Marvel’s Jessica Jones
It’s a bright new day in New York City for one Gregory Salinger, who is getting out of prison and holding a press conference with his new attorney, Jeri Hogarth. Salinger’s misogyny just oozes out of him: how he goes out of his way to refer to Jessica as “a female vigilante,” his claim that he is an “easy target” because he’s a “single white male,” his announcement that he was, in fact, attacked by two female powered-people. “Maybe they’re taking back the night or something.”
One of my favorite things about Jessica Jones is how it shows all these slants of light on how sexist men treat powerful women. Someone like Kilgrave probably thought of himself as an astute appreciator of extraordinary women, someone who could see possibilities in Jessica that she would never have seen in herself. He told her over and over that he loved her, and maybe he even believed it. But his way of living that feeling was to control, abuse, and rape her — to deny her any autonomy or identity of her own that wasn’t what he wanted her to be. Last season’s real Big Bad wasn’t Jessica’s mom, but the male doctor responsible for saving the lives of the Jones women. (It seems telling that he wasn’t able or willing to rescue Jessica’s dad or brother, doesn’t it?) He, too, probably would tell himself that he’s a good guy, the hero for heroes. And his way of dealing with Jess’s mom was to make her into a monster only he could have accepted. Now we’ve got this scumbag whose hatred of women is as clear as can be, and who seems to take particular joy in spitting out the word “female” whenever he describes his assailants.
Hogarth is pissed Salinger went off-script, saying that what he claimed about Jessica is “slanderous.” But Salinger doesn’t care, pointing out that Hogarth needs him more than he needs her. He fails to compliment her fabulous coat, but I will not disappoint: very strong outerwear, Hogarth. When Hogarth gets back to her office, Jess is already there, waiting to call her an asshole. “I don’t know if we’re friends or colleagues or if we’re just sharing a foxhole, but do not make us adversaries.” Jess warns Hogarth against cozying up to maniacs. Hogarth responds: “Even maniacs deserve due process, don’t they?” She says she doesn’t care if Jess respects her or not, but I doubt she would’ve asked just anybody to run point on her assisted suicide. I really hope we see more of these two together in this farewell season. Their chemistry is fantastic.
Jess is all over the news; alas, it’s too late to rebrand as a masked vigilante. Gillian is on hand to help cover for Trish: “Ms. Jones doesn’t like anyone enough to take on a partner.” (Hey, the truth is the best lie.) Jess thinks it’s time to look into the “accidental death” of Salinger’s brother, since odds are he made some rookie mistake. Time for a road trip to Wappinger Falls! (Love the back-and-forth with Gillian over Jess bringing Purell, which Jess initially rejects, because “superpowers,” but doubles back for since “it doesn’t hurt to have it.”)
“Why do serial killers always come from small, bucolic towns?” Jess asks. See, what did I tell you guys about the suburbs and this show? Jess goes into the police station and her charm offensive is … not that charming, plus she’s been in the news and everyone knows she has been giving Salinger hell. This police officer is standing by her hometown boy and does not seem all that pro-powered-people. Jess texts Trish to cause a diversion so she can steal the case file, and Trish is finally quite useful here, having a beautiful meltdown while her car alarm goes off: “I’M PSYCHOLOGICALLY SHUTTING DOWN. THIS IS VERY TRIGGERING FOR ME.” Nice work, Patsy.
Holed up in a sad motel, Jess and Trish can’t find anything to suggest foul play with Donny Salinger. Trish admits she’s worried that she has become the thing she frequently pretends to be: a dumb blonde. She is desperate for people to look at her with hope and respect. Jess says many times that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, and while that does not seem entirely true, clearly she is less dependent on widespread validation than her best friend, the former child star. The next morning, Trish wakes Jess up with a lead: Nathan, who was on the high-school wrestling team with Salinger, went missing during their senior year of high school.
So Trish and Jess go to Nathan’s parents’ house. Jess finds a photo of Nathan in the backyard — a photo taken by Salinger, not long before Nathan vanished. Nathan’s mom is not about this surprise guest, so she calls the police, and the same officer as before shows up to hassle Jess into leaving. But Jess knows what’s underneath that gazebo out back, and it’s time for a very cool display of super-strength — punching the ground so she can dig up Nathan’s body.
Costa is working on getting jurisdiction over the body, which is in a wrestling bag and must have had DNA all over it. Jess has earned the begrudging respect of the police officer who hates super-people and totally knows that Jess swiped her Salinger files. (Jess solved another local mystery: “Bobby McBirdie stole the snowblower.”) As they drive away, Trish wonders if you’re still a hero if nobody thinks you are. Trish cannot handle this anonymity and is so going to do some attention-seeking hero shit, no matter if it gets everybody killed. She calls in a tip on herself and gets photographed posing, all hero-like, on the front page of the New York Bulletin.
She’s already been caught on camera: Security footage from Hogarth’s place has her breaking into Malcolm’s office (wearing her hat and scarf). At the time, she took a bunch of photos of clients from his screen — plus there was that time she stole files after popping by the office. Malcolm’s girlfriend and Hogarth put together that the “masked woman” made choice cameos in the statements of several of their clients.
Jess gets back to the city to find Salinger is still coaching children’s wrestling. Should she be there? I feel like this is a very bad idea. But she shows up to taunt him. Even though it’s a terrible idea, it is very satisfying to watch Jess beat up this guy in front of all these kids, in a situation where he can’t murder her. Is it worth it just to have Jess whisper in his ear, “Is this the hold you used to kill Nathan?” This will all probably backfire in some horrible and violent way. But until then: Class dismissed.