Jessica Jones: AKA God Help the Hobo

“Still angry.”

Contrary to popular belief anger isn’t always bad. Anger can even be a form of protection. Anger can help us fight for what we need and deserve. Anger can compel us to move past people and situations that are no longer healthy. Then again, as we see at the end of the episode, it can be a straight up destructive force.

One of the things I love best is how this show plays with gender norms. Jessica's anger issues are treated as unusual not because she drinks too much, engages in risky sexual behavior and has a propensity to punch first and ask questions later. It's because women aren't expected to act that way. I'm not saying her behavior should be mistaken as a healthy lifestyle choice. I'm just saying someone like Pryce probably would have taken his lumps and gone home instead of complaining that Jessica had "gone nuclear" if she had been male.

Let's look at this rationally. Jessica refused to be bought out. She started investigating Pryce after he refused to take no for an answer.  Jessica takes a page out of his book and solves an issue for one of his clients.  And when she finally resorts to violence, after Pryce threatens her by the way, she accepts her punishment and moves on. Would Pryce still be pursuing Jones if he hadn’t been bested by a girl? He couldn’t beat her physically, was unable to punish her legally, couldn’t break Malcolm’s loyalty, so he resorts to breaking and entering not to mention, a massive case of privacy invasion. Is his anger more or less outrageous than Jessica's?

Regrettably, while the show acknowledges this bias, in many ways, it reinforces the stereotype. For the most part, the women are punished for openly displaying their anger. Jeri is ostracized by her partners. The ALS is their means to do so. Inez is referred to as "mean" and "crazy-ass" for what amounts to self-defense. Jessica's less than stellar relationship with self-control makes her the prime murder suspect by the end of the episode. And Trish, who is the least openly aggressive female character, is forced to pay the owner of the wig shop for her past indiscretions.

Meanwhile, with one notable exception (RIP Nick), the men face little to no adverse effects. Oscar decides to make peace with Jessica because he's fundamentally a decent guy, but there was no cost to him for threatening her with eviction. Malcolm, who admittedly, displays a healthier manifestation of his anger demands respect as a useful member of Jessica's team, training, and 25% of all incoming cases. This is completely justified after what I assume is months of daily abuse and terminations at Jessica's hand. Much to his surprise, she agrees – to 20%. Pryce may have gotten a beat down in the first episode, but he pays no price for his continued aggression. And Max winds up with a fist size hole in his car but considering his sense of entitlement and the fact that he committed statutory rape, I'll say he got off easy.

So where does all this anger get us?

Jeri channeled her anger into a method of controlling her environment. It may have been successful in her career, but it cost her a wife that loved her as well as her girlfriend and the ALS is impervious. The only form of control left to her may be deciding when she’s had enough. The twin images of Jeri realizing there will be no cure in her lifetime and then standing over the fallen pedestrian and seeing her fate was both powerful and humbling.

Trish's anger may be tamped down, but it is far from non-existent as evidenced by her willingness to "zap" Jessica. Jessica's use of the press to protect Trish fed some deep-seated issues that Trish has with her mother, the press and her own sense of agency. There is a foundation of love and trust between Trish and Jessica that I hope the show will explore but it does not negate the anger that exists there as well.

In Jessica's case, it leaves her with the belief that she's a monster. The lesson she learns over the course of the episode is to distinguish her justified anger and frustration with the crimes committed against her with the rage of the woman she's searching for. In the beginning, Jessica’s court-ordered anger management session is played for laughs despite the seriousness of the topics being discussed. The idea that Max could sexually molest women and children brings Jessica dangerously close to losing control. But even then she realizes there is a line she's not willing to cross. However, it's not until Jessica returns to her apartment and witnesses what happened to Pryce's partner, Nick, that she realizes she is not the monster of this story.

As for the plot, I feel like we've reached the top of the rollercoaster and we're about to go down the other side. We've confirmed that our mystery woman was an IGH patient and not Dr. Hansen but we have no idea why she would kill Nick. She seems somewhat protective of Jessica. Does she really believe Jessica has a destiny? Inez is now the only living tie to IGH, and whatever went on there. So, I'm sure she's perfectly safe in Malcolm's care. Griffin may have started as a stand-up guy, but his journalistic curiosity has gotten the better of him. 1) I'd love to know who he was talking to and 2) I don't envy him when Trish finds out. Oscar's ability to forge documents is his superpower? That's not going to be important at all. I'm assuming Jeri will find some way to get Jessica out of jail, but I doubt it will be easy.

Jessica, Jeri, Inez, and even Pryce may be dealing with their anger issues. But this mystery woman is the real monster. She’s violent and without empathy and now that Jessica is going to jail, there is no one to stand in her way.

4 out of 5 benign external actions

Parting Thoughts:

Jessica lives on a purely liquid diet. I wonder if her enhanced strength extends to her liver?

Loved the moment Trish lets Jessica go into the wig shop first. "Safety first."

Oscar and Jessica come to an understanding until they don’t. Jessica has absolutely no idea how to have a healthy relationship with a man.

Dick move, Malcolm. The least you can do is remember the woman’s name!

Quotes:

Jessica: “Sorry about your ball.”

Malcolm: “I’m fired again? Fine.”

Vido: “Can you teach me superpowers? I’m strong.”

Griffin: “Go chase some alternative facts, yeah?”

Griffin: "That was insanity."
Trish: "It comes with the Patsy package."
Griffin: "Comes with the Jessica package."
Trish: "That is a combo package."

Trish: “I need to hear you say it. You will never pull that crap again.”
Jessica: “I will never pull that crap again, unless your safety’s on the line.”
Trish: “Wrong answer.”

Sally: “You destroyed a dozen of my best wigs. Oh, and this. I still have the scar from when you bit me.”
Trish: “I was young.”

Sally: “Cancer and drag queens are half my business these days.”

Jessica: “Hey Max. I’ve heard a lot about you. All of it nauseating.”

Griffin: “Never underestimate the neediness of the male ego.”

Jessica: “Nasty doesn’t just come out of nowhere.”

Jessica: “Glass house here. Throwing no stones.”

Homeless Man: “ I call her Mean-ez Mean. Woman hates everybody.”

Jessica: “Do you know this woman?”
Inez: “Are you freaking crazy?”
Jessica: “That would be a yes.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

What a good read, Shari. I also love the way this show plays with gender norms.

I never thought I could empathize with Jeri, but wow. Although I keep getting the feeling she's going to find some sort of superhero cure. I hope they don't do that.

I really wanted Griffin to be a good guy. Damn.

Patryk said...

They are reavealing Griffin to a bad guy too early to take it seriously, it might be a double reveal thing. :)