Jessica Jones: AKA Hero Pants

“No one’s ever who you need them to be.”

I’ve never been much of a gamer but this show continually brings the D&D alignments to mind. Jessica is the epitome of chaotic good. Good guys should be rewarded and the bad guys should be punished, laws be damned. Her only problem is determining good from bad.

Her attempts at lawful good failed miserably when she had to choose between punishing Sallinger or saving Trish. Now Jessica is reaping what she sowed. The police may not suspect her of evidence tampering but the murder of a police officer kinda trumps that, anyway. Solving Nussbaumer’s murder is now added to her already overflowing plate which includes stopping a serial killer while planning the funeral for her adoptive mother.

Jessica's first suspect is Erik who, if we’re being honest, is probably a true neutral. Or, at least he was. Erik is perfectly willing to follow the law, but not averse to bending it if it benefits him. However, thanks to his particular gifts, he’s not one to harm the innocent. Has he decided to try on his “hero pants” as Jessica put it and punish Nussbaumer? Considering that Nussbaumer died, wouldn’t that make Erik more villain than hero?

When Jessica confronts Erik about Nussbaumer’s death he claims innocence. He may have omitted certain facts but to my knowledge, he’s never lied to Jessica. Is it the lack of any other viable suspect that made her so loathe to believe him? Or just her general cynicism about human nature? More importantly, did she go over to his place and sleep with him just for the opportunity to search his apartment?

If we continue with the alignment theory, Hogarth would have to be lawful evil. She uses the law to protect herself and those she cares about as well as to attack anyone she considers a threat. Her willingness to “color outside the lines” may have been the intersection point in her Venn diagram with Jessica. However, even Jeri is having a hard time justifying representing a serial killer. Is her impending death giving her pause? Is she trying to make amends or just telling everyone what they want to hear?

Kith finally recognizes Jeri for what she is just as Jeri may be trying to change. And that is a heavily accented may. Yet Kith's need to protect herself and her son makes unleashing Jeri on her enemies a viable option. Does that make Kith neutral or push her into evil territory?

Malcolm has traded the lawful evil of Hogarth’s world for the chaotic good of Jessica’s. Neither is a particularly good fit. Malcolm still needs to figure out who he is and what he wants. On the plus side, he’s honest enough to own up to his actions. However, Zaya is not a bad person, and while she may have assumed he wanted the same things she did, she never forced him to do or be anything. Breaking up with her because of her association with Hogarth was not his finest hour.

Neither was his tumble with Brianna. I have no issues with them hooking up. But Malcolm’s desire seemed to have more to do with Brianna believing he was a “good guy” than because of any actual attraction.

Which leads us back to Trish. Once upon a time, she could have been considered lawful good in opposition to Jessica’s chaotic version. However, after watching the law fail Jessica in season one, she joined Jessica’s chaos in season two. Unfortunately, her worldview is far more simplistic than Jessica’s and her need to punish is far more direct. One might excuse Trish’s desire to kill Sallinger due to her mother’s murder. But killing Nussbaumer or Montero, as we’re being led to believe she did, definitely crosses the evil boundary.

Is Trish’s lack of impulse control a result of Malus’ experiment or the result of her addictive personality? Either way, it has surpassed a mere lack of faith in the authorities. Whether that’s because she no longer understands the distinction between good and evil (i.e. killing) or no longer cares is up for debate.

All of which is shown through the prism of Dorothy’s death. Jessica compares Dorothy’s last-ditch efforts to redeem herself with Jeri’s death’s door manipulations. And as much as Trish resented her mother, her speech on Dorothy’s hatred of wasting talent sounds like a justification of her own actions and a rebuke of Jessica’s approach. Finally, Malcolm’s tryst with Brianna at the expense of supporting Jessica and Trish at the funeral proves he’s not the “good guy” he wants to be.

This episode was an interesting character exploration. Thus my examination of the alignment theory. But no progress was made in the quest to stop the Big Bad and there was little forward momentum in the search for Nussbaumer’s killer until the final moments. It seems that Erik and Trish may both be trying on their hero pants and it doesn’t look like they fit.

3 out of 5 arrest warrants

Parting Thoughts:

Why would Trish’s wrists be bruised and not her hands? You don’t usually beat people to death with your wrists.

Does anyone else wonder what would happen to Erik’s head if he ever met Jeri?

New York’s Finest has not been so fine. This is not the first time they failed to watch all the entrances of the house of the person they are staking out. Then there’s the added bonus of Defford admitting she knew Nussbaumer was dirty and didn’t seem to care.

Sallinger was notably absent from this episode. I did not miss him.

Just for the record, I LOVE Gillian.

Quotes:

Jessica: “I would say ‘it wasn’t me,’ but it kind of loses impact after the 50th time.”

Defford: “Your hands have been murder weapons before.”

Jessica: “Don’t antagonize them. I’ve got that part covered.”

Kith: “What fresh hell has Peter’s crimes brought me today?”

Erik: “I’ve never wished my power on anybody, but if you had it right now, you’d be standing here headache-free.”

Malcolm: “I quit.”
Jessica: “Got fired.”
Malcolm: “Both.”
Jessica: “Welcome back to humanity.”

Jessica: “Dorothy had no clue that she was about to die and even she wanted to do something good before she checked out. You know you're dying. What are you doing?”

Jessica: “What did you tell them.”
Gillian: “That I’d never personally seen you murder anyone.”
Jessica: “Thanks.”

Jessica: “There’s nothing I hate more than searching for something I don’t want to find.”

Malcolm: “What am I looking for?”
Jessica: “Proof of life.”

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

An excellent review and character analysis, Shari. One of my favorite things about this series is how nuanced it is.

From the beginning of her hero quest, Trish has continually come up against the gray areas of superhero-ness. I've been watching another show this past month that is constantly making me wonder how the good guy characters resist outright killing the bad guys, and Jessica Jones does too, but mostly when it comes to Trish, not Jessica herself.

Does anyone else wonder what would happen to Erik’s head if he ever met Jeri? Yes, me too. I keep wondering if that would happen before the end of this season.

Just for the record, I LOVE Gillian. It's so great when they make a possibly one-note character like a girl Friday so interesting and complicated.

Shari said...

Thanks Billie!

I think Trish lives in a black and white world. She wants to do good so therefore she is good. Anyone who does a bad thing is inherently bad. The only people who get a pass are the ones too weak to defend themselves.

Personally, I don't define heroes by whether they do or do not kill although it is how comics tend to define them. However, in Trish's case, her decision to kill (if she did) was not in self-defense or a lack of other options. It's because she can. That is what would make her one of the bad guys.

It's also why I find her so fascinating.

Raya said...

Thanks for the great review, Shari!
I'd never heard of the alignment concept. I'll have to read more about it (I love character analysis).

Just for the record, I LOVE Gillian.
Yeah, I absolutely love her too! It's too bad that we won't get the time to know her better.

Does anyone else wonder what would happen to Erik’s head if he ever met Jeri?
Well it would explode, obviously.

I'm more interested in what Erik feels when he's with Trish, though.
Would he really work with her if he felt evil vibes coming from her?
I wonder if maybe there is a flaw in his power.
If Trish's intentions really were good, but her actions were not, what would Erik feel?
How can his brain know what's evil and what's not? Is it based on his own view of the world? Does that mean it's unreliable?
I don't think the show will go that way, but wouldn't that be interesting?

Shari said...

Thanks Raya,

I have a theory that people can get better or worse in terms of the headache they do or don't give Erik. I can't believe a season 2 Malcolm would have given Erik a headache. And I suspect that he might not by the end of the season.

As for Trish, I wonder if you truly believe you're a hero, you'll still give Erik a headache. If not, he may be in for a doozy soon. :)