her fault that he is in this mess (it kind of is).  She arrives at the bar just in time to join Luke in fighting off a dozen or so drunk rugby players in the most one-sided bar brawl ever.  Of course, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones together against just about anyone less than the Hulk would be a pretty one-sided fight!  I think the best part is when Andre smashes a bottle over Luke’s head and he simply turns around and flattens him!  I have to say, that bar scene was pretty funny for how it completely turned the tables on what would be expected under normal circumstances.

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The episode ends with Luke waiting in Jessica’s office for her and saying “I saw you”:  he knows that she has powers, and he has a pretty good idea that she now knows that he has powers.  Just how extensive those powers are, however, remains unclear until he pulls out a circular saw and grinds it down against his own abdomen.  Nothing happens except that sparks fly.  Wow!  That definitely answers the question of whether or not Luke will have his powers yet in this series:  yes, he does.  And what a dramatic way to show them off!

However, this is largely a secondary plot in the episode; the bulk of the action centers on Jessica’s efforts to track down someone who can corroborate Kilgrave’s existence.  The only way for Jessica to convince Hogarth to take Hope’s case—which Jessica thinks is the only way to help Hope avoid jail time for a crime she didn’t commit—is to bring her evidence, and the only way to do that is with an eyewitness.  She starts at Metro General, the closest hospital to the scene of the bus crash which killed a woman named Reva Connors, injured the bus driver, and should have killed Kilgrave.  Jessica doesn’t find anything on Kilgrave at the hospital, but she does succeed in tracking down an ambulance driver who went missing for 2 weeks after responding to the bus crash.  This driver, Jack, is still being kept alive by a dialysis machine, but has not been the same since donating both his kidneys to someone while missing with the ambulance.  Jessica uses the machine’s serial number to track down the authorizing doctor, who confirms that he is on the run to hide from Kilgrave and was coerced into performing surgery on Jack and Kilgrave, who had suffered “Crush Syndrome,” which caused one kidney to be damaged and the other to begin deteriorating.  Interestingly, Kilgrave did not allow the doctor to put him under during the surgery, despite the extreme level of pain involved, and Jessica realizes that the surgical anesthetics much have an effect which negates Kilgrave’s powers.  This gives her an idea for how to catch Kilgrave.  Jessica has the doctor speak to Hogarth, who finally agrees to take Hope’s case.  This is one element of the series which I really appreciate:  Jessica is not a superhero:  she doesn’t just go out and beat on people the way that Daredevil does.  Instead, Jessica is a private investigator; she uses her detective skills far more than her super strength.

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The final key aspect of this episode deals with Trish and her relationship with Jessica.  We find out from their conversation that the two of them were roommates and best friends up until Kilgrave came into Jessica’s life.  However, I get the distinct impression that Jessica is now trying to distance herself from Trish because she wants to keep Kilgrave from using Trish to get to her.  This explains why Trish goes to the effort of hiring a workman to fix Jessica’s apartment door and then buys a new “Alias Investigations” window for the office door.  Regardless of what has happened between the two of them in the past year, Trish still cares for Jessica, and Jessica still cares for Trish.  Interestingly, the scene with the workman reveals that Trish is wearing long sleeves to hide extensive bruising all down her arms.  When I first saw it, my initial assumption was that either she is in an abusive relationship (I’d feel sorry for the guy when Jessica finds out and punches his head clean off!) or she is going out at night as a vigilante by the name of Hellcat (her superhero alias in the comics).  While neither of these assumptions was correct, the second one did hit pretty close to the mark:  Trish’s bruises come from her personal trainer, who has been teaching her Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts).  As an interesting side-note, according to Wikipedia, the originator of Krav Maga, Imi Litchtenfeld, actually developed the style while acting as a vigilante protecting his neighborhood from anti-Semitic groups!  So would that make it an obvious martial arts choice for a budding vigilante/hero?  I think so.

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One of the last scenes in the episode finally gives Kilgrave a full introduction.  Up until now we’ve heard snatches of dialogue and seen brief flashes of him in Jessica’s memories; this is when he really shows up in person for the first time.  Kilgrave is looking to set up a more permanent base of operations, so he walks up to a family’s apartment and tells the husband to invite him in.  He walks right in like he owns the place, and tells the noisy children to go stand in the closet, where he shuts them in with the light off.  This is a pretty cold scene, particularly in how you can see a puddle of urine seeping out from under the door afterward (from the daughter, who had to pee before being sent to the closet).  Even though Kilgrave can control people’s actions, there is still a part of them which resists and recognizes what is happening.  However, that part is rendered weak and powerless by Kilgrave’s powers.

I really like the powerful character exploration all through this series.  This early on we see a lot more of the actions with less emphasis on the reason behind those actions; however, the question of “why” is still at the forefront.  I find myself asking why Trish is so hell-bent on learning Krav Maga.  Why is Kilgrave back?  What is so special to Jessica about Luke?  All of these questions will be answered before long; some will be answered as soon as the next episode.

I am really enjoying this series so far, though for different reasons than I enjoyed Daredevil.  I don’t know yet if I can rank the two, but by the end of the season I may try.  For now, suffice it to say that Jessica Jones is a very strong character-driven series, even more than Daredevil season 1.  And the characters Jessica Jones is playing with are far more complex than the characters in Daredevil, even this early on—something which I didn’t think was entirely possible!

What do you think of Jessica Jones so far?  Do you think Trish will become Hellcat by the end of this season?  Let me know in the comments!

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