One of the things I love about Jessica is that, super though she may be, she can be felled by the most mortal of problems. In this case, it’s when your iPhone gets wet and ceases to function. Superheroes: Even they have to buy rice and curse themselves for getting water anywhere near this little device on which they, too, completely rely!
Save for the one big reveal — which I promise left me yelling holy shit holy shit ahhhh at my screen — this episode unfolds in predictable ways. Jeri’s efforts in particular have been so transparent, it’s hard to imagine anyone not seeing her end game coming. Of course she wants to get access to the lifesaving (but black-market) medical technology that IGH used on Jessica to battle her own ALS. Of course that is the only reason she would let Inez stay her apartment. Of course Inez, a nurse, would eventually spot Jeri’s meds while rifling through her stuff and put duh and duh together.
Of course Trish is addicted to the drugs in the IGH inhaler, but is too ashamed to tell Jessica, the only person who could actually help her. And of course Jessica is too distracted to not take Trish at her word that she’s fine. Also (no complaints here but), the SECOND we learned that Oscar’s adorable son was conveniently out of the house with his mom, it was inevitable that all that sexual tension was going to do what sexual tension does best: Get Jess and Oscar in bed — or, uhh, on canvas? — together, stat. (And you thought you and your significant other were so creative for going to one of those wine and painting nights.)
How does everyone feel about the “romantic” art of a guy painting the woman he just had sex with while said woman is still asleep? This is something of a love story trope, no? (It definitely happened on Buffy and in Twilight, so maybe it’s a vampire thing?) Its execution here is just a little on the nose — Jess is so afraid to be vulnerable, she runs away from intimacy, she thinks everyone who loves her will meet an untimely demise, etc. — but also, it IS creepy for him to have been awake for literally hours just painting a portrait of her while she sleeps! They do not know each other that well! Anyway, his painting evokes the Jessica Jones credits with all that pink and purple, and also reminds me of Sam McKinniss’ painting of Lorde that’s on the cover of Melodrama. Jess takes one look at it and is all, heyIjustrememberedIhaveathingthankskbye.
Maybe she has her reasons for not totally letting her guard down, is all I’m saying. For instance, Oscar has suspiciously great abs for a guy who spends most of his day painting and doing whatever supers do.
Meanwhile, Trish is getting high all the time on those sweet, sweet IGH meds. She loves that she finally gets to feel what she imagines Jess feels all the time: like the predator and not the prey. Trish has always been hungry for these external forms of protection. She’s got that door made of reinforced steel and spent most of last season doing intense self-defense training. We’ve seen how giddy she gets about guns. So it’s to be expected that she’d jump at the opportunity to transform herself into a weapon, instead of having to rely on a Glock or having Jess with her as muscle. But we know Trish was an addict (remember how sassy the wig shop proprietor was about that?) and she knows what these drugs did to Simpson, so she should probably see this for the insidious threat that it is. She … does not.
And because she’s got the breakup as a plausible cover for why she looks so strung out, Trish’s objectively alarming state doesn’t ring any alarms for Jess, who accurately tells her re: Griffin, “That guy sucked up all the air in the room and there was no space left for you.” Together, they get their eyes on some security footage from the diamond shop near the aquarium, which shows Dr. Karl both kissing and roughing up our mystery wig woman before forcing her into a car.
This also gives us a quick political moment with the diamond guy, an undocumented immigrant who hesitates to share the footage with Jess because he’s afraid that somehow ICE will get involved. She assures him that it won’t, but it does bump up against one of the more uncomfortable threads of the season: Jess, a white woman, is the victim of discrimination within this alternate universe because she’s a “powered person,” and when people of color proclaim their distrust of “those people,” Jess gets to say things like, “What do you mean, those people?” This does not land quite so cleanly as the show might hope.
Malcolm briefly stops drooling over Trish to do as Jess tells him: Go back to the school he dropped out of when he was an addict (thanks so much, Kilgrave! Gone but not forgotten) to find an old yearbook and confirm the identity of this Dr. Karl character. He is reluctant to do this and Jess, maybe just annoyed at watching the Malcolm/Trish sparks fly, tells him he needs to “rip the Band-Aid off” his awful past, which, pots and kettles, Jones.
While Malcolm embarks on this awkward mission, Jess and Trish pursue another lead: A hosiery company was apparently paying Dr. Karl’s expenses. Jess finds out that the owner of said company is at a private golf club, because “it’s Sunday — what else do rich assholes with private golf club memberships do?” I was hoping there would be more undercover character work for this long con, but Jess and Trish don’t even change clothes. Trish distracts the guys at the front of this all-male establishment, doing her best one-woman Women’s March and playing the Patsy card, so Jess can leap over the walls in a single bound and harass her man up close.
This gives us my favorite line of the episode, when the hosiery man tells Jess something about a mulligan. Her response? “I don’t care what that means.” Krysten Ritter’s delivery of these snarky asides is just perfection.
Anyway, this guy’s son was born with a genetic disorder and wasn’t supposed to live more than five years. But Dr. Karl saved his face and his life. As a sign of gratitude, this hosiery man has been paying for some — but not all — of Dr. Karl’s bills. Jess is still repulsed at the idea of someone paying Karl “to experiment on your son” and, I think, a little jealous that this kid turned out exactly as she dreams of being: healthy and normal.
Guess who isn’t healthy or normal? Trish! Her performance of Woman on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown takes a turn for the projectile when withdrawal finally hits. She claims food poisoning from the burrito she and Malcolm were flirting over, but soon as Jess leaves, Trish very rationally starts trashing her own apartment. Malcolm finds the inhaler in the pocket of the jacket that Trish left at the Alias offices and — what did you expect? — brings both the jacket and inhaler to her. Trish huffs and puffs and feels so much better and, in total defiance of Jess’ instructions, has sex with him. Malcolm is also a reformed addict and you’d think would recognize Trish’s situation for what it is, but he is too busy making googly eyes at her to actually see what’s going on.
Also, Oscar left the painting for Jess outside her door, which she does take inside but also can’t bear to look at. Then she tracks down Eric and uses him to bait the hosiery man into telling her how to find Dr. Karl. Why do people in this position always divulge so much personal information? The guy practically gave Jess a GPS by which to find Eric. Rookie mistake.
Speaking of rookie mistakes: Why does Jess head to that address alone without even telling Malcolm or Trish where she’s going to be? Would she want somebody to know where she went if things go sideways?
The address is the house we’ve seen before, where the Wig Lady playing piano and burning up her clothes in a fire pit. It’s so pristine and quiet, which can’t be good. (I love that a recurring theme in this show is that the most terrifying places are small towns: Jess’ childhood home is where Kilgrave keeps her in a semi-captive state in season one, and now this house is her scary space in season two. The city is kinder to Jess than suburbia.)
Jess goes into the basement alone, as one does. She sees a framed photo of herself and her brother on the table. The woman who she’s been hunting all this time steps into the room, pulls off her wig, and tells her, cautiously, “Jessica, it’s me.”
All these pieces collapse into place in Jessica’s brain at once: “Mom?”