Monday, February 8, 2016

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 11, "AKA I've Got the Blues" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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Minor spoiler alert:  the last three episodes of Jessica Jones each contain one “Boss Fight.”  I won’t spoil anything by saying here whom she is fighting (though if you haven’t seen it yet, why are you reading a review, especially 2½ months after it came out?).  But let’s leave it at this:  each of these fights ups the physical and emotional stakes for Jessica, so that by the end of the season she has faced everything she could possibly be asked to face and has somehow come out on top.

This episode gives us a ton of information about the relationship between Jess and Trish, something that I was really hoping to see, especially after they teased us with it early in the season.  Right off the bat the episode opens with a flashback of Jess waking up in the hospital after the accident to hear Trish arguing with her mother just outside the hospital room.  Evidently taking Jess in was her mother’s idea as a publicity stunt to make Trish look better and improve ratings for her show, but Trish is not happy with the arrangement.  Later in the episode, another flashback shows Jess discovering her strength in the bathroom by accidently breaking things while listening to Trish and her mom fight.  Eventually Trish bursts into the bathroom to find Jess holding the heavy stone sink above her head.  Jess demands to know how Trish got hurt, but Trish doesn’t want Jess trying to save her.  In the end they agree to keep each other’s secrets—the strength and the abuse.  This arrangement doesn’t last very long, however, as the next time Jess hears Trish’s mom trying to force her to throw up, Jess steps in and rescues Trish, terrifying her mom and creating the impetus for their arrangement mentioned earlier in the series (1x07, “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”).  Trish is worried because her mom now knows Jess’s secret, but Jess doesn’t care:  the knowledge of her powers can keep Trish safe.  I really like this exploration of their prior relationship, as it shows the key moments in its development.  They didn’t know each other before the accident, so they weren’t always best friends (in a series/universe with super-soldiers, chemically-induced jumping/flying, and Groot, that would have pushed the limits of believability for me!), but their relationship’s development was natural and actually followed the development of Jess’s powers and desire to use them.

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These flashbacks provide the basis for this episode’s exploration of Jess and Trish’s relationship.  The main events of the episode pick up right where the last episode left off, with Jess having rescued the support group from Kilgrave while Hope bled out on the floor.  Jess pushes the support group to cover up Kilgrave’s part in what had happened—a plan that even Robyn eventually went along with.  As soon as she’d left the crime scene, Jess had Trish help her try to track down Albert, whom she suspects that Kilgrave murdered as soon as they were out of the restaurant.  However, none of the John Does that they find are Albert.  Jessica’s desperate search for Albert (whose body could be her only lead) leaves Jess exhausted, distracted, and ultimately vulnerable—she gets hit by a truck, and though she tries to shrug it off, the injuries weaken her substantially.  In the end, she needs Trish to pick her up, bring her home, and wrap her ribs to keep them still while her accelerated healing factor repairs all the damage.  From what we’ve seen, Jess’s healing factor is not nearly as powerful as Captain America’s, though it does at least work faster than a regular human’s healing.  Considering that this series is very much a psychological exploration of the characters, these scenes are most interesting for how they push Jessica to the edge.  What does she find at the edge?  She needs Trish.

Trish for her part is back on the air after dropping Jess off, interviewing a jazz flautist (was I the only one thinking Anchorman?  “Ron Burgundy will play yazz flute for us!”).  However, the interview is cut short (with the flautist filling the rest of the time with her music) when Simpson arrives in the control room wanting to talk to Trish.  Trish excuses herself from the interview to talk to him, and he immediately apologizes for his actions, explaining that the drugs he was on are “good for battle, bad for the people you care about.”  This is interesting:  it’s the most vulnerable we’ve seen Simpson since the fourth episode (“AKA 99 Friends”), when he and Trish were talking through the door after he thought he had killed her.  However, I really don’t think that he is genuinely sorry for everything that has happened—his later actions prove as much.  Regardless of his intentions, Trish has to leave him because that’s when she gets Jess’s call.  When she has to choose between her job, her semi-abusive boyfriend, and Jess, which does Trish choose?  Jess.  Every time.

After a rest (presumably enough to get her healing started, though she’s still bruised), Jess gets a text about another body, which turns out to be Clemons, which reveals that all the evidence is gone.  Who could have done this?  At this point Jess’s pool of suspects is pretty small.

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Speaking of, Simpson meets Trish at her penthouse, where he reiterates that he cares for her and doesn’t want to lose her.  However, he seems to be falling off the rails by this point, repeating words and rambling about how Jessica is preventing him from killing Kilgrave.  Before he can do anything, two guys working for Dr. Kozlov (the guy in charge of Simpson’s program) arrive to take Simpson back into custody.  He shoots both of them in the head without showing any remorse.  Then he locks Trish in her weight room without her phone, calls Jess, and arranges a meeting.  He goes to Jess’s office to kill her.  At this point Jess knows that Simpson killed Clemons, and suspects that he did something to hurt Trish.  He starts shooting at her to kill her (and keep her from getting in his way), but Jess evades him well enough that he wastes all his bullets without hurting her.  As the fight progresses, however, it becomes clear that Jess’s various injuries are severely hampering her ability to fight him off, while he is not feeling any of his injuries thanks to the concoction in his pills—and his strength is enhanced as well.  Though he knows that she would normally outmatch him, she is losing badly.

Fortunately for Jess, Trish arrives just in time to rescue her, hitting Simpson over the head with a fire extinguisher.  The two of them barricade themselves into the bathroom, where Trish realizes that the only way they can win (and not get killed by the psychotic ex-boyfriend from Hell—not that one) is if she takes one of the pills she took off of Simpson in the last episode.  She takes one of his red pills and feels that immediate surge of adrenaline.  This and her Krav Maga training give her and Jessica the edge to overcome Simpson and knock him out.  However, because Trish does not have one of the blue pills to bring her down, her body suddenly forgets how to breathe.  Jess calls an ambulance and starts CPR.  In the back of the ambulance Jess explains that Trish took some sort of stimulant, so the EMT gives her an injection of something which brings her around.  Later, Jess is in Trish’s hospital room while men from Simpson’s program remove him from her apartment along with any incriminating evidence.

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The episode ends with Jess receiving a text from Kilgrave informing her that he has her “boyfriend.”  She rushes over to Luke’s bar, where she watches the bar explode.  Luke walks out of the bar on fire, and Jess runs over to put the fire out.  At this point he looks completely bewildered by what just happened.  While there was just about no chance that Luke would be seriously injured by a fire (I mean come on; the guy’s got unbreakable skin!), this was a good way to bring him back into the series for the last couple episodes.  And any excuse for Jess and Luke to be on screen together is good enough for me!

This episode fills in a lot of the blanks with Jess and Trish’s shared back story and gives us a cool fight between Trish and Jess and Simpson.  I really liked seeing Trish fighting Simpson with super-strength, especially because one of my hopes for season 2 is that Trish will become Hellcat (and perhaps hook up with that aforementioned “boyfriend from Hell”), leading to her/their eventual inclusion in the Defenders.  Overall, this was a really good episode, though the final two episodes are definitely the highlights of the season!

What did you think of this episode?  Do you want to see Hellcat in Jessica Jones season 2?  Let me know in the comments!

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