[Review] Jessica Jones Episode 1×05: “The Sandwich Saved Me”

written by Jamus

I do always love it when a plan comes together. It’s even more fascinating when this plan has the potential to develop horrible flaws at the last possible moment and crumble like the fluff from your dryer vent. I do also know that an audience hates it when the writer blathers on and on and doesn’t get to the meat of the review that he’s banging on about. Jessica Jones. By those crazies at Marvel. Episode 5. It has sammiches. Let’s have a bite.

No world-ending spoilers this time…but always read at your own risk!

So naturally, after the events of Episode 4, we need to have Jessica chasing after the photographer whom she’s identified to be none other than…wait, what the hell is this opening scene? Eighteen months ago? What is this malarkey? Well, all right. We are introduced to one of the previous jobs which Jessica held before her attempts at being a hero or a private investigator: an office drone, clearly bored out of her skull by the position. She seems to have taken the time to find dirt on her supervisor. I’ll say this much, I wish I had a similar set of skills.

This sets up a sort of undercurrent for Episode 5; this idea of having the title of “hero” as your job. We see through various examples that the idea isn’t something which pays all that well, even if Jessica Jones is well-qualified for the position. I wonder if all superheroes come into that realization at some point during their career: “What the hell am I going to do for money?” That is, all before some well-paying organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. picks you up and whisks you away in their shining helicarrier made of pure money.

The titular “sandwich” is, in fact, Jessica in the clever disguise of a dirty-looking hoagie on some random night, if you were curious. I think it’s better that the reader takes the time to see this one for themselves, to be truthful. We’ve all had that one job we are not particularly proud of. I have to be fair, though. The flashbacks were cute at times, but they seemed to take away from the action we were waiting for in the present day – namely, tracking down Malcolm on his daily trip to meet up with Kilgrave and deliver his latest photographs of Jessica.

The scene shifts to Union Square Park, where we catch up with our man in the blue-and-white scarf, his hands twitching nervously, that single finger constantly scratching the underside of his nose. We see a brief exchange between the anxious Malcolm and a bystander in the park, and suddenly he takes off – right as the clock reads 10:00 am. Another moment of random faces, passersby, innocent civilians, and suddenly there he is – Kilgrave in the open, calmly browsing the latest batch of photographs his puppet has brought to him. The shock of seeing him is so gripping for Jessica that she actually retreats for a brief moment to regroup, reciting her usual chant to try and refocus. I loved this bit – that feeling of looking underneath the sink and discovering that yes, there is indeed a rather large spider under there that’s taken up residence and doesn’t seem to care about your fearful screaming.

So, with Kilgrave on a reliable schedule with only a slight deviation in his exact position in the park, Jessica needs to cultivate a successful plan to finally try out that MacGuffin Drug she’s been itching to use. A proper plan really benefits from a friend or two, so we’re off to Trish’s place to…well, I really don’t know why the hell she would use the door when she’s proven she can easily jump to the balcony, but whatever. Oh, and I see that Trish has company. Well-muscled company. Familiar company…but I’m honestly used to seeing him with a hat and uniform on. Hey, it’s Will! That escalated quickly.

Moving past the sudden (but predictable) relationship between Trish and Will, the three plot the takedown operation. Even through all that Jessica has seen, she is still deeply distrustful of our scantily-clad Sergeant, adamantly refusing any sort of input or assistance from him. Now, this is where I have to chime in with a comment I never thought I would make towards Jessica, and that comment is honestly “shut the hell up.” I get that it’s reasonable for the character to refuse help (she always has, after all), but her current plan to enlist Trish as a driver and hope that she can just stab Kilgrave with a needle at very close range is…well, it’s flimsy. Here we have Will who’s got some serious experience in the manner of exactly what they’re trying to do and she’s telling him to sit this out? Not clever.

Forced to spend some quality planning time with Will, the two drive to one of the safe houses that Will still has access to. I use the term “safe house” loosely, as it is in fact a second-story floor in a large warehouse which was also a former operations centre for the CDC, and also included a hermetically-sealed safety room to quarantine a possible Patient Zero. I suppose keeping a creature as powerful as Kilgrave requires an impressive cage, but the sudden introduction of this uber-appropriate location seemed stilted as hell. On the other hand, I can now justify my frustration at Jessica and point out that “Seeeee?! Sarge is smart to have in your party!”

With a plan in place, now enhanced with Will’s securing of a car, a proper dart gun, communication devices and…well, geez. He really did bring everything that they needed. (Again, I am really not sure how they could have done this with the same effect if Will hadn’t come along for the ride and was instead told to stay home.) There’s a delicious bit of build-up and tension as the three heroes slowly close in on Kilgrave’s location in the park. I was honestly eyes wide as Will closed to within ten feet of the villain as everything slows down, the gun slips out of its hiding place, and Kilgrave is finally catching on, and…

Holy hell, he got him! The dart strikes home right in Kilgrave’s neck and, true to the rumors of the MacGuffin Drug’s power, the purple-suited jerk drops like a sack of dusty potatoes. Malcolm, wide-eyed and perhaps thinking this is another side effect of his latest hit, mutters a hasty “I’m sorry, I had no choice” and hauls himself out of there. Trish arrives, Will and Jessica load the unconscious Kilgrave into the van…and they’re gone! Amazing! The plan goes off without a hitch, and I am truly impressed by the plan’s success…when that little doubt creeps into the back of my head and says “That was easy. Way too easy.”

Of course! A tracking device hidden in Kilgrave’s fashionable suit jacket is the trump card that foils the entire plan, and suddenly Jessica and her crew are surrounded by…well, a lot of guys wielding long hard sticks that tingle when they touch human flesh. I tried not to read too far into the imagery here, honest. The scuffle ensues in short order, and Kilgrave is retrieved by his loyal henchmen. (Wait, how the hell can he maintain control while he’s out like a light?) With their faces all sorts of shades of red, the only remaining link is to interrogate the poor fellow whom the rest of the bodyguards left behind. Here, again, Jessica decides that any input from Will is pointless at this point, and here again, I have to shake my head at the words coming out of her mouth. You couldn’t have made it this far without him, Jessica. Let the man do his work!

The episode slows down a few notches as Jessica is forced to return home without her prize, and her plan in ruins. We manage to catch up with Malcolm, in the middle of another severe bout of withdrawal – something which would cause severe physical irritation and other nasty side effects, for those who are unfamiliar with the concept. Jessica, the warm and snuggly individual that she is, feels the best way for him to ride this out is handcuffed to a pipe in the bathroom within reach of the toilet, a peanut butter sandwich, and a bottle of water. Tough and bitter medicine, and she even allows him to make a choice – offering him the last “care package” that Kilgrave gave to him earlier that same day.

The last flashback of the episode occurs just then when Malcolm protests his predicament, saying “you can’t save me again“. The scene shifts back to the night Kilgrave first discovered Jessica, right in the middle of saving Malcolm from a pair of street thugs. (I swear I was trying to think of a nicer term than “thugs” for these two guys, but I don’t think I’d identify them as gentlemen, or in fact, decent human beings.) It is a bit of “meh” filler considering the rest of the episode, but it helps flesh out the initial event which suddenly brought Kilgrave into Jessica’s life. It seems appropriate that he found her right about the same time she was seriously contemplating becoming a “full-time hero”.

Lastly, we see the weakened-but-amused Kilgrave coming around and giving Jessica a friendly phone call with a proposition. Simply put, if she takes Malcolm’s job as a photographer, he promises to leave Malcolm in peace and to stop using him as a servant. Reluctantly, she submits a rather sad-looking selfie for the voyeuristic antagonist and takes him up on the offer. The episode ends with Kilgrave staring greedily at his cellphone screen.

Whew, right?

Here come the jesters, one-two-three:

The 3 Big Good Things

  • There were some portions of amazing tension in this episode. It felt like real fear in Jessica’s eyes on her first tailing attempt and just discovering Kilgrave in the open. Not to mention the execution of the takedown plan was genuinely gripping.
  • A comment has been made in the past about how Kilgrave “leaves broken people in his wake”, or maybe it was “broken lives”. Either way, the bit with the hot coffee in the face was an excellent example of that in three seconds – a continuous reminder that this isn’t something he needs time to do. He will ruin your day and possibly your life on a whim.
  • A decent hook for Episode 6 here, as I cannot fathom Kilgrave being pleased with just a daily photograph for too long. There will be retribution before this game is over.

The 3 Little Bad Things

  • Said it already, but I really didn’t like Jessica’s little tantrums to try and shove Will out of the picture. Let me be clear: this isn’t me saying “the man could do it better than the woman”. This is just…silly. Will had resources, skills, and the grit to back her up, and she just said “no”. Not smart for this character.
  • A perfectly sealed room just happened to be in your back pocket? Nah. Way too convenient to be believable.
  • Oh yeah, Hope. Remember Hope? She’s made some wonderful new friends in prison who love to pound on her for no discernible reason other than “it’s prison and bad people live here.” Fluff and filler for the episode, nothing more. Lame.

You know, thinking on it further? Jessica didn’t even smile in that picture. I remember having a girlfriend or two just like that. Well, perhaps Kilgrave will be able to put a smile on her face soon enough. See you people again on Saturday for Episode 6.

Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.

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