Time for a Jones family road trip, take two. It can’t possibly end more tragically than the last time they tried it, can it?
When Jess wakes up, Alisa talks up the life they could have together. Alisa is still thrilled that she is no longer actually homicidal but just almost homicidal, and while she may be, as Jess bluntly puts it, “insane,” the way Alisa sees it, that is progress to live for. Besides, she knows what she needs to survive without killing anybody else: Jess is her cure.
Jessica’s situation isn’t entirely unlike the one Alisa was in with Karl: Technically she’s not a prisoner, but also, she’s not in a position to leave without some potentially ugly consequences. “I want it to be hard for you to leave me,” Alisa says, maybe because she was under Karl’s “care” for so long, she’s forgotten what it looks like when love isn’t coercive. Jess isn’t sold, and she thinks she’s tried everything. Not so, Alisa says: “You haven’t tried joining me.”
Alisa goes for the sales pitch: She and Jessica are “the two most powerful women in the world. We can do anything!” (Anything except: stay in New York, keep their identities, speak to anyone from their respective pasts again, ever really relax or be safe, etc.) What does Jess have to live for back in New York, anyway? Drunken days followed by drunken nights? Jess doesn’t want to leave Trish behind, but Alisa tells her it’s impossible for normal people to be around powered people. Clearly still fuming about the ways Jessica’s dad held her back, Alisa rails against mere mortals who leave supers like the Jones women “dimming out light, limping our way through life.”
(Sidenote: When Jess says, “If you say with great power comes great responsibility, I will throw up on you,” Alisa replies that it wouldn’t be the first time. Turns out our Jess was a “barfy baby.”)
It sounds like a sweet, innocuous vision for the future. But Alisa knows what she’s doing, what she’s after. And so does Jessica. Imagine going half of your life without your mom, without anyone in your family to validate your childhood, to tell you the stories that, frame by frame, make up the little home movie that you can play back inside your mind. Your own personal Carousel. This is the stuff Jess has been craving. These mundane mother-daughter moments.
“You’re not the first psychopath who wanted to team up with me,” Jess says. (Wait, does Alisa know about Kilgrave? Maybe I missed something? Fill me in, commenters!) But before they can really get into it, the family that they’d passed earlier gets in an absolutely massive car wreck.
To this I say: Really, a family car crash? I get the symbolism, but this surely could have gone a less literal way. Alisa and Jess rescue the family, but as Alisa goes back to pull one last person from the wreckage, the flames bloom bigger and a huge explosion erupts. Jess thinks she’s lost her mom for real this time, but no, everyone’s okay. Overcome with relief, Jess hugs Alisa so hard. Is this their first real hug? I’m still underwhelmed by the family from the stock photo that comes in picture frames nearly dying in a Jonesian automobile accident, but this hug is something special. Jess is clinging to her mom like she will drown without her.
Back at the ranch, Trish’s vitals are normal and her mom is manipulative and mean. Trish believes that Jess needs her help, but Dorothy is unconvinced. “What exactly is a failed radio personality going to do that trained law-enforcement professionals and a super-powered woman can’t?”
Malcolm leaves his key to Jess’s place on her desk and calls Linda Chao from Jeri’s firm, giving her a fake name for the appointment. (If you forgot, she’s a partner at the firm, she’s trying to force Jeri out, and Malcolm dug up some damning dirt about her.) Then, like many a man before him, Malcolm deals with his breakup from Jess and Trish by giving himself a dramatic haircut and a whole new look.
I feel like now is as good a time as any to point out that every single episode of this season was directed by a woman. Lest you wonder, What are the benefits of this female gaze for me, the thirsty viewer?, may I point you to the way the camera lingers on Eka Darville’s chest a few moments longer than strictly necessary. And check out that GQ getup! Way to dress for the job you want.
Malcolm goes to Jeri’s apartment to tell her he’s officially gone freelance. Next we see Jeri, she’s striding into her office looking very cat-who-caught-the-canary as she corners her partners in a conference room, using her leverage (thanks, Malcolm!) to get a few more zeroes added to her buyout, plus all her clients including Rand, the biggie. I love that she sasses Steven for staying closeted: “Honestly, if you would just come out, you would be so much less vulnerable.” But though Jeri’s happy to compensate Malcolm for his efforts — whatever number was on that check made his eyebrows go way up — he’s “unlicensed and inexperienced” and therefore, alas, un-hirable.
As for our women on the run, Jess meets with Oscar, who brought papers for her mom. But she tells him she’s going to need papers, too. Oscar can’t believe it. Neither can I! “You have a life,” he tells her, unknowingly fighting against what Alisa was telling her. “You have us, me and Vito.” Jess points to this phrasing as proof for why she needs to leave. “You connect yourself to your son with every thought. You have no idea how isolated I’ve been. I had no idea.”
Before Oscar can talk Jess out of it, she realizes that he’s been followed into this diner. She lunges across the table to kiss him — stick around, superlady! — then tells him to get down so she can make a run for it. This really shouldn’t be a novelty anymore, but I have watched 853,349,201 movies where the girlfriend (it’s always the fucking girlfriend) leans out her window or over a bridge railing or whatever at the valiant guy and makes those Bambi-wide eyes as he’s off to have some world-saving escapade that she couldn’t possibly join because it’s much too dangerous, so all she gets to do is say, “Be careful!” God, it feels so good to watch Jessica tell her boyfriend to take cover while she takes care of herself.
Eight hours to Montreal! Alisa is high on her hopes that they’ll be side-by-side superheroes. We know how Jess feels about spandex. (Alisa is more open-minded: “I could totally rock a unitard.”) We also know how Jess feels about the suburbs: They’re currently winding through Westchester, and it’s making our favorite neighborhood PI very edgy.
Detective Costa calls — the kid they saved from the flaming car left his phone in the RV, teens these days — and tries to reason with Jess. She’s an accomplice now, Costa tells her, but he still believes she’s “one of the good ones, but you have to prove it.” There’s no hope for Alisa, who “crossed a line she can’t come back from.”
Jess starts scrambling for ways to get the two of them out of this nightmare, and something in the air starts to shift. Just the fact that Jessica wants to scramble seems to enough for Alisa, who wipes away a tear and keeps driving.
Costa goes to see Trish and tells her that Jess is aiding and abetting Alisa’s escape. Trish refuses to believe Jess could do such a thing, but Costa, who frankly has been right about everything all season, reminds Trish that “we only get one mother. That’s a powerful bond, no matter how batshit crazy they might be.” Costa will “try” to bring Jess in safely, he says, but no promises. Trish, in the tone of voice of someone who clearly knows where Jess could be, says she has no idea where Jess could be.
So, where did the Joneses end up? Playland. Playland of the Ferris wheel fame, from that story Alisa told Jess back at Karl’s house — the one that made Jess smile. And you might also recognize the Ferris wheel from its prominent placement in the photo of Jess and her brother that Alisa has carried with her all this time. Jess thinks they’re here because there are sailboats nearby. But Alisa has other ideas.
Alisa powers up the Ferris wheel. It does look pretty. “Let them come,” she says. “It’s good that it’s here.”
Jess, who has never taken direction well, climbs into the seat with her mother. Alisa is suddenly — finally — the mom again, not the wild dreamer promising Montreal and the moon, but the parent who sees the sacrifice she needs to make for her kid. (She’s also refuting what Jess said just before nearly shooting her, that her “brain is too broken” to ever make the right choice.) The vision of the two of them as a team, Alisa says, was the “best dream I ever had.”
“Somehow, you’re standing on top of the rubble like a shining light,” she tells her daughter. “Hero isn’t a bad word, Jessica. It’s just someone who gives a shit and does something about it.”
Alisa, who has raged all her life about the ways her ambition was stymied, her gifts squandered into nothing, takes Jess’s face in her hands. “Maybe I don’t have to be amazing. Maybe I just made you.”
“No,” Jess says. “I won’t let you —”
Too late: Alisa is dead. Who’s the shooter? [Cue theme music.] It’s Patsy!
“The police would have shot you both,” Trish says, and she’s … not wrong, but Jess obviously isn’t in a place to hear that right now, so she tells Trish to scram while she runs back to her mom’s dead body as the police arrive. She just curls up and cries. Makes it look like she’s the one who killed her mom. “You did the right thing,” Costa tells her, but the one pristine place Jess shared with her mom is drenched in blood now, and she doesn’t say anything.
Back in New York, Jess gets back to work. She stops a liquor-store robbery with some very nifty bottle-throwing skills, not that that’s enough to get her free gratitude booze. (“I run a business,” the guy at the register says. “In this shitty neighborhood!”) Trish tries to make amends, saying she’ll always be Jess’s sister. “I lost the only family I had,” Jess replies. “Again.”
On her way to the elevator, Trish’s phone gets bumped from her hand and she catches it on the top of her foot, then kicks it back up. Suspiciously catlike reflexes. Congrats on those new powers, Patsy.
Malcolm, still dressed to impress, has found a new home for his talents, working for Pryce Cheng. (I get that he’s pissed at Jessica, but still, this seems like extremely poor judgment.) Which in turn means Malcolm is working for Jeri, who has enlisted Pryce’s services for her new firm. The mystery job comes with complete autonomy, a generous retainer, and its only requirement is discretion.
So Jess is all alone, almost. Her mom is dead for real this time. She and Malcolm are, as she swore they would be, just people who live in the same hall. She’s excommunicated Trish from her life. “It took someone coming back from the dead to show me that I’ve been dead, too,” Jess tells us in her moody voice-over, as she heads downstairs to take Oscar up on that standing invitation for dinner.
Vito, naturally, is thrilled. “Did you save anybody today?” With one of the only genuine smiles she’s flashed all season, Jess tells him, “Yeah, actually. I did.”