Monday, December 7, 2015

Jessica Jones 1x04 "AKA 99 Friends" (The Burden of Consequences) [Contributor: Lynnie Purcell]

"AKA 99 Friends"
Original Airdate: November 20, 2015

Consequences are tricky. They are not static, nor are they as simple as the choices that often led up to them. They breathe, move, and are determined by the people who have to live with them. Unintended consequences have been the bread and butter of stories for thousands of years. Greek playwrights knew the humanity and tragedy in consequences that people did not see at the time they made their life-altering choice. It remains a constant in movies and televisions, with good reason.

In "AKA 99 Friends," Jessica and the people around her must learn to live with consequences of the previous episode’s decisions. It revolves around the fallout of doing what is necessary or the utter hell of being Kilgrave’s victim. It is a tribute to the messy question of, “What now?”

Jessica’s method of convincing the cop to leave Trish while on a Kilgrave bender was absolutely necessary and definitely the result of quick thinking, but it drove the cop, Officer Simpson, towards a brief madness entrenched in guilt. He tries to break down Trish’s reinforced door, only to have Jessica answer it with all the nonchalance and confusion you would expect in someone who is having their door being attacked by battering ram. She tries to comfort him, seeing herself in the man after the murder reveal last episode, even as she feels responsible for the state of chaos of his mind. She encourages him to leave it alone — to leave Kilgrave to her.

He sort of does by going back to Trish’s apartment and repeating their first meeting, only he has a present of an unregistered pistol for her and Trish is less trusting when she takes it from him. The pistol endears him to her and, through the safety of the door, they begin to talk and reconcile. It is a conversation both of them need in order to reclaim a moment that changed everything for them. Trish’s confidence in her abilities was shattered at the attack. She was certain she could handle herself. Officer Simpson’s determination to help people and be the hero went against what he believed was the murder of an innocent person. They are bonded by the experience, the consequences of Jessica’s choice to call out Kilgrave, Kilgrave’s choice of sending Officer Simpson to kill Trish, and Jessica’s means of dealing with it all.

Trish is faced with more reality of choice when Jessica realizes that there is only one way to get Kilgrave to leave her alone, which is to have Trish apologize on air to the very man who tortured, terrified, and abused Jessica. Trish is yet again faced with the reality of dealing with a man like Kilgrave. Strength and the ability to fight are not enough. He creates enemies out of the innocent. He is a shadow that needs to be dealt with smartly and with respect to his ability — something that only Jessica understands fully.

Jessica’s attention is divided three ways this episode. She is dealing with the spy she discovered last episode — a spy that is following her everywhere and taking pictures that are then given to Kilgrave. Hope’s case is also a priority. Dragon Lady Lawyer Hogarth has assembled people who claim to be victims of Kilgrave, and Jessica is tasked with weeding out the liars and the insane: a task that proves to be a lengthy and sometimes an amusing process. Her third (and final) task is a case brought to her by the instantly suspicious and cleverly unassuming Audrey Eastman.

The thing about Eastman is that it’s clear there’s something up with her the moment she walks in Jessica’s office. Jessica immediately doesn’t trust her. Her reasoning is Kilgrave. She is paranoid and determined to learn from her past mistakes. Being aware is better than letting anyone else get hurt. So she follows Eastman around to ensure that Kilgrave doesn’t have his mind in hers and sees her shooting a pistol. Jessica initially thinks that the woman intends on murdering her cheating husband. The truth is that Eastman blames Jessica for her mother’s death during the alien attack on New York, an attack that Jessica had nothing to do with. Eastman wants someone to pay, and Jessica’s lie to the man she gave a subpoena to in the pilot told Eastman that she was special and gifted.

Sometimes consequences are not even really the person’s to bear, but they suffer them all the same. Eastman shoots Jessica in the arm for what happened to her mother, and Jessica loses it. She tears up the room in a bout of fury. It is here that Jessica’s view on her own trauma comes rushing out of her. She doesn’t believe in sharing, choosing to deal with her demons quietly. That other people do not deserve to suffer for the things she has gone through. She harbors the storm though it rattles her foundation, takes it all in firmly, a great, big ball of emotion settled in her chest, and ends up only torturing herself. Only she tortures the people who love her as well. She matters to those closest to her, which means her method of dealing is not nearly as effective as she hopes, but at least she doesn’t kill people or harm them in an attempt to release the burden. She doesn’t blame strangers for what happened to her, unlike the Eastmans. She has control, but it is slipping. Her rage is growing louder and her heart is bursting closer to the edge every day. She threatens the Eastmans a moment later, scaring them off with the threat of more special people like her — 99 of them, in fact. It feels like this moment might have further consequences later on, but, for now, they are gone and the truth that Jessica is cracking around the edges has never been clearer. It does not help that the pain and suffering is close to her in a way it has not been before. She is hearing other people’s stories for the first time since Hope, leading her to relive the trauma and the fact that there is no choice if Hope is ever to be free again.

Jessica listening to the people who claim to have been Kilgrave’s victims was both heartbreaking and funny. Some of the people were clearly looking to be pardoned from their bad choices without the burden of consequences, while others are genuinely affected. Krysten Ritter plays the scene with a repressed compassion and a hard-won stoicism that is hard to forget. The comedy balances with the pain perfectly in a way that makes it feel all the more real. Jessica’s pain is extended when Jessica quietly sulks into the support group she helped arranged. She is clearly uncomfortable as she listens to the people lay out what has been done to them and the results of Kilgrave’s control. Her body language is tense. The panic and anger are looming. The goodhearted person is at war with the victim and the hardened hero who knows wallowing will not solve the problem. She does not do well with dealing. It guides her alcoholism and isolationism. Compartmentalizing helps her be the hero the people in the support group will ultimately need. She cares more about catching Kilgrave then laying out what happened to her. All this is seen through Ritter’s reactions and the way the scene is shot. It’s brilliantly done.

The mood in the group shifts as she realizes one of the men has information that she can use. He was Kilgrave’s driver and potentially has seen the spy that has been taking pictures of her. After some prodding and chastising from the rest of the group, she finally has a description she can track on the police video tapes that Officer Simpson helped her get earlier on.

It is within those scenes of humanity that a very personal and definitely unexpected consequence of Kilgrave’s evil is revealed to her. A man that she has come to care about deeply, snark and outward indifference aside, a man that she quietly looks after, has not been as disconnected from her world as it seems. He is being used and has been changed completely by her torturer.

Kilgrave has Malcolm — her neighbor and a full-time junkie — under his spell. He is Kilgrave’s spy. He is the man that Jessica has hunted.

And, with a single tear of anguish, it is shown that Jessica is not prepared for the consequences that are sure to follow the revelation.

Stray Thoughts
  • Kilgrave is winding her up still. He’s getting under her skin. He’s guiding her thoughts without actually being in the room with her. This is what real stalkers do all the time.
  • “Men in power. It is seriously a disease.” — Trish gets it.
  • Jessica can’t delete the picture of Luke. She can’t let go the way she thinks she needs to after killing his wife. She has those things... what are they called? Feelings?
  • Being wedged in the alley while tracking Eastman is an awesome shot. So casual and cool.
  • Hogarth took her honey-boo to the spot she proposed to her wife. Not cool, Dragon Lawyer. Not cool.
  • Eastman murders lots of mannequins. She’s super good at it.
  • An eight year old curses like a sailor and berates Jessica. It is equal parts awful and awesome and is part of the extension of Kilgrave messing with Jessica.
  • Officer Simpson gives the gift of a gun. It’s every post-strangulation apology a girl needs.
  • I am not a fan of Officer Simpson. I have a hard time not writing Officer Whatever instead. I really want to call him that because he’s just so... Alpha Male. Also, is he supposed to be Australian or American in this show? I’m having a hard time deciphering.
  • “You shoot that at me, I’ll pull the bullet out of my ruined jacket and shove it up your ass with my pinky finger, and who do you think that’s going to hurt worse?”
  • Police footage is the worst binge-watch in the history of binge-watches.
  • When Jessica cries, we cry.
  • I gasped at the Malcolm reveal. I just want to give him all the hugs.


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