Jessica Jones: AKA Hellcat

"I've got this."

For the second time this season, Jessica Jones pulls the 'Let's see all that from someone else's perspective' trick. Once again, the second perspective is Trish's. Once again, it really, really works.

When the episode titles were announced and we were dividing up which Agent of Doux was going to review which episode, I saw the title for this one and thought to myself, 'Oh good, I get to do the one where Trish has her big hero debut that we've been waiting for. That will be neat.'

That was not what this was.

Since her funeral is the emotional core of the episode, why don't we start by talking about Dorothy. Last episode we saw most of the events of Dorothy's funeral, and what was surprising was the number of people who approached Jessica and Trish and told them inspiring stories of how Dorothy genuinely helped them in their careers. I was a little concerned about this, because I thought it might be the indication that we were going to go ahead and Hank Heywood Dorothy, and I really hate that trope.

If you don't follow Legends of Tomorrow, first of all let me say that you should be watching Legends of Tomorrow. Unless you hate things that are awesome. Secondly, I'll explain the reference. Hank Heywood was the father of Nate, one of the titular Legends. Hank was regularly shown to be an emotionally abusive, self-involved piece of garbage whose go-to move was to try to destroy as much of his son's self esteem as possible. Then Hank died, and at his funeral we heard one nice story about one singular time that he did something decent, and everyone acted like he was totally absolved of everything forever and has always been just like Jesus.

Obviously I'm still a little irritated by this. Hang in there, I'm coming around to my point.

Since then, 'Hank Heywooding' (v.) has become my own personal shorthand for that thing that TV and movies like to do in which they bestow retroactive sainthood on an intrinsically negative character for the sake of shoehorning in a 'redemption arc.' When the first few testaments to 'Dorothy saved my career' started coming in I really thought that's where they were going with her. But then the show did something really interesting. Without disavowing or minimizing the times that Dorothy had honestly been a positive and supportive force for people, it went on in this episode to show us Dorothy at her most manipulative and emotionally abusive, pushing Trish into getting her big break through the most reprehensible means possible.

And just a side note, in case anyone is in any way unclear on the point; telling a girl that age that the financial well being of her whole family is entirely on her shoulders is not even the tiniest bit OK. To say nothing of adding on, 'now you're responsible for all of the cast and crew having jobs too.'

I like how they handled this overview of who Dorothy was as a person. It's complicated, and it's messy, and it feels realer than we generally can expect from television.

So, while we get 'Secret Origins: It's Patsy,' what we're really being told is exactly what Jessica said both here and in a previous episode. Trish is who she is because of Dorothy. Good and bad. It just turns out that Trish is a lot more broken inside that we'd had an opportunity to see before, and her grief at Dorothy's death is being channeled into the worst possible interpretation of 'You're obligated to give it everything you've got.'

Great usage of misdirection leading into this episode. At the end of the previous one we interpreted Erik's look of shock when he entered the construction site office as, 'Oh my God, Trish is the killer!' It turns out that what he was really shocked by was how completely Trish had lost control. In fact, all of the 'do over' scenes that we get here are reinterpreted in fascinating little ways now that we know Trish's side of the story. That's good storytelling.

I felt just awful for Erik through most of this one. He's right, the situation is completely dicked. It was endearing how dedicated he was to rescuing Jessica from being arrested for the crime that he himself was at least partially responsible for. It did however make me sad inside to find out that he was lying to Jessica by omission last episode. I really wanted to believe in him. Wonderful detail as well that Erik called the cops on Jessica in order to stop her from preventing Trish from attacking Mr. Arsonist and thereby giving Jessica an alibi. Erik and Jessica are going to have one hell of a come to Jesus talk at some point very soon.

So, final score at the close: Jessica was mostly absent. Trish is deeply scary now and completely off the rails. Erik's heart is in the right place but he continues to make poor choices. And Dorothy was capable of being both very good and very bad. RIP Dorothy, and bring on the final two installments.



Bits and Pieces:

- Young Trish's red wig was absolutely horrible.

- The flashback of Trish attacking Sallinger didn't give us any new information, but set up the structure of the episode really nicely. I liked how they handled that.

- Was Erik's expression after Trish punched him just pain from the punch or was he feeling evil from her? Was the punch a plotting contrivance to justify why he didn't sense evil from her at that moment?

- What the everloving hell was up with Omar 'Satan wins when the forces of light stand idly by’ the Doorman? That's a super messed up thing to say to someone whose mother was just murdered. I notice that we didn't see his face when he said it though. Are we going to find out that that was just in Trish's mind?

- Erik and Trish continue to have amazing chemistry with one another as performers. Also, most irresponsible vigilante team ever.

- It was good that the kick that killed Nussbaumer didn't look any more over the top than anything else she'd done. That sold the 'it was an accident' vibe.

- I suppose leaving the badge behind with victim number two should theoretically clear Jessica of the first murder.

- I have a million questions about whether evil is a tangible and finite substance, based on Erik's reaction to the first death.

- Did anyone else get a real Logan Echolls vibe off of Erik through most of this episode?

- Did Erik leave the trailer because Trish was giving him a headache there at the end? Because that was my read.

- I actually experience a groin pull just watching Trish put her foot on Jeri's throat. I can't be the only one who thought Trish was going to attack her.

- Jeri is now blackmailing Trish in order to get her to help solve Kith's problems. That's nice plot dovetailing. There is now no shortage of people who might kill Jeri before the season's end. My money's currently on Trish, although Jessica might be the dark horse in that race.

- I love the worldbuilding detail that cops have to take into account how various superpowers affect their perp investigations.

- Trish is totally going after Sallinger now, right?

- This episode was written by Jane Espensen, my favorite TV writer of all time. I wrote her a love song once. You can google it.

Ow.  Just.... ow.
Quotes:

Dorothy: "What did I tell you about parentheticals?"

Trish: "Despite everything on my side, the good, the right, they still win."

Trish: "Was I bothering you? Because your wife beating was bothering me."

Erik: "I can take a hit. When it’s righteous."

Dorothy: "You take that holier than Mom look off your face."

Trish: "You blackmail guilty people."
Erik: "I’m re-thinking that career path."

Erik: "If you get hurt chasing my bad guy, Jessica is going to kick my face in and I’ll let her."

Erik: "Christ. This is so dicked up."

Another solid installment which fills in the answers to a bunch of questions that we didn't know we should be asking yet.

Eight out of ten groin stretching exercises.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

2 comments:

Raya said...

Did anyone else get a real Logan Echolls vibe off of Erik through most of this episode?
Yes! I've been getting that Logan Echolls vibe from the moment I first saw Erik. I was starting to think I was the only one.

As I said in my comment to the previous episode, I really find Erik's power facinating. I wish they'd make a whole TV show about it to explore how it works. There are so many possibilities!

Mikey Heinrich said...

Can he move to LA to become a private detective and Gillian will come with him as his assistant? Because I would watch the crap out of that show!

Y9ou are so not the only one. It's a combination of his cadencing and the way he uses facial expressions, combined with a slight tendency to a nasal quality in his pitch.

Not... that I've obsessed over it... or anything...