We’ve seen a good bit about Jessica and Trish so far this season. The opening of “AKA Customer Service is Standing By” focuses on one of the new characters, Erik Gelden. So far he’s been entertaining and possibly a good development in Jessica’s often strained personal life. Now, we see there’s a good bit more to him and, like everyone else on this show, he’s a lot more toward grey then either all good or all bad. There are some mild spoilers below.
The episode opens with what could be a nice backyard barbecue, but Erik isn’t there for social reasons, and we see some of his habits that are catching up with him. All of this turns out to be his retelling the story to Jessica, after her demand at the end of last episode, when she worked out the man who stabbed her was after him, or at least seeking to punish him. Erik relates his current difficulties and his special ability to Jessica, and is surprised when she believes him. Jessica’s answer calls back to the death of Whizzer last season. Like many people who engage in self-destructive behavior, Erik has some excuses for why he does what he does, although his may have some validity to them. What he does with his talent is a bit less defensible, and leaves Jessica with some complications to sort out about who might be after Gelden. Jessica shows her own flexible moral code as she decides to work with Erik and figure out what happened. Trish comes by to check on Jessica, and isn’t thrilled with the plan as she learns it. Trish leaves after some arguing, and copies down a name she overheard on the way by.
Jessica does some voiceover about answers being why she got into this line of work in the first place. Erik’s list of possible suspects brings them to a Todd White. Jessica is a bit surprised at some precautions Erik has to take ahead of time. Jessica and Erik push their way into the man’s place, and her investigative skills find a few things that don’t line up. Jessica has no patience for what she finds, a kind of crime Frank Castle has also shown particular dislike for. Jessica handles things her own way, and then talks with Erik on the way out. He’s not a hero by any stretch, but I have to admit there’s a certain practicality to his approach. Jessica reflects on this being a new form of heroism for her, and Erik talks about how he finds what cops tend to miss. Trish calls, and Jessica is annoyed by her stubbornness or tenacity, depending on who’s speaking. Hogarth has to deal with some unpleasant preparations, and isn’t happy about it at all. She handles it with her customary grace and understanding for something she doesn’t care for.
Malcolm diligently toils away on his assignment for Hogarth, and doesn’t like something he finds. Zaya comes in to check on him, and comments that he tastes like “Rockstar and sadness,” which sounds really repulsive to me. Malcolm has some doubts about his current task, and Zaya shows a very different attitude which might make for problems down the road. They banter a bit before going off to do their various jobs, and something surprising happens behind Malcolm’s back. Jessica and Erik confront the next name on his list, and find a sob story and then some serious white collar crime. They cross this name off their list and expose the criminal on their way out. I have to say, Jessica and Erik make a very impressive team.
Malcom has a very unexpected encounter in the workplace with Trish. She’s sounding more and more obsessed, and Malcolm isn’t happy about her being there or what she’s up to. They argue a bit and she leaves in a huff of righteousness. Jessica and Erik find out his third mark hasn’t lived up to the deal, so he’s probably behind Jessica’s ex-spleen. Erik argues that he’s tried to do things her way, and it it’s just as likely to make things worse. They part company as he goes to take care of some personal issues and she keeps going on the case. She does actually seem to care about him, at least a bit, as he leaves.
Jeri is getting very dressed up in her office when Malcolm comes to find her. He turns over what he’s dug up on his current target, and he has some serious doubts about this assignment. Jeri is airily unconcerned, and they clash a bit. Malcolm takes a few big steps to the dark side in this encounter, making some demands that I almost wonder if he hoped would be refused so he could justify quitting to himself and to Zaya. Erik makes a delivery while Jeri and Kith go to the symphony. Jeri isn’t done being manipulative, and is pulling strings that Kith didn’t ask her to. Kith and Jeri argue about what Jeri’s motives are. Listen to your instincts, Kith! Run!
Erik’s errand goes spectacularly badly. As in, bottom of the pool with weights tied to his ankles badly. He does the best he can to get himself out of this mess, but then The Masked Trish! ™ shows up, using info she stole from Hogarth’s office. Trish has a lot of enthusiasm, but not enough experience to go with it, and things get a lot more complicated. Jeri and Kith watch the performance, with a performance of their own in the audience. Kith leaves afterwards when she gets a call from Peter, and you can see Jeri’s displeasure clearly.
Jessica goes to visit suspect number three. The fact that he’s not home doesn’t stop her, but she really needs to learn how to pick locks instead of strong-arming doors. She rifles through the place and gets a feel for Gregory Sallinger, a name comic book fans know and everyone watching will hear a lot more about. After she takes note of his series of reasonably impressive accomplishments, the man himself comes in. Nothing goes as Jessica expected, and it quickly becomes obvious this is a much smarter and slicker foe than she’s used to dealing with. They fence back and forth for a bit, and he sets up a few things that could make some serious trouble for Jessica down the road. She finally leaves, not exactly having achieved her goal.
Malcolm gets a text from Jeri and, despite some reservations, follows her directions. Trish makes her own worried phone call, following up on her earlier mistake. Jessica gets home and starts off her next encounter with Erik with some understandable misapprehensions. They talk about what she found out, and go inside. Sallinger left Jessica a memento, and it shows she’s going to have an interesting time with this one. Erik is worried, but not inspired to play hero, and leaves.
Trish is hard at work at her day (night, I guess) job, hawking sweaters on her little home shopping show. After showing she’s a good saleswoman with an uncertain client, she gets a call from “Jessica in Hell’s Kitchen.” I hadn’t realized she and Matt were neighbors. Jessica and Trish have a somewhat coded conversation, although there were a lot of better ways they could have handled this. Jessica asks Trish for some help, which must have been hard for her. The show ends with someone having a midnight snack with some very unusual company in the background. This is shaping up to be a very interesting season.
What I liked: They’re far from a perfect couple, but I think Jessica and Erik suit each other. He’s a better match for her than either Oscar or Luke Cage. Erik’s power is new and different and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone living in a big city. Sallinger is creepy as all get-out, but he’s smart and resourceful and is going to be a real challenge for Jessica and whoever ends up helping her.
What I didn’t: I rarely like Jeri, and she’s living down to expectations. Malcolm is slipping to the dark side, and I expect, and want, better from him. Trish is out of control and is going to have to learn a few things pretty damn quick if she’s going to keep this up.
Overall, another good episode. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5, and am looking forward to seeing this matchup play out.