Jessica Jones’ third episode is “AKA It’s Called Whiskey.” It seems fitting enough considering her drinking habits. Jessica takes the trope of hard-drinking PI to a fairly extreme level but, considering what she’s been through, it makes sense.
Continuing from where episode two left off, Jessica is stunned at Luke’s casual display of his powers. This ends up with them in bed again, and it makes a certain degree of sense if you think on it. They both have greater than human strength, and the relief that they might have someone they don’t have to “take it easy” with would be a big rush, I’m sure. They certainly are very enthusiastic about things, to the extent that creepy neighbor Reuben comes by to complain about the noise.
Jessica and Luke take a break to go out for food. As they eat, they talk about her powers. She got hers in an accident, he through an experiment. Luke is very dismissive of the idea of being a hero. They also talk about how many like them might be out there. There’s a passing reference to “the big green dude and his crew,” which pretty much has to be the Hulk and the Avengers.
They talk some more about Jessica’s past. She used to have a costume, and everything. They show that in passing, and it matches her “Jewel” costume from her brief career in the comics. I don’t know if he did this on purpose or not, or if it’s just that it’s her show, but we learn a lot about Jessica’s backstory and virtually nothing about Luke’s. I guess we’ll see more of that later on when his show comes out.
After another flashback about Reva’s death, Jessica more or less runs out on Luke. She makes a predictable stop for more booze before going home. As she reflects about the old excuse of, “The Devil made me do it,” she listens to the radio. People are debating Hope’s case and her claims. In the age of powers, is mind control really such an outlandish idea? When Jessica goes to push Hogarth to do more, she gets a surprise. Jessica asks why Hogarth isn’t defending Hope more readily, and Hogarth fires back about Jessica not helping by admitting she’s one of Kilgrave’s victims, too.
Jessica ends up calling Trish for another favor. Jess wants Trish to start calling out Kilgrave on the radio. Now that Jess knows about the weakness to surgical anesthesia, she’s gone from avoiding Kilgrave to trying to draw him out. Jessica also finds out that Trish has been turning her apartment into a fortress and herself into a warrior. She even manages to flip a very startled Jessica onto the floor. Not a bad trick for a normal against a gifted or enhanced or whatever they’re going by in this world.
Now motivated by desperation and a deep desire to help Hope, Jessica is trying all manner of things to get what she needs to trap Kilgrave. Jessica goes to Wendy, Hogarth’s wife. They bicker about what Hogarth is up to, and Jessica asks about the drugs she needs. Wendy writes her a prescription for anti-psychotics instead. Point for Wendy on that one. Jessica isn’t quite desperate enough to attack a floor full of hospital staff to get the drugs she needs. On her way home, she helps Malcolm out with an abusive bike messenger, and, as usual, deflects any attempts at compliments.
Jessica gets woken by a knock on the door. It’s the repairmen, with their bill for the door. It’s pricey, and Jessica isn’t happy. Later, Trish does a remote feed for her radio show with Hope. Jessica is very worried about Kilgrave’s reaction. Hope gives out a lot of details about what it was like being under Kilgrave’s control.
Still trying anything she can think of, she goes to see Luke. He’s understandably not happy about her coming to him with questions about drug dealers. They end up in bed again, and he actually gets out his tagline from the comics, “Sweet Christmas.” I guess they’re having a good time. Later, he wonders about her holding back. She tries to broach the subject of Kilgrave’s power with Luke, but he doesn’t believe it. I’m not sure why, in a world with the Avengers and all their various powers, so many seem to dismiss that possibility out of hand. I’m guessing that Loki’s tricks with his staff and Scarlet Witch’s mental hexes aren’t well known.
Jessica’s night continues to go badly. Trish takes things too far on her show, and flat out insults Kilgrave. Never a good plan with a psychopathic mind-controller on the loose. To drive that point home, Kilgrave himself calls in. Thankfully, his powers don’t work over microphones, but it’s enough to scare both Hope and Jess. Even Trish starts to wonder if she went too far when she sees how rattled Jessica is.
Trish, in fact, overreacts when a pushy fan asks for an autograph. Her fight training kicks in and the guy gets a nasty surprise. He does make a comment about missing Trish’s red hair, which is what the character looks like in the comics. Jessica’s last lead evaporates on her when the doctor she was talking to before has not only left his job, but moved to India. I can’t really say I blame him.
Jessica hits a new low in her quest to get the drugs she believes will cancel out Kilgrave’s powers. I’m not going to say what she did, but damn, it was kind of low. At least she has the grace to look guilty about it. Jessica has a lot more of a conscience than she wants to.
A lot of the rest of the episode is cat and mouse with Kilgrave. He’s really not the forgive and forget type. His revenge is a bit convoluted, but it’s clever and he covers his bases well. Jessica has a few good ideas herself, and almost manages to get to Kilgrave. Kilgrave does know Jessica well, though, and knows what buttons to press to keep her busy enough for him to get away. It’s a very tense, ugly, but well thought-out series of events.
Jessica isn’t fighting at her best. She’s rattled by her history with Kilgrave, and the flashbacks she’s having. She makes what I consider to be a few mistakes, but I completely understand them with everything going on. What she finds near the end of the chase is that Kilgrave has a lot of pictures her, most of them very recent. Spooked by how far Kilgrave’s reach extends, she tells Luke she can’t see him anymore. That doesn’t go really well, either. Jessica ends the episode saddened and alone, but that seems to be her default state these days. It’s a grim place to end the episode.
What I liked: They continue to do a great job of showing how damaged Jessica is. She’s got PTSD and then some. How much worse must it be to feel helpless when you have superpowers? Kilgrave is a very smart bad guy who uses his power in really ruthless ways. Her moral quandary is nicely done, too. How far can she justify going to stop Kilgrave? Her life would be a lot easier if her conscience was as dead as she likes to think it is. And the comic geek in me loved the nod to Trish’s red hair. I like that at least a corner of the Marvel Universe is finally dealing with sex and doing it in a nicely executed way.
What I didn’t: Like I said, it seems to me Jessica made a few mistakes dealing with Kilgrave’s pawns in the episode. But, again, I understand how she’d be so rattled. Jessica makes her life a lot harder on herself than she has to, but she’s trying to save everyone from Kilgrave’s vengeance.
I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. There is great writing and acting on this show. Jessica is a flawed, damaged person trying to make it through. It’s dark and gritty but it works, and Jessica still has some hope in her, despite herself.