[Review] Jessica Jones Episode 1×04: “99 Friends”

written by Jamus

Aww, now look at that – Episode 4 was way better. See now, Marvel? You can make good media if you just put your mind to it! We finally have a few threads on possible future developments, we have a doozy of a character twist that could become very interesting, and Jessica finally decides to change her brand of whiskey to…something…that isn’t particularly outstanding.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as the man who is also a Meatloaf likes to say. Welcome to Made Of Fail’s review of Jessica Jones, Episode 4, “99 Friends.”

Larger spoilers here, just as powerful as the smaller ones.

I suppose trying to uncover the identity of a person who’s been stalking and photographing you in a city of over eight million people is not an easy task. The sheer probability of finding that needle in a haystack is fairly ridiculous, I would agree. With that said, I’m not sure Jessica’s initial strategy of wandering about the streets with a few photographs in hand is the best way to start. If only she had access to say, surveillance cameras, or perhaps some employed individual who could maybe get her a DVD copy of some of these recorded and time-stamped hours of data. Darn.

Well, of course the first thing Jessica does is adamantly refuse the offer for help, much to my irritation, and I’m sure to the irritation of more than one other viewer. Is this not a solution to help you with this latest problem? Enter Sgt. Will Simpson (Wil Travis); the very same bewildered and now-repentant NYPD officer who tried to murder Trish and jump off of a roof in the previous episode. Fortunately, Will is the sort of boy-in-blue who is willing to bend a rule or two if it helps in the case against Kilgrave, and Jessica will reluctantly accept his help a little while later. I have to say it’s an intriguing alliance, but I can see how it’s another severe risk for our heroine – Will was taken over once, and that could easily be revisited.

Speaking of visitations, I suppose the show had to redeem the supposed strength of the “Fortress Door” to Trish’s apartment. Now suddenly it truly is impassable and probably constructed out of some Mithril-based alloy. Careful readers from my Episode 3 review will easily point out that the good Sergeant had the door partially opened when he managed to barge in, meaning that he technically didn’t break down the door as I might have suggested and rendered her defenses pointless. Careful readers such as this I thank for their prudence and now ask them to hush as I awkwardly cough and move on just like so.

Actually, let’s rewind a little bit. The “main quest” of this particular episode actually revolves around a new case for Jessica, which I will faithfully refer to as the “Eastman Crisis” for the rest of this review. It’s your standard “spouse is cheating on me, find pictures so that I may rip his testicles out through his wallet” case. Naturally the first feature of Mrs. Eastman that we catch onto is her frightening sense of fashion (or lack thereof) with that striking red purse and what I can only assume are crocodile-skinned high heels. Now it’s at this point that my writing instincts kick in and I notice this is a plot device: this is the author painting it clear as day that “this lady is IMPORTANT, and you should watch for her because something IMPORTANT will happen involving her later.” They’d be right on the money with that clue – more on that in a second.

Fearing another fatal link from a supposed referral, Jessica returns to Jeri Hogarth, our favorite cuddly lawyer, and confronts her about the latest case. While this proves to be a legitimate referral with no stench of Kilgrave about it, we are treated to even more undesirable details regarding Jeri’s blatant trashing of her previous marriage. The pending divorce is still in legal limbo, but not so much that Jeri can’t go ahead and trod over old memories with her new beau. I think I can add another adverb-adjective to Jeri at this point, and that would be “wildly inconsiderate”.

Jessica finds herself a little torn between her ongoing search for her stalker and the Eastman Crisis, but this will eventually lead to her decision to track not the cheating Mr. Eastman, but rather the client herself, Mrs. Eastman. We learn a small tidbit regarding the extent of Kilgrave’s powers, in that Kilgrave could possibly control an individual for ten to twelve hours at a stretch before he needs to rest or refocus or maybe grab a Snickers, who knows. It’s proven that Mrs. Eastman isn’t a Kilgrave puppet, but her behaviours on her own are just as odd: sneaking into an abandoned warehouse, cranking the volume on a stereo inside and then proceeding to practice with a handgun on some unsuspecting mannequins. I won’t say Mrs. Eastman is the best shot, but it’s worth mentioning another bit of foreshadowing when one notices that all of those mannequins were female.

Soon enough, Jeri steamrolls back into the picture with yet another case for Jessica – this time in the form of a lineup of potential “victims” of Kilgrave’s suggestive powers. There’s a great scene here with all of the interviews and all of the varied stories about supposed “take-over” moments when we finally find a few that seem truly legit: particularly the lady that was forced to play her cello for hours and hours on end, or the other girl that was forced to do nothing but smile. Appropriately creepy. There’s a very interesting comment by Jeri here which goes something like “It’s a shame that Kilgrave isn’t using his powers for us. If he was on our side…” Oh ho ho. Possible hint at something interesting down the line, perhaps? I’ll keep that one in mind.

The episode becomes a little cluttered when it comes down to juggling Jessica’s ongoing caseload, but suffice to say that the Eastman Crisis is resolved in a bombastic manner. I was thinking that with the clues dropped, maybe it was Mr. Eastman who was controlled by Kilgrave from the beginning, drawing Jessica (and possibly his wife) in to a similar location. As it turns out, it was a trap laid by Mrs. Eastman. It boiled down to nothing but attempted revenge for the events of what went down during The Avengers, and yes, we get a couple of references to the Green Guy and the Flag Waver. I don’t get these disgruntled citizens trying to take it out on the “gifted” superheroes when I’m sure that Chitauri occupation would have been infinitely worse, but whatever. Jessica takes a bullet to the arm and then proceeds to trash the dingy bedroom that she had been dragged to in a scene which honestly had me grinning from ear to ear. Cheers to justified rage and Mr. Eastman’s impending divorce proceedings.

We have a sort of blossoming romance between Trish and Will after a prolonged conversation through her Mithril-reinforced exterior door that has the two of them chatting at the kitchen table while Trish holds a gun in her hand. Mad props to Will for being the gentleman and letting her keep that weapon. Aww.

Through a clue of “a man wearing a blue and white scarf”, Jessica finally identifies the stalker who had been diligently taking pictures of her throughout the last few weeks, and I truly admit I didn’t see this coming. The hidden photographer is none other than Malcolm, the lovable drug addict who lives in Jessica’s apartment block. Suddenly, the reasonings for his consistent high and his erratic behaviour seem to have another very plausible explanation.

The 3 Big Good Things

  • Great to see the show back on track after a somewhat clumsy Episode 3. We have forward momentum on a few plot threads, and a great little character twist that really proves the old saying “it’s always the person you least suspect”.
  • I didn’t see Will, the controlled Sergeant, as being anything more than a random victim at first. It is nice to see him become a regular side character, though – some good potential here.
  • Trashing the room. Awesome and justified. #bedflip #tableflip #everythingflip

The 3 Little Bad Things

  • Jeri, Jeri, Jeri. For all of the mentions of “a life she spent so much time to build” with her ex-wife and the dreamy stares she gets from her new partner, I don’t see a heart in her at all. This isn’t even a “she’s baaaad, and that’s good” situation. She’s just plain bad.
  • I actually don’t have many “meh”s to say about this episode, and that’s a good thing. I’ll say this much, someone needs to get Steve Rogers on the phone and tell him that Sergeant Will Simpson stole his haircut.
  • Wild Turkey? Really? Oh…wait, Heaven’s Hill now. I can’t say I have tried the latter of the two, but it pales in comparison to the current reigning champion of whiskey for 2016. Ask me about that sometime.

More reviews coming up next week; I’ll be having a close look at Episodes 5 and 6. Reviews posted Thursdays and Saturdays here on Made Of Fail.

Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.

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