Jessica Jones: AKA Shark in the Bathtub, Monster in the Bed

"This is how I get my mom."

In a riveting episode of Jessica Jones, our hero struggles to come to terms with her mother and with herself. Meanwhile, Patsy's still struggling with the effects of the inhaler, and there's a detective knocked out in the bathtub.

When I was a young teacher I used to give out this reflective assignment. I'd ask students to think about their homes, their caregivers and the environment that raised them. I'd ask them to select some positive quality they have in common with their caregivers, and some negative quality, and write about how they felt about those two things. What do you come from, and what are you, and what will you be?

This episode in some ways is that assignment writ into three dimensions.

It's almost a standalone episode too. I mean I feel, as a writer, this is one of the most... literary episodes so far in the season. It's already been established that Jessica and her mother are now escapees. They're hiding at home when their friend, Cheng, sees the killer through a window in Jessica's apartment and decides to shoot. PAUSE. This is a moment worthy of exploration. What exactly was he doing? Was this revenge on the killer of his men, or was it an attempt at killing Jessica during a convenient moment? Remember, at this time, Cheng doesn't know about Jessica's relationship to the killer. Nor does he know about the escape. Indeed, he's surprised by the killer's presence in Jessica's apartment. But he has gun and ammo with silencer all ready in a moment. UNPAUSE. He manages to hit Jessica instead of her mother... but does it matter? Because all at once there's a threat, Alisa is ready to go off her rocker, Cheng's life is in danger, and Jessica has to save the one who wants to hurt her from the one she wants to save.

This is at least a little better than Trish and her situation. Trish has been becoming more and more dependent on the inhaler for self-actualization, and the idea that the inhaler is what's going to make her some kind of hero. Power doesn't equal being a hero, as Jessica knows; she's been under the spell of the powerful, and knows how power can be misused. Trish feels powerful on the inhaler, and this leads her to attack others – even look for fights, who knows, maybe start them. Does Trish want to be Jessica? She's a strangely inverted version of Jessica, if so; Jessica only wants to be normal and have a family again, while Trish wants nothing better than to be unique, powerful, able to right wrongs – and while far away from her own mother. The lure of that power will make Trish do anything. In the previous episode during the flashback we saw Trish nearly have oral sex with a sleazy club owner.

She can get to many horrible places in her search for... whatever it is she's searching for. This storyline is making me pause, and wonder. There was even that brief moment when Trish showed up at Jeri's looking for a way to IGH, to the killer. Jeri's opportunity-driven, but Trish has blown right past her now. And then she gets an exciting call, and jumps up, and the damned inhaler is empty, which is something I've been predicting for a few episodes now – it's not a huge inhaler.

Meanwhile, the killer is Jessica's mother, and the how-much-is-Mom-part-of-me question is plenty big today. Last episode we got more an exploration of Jessica's psyche; it became clear that at least some of her personality – her drinking, her depression, even the slightly goth nature of her world – was formed before that traumatic accident which killed (most of) her family. This episode we get the same treatment performed on Alisa. After she dissects her family, and clears Jessica of the internal guilt she held for the accident, we're left with knowing Alisa has always had a sense of ambition, one which led to her estrangement from her husband and possibly her children; that Alisa has a strong sense of possession, but not perhaps the strongest maternal instinct; and finally, that Alisa has always had a more pragmatic view of death and killing. What does she say in the bathroom to Jessica? "I do what I have to, and the only way to live with it is not to wallow in it." That's a deeply-held life philosophy, not a surgery from IGH. How much of what Alisa is now has to do with what IGH did to her in the process of saving her life, and how much is because of, simply, who Alisa is?

When Alisa helps Jessica stop a bus to save the day, I felt hopeful, and maybe Jessica did too. The series has been ambiguous about Alisa's personal responsibility in regards to the deaths she's left behind her. I think the fact that Alisa can choose to help as well as harm, despite being wired on adrenaline, and that Alisa can talk about harming within a few sentences of talking about helping, let us and Jessica decide. Whatever Alisa was, whether she was different or the same, this is who she is now, a morally ambiguous person and that wouldn't normally matter except she has the power of a Mack truck.

When Cheng was released and turns to tell Jessica the truth about her mother, she's already decided. When she turns to the door she's talking directly to her mother, and when she says "the killer is here" she is saying "I've decided you're responsible for this and you're not going to change." And that is how she loses her mother. Because there's one thing Jessica is which didn't come from IGH, didn't come from her mother or father. It's her detective side. The part that analyzes and sees the truth, sometimes no matter what Jessica really feels or thinks, and shoves that truth in Jessica's face. She didn't need her mother to hit her again. She knew. And I think Alisa knows it's over, knew it the minute she hesitated.

I almost thought Alisa would choose death by cop. Four episodes ago she freaked me out, and now I just empathize with her and the hopelessness of her situation. And with poor Jessica.

Bits and Pieces

The Oscar storyline. I really liked his intelligence. He sees broken glass, goes bravely up to see what happened to Jessica. He has no problem coming to her for help, and saying thank you. He doesn't seem threatened by Jessica's power, and he doesn't seem weirded out by Jessica's past. He's probably going to die soon, isn't he?

I actually loved Trish and her outburst at the radio station.

No sign of Malcolm since he ran away from Trish. I hope to god he's okay and didn't have adverse reactions to the inhaler.

Jeri's healing. Did it work? Why did she have to do a whole ceremonial nudity thing? Does she really have a connection with Inez (I can't decide if Inez and her mouth afterwards say "I'll be here" or "I wish you could be honest about this.") And did the healer survive?

Jessica talking to Oscar's wife Sonia. This was a great moment, and showed her acting like a hero and completely ignoring the cattiness. It doesn't matter who Oscar is dating; taking Vido without having custody could result in a jail sentence, which would not be good for Vido.

Oscar thanking Jessica for her help.

Theoretically, Jessica no longer has a reason to investigate IGH. She now knows her powers came from a medical experiment which, at the same time, saved her life and the life of her mother. She can guess that those inhalers from Simpson probably have a connection to that. I think that might be enough for Jessica. Except that she doesn't know her best friend is badly addicted and possibly has a huge health risk ahead of her. I don't know if I want them to go the serious mode or the sitcom mode. In sitcom mode, Trish will get sick and Jessica will have to play Trish for an interview somehow... in serious mode, she's gonna collapse at the interview itself, and completely destroy her career.

Quotables

Alisa: Why should he live when he wants us dead?
Jessica: Because I'm not a murderer.
Alisa: It's self defense!
Jessica: Not if he's unconscious!
Alisa: Okay, okay...

Jeri: Yellow for death. Black for life.

Overall

A fantastically riveting episode. Can't wait to see what the police do with Alisa – if anything. Five out of five empty inhalers.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I really liked what you said about Jessica and her mother and how Jessica must have arrived at the decision to turn her mother in. I had also felt hopeful after that cool stop-the-bus scene, but Alisa just doesn't have the emotional brakes that Jessica has. She's uncontrollable, and Jessica had to face that. This is how she gets her mom back. Sigh.

Patryk said...

Too bad Kozlov is dead so Trish won't have anywhere to replace the inhaler drugs. Maybe she's the real big bad of the season? ;)