written by Jamus
You know, I think I keep getting chicken cordon bleu confused with chicken parmesan. I mean, they’re both delicious if they’re done right, really. Similar preparation with the flattening of chicken breasts with a tenderizer, use of bread crumbs for a crispy exterior, great with Swiss cheese. This nonsense about salmonella is completely unfounded if you’re actually bothering to cook the damned things properly in an oven that roasts everything anyways, and…
Sorry, lost my train of thought for a second. Welcome back to Marvel’s Jessica Jones. There be very minor spoilers herein.
The second episode turned out to be a little better than the pilot, and I’m glad to see that at least one of my concerns from the first episode was addressed. Ran into a few clichés that I’m not overly fond of, but we shall cover that in a moment. Let’s talk interrogation rooms.
The second episode opens within hours of the conclusion of the first – Jessica is discussing her side of the story regarding the brutal murder of Hope’s parents in the elevator, and outlining the dilemma at hand. We as the audience know that Hope is innocent. We are also very much aware that Kilgrave is the true culprit who’s off giggling behind the curtains. But now, just how does one prove that the bad guy was even linked to the crime when: a) he wasn’t in the same room, b) his powers leave no physical trace, and c) he could easily convince anyone that “it wasn’t me, bruh” on a whim?
Moving onto more impossible things, we run straight into the cliché of the distraught witness in the next interview. Look, I know it isn’t unreasonable for Hope to be in a bitter and uncooperative mood, but I really hate this situation sometimes. The old “I’m telling you nothing because you clearly can’t help me and you should go jump out the window! Waaaah!” chestnut, when the audience can scream about the obvious. Hope needs Jessica, as she’s really the only chance she’s got. Well, at least Jessica points out the conundrum with a great one-liner and we can get on with the episode.
HOPE: You should kill yourself.
JESSICA: Yeah…but then, I’m the only one that knows you’re innocent.
Yeah, that’s right. Choke on that bit of mortality along with your pills that the helpful man is cramming down your throat. Mmmm-mm.
Next we do the only natural thing after witnessing something as horrendous and heartbreaking as an innocent child stuck in custody, and we head back to the bar. This is where we pick up on one of the gripes I had about the first episode, and we start to see little bits and pieces of Jessica’s supporting cast come back into the light where they belong. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is the proprietor of the fine establishment, and in a tense conversation demonstrates something oddly compelling about the character – here is a man with the patience of a mountain. There’s emotion here somewhere, but it’s been strapped down by that stony exterior, and it’s not due to emerge just yet. This restraint is highlighted again with the bar fight later on, where Luke’s unbreakable ebony armor is on full display. Maybe it’s because Luke is just one the three “mildly superhuman” characters in among all the squishy humans of the show, but I’m liking this guy so far.
With Jessica’s hasty retreat from Luke, it becomes clear that isolation is the underlying theme of Episode 2. Between Jessica’s failed attempts to escape the city and her acts of trying to shove people away – out of fear of Kilgrave taking advantage of her – she is adamant about trying to take this all on alone. Thankfully, at least some of her contacts are either too stubborn to listen to this logic, or just amused enough to listen to what she has to offer. We see this in another visit to her attorney contact, Jeri Hogarth, whom I swear seems to add yet another woman to her tangled polygon of love with each episode thus far. (I am curious to see what exactly this “favor” will manifest as later, but truly hope that it allows to have Jessica keep her pants on.) The deal is that Jessica will need to prove the presence of Kilgrave’s influence before Jeri will bother to get herself involved – terribly cold for someone so eager to get ensnared with complex affairs in the first place. Lawyers, right?
The trail of clues leads Jessica to uncover the truth of a previously-mentioned “accident” over a year ago: a bus that decided to roll over and snuggle with Kilgrave’s body. He survived, and then endured through a period of what would have been continuous agony and no fewer than ten hours of surgery. Without getting into the discussion of medical jargon, I have to admit that I found the insertion of “crush syndrome” a little stilted. The show allows itself to be clever, but this isn’t a medical drama. We could have easily brushed that unfamiliar term aside and instead used something along the lines of “severe shock and systemic infection caused by his injuries”. We’ve already been convinced that he survived against all odds and Jessica finds this to be a very unfortunate circumstance, after all.
On the other hand, this is what I like to call half-decent “pulpy” writing. The characters in a pulp story are, of course, a tad tougher than your average human, but this one is handled just right because it is just on the side of plausible survivability that still makes the viewer cringe. It’s that sort of unbelievable amount of pain that a character could endure, but doesn’t quite venture into the realm of sheer impossibility. It’s iffy, but I can dig it. If Kilgrave wasn’t meant to be a threat, he wouldn’t have come back.
One dash of “Professor Convenient” later, and we have a witness to Kilgrave’s survival. Jessica is able to hire Jeri as Hope’s attorney and she’s learned something about Kilgrave’s distaste of powerful sedatives (medication which the villain refused during his surgery). A clue that…still doesn’t give her much in the way of a weapon against Kilgrave at all, sorry. So he’s not a fan of painkillers and maybe it’s a dampening agent against his powers, fine. I don’t see many opportunities to feed the stuff to him popping up in the near future. For all of the tough-talking in front of the mirror in this episode, I’m far from convinced that our heroine will be prepared enough to get the job done as of yet.
That obstacle is underlined when we are treated to the best scene of the episode: a taste as to how well Kilgrave is getting on with his bad self after his miraculous recovery. This scene just dripped with…well, besides other unfortunate human fluids, the sheer evil that Kilgrave produces. This man was able to outright violate the occupants of that apartment without even skipping a beat, and it really did an excellent job of describing what he is – arrogant, creepy, and just plain rotten. Looking forward to finally meeting him properly.
Let’s get on with the Bigs and the Littles.
The 3 Big Good Things
- The Bar Fight. Looking a second time at the choreography of Luke’s actions really helped bring it home that he’s not even trying to hold these guys off – patient and calm through it all, and not losing himself to rage like a certain Mr. Banner might have done. Good stuff.
- A second point for Mr. Cage at the tail end of the episode for sheer badassery. I certainly hope Luke didn’t pay all that much for that sawblade he just ruined on his abdominals. I wasn’t certain if Jessica was going to swoon just then. I know I did.
- More gradual building of Kilgrave, revealing him as a man without scruples or regrets. There were plenty of shattered human beings in his charismatic wake, and I can’t complain about that.
The 3 Little Meh Things
- Still not much to Trish’s character other than her being “Jessica’s successful and unflappable friend”, and Jeri needs to stop hounding the ladies other than her wife and start being a lawyer.
- I’m not sure the “weakness” identified by Jessica was all that pressing. This felt like a pretty minor discovery in comparison to the fact that this guy can twist someone’s head in whatever direction he wants. I’m not feeling the “game on, you’re going down” vibe yet.
- Seriously. What the #@*% with the brother and sister upstairs? I understand it was trying to come across as funny, but this was just unsettling, man. Took me out of the mood of the episode for a good five minutes.
Besides all that, there wasn’t much in the way of major spoilers or massive events in this episode. We got a few deeper moments with a few characters and some minor happenings, but not much else yet. I suppose that leaves this review a little shorter than I had expected, so I’ll leave this here as filler. Smile and enjoy.
Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.