Jessica Jones Recap: Take Your Mother to Work Day

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Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix
Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

AKA Shark in the Bathtub, Monster in the Bed Season 2 Episode 9
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Well, at least we know who the shooter is. Pryce Cheng, still bruised over losing his dick-swinging contest to a girl and the fact that his wartime buddy who was drawn-and-quartered by Alisa (while he was breaking into Jess’s office and stealing all her files, but still), aims like a sniper through Jessica’s window and fires. He is such a guy.

Alisa eyes him and, maternal rage ablaze, catches him in no time. But Jess is there to stop her by crying out, “Mom!” So Alisa hesitates before she can commit yet another homicide and Jess uses an Alisa-strength tranquilizer to knock Pryce unconscious. (Thanks, Dr. Karl!)

It’s interesting to see how Jess still clings to her humanity, how adamant she is that her abilities not isolate her further from the real world. She still hopes for some kind of acceptance and still believes she isn’t above the rules. She’s come a long way from her dark days living off money stolen from the ATM! But Alisa has no such qualms, and that is scary for Jess to see. Alisa’s reaction is that the best and only option is to kill Pryce. She doesn’t even really give it any thought. She doesn’t try to think of another way. She doesn’t seem to think it’s worth taking the time to come up with a non-homicidal alternative. She says this is about keeping her kid out of prison, but it’s also clearly about saving her own skin. And Jess is clear: “You lay one finger on him and you are dead to me again.”

With Pryce safely unconscious and sleeping it off in the bathtub, Jess and Alisa have some mother-daughter bonding time. So much of what connects them now doesn’t even have anything to do with their pre-accident lives, but with the powers and attendant horrors that IGH inflicted upon them: speedy healing, night terrors, an expensively high tolerance for alcohol. Jess has to be tender and careful as a matter of self-preservation — we’ve seen what happens when Alisa gets angry — and in her voice-overs, we hear her impossible conundrum running laps around her brain: She doesn’t want to lose her mom again. But is this what it means to get her back?

Trish comes by and she is very upset about Jess’s abandonment of the IGH case. I am very upset about Trish’s awful jacket. Jess doesn’t tell Trish about her mom. Instead, she asks a totally fair and valid question: “Can I just not do something and have it be okay?” Trish needs this case to give meaning to her spiraling life and can’t admit that this isn’t really about anyone but herself. “When do I get to be normal?” Jess asks. “When do I get to have a goddamn life?” And then she realizes that Trish is high out of her mind. Very steadily, she tells Trish to call her sponsor; Trish hears noises and thinks Jess has a guy in the apartment, a technically correct hunch that Jess does not dispute. Trish, furious and ashamed, leaves.

Alisa has a night terror, and it turns out that in these nightmares she is just panicking and asking, “Where’s Jessica?” (It’s seemingly a flashback to her first rage blackout at IGH.) When she shakes out of it, she tells Jessica, “I always dream about you.” And Jess says, “Same.” My HEART. I can just hear the sweet, sweet sounds of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s “Maybe she’s not such a heinous bitch after all!

Oscar, devoted super and concerned boyfriend that he is, sees the shattered glass on the sidewalk from Jess’s window and goes to investigate. He spots the gunshot wound — treated Jones-style, with brown liquor and duct tape — and wants to help. Without anyone else to open up to, what with Trish being high and all, Jess reveals some personal info to Oscar: Her mom has powers, and they have some power-people problems. She doesn’t want him to get involved, but in a very adorable way, Oscar says, “I don’t know. You’re shot, I like you. I’m involved!”

At this inopportune moment, Oscar’s ex shows up, threatening to take Vito away for good because “I’m not going to leave him with you if she’s around.” (Jess, in a perfect not-to-ruin-your-plans tone: “I kind of live here.”) The ex drags Vito off, but Oscar isn’t too worried. “She does that, like, once a week.”

After he leaves, Alisa gives a very mom-like appraisal of Jessica’s bathroom: “This whole place is disgusting.” (If ANY of you has a parent who actually thinks your bathroom is ever clean enough, please document this miracle in the comments.) She makes an adorably horrendous breakfast — spaghetti with butter and jam — and then it’s time to talk about how Jess has been carrying around what she thought were the ashes of all her family members in Ziploc bags. “It’s probably just somebody’s cremated labradoodle.” Why hold onto these ashes? Guilt. Jess has felt responsible for the accident all this time. She was fighting with her brother, distracting her dad, and then …

Alisa is astonished that Jess blames herself. It’s really Mr. Jones’s fault and, by extension, Alisa’s: “Your father, he needed to be in charge like his dick would fall off if he let me drive.” (Jess is not thrilled to be discussing her dead dad’s dick.) Alisa loved to drive but she didn’t argue; she knows that “shutting up and sitting shotgun” isn’t the best role model for her daughter, though Jess wryly points out, “You’ve set worse examples.”

I’m surprised that Alisa didn’t think her daughter would carry that weight all these years. Jess did think she was the only survivor, and survivor’s guilt is a pretty well-documented phenomenon. I wonder if Karl just brainwashed Alisa into believing that Jess was better off without her, so Alisa had to convince herself that, among other implausible things, Jess didn’t feel any guilt?

Even though Alisa is the mom, she’s all childlike fantasies here: She and Jess can run away together! They can kill Pryce and it will be like none of this ever happened! But this family getaway (1) is an interesting call, given how well things went the last time the Jones clan tried to go on a vacation together and (2) gets interrupted by Oscar, who reports that the ex actually did take Vito away, two weeks before a custody hearing she surely knew she’d lose. Vito and his mom’s passports are gone and, even more telling, so is Vito’s Captain America action figure. Oscar, who once expressed nothing but disgust for Jessica’s superpowers, is humbled enough to ask her to deploy them: “I need you to do what you do.” I think Alisa is proud to see that Jess found a guy who is not threatened by the things that make her special, considering the way she describes Jess’s dad’s insecurity and his revulsion with her ambition.

So it’s one more tranq for Pryce and everyone’s off. (I know they haven’t had any time to take care of this, but wouldn’t Alisa be less conspicuous in a different wig?) When they get to the bus station, we finally get to see Jess do her signature super-trick: stopping a slow-moving car! Turns out she needs assistance to stop a slow-moving bus, though, and Alisa is here to participate. Vito is safe in Oscar’s arms once again. And when the bus driver comes out to see what happened and Jess’s best explanation is, “Yeah, your breaks must have gone off.” (Alisa, amused: “Wow, you really don’t drive, do you?”)

After some not exactly subtle dialogue between Jess and Vito’s pissed-off mom — “You’re his mother, nothing’s going to change that” — Jess and Alisa return home, where Oscar volunteers his forgery services for anything Alisa needs. Things sure have improved since, as Jess points out to her mom, “The last boyfriend you met, you killed in an alley.” She does say that she understands why her mom couldn’t be around her. “There is a lot that I can’t forgive but that, I get it.”

After their successful bus station teamwork, Alisa, again with the childlike visions of skipping off into the sunset together, thinks she and Jess can use their strength to “do something!” But even as she says this, she keeps pushing the murder Pryce angle, and Jess realizes that there is no future here. “Even if I could control you, I could never change you.” Alisa, trying to lighten the mood: “Well, who doesn’t wish they could change something about their mother?”

When Pryce finally regains consciousness, he cannot be talked out of wanting to bring Jess’s mom to justice. Jess actually agrees and she calls her good detective. Alisa overhears this exchange and punches her daughter in the face. Jess, again, calls her “mom” to bring her down, which ends the family infighting but doesn’t stop Alisa from chasing Pryce into the street. By the time she gets outside, police have assembled with weapons drawn. Of course Alisa could kill them all and it certainly seems like the sort of thing she would do. Skip town and find Karl, maybe. But Jess begs her: “Please, no more.” And she listens.

Meanwhile, because watching your mother try to murder a man and then get arrested isn’t stressful enough, Jess feels awful that Trish has relapsed and she can’t be there for her. It’s true: Trish is not doing well. She looks feral and crazy, watching some clip of Griffin Sinclair (is he named after Sebastian St. Clair from BoJack?) reporting live from Aleppo. She takes another hit and, I swear to you, in that moment I thought: Won’t that inhaler ever run out?

Then, after a failed and stupid mission to Jeri’s apartment to get Inez to do Trish Talk, she tapes an episode with the author of a gluten-free cookbook. She has a Network-y breakdown about how “THIS SHOW IS BULLSHIT” but honestly, she just sounds like an unhinged, uninformed lunatic. She starts blurting out topics that she thinks are the serious, important subjects her show is just distracting people from: “Child pornography! Global warming! Racism!” Lifestyle coverage is not inherently vapid; the way Trish covers it is. Was The Oprah Winfrey Show vapid? I would love to see Trish suggest as much to our lord and savior Oprah herself. Trish literally yells, “WAKE UP, PEOPLE.” My eyes roll as far back in my head as they can go.

But somehow, we are supposed to believe that this objectively idiotic rant gets Trish the attention of CCN, the news network of her dreams. (On second thought, given the state of cable news, this is a completely believable turn of events.) Again with some awfully on-the-nose dialogue: The CCN guy asks Trish if she can do what she just did every single day. “Whatever spark makes you do what you do, hold onto it.” Trish goes to take another hit of the inhaler and … what do you know? It’s empty. Did she seriously never think it would run out?

While Trish leans hard into better living through chemistry, Jeri opts for her typical practice of just using people. (She and Inez seem like a mostly happy couple, for whatever that’s worth.) Jeri meets Shane the healer outside of prison and threatens to have him thrown in Supermax for those pesky two assaults he was never charged for. “I gave you the gift of freedom,” she says. “You can’t keep it without me.” So, even though healing people is really dangerous for this dude  — “It’s like I’m jumping toward death instead of crawling” — Jeri demands his services and he obliges.

Inez warns Jeri to not get her hopes up. These treatments don’t always work. But as Shane gets underway, it sure feels like it’s working for Jeri.

Jessica Jones Recap: Take Your Mother to Work Day