The second and final episode shown at the Jessica Jones premiere in New York City, AKA Crush Syndrome continues the momentum gained in the first episode, gives us a closer look at the devastating effects of Kilgrave’s powers, and offers us our first glimpse of fight choreography in the show. You can check out my review of the first episode here, but since the show isn’t officially released until tomorrow, consider this your last chance to back out before we dive into spoiler territory.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
This episode is all about showing the audience what its characters are capable of. For Kilgrave and Luke Cage, that means displaying the full effect of their powers; while for Jessica–whose powers are treated in a nonchalant, almost incidental fashion–that means displaying her prowess as a detective.
The episode begins with Jessica begging Jeri Hogarth to provide legal defense for Hope, who has been arrested for murdering her parents under Kilgrave’s influence. Erin Moriarty does a great job conveying how broken Hope’s actions have made her, and the familiar way Jessica treats her lets us know that she knows exactly what Hope is going through. Hogarth agrees to take Hope’s case, if Jessica can provide proof that Kilgrave actually exists. This sets up the major plot of the episode, as Jessica uses her skills as a private investigator to chase down leads and find concrete evidence that someone with Kilgrave’s powers is actually out there. Each lead takes Jessica to another broken individual, another destroyed life, another body left in Kilgrave’s wake.
We learn that Jessica escaped Kilgrave’s influence when he was hit by a bus and, apparently, killed. Jessica tracks down the driver of the ambulance that took his body to the hospital, and finds Jack Denton–a man who donated both of his kidneys to Kilgrave and suffered a massive stroke as a reaction to the surgery. Denton is under the care of his mother, and lacks almost all mental and physical capabilities, but has retained enough cognitive ability to write Jessica a note begging her to kill him. It’s a heartbreaking scene, as Jessica tears the note up before his mother can see it and leaves, apologizing that she can’t put Jack out of his misery.
Jessica is then able to track down the doctor who performed Kilgrave’s transplant, who has gone from one of the most respected surgeons at his hospital to a remedial chemistry teacher at a community college; another example of Kilgrave’s collateral damage policy. Recognizing Jessica from pictures Kilgrave had, the doctor assumes she’s working with Kilgrave and runs away, obviously terrified for his life.
When Jessica finally convinces him to tell her his story, he offers a clue to what might be a weakness for the otherwise omnipotent Kilgrave: he insisted on receiving the transplant without any anesthesia. In a slightly clunky bit of dialogue, Jessica makes the logical leap that Kilgrave must be afraid of being put under because it would negate his powers. It’s the first real victory she gets to experience over Kilgrave, small as it may be, and Ritter takes a second to rejoice in the fact that he isn’t invincible. Jones convinces the doctor to tell Jeri Hogarth his story, and she agrees to take Hope’s case. The fact that such a small moment feels like a monumental victory shows how incredibly powerful Kilgrave has been set up to be in just the first two episodes. Like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, Kilgrave only exists as a menacing presence for most of the first two episodes. However, Jessica Jones is far more effective at making that presence felt. You may have been intimidated by Fisk by the time he made his first real appearance, but you’ll be positively horrified by the time you actually meet Kilgrave.
We also learn this episode that Luke Cage has been unknowingly sleeping with a married woman, and Jessica has been hired (apparently by the woman’s husband) to prove it. Jessica’s pictures of the affair wind up making their way back to the woman’s husband, who gathers his rugby team to teach Luke Cage a lesson at his bar. Feeling responsible for the impending danger, Jessica rushes to Luke’s bar right as the 6 men are about to begin their fight. The two superheroes, who don’t yet know about each others’ powers, effortlessly take out all six guys without breaking a sweat, prompting Luke to ask, “What the hell was that?” to which Jessica responds, “Uh, teamwork?”
While the fight scene lacks the gritty brutality of Daredevil‘s fights, it’s still incredibly fun to watch the two gifted individuals beat up people so easily. We also get a few great glimpses of Luke’s unbreakable skin, as someone stabs him in the neck with a broken bottle and stares with utter confusion as the glass fails to leave a scratch. The chemistry between Colter and Ritter is just as palpable in their action scene as it is in their dialogue, and watching them play together is a delight.
In the second-to-last scene of the episode, we finally get our first full scene with David Tennant‘s Kilgrave. It’s basically this scene, with a few extra lines of dialogue from the couple’s daughter, who wets herself as Kilgrave commands her to get into the closet instead of using the bathroom. I enjoyed watching the scene when it was first released, but after the build-up of the first two episodes, the scene takes on an entirely new tone. I’m terrified for the fate of those two children, as leaving them in the closet to slowly starve to death wouldn’t even be close to the worst thing Kilgrave has done.
The final scene of the episode, and quite possibly my favorite of the season so far, involves Luke Cage confronting Jessica at her apartment about what they now know about each other. He brings a portable circular saw with him and demonstrates his unbreakable skin by pushing the blade against his abdomen until it begins to smoke. Colter plays the scene so well that, walking out of the theatre after watching the premiere, I was almost more excited for Luke Cage than I was for the rest of Jessica Jones.
5 donated kidneys out of 5. I’m hesitant to give such an early episode a score this high, because I have no doubt the series will get even better. But the second episode of this show managed to improve on a stellar opening, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the season.
There are two characters introduced this episode that may be my favorite of the series so far: a weird, diaper wearing, cordon-bleu making, noisy pair of uncomfortably close fraternal twins that live above Jessica. I understand nothing about them and I want to know more.
Okay, as cool as the last scene of the episode was, I have to wonder: did Luke Cage just have a saw lying around, see it, and think “This will make a great prop”?
Near the end of the episode, we find out that Trish is involved in some pretty intense combat training, setting up an eventual appearance from Hellcat later this season.
Two episodes in and the show hasn’t offered even a passing MCU reference. Aside from the guy in the first episode saying, “You’re one of them!” when Jessica lifted his car, we haven’t gotten a single reference to Sokovia, The Avengers, or even the Battle of New York.
The show officially drops on Netflix tomorrow, so be sure to check back here once you’re caught up for our continued coverage of the show!
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK)