By the time this review is published, many of you will have finished all 13 episodes of Jessica Jones in one glorious marathon. Still, for those of you who are pacing yourselves to make this season last a little longer, I feel obligated to put this spoiler warning at the top, and remind you that if you’re not caught up, you can read my reviews for episodes One, Two, Three, and Four.
‘AKA The Sandwich Saved Me’ begins with a flashback to 18 months before the show began, showing a less broken, if no less sarcastic, Jessica using her detective skills to extort her way out of a shitty job. She then meets Trish at a bar and uses her considerable strength to ward off a creepy guy and win free drinks at the same time. It’s not quite the best flashback scene in a Marvel Netflix show (that title belongs to Matt and Foggy’s drunk conversation about becoming avocados at law), but it definitely comes close. Not only does it let us see what Jessica was like before Kilgrave, we also get to see how close she and Trish were, and that it was Trish that encouraged Jessica to try her hand at being a superhero. In my review for episode one, I mentioned that it appeared as though there was an implied romantic history between Jessica and Trish. This episode, we learn that the two are actually almost sisters: it was Trish’s abusive mother who took Jessica in after her parents were killed. Knowing about Trish’s history, and her early comment about Jessica fighting her battles, it isn’t hard to see why she wants Jessica to be a hero now. To her, Jessica has always been a hero, and she wants the rest of the world to benefit from Jessica’s gifts as well.
Back in present-day, Jessica is still reacting to the news that Malcolm has been taking pictures of her for Kilgrave. His situation is worse than I originally thought; he isn’t a junkie that’s being controlled, he’s only a junkie because Kilgrave got him hooked to control him easier. This show has used Kilgrave’s powers as a lens to look at a number of different issues from sexual abuse to mental health, and Malcolm’s case adds addiction to the list as well. He tells Jessica that, a lot of the time, Kilgrave didn’t have to control him to get him to take photographs of her. The promise of more drugs was enough for him to choose to listen to what Kilgrave was saying on his own free will. The question of accountability is one addicts often wrestle with. The first step in many addiction counseling programs is admitting that you are powerless to addiction, but that doesn’t absolve you from responsibility for your actions. When adding literal mind control to the mix, the question of what Malcolm should be held accountable for becomes that much more complicated.
The main focus of this episode is on Jessica, Will, and Trish using Malcolm’s meetings with Kilgrave to lay a trap for him, to take him to a hermetically sealed room where they can interrogate him and gain proof of his existence that would be admissible in court. In that regard, it’s somewhat of a turning point for the series: up until this episode, Kilgrave has appeared mostly by proxy, or in fleeting glimpses through the shadows. Moving forward, Kilgrave plays a much more active role in the season and this episode represents the start of that.
Despite the excellent flashbacks and a truly exhilarating sequence when the trio actually make their move on Kilgrave in Union Square, this episode was a step down to me compared to the previous four episodes. Most of the blame for that can be placed upon Will and Jessica’s combative relationship, which seems to come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. When Jessica finds out that Will and Trish have been sleeping together, she’s (understandably, I might add) creeped out. As I pointed out in my review of the last episode, it doesn’t make sense for Trish to so quickly get over any and all trust issues she had with the man who literally tried to murder her a few days before. Considering Jessica doesn’t like most people, the romance between Will and Trish seems like a valid reason for her not to like him. What’s confusing is that the feeling seems to be mutual. In the previous episode, Will broke the law and gave Jessica illegally obtained security footage on the off chance it might help her take down Kilgrave. In this episode, he grills Trish about Jessica’s history and actually asks if he can trust her. When he shows Jessica the air-tight, soundproof chamber they plan on using as a cell for Kilgrave, there’s an amusing but baffling bit where the two characters insult each other through the soundproof glass. It makes for a nice gag, but it doesn’t make much sense.
“So what,” Will says behind the glass, “you think because you have these abilities, you’re a hero? I’ve seen heroes. You’re not even close.”
Where is that coming from? He’s talking to the person that stopped him from murdering an innocent woman, then saved his life when he tried to jump off a building. And nothing Jessica has said to him indicates that she thinks she’s a hero. It seems to be conflict for conflict’s sake, and it takes an interesting dynamic that sets up a potential future antagonist and cheapens it by not giving their animosity a justifiable reason.
When Trish, Will, and Jessica enact their plan to sedate Kilgrave and take him to his cell, it’s an exciting scene that has all the best elements from a heist or caper film. After seeing what a monster Kilgrave is, we know that the stakes are high and we can’t help but feel triumphant as they get him in their van and drive to the abandoned CDC facility. All that makes it all the more frustrating when Kilgrave’s goons show up with tasers and batons and rescue Kilgrave at the last second. This is one of the few times watching this season that I felt like the show was stretching limited material into extra hours of content: as soon as the hermetically-sealed cell was introduced, we knew that Kilgrave would eventually wind up there, so the fact that the show takes us this close only to bring us back to square one seems like major wheel-spinning.
In the final moments of the episode, Kilgrave calls Jessica to taunt her, as well as offer Malcolm’s safety in exchange for a daily picture of herself. This is a great scene that shows how manipulative Kilgrave can be even when he isn’t using his powers, and when Jessica agrees to give Kilgrave exactly what he wants to protect Malcolm, it shows what a true hero she can be.
3.5 selfies out of 5. While not the greatest showing of the season, still an overall enjoyable episode.
Every flashback in this episode offered something awesome, from the namedrop of Jessica’s superhero alter-ego ‘Jewel’ and the appearance of her costume, to the fateful first meeting between Kilgrave and Jessica.
Our most blatant (and adorable) MCU reference this episode: a kid in a Captain America costume!
As dark as this show gets, this was probably also the funniest episode of the season. It’s nice to get some levity between the horrific moments.
As great as it is to see Malcolm decide to quit heroin, Jessica’s method of handing drugs to someone experiencing withdrawals and telling him to make the right choice probably isn’t the most reliable method.
I’m sure this is just the natural color of David Tennant’s feet, or a filter that affected the color, but at the end of the episode, did the soles of Kilgrave’s feet look purple to anyone else? Perhaps it’s a nod to Purple Man’s comic book origins.