After the disturbing end of “Pork Chop,” Jessica has a lot to deal with in “AKA Three Lives and Counting.” In a lot of ways, this episode could be considered a test for many of the characters, and most of them don’t do well with it. There are several things that surprised me, a blast from the past, and some interesting shifts in dynamics among the characters. There will be a few spoilers along the way, so be warned on that score.
Right where we left her, Jessica is stunned that she killed Dale Holiday, guard and sadist. In case anyone wonders why she didn’t call the cops, she’s not only on probation but there’s no such thing as claiming self-defense while committing a crime, and she did break in to his place. She’s stunned by what she’s done, and clearly in emotional shock. Lost, she sits there dazed until a familiar voice with accompanying lighting change suggests she makes it look like a suicide. It’s a weird scene as she takes a lot of steps to clean up after herself and not leave evidence behind, but then uses Dale’s computer without gloves. A bit inconsistent there, Jessica. She finally does the final thing needed, and gets applause from an unexpected source, which sends her running away.
The next morning, Alisa wakes up in her cell with a different guard standing over her. Marilyn proves to be a lot more humane, although Alisa’s flinching from Marilyn’s almost every move should be a clue something isn’t right. What’s odd is that while Alisa feels comfortable enough to ask for a phone call to check on Jessica, she doesn’t complain about the eggs this time. I’d think she would test things out with asking for her vegetarian meal, which is an option in correctional facilities, rather than a phone call, which is kind of a big deal. I guess she’s vegetarian, not vegan. Alisa shamelessly exploits finding out Marilyn has a daughter to get her way.
Jessica gets back to her office, notices she hasn’t been as thorough as she thought with her clean up and tosses just about everything she’s wearing in the wash. Still clearly in shock, Jessica gets a call from her mother. Both aware the call will be monitored, they very carefully discuss what happened last night. Jessica showers off, still haunted by her ghosts, and then notices that Oscar has delivered on his promise. Pursued by her demons, Jessica goes to the motel and finds Karl is gone. She searches the motel room with running commentary from a Ghost of Jessica Past. This scene also gives us the title of the episode, although that one was pretty obvious.
Now with a missing mad scientist to deal with on top of everything else, Jessica goes back to talk to her mother. The guards make a few comments that make it sound as if Jessica’s coverup is working. I’ll also note that for such a special prisoner, Alisa gets a lot of visitors. Alisa manages to get some alone time with Jessica, and is very alarmed at hearing that Karl isn’t where he’s supposed to be. Jessica talks her down and finds out more about Trish’s visit. Jessica leaves, plagued by her ghost and having done what she could to calm Alisa down. Jessica leaves a message for Trish and does her best to ignore the voice in her head.
Back in her office/home, Jessica argues with herself some more and then gets a big clue about what happened when she checks her computer. Amid more heckling, she goes to Malcolm’s place and makes a dramatic entrance which is wasted because he’s not there, and makes more work for Oscar later. She learns one of Malcolm’s secrets, and realizes how much she’s talking to herself, after a fashion. She’s very clever and uses her new-found knowledge to track down Malcolm.
Trish and Karl get some of his equipment from his storage space, and they debate the need for her gun and Karl’s future plans. Trish plays every card she has to ruthlessly get Karl to do what she wants him to do. They leave as Trish has an encounter with a pushy fan. We also see in this scene that Malcolm isn’t enjoying his ride around town.
While Trish and Malus make their next stop, Malcolm finally gets a better handle on his situation just in time to confront them as they come back. Trish is defensive and then violent while Karl is utterly lost. Things get worse and Karl is appalled at the depths Trish sinks to. Malcolm does keep her talking long enough for Jessica to get there. Trish and Karl flee, managing to get away from our heroine. Malcolm tries to plead his case, and Jessica rages at him. I see both sides on this one, and feel bad for both of them. Malcolm proves his worth once again to figure out where the two fugitives were. Jessica uses her own special way with people to get more information on what they were up to.
Alisa gets another small favor from Marilyn the guard which triggers a flashback. We get to see a scene between her and Karl at the beach. He again proves that while he’s a mad scientist with some questionable morals, he’s not all bad, either. Karl has taken Trish to his old stomping grounds to continue his work. He gives her several warnings, and Trish tells him to push ahead. She really is going to ridiculous lengths for something she didn’t really seem too interested in last season. Trish does reveal some of her motivation, and Karl sees the best in her intentions, but that seems to be his style.
Jessica has another episode as she argues with Malcolm. Pretty much right after she finishes telling him off, he bails her out of a problem yet again. Trish is eager for Karl to keep going, and he doesn’t have any apparent reservations about it. Jessica shows up and tries to get him to stop. Trish is out cold by this point, and doesn’t hear them argue. Trish has a bad reaction to the procedure, and Jessica finally bursts in to save the day. Karl finally makes a dramatic decision that seems a little out of the blue and over the top. Jessica barely gets Trish to safety before Karl makes sure the IGH experiments are over, or at least aren’t going to keep going at this location.
Jessica gets Trish to the hospital, where all she can do is wait. That’s never been Jessica’s strong point, but she has a handy distraction as she gets really nasty with Malcolm. This could be a major turning point in their relationship, and really not for the better. After he stalks off, she wrestles with her own demons and shows some inner strength and determination. The episode ends with Alisa getting the news about what’s happened with Karl, and it goes really badly for her and for poor Marilyn.
What I liked: Jessica’s haunting was really well done. Kristin Ritter did a great job portraying someone deep in emotional shock. While nothing went right for him this episode, Malcolm stood up for himself to two different and powerful women. I’m glad he did. I liked the flashback to Alisa and Karl’s past. The ghost from Jessica’s past was really well done.
What I didn’t: Jessica’s cleanup was a weird mix of skillful and stupid. Trish’s desperation for Karl’s help came out of nowhere. Karl’s final decision seemed to be a bit much with no real lead in to it. I ended up feeling really bad for Malcolm and Marilyn, and am a bit disturbed to note the link between them besides the first initial.
The series and season has been really good, but I don’t think this was their best episode, despite some great moments and good scenes. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. The title of next episode sounds very ominous to me.