Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Alisa’s shackles jingle like bells. She is flanked on all sides by police officers. She doesn’t really get attorney-client privilege because she doesn’t get to be alone in the room. For powered people, there’s a “special protocol.” This squirm-inducing euphemism is a sign of what surely awaits Alisa in what Jeri says is the more “humane” of her options: visitation rights with Jessica and access to some touchstones of her individuality, like her wig. The alternative is the solitary in the Raft, forever. Alisa needs to give a full confession, which includes giving up Karl.
As Jess looks around at her mother’s conditions — the mother with whom she’s only been reunited for, what, three days? After thinking she was dead for 17 years! — she looks like she’s on the verge of crying. And with good reason: Alisa chooses Karl over Jess. Again. She refuses to give him up. When Jess insists Alisa is still her mother, Alisa dismisses her: “No, I just have her voice. Karl is all I’ve got.”
The deal will vanish by morning, but for now, Alisa says her mind is made up. Though Jess doubts there’s anything she can do for this woman who apparently will never not be abandoning her — “She’d rather live in a hole than look at me,” Jess says — Jeri, with the spring in her step of a woman who feels like she averted certain death, tells Jess to think of how she can change her mom’s mind.
That same morning, Trish bombs her CCN audition. Though her withdrawal seems pretty minor compared to what we’ve seen before (projectile vomit), she struggles to, as a disembodied male voices suggests, “just give it to me like you did when you quit Trish Talk.” The man comes onscreen to suggest Trish is botching the segment because she isn’t talking about something that actually matters to her. His tip is to focus on addiction, since her history with drugs has been tabloid fodder for ages. But we know Trish’s No. 1 addiction — you know, aside from the inhaler — is IGH. Trish overhears him talking about how the murder suspect is in custody and she knows Jess must know something.
(Sidebar: Maybe Trish shouldn’t want to work for a network where her employer literally refers to her would-be future colleagues as “Barbies with microphones.” Just putting that out there.)
Time for a team meeting at Alias, where Jess tells the full story to Malcolm and Trish. “The moral of my shitty story is if your dead parent comes back to life, stick them back in the ground.” Malcolm is a fit of righteous indignation, pissed that Jess didn’t tell him sooner, and that Trish still hasn’t come clean to Jess about the inhaler. After he storms out, Jess correctly intuits that he and Trish had sex, and Trish spills about Simpson’s drugs.
“You almost single-handedly took down IGH with a Patsy wig and a cell phone,” Jess says, in an admirable effort to pump her friend up. “How much more badass do you need to be?” But they both know. It’s always in the air between them. Trish is summarily dismissed by both Jess and Malcolm, who wisely says they shouldn’t keep having sex and that they aren’t friends.
Oscar calls and, more importantly, really shows up for Jess, even when she tells him she’s fine. Didn’t you love seeing him in the elevator, waiting for her? Have we ever seen Jess cry like that?
Trish goes to a lab, where it turns out she’s had the inhaler residue tested. Obviously, she wanted to make more of it, but now she just wants to know how badly she screwed herself. Survey says: Very! The chemicals are “too toxic for any human to ingest.” The consequences are exactly what Jess predicted: The drugs would “melt your insides.”
Earlier, Alisa asked Jessica where her sense of self-preservation was. For the rest of the episode, we see how desperate Trish’s sense of self-preservation is. It’s a peek at what she must have been like during the ugliest moments of her addiction. It’s all but certain that her hunt for Karl is less about using him to snag her dream job, and more about finding the only person who can keep her kidneys from spontaneously combusting.
He is, in fact, the only person — because Shane the Healer is more like Shane the Scam Artist. Jess goes to Jeri’s place to get the transfer delayed, and while she’s there, Jeri introduces her to Shane. Karl, Jeri says, did something “unethical but also miraculous,” and she sees a future in it, in giving people second chances like the one she thinks she has. Jess is skeptical that Shane is the real deal, and later when she tracks down Karl, he confirms as much. There was never a patient named Shane at IGH, and they definitely never had anybody who could heal people.
In what is among the most devastating sequences of the season, Jeri returns to her apartment — the one she told Inez she’d built from nothing, from a life that started in a trailer that could fit in her dining room, wearing clothes that all the other kids mocked her for — to find it totally ransacked. Inez and Shane are gone, and worse, so is the hope Jeri had that she had stumbled on a miracle and outwitted her ALS. Carrie-Anne Moss’s performance is absolutely wrenching here, collapsing onto her knees like she’s praying to no one, scream-sobbing into an empty room where no one is left to hear her.
Jess visits her mom again, talking in code about their childhood vacation home to find out Karl’s location. Here we meet Dale, the corrections officer who gets off on abusing his charges. He wants to force-feed Alisa the meat she says she doesn’t eat, but she is strong enough to grab his taser and kick him out of her cell. “One thing you will never do is control me,” she says, but the next time Dale comes back with extra-special protocol equipment, tears up her photo of her children, and makes her eat the meat one bite at a time. Yet another man in this show who wants nothing more than to wield his power by abusing women.
Karl is hiding out in a motel. Jess tells him the plan: She’ll get him forged papers (courtesy of Oscar), and then he’ll get on a plane to a country with no extradition treaty so that Alisa’s confession can’t hurt him. He’ll get away with it, but Alisa can live with herself. “If you ever go near any kind of science again, I swear to God, I will hunt you down and tear your arms off,” Jess says.
Meanwhile, completely ignoring Jessica’s instructions and all better judgment, Trish pays Alisa a visit. Alisa has total disdain for Trish and her methods, rejecting Trish’s self-declared status as a journalist with a sneering, “You’re a personality.” And it clearly jabs Alisa in the gut to hear Trish refer to Jess as her “sister.”
I’ll say this for Alisa: She’s a cold-blooded murderer who thinks the doctor that imprisoned her, experimented on her, and kept her away from her daughter for almost two decades somehow also loves her and deserves her love in return, but DAMN, can the woman read people. Her voice gets a little Wicked Witch of the West as she rips Trish apart: Trish wants Karl not for some greater good, but for attention and validation, to make up for the fact that Jess has powers “and you don’t — and you can’t stand that, can you?” Taunting Trish further, Alisa dares her to tell Jess “about this little chat” and see how it goes. “She is my daughter and she will always choose me over you.” Interesting thing to say, considering Alisa has consistently chosen Karl — again, her abuser-slash-captor — over Jessica.
Trish wants powers. Wouldn’t you want powers, if you were Trish? Even when you’ve seen the darkness that comes with them? Think about it from her perspective: Trish feels like her life is plenty dark, but she doesn’t even get superpowers to make it suck a little less.
Maybe that’s why Trish tattles to Jess about how Alisa wished she killed Trish when she had the chance (which, yeah, a little over the top there, Mrs. Jones) and demands Jess deal with this as Trish would like her to: “That woman is an animal.” The murders were premeditated, she says, and Jess was being manipulated. Jess tells her, plain as can be: “She’s my mother. She is mine to deal with. You do not get a say.”
Does Trish listen? Does Trish EVER listen? No. Trish knocks on Malcolm’s door to interrupt his sweaty, rage-y workout (noticing a pattern here?) to totally ignore everything he said the last time he saw her and jump his already half-naked bones. She plays on his do-gooder heart, convincing him to not sit idly by waiting for Jess to come around to the right thing to do. So they go through Jess’s files — this will definitely result in Malcolm’s termination, again — and find Karl. Malcolm begs Trish, “Don’t be crazy,” so Trish, who is armed, knocks him out cold and stuffs him in the trunk of her car.
Oscar is working on Karl’s fake passport when he asks Jess what’s going to come next. He so clearly wants to be the thing that’s coming next. So do I, Oscar! Jess, still a rookie in the intimacy department, warns him that he shouldn’t want to be with her. “It’s a lot. I’m a lot.” But they kiss, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
Jess goes back to the prison, where she sees the new cuffs (“Those are sci-fi”) and the burns on Alisa’s wrists. Alisa says she’ll handle it herself; we all know what that means. Jess smiles at Dale on the way out. It is rarely ever a good sign when Jessica Jones smiles at you.
Soon enough, Jess finds out that Dale was fired for being the guard on call after a series of prisoner suicides. Armed with this alarming information, she breaks into his house, which looks a little like the basement from Get Out, with the walls covered in trophies (a.k.a. animal heads) and the tables stacked high with copies of Guns & Ammo magazine. Dale is like a caricature of toxic masculinity. Inside of a bear head, she finds a bunch of fabric strips — the part of the prison uniform bearing each dead prisoner’s ID number. “If these were suicides, they wouldn’t be on his wall,” Jess thinks, just as Dale shows up and maces her. Through the haze of his poison spray, she manages to grab his weapon out of his hand.
As he yells that he can claim self-defense when he kills her, she thwacks him in the head, in actual self-defense, and kills him.
In the season premiere, Jess was afraid that one murder made her a murderer. What does two murders make her?