The fourth episode of Jessica Jones follows Jessica as she tracks down the person who has been taking pictures of her for Kilgrave, and accepts a new case from a client she doesn’t trust. As always, spoilers are to follow, so make sure you’re caught up with episodes One, Two, and Three before reading on.
In my review for the previous episode, I mentioned that between the handful of MCU references, super-powered sex, and two separate fight scenes,‘AKA It’s Called Whiskey’ was the first episode to really feel like a superhero show instead of a Noir with superhero elements. To that end, ‘AKA 99 Friends’ is a return to the norm for Jessica Jones, as the focus on two different cases Jessica is working plants the show firmly back into detective mode. Though I was a little bit down on the over-reliance on noir tropes used in the first episode, by this point the show seems to have figured out exactly how much of those tropes to use, and the detective work done in this episode is top notch. While you could argue that Daredevil had detective elements, as Matt and Karen were both investigating what Fisk’s real plan was, I thought it was one of the weaker elements of the show. I often thought some of the logical leaps between point A and point B were contrived or confusing. In Daredevil, that was easy to forgive because it wasn’t the main point of the show. However, in Jessica Jones, a show about a detective, it’s far more important to get that aspect right, and it’s a relief to see that it does.
Jessica’s new case involves a woman who wants photographs of her husband cheating on her. Given what we know about Jessica’s usual clients, this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, with Kilgrave on the loose, Jessica isn’t sure who she can trust, and spends most of the episode investigating the client rather than her husband. After following her for 13 hours (an hour longer than Kilgrave’s powers could last without a renewed command), Jessica finds her client in an abandoned warehouse with a gun, clearly practicing to use it on someone. In one of the most fascinating turns of the series so far, we find out that she and her husband are planning on shooting Jessica. Not because they were under Kilgrave’s control, but rather because she’s “gifted”.
In what I can only hope is a glimpse at the attitudes towards powered people we’ll see during Captain America: Civil War, the wealthy couple reveals that Audrey’s parents were killed in The Battle of New York–not by aliens, but by debris from a building that The Avengers destroyed. This is the most direct reference to the events of the MCU movies we’ve gotten in the series so far, and it’s a deliciously complex look at attitudes towards heroes. It doesn’t matter to Audrey that Jessica wasn’t directly responsible for her parents’ death for the same reason it doesn’t matter to some people that not all Muslims are responsible for the terror attacks committed by ISIS. Perceived similarities between members of a group, combined with fear over things they don’t understand, is a recipe for prejudice and xenophobia. This is rich thematic territory that’s usually explored by the X-Men, and perhaps in the future by Inhumans. However, to apply it to all superheroes regardless of power or origin story is, unfortunately, a much more accurate representation of how widely prejudice can spread based on the actions of a few individuals.
Will Simpson (Wil Traval), the cop who tried to kill Trish in episode 3, makes a return in this episode, and his guilt and confusion over his actions while under Kilgrave’s influence once again serve as an example of Kilgrave’s evil. Desperate to make Trish feel safe and help Jessica take Kilgrave down, he offers to help any way that he can. At first, Jessica demonstrates some tough love when she tells him the best thing he can do is stay the hell away from Trish, but he winds up proving his usefulness later on when he uses police security cameras to help Jessica track down her mystery photographer. I like Will in this episode, and Traval does a great job of portraying someone used to being in control suddenly feeling helpless.
That being said, the sudden turn to romance between he and Trish at the end of the episode didn’t sit well with me. The long conversation they share with a reinforced door between them is great, and Trish’s rational desire to trust him conflicting with her instinctive fear of the man who almost killed her is portrayed very well in their early interactions. However, as she finally opens her door to him and the show hints at a romantic connection between the two, I couldn’t help but feel it was somewhat of a betrayal of Trish’s character. Between her reinforced door and walls, panic room, and bulletproof windows, Trish has shown an almost paranoid desire to be safe, and that paranoia only increased after she was almost killed in her own home. To slowly build trust with Will and let him into her apartment is a sign of growth and confidence, but to sleep with him while the bruises on her neck from when he tried to murder her are still fresh seems like something Trish wouldn’t do. While the show’s previously mature portrayals of sexuality are enough for me to give this story-line the benefit of the doubt until I see how it progresses, I’d be lying if I said this turn didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth at the end of an otherwise great episode.
4 wandering penises out of 5. Questionable romantic subplots aside, a strong episode in what’s shaping up to be a stellar season.
This episode ends with the reveal that Malcolm is under Kilgrave’s control and has been taking photos of Jessica for him. We’ll find out more about this next episode, but as someone who has loved Malcolm since episode one, this reveal hurt.
Trish’s backstory keeps being revealed to us in bits and pieces, and this episode we find out that before hosting a talk radio program, she was a wildly successful child star. I wouldn’t mind seeing a clip of her old show in a flashback.
Jeri’s encounter with her soon-to-be-ex-wife at their old favorite restaurant is COLD. Jeri’s done almost nothing but be a slimy lawyer this whole season, but Carrie-Anne Moss‘s performance still makes Hogarth likable.
Jessica’s support group for Kilgrave’s victims is a great idea, although her attitude of “screw therapy” probably isn’t in her best interest.
Sweet Christmas. This is the first episode of the series without Luke Cage, and you can definitely feel his absence.
This is minor squabble, but there are a few instances of really noticeable ADR during this episode and the previous one. Primarily during the action scenes, Jessica will say something and it’s obvious it was recorded and inserted after the fact.