It’s finally here. After months of waiting, Jessica Jones has officially dropped on Netflix for your binging pleasure. To those of you who read my early reviews of the first two episodes, welcome back! To those of you who were avoiding spoilers, thanks for joining us now. Be sure to check out my reviews for episodes one and two before reading on for my spoiler-filled discussion of episode three.
Still with us? Great!
‘AKA It’s Called Whiskey’ picks up immediately where episode two left off, as Luke has just demonstrated his unbreakable skin to Jessica. As the two gifted people realize they’re dealing with someone just as strong as themselves, things rapidly escalate to a ritual that’s something between testing each others’ strength and foreplay. It’s raw, passionate, and extremely erotic; especially for a Marvel show. I know I’ve already mentioned several times Ritter and Colter’s chemistry when flirting or fighting with each other, but their chemistry in bed is even more explosive.
After going a few rounds with each other, Jessica and Luke partake in some post-coital food truck dining and discuss their powers. I particularly loved this scene, as it provides a huge amount of exposition, but never feels clunky or over-written. It simultaneously fleshes out the characters while providing the audience with some information about their background, the limits of their powers, and their attitudes towards those powers. We get our first definitive MCU reference in this scene, but even that’s a character moment for Luke. He refers to The Avengers as “the big green dude and his crew,” which, at first, seems like an odd way to describe a renowned superhero team led by the most famous man in the world and a living folk hero. But when you consider that Luke is from Harlem, it suddenly makes sense that he identifies the Avengers by the one member that went on a rampage through his neighborhood. The thoughtful attention to the dialogue takes a scene that could easily feel like a clunky info dump, and makes it feel like we’re watching the first date of two people who are relieved to find someone like them in the world.
After another sex scene, which claims Luke’s bed as a casualty, we find out a little more about the woman in the picture in Luke’s bathroom. Her name is Reva, and she was Luke’s wife who was killed in the same bus accident that apparently killed Kilgrave. We later find out that she was actually murdered by Jessica when she was under Kilgrave’s control. Obviously, this makes any sort of relationship with Luke next to impossible for Jessica, and of course she’s far too guilt-ridden and guarded to tell him about her past. On one hand, this is a compelling storyline that I’m sure will be extraordinarily well-acted and make for great drama. On the other, I can already tell it will be my least favorite storyline of the season, as I’m generally not a fan of scenes that make me want to yell “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER ALREADY!” at my TV screen. It’s even worse because of how great the chemistry that Colter and Ritter was when they were getting along, because now I want nothing more than for the characters to return to that. I understand that if every character was rational and understanding 100% of the time, that would make for very boring television, so I’m not faulting the show for taking this direction. Still, it’s not my personal cup of tea.
Later, we see Jessica’s quest for surgical-grade anesthetic take her to Trish’s place, where we see that her Krav Maga training is more than just a hobby–she’s been driven by fear to create a fortress for herself and learn to fight her own battles now that Jessica won’t be around to do it for her. There seems more to her story than we’re told, but I’m sure we’ll get more information about what she’s so afraid of later on in the season.
Jessica convinces Trish to do a segment on Hope in her daily talk-show, but comes to regret the decision as she actually conducts a phone interview with Hope, baiting and insulting Kilgrave until Jessica breaks her microphone to keep her from saying more stupid things. Trish’s heart is clearly in the right place during this scene, but it struck me as odd that someone who has such a close relationship with Jessica and knows exactly what she went through wouldn’t listen to her about how dangerous it is to provoke someone like Kilgrave.
Sure enough, Kilgrave calls in to the show and delivers his own version of Walter White’s “tread lightly” speech from Breaking Bad, suggesting that if someone like him does exist, it’s probably not the wisest idea to challenge him so openly. And, of course, just like anyone could have predicted, Trish’s challenge backfires on her pretty much immediately, as a cop under Kilgrave’s control shows up at her door to try to kill her. At first, he seems like he isn’t under any sort of influence, but as soon as Trish opens the door, he attacks. This is the potential problem with a show where the audience is told to treat everyone like a suspect. If you’re suspicious of everyone, inevitable twists and betrayals will lose their power to surprise. Hopefully, we’ll get a few misdirects or false alarms in the next few episodes to let the audience lower our guard again before the next surprise betrayal.
After saving Trish at the last second and convincing the cop that he’s done what he came to do, Jessica follows to cop back to Kilgrave’s hideout, ready to inject him with her stolen drugs. When he orders the cop to exit through the window instead of the door, Jessica’s hero-instincts kick in and she pulls the cop away from the ledge, revealing herself to Kilgrave.
The first, wordless confrontation between these two characters perfectly conveys all the feelings between them. We see Jessica is angry, terrified, and defiant as she faces her former abuser. Kilgrave, on the other hand, is caught somewhere between shock and awe as the object of his obsession literally drops out of the sky onto his balcony. Kilgrave makes his escape and sends the family living in his borrowed apartment after Jessica, which offers us our second major fight scene of the episode. It’s not nearly as effortless as Luke and Jessica’s barroom brawl in episode two, because Jessica is holding back and trying not to hurt anyone. After taking care of the family, Jessica discovers Kilgrave’s shrine to her, covered in photographs taken of her at different places in the city. The photos are somehow creepier than you’d imagine they’d be, and are sure to offer Jessica her next major lead in the next episode.
4 broken beds out of 5. This is the first episode of the show that’s felt like a superhero show with noir elements, instead of the other way around. I like the fact that the show is somewhat flexible when it comes to tone and genre, and hope it continues to shift as the season moves forward.
I love the fact that the MCU has advanced to the point that not one, but two characters’ origin stories are summed up in the lines:
Sweet Christmas! I can’ think of any better place for Luke to debut his famous comic book catchphrase than after sex.
Trish references the “city being attacked by aliens” this episode, which brings our total number of MCU references to around 4
Jessica walks by a store called “Balloon Saloon” at one point in this episode. It’s a real place and I only live 20 minutes away from it. I guess I know where I’m going tomorrow.
Jessica’s upstairs neighbor has a beetle collection and covers their windows in foil. They’re so weird and I love it so much.
In order to steal the drugs she needs from the hospital, Jessica uses a very high Malcolm as a distraction, and abandons him in the hospital once she has what she came for. The look of betrayal on his face as she leaves is heartbreaking.