After two seasons of various superpowered foes, Jessica’s being put through the wringer by Gregory Salinger, a man with no powers, no conscience, but lots of smarts and cunning. Based loosely on the comic book villain Foolkiller, Salinger is matching wits with our hero and her allies, and at the very least coming to a draw so far. Of course, if Jessica gets too much more “help” from Trish, she’s probably going to just give it all up and crawl inside a bottle for a month or two. Given what we’ve seen of Salinger’s interests, the title, “AKA Camera Friendly,” sounds a bit ominous.
In a scene we’ve seen a few times before, and I suspect has happened a lot more than that, Gillian wakes Jessica up, telling her she has a call. The befuddled Jessica, neither tech-savy nor really awake, is surprised to learn Gillian can transfer the call to her cell. It’s Costa, who has a no news is bad news call; he can’t get the body with the possible evidence to put Salinger away because Trish’s stunt with the Bulletin last episode riled up the Captain and has everyone chasing her down instead. Costa pleads with Jessica to get the masked woman (give her a name already) to turn herself in, or at least stop. Jessica keeps up the fiction she doesn’t know who she is, and ends the call. Reaching out to Trish, Jessica gets call-blocked by Dorothy, and then Gillian announces she’s going on break. Jessica can’t catch a break this… well, realistically, it’s probably closer to afternoon than morning.
Never one to sit back and wait when she feels something is important, Jessica does a voiceover about getting love and attention while pushing past a tech on the set of Trish’s home shopping show. Once again, Dorothy tries to block her. When Jessica shows her the picture from the Bulletin, Dorothy’s stage-mom reaction is to critique Trish’s costume, and wonder about changing it to a cat theme. That’s probably another nod to Trish’s Hellcat identity in the comics. While Dorothy keeps blathering on about publicists, Jessica gets a really disturbing phone call: Salinger has picked out a new victim and dares Jessica to try and stop him. I have mixed feelings about this bit. On the one hand, it goes against the very careful methods we’ve seen Salinger using so far. On the other, it plays to his massive ego, and definitely fits into comic book villaindom. Salinger gives a vague clue, and Jessica and Trish take some time to try and figure out what to do next. I’m deeply amused that Dorothy knows more about social media than either of them. They end up coming up with the bare bones of a plan, Trish pulls a surprise at work, Jessica comes up with a codename Trish hates, and they get going.
The next scene up shows the toll that being a cop who actually cares takes on your personal life, and shows a lot more about Costa. I really liked the inclusion of this, even if Jessica’s call disrupted something very important. Jessica tells Costa about Salinger’s new threat, and he reluctantly agrees to help. Getting called to the principal’s office, Malcolm finds Jeri and Zaya watching the footage of the Masked Trish breaking in and stealing files. As the video unfolds, Malcolm clearly owes Trish a big favor. Jeri is taking this very personally and rants a bit, not wanting to listen to the more cautious approach of Malcolm.
A recurring theme this season is skill trumping power. It’s what Salinger is all about, but they show it several times with Jessica and Trish, too. The newbie hero tries to carry out her assignment, and gets tripped up both by her lack of experience and her own celebrity. Jessica gets the little that Trish was able to find out, meets Costa, receives more media attention than she wants, and proves that Salinger is both not home and pretty damn slick. Careful to protect her friend, Jessica gets Costa out of the way before she starts attracting Salinger’s attention. She does manage to rattle him enough that he draws some stares on the street.
Continuing a bad day at the office, Malcolm and Zaya talk about her protecting him, Trish-Girl not being as bad as Jeri is making her out to be, and the corrosive problem of secrets. Zaya provides some background on her own experience with having to deal with secrets. They strongly disagree over matters of justice, vigilantes, and how important some things are. Our Dynamic Duo gets back to the Jess-Cave, where Gillian’s snark gradually gives way as she gets a sense of how important the current mess is. Salinger reaches out with another video, but this time Jessica is better prepared. Gillian even takes Jessica’s side as Salinger rants, which was amusing. As she gets a better idea of what’s happening, Gillian makes a Single White Female quip about Salinger’s changing targets. Disgusted as she is by the idea, Jessica knows what she needs to do next, and does it even at a cost to herself.
That cost is reaching out to Dorothy for some help and influence, so Jessica can go public with a warning. Jessica does about as well as you’d think, but the reporter Dorothy got hold of has a hell of a story to run with. The title comes up during Dorothy’s barrage of advice, none of which plays to any of Jessica’s strong suits. Jessica does manage to get her warning out, and I’ll give the reporter credit, she tried. In the aftermath of the interview, if we’re going to call it that, Dorothy goes from proud of both Jessica and Trish to scheming about ways to make money in no time flat. As the word gets out, Costa gets swamped by terrified women wondering if they’re the next victim, and isn’t too happy with Jessica.
Frantically rechecking their only lead, Jessica and Trish find something that answers to Salinger’s not terribly helpful clue. They burst in, determined to save a life, and get an understandably mixed reception. They finally find who they are looking for, and more confusion ensues. Salinger is doing a great job of keeping them running in circles. Salinger gets back home, and confronts the cops with all his smug arrogance before going inside and cleaning up after Jessica’s earlier destruction. The detectives, private and police, confer about what the killer was up to, and admit so far they’re stumped. Costa points out there’s nothing to arrest him for at the moment, which doesn’t sit well with Jessica. After discussing the case, Costa does his best to give Jessica some good advice. Later, dealing with some reporters, Jessica shows a lot more strongly the alliance between her and the Masked Trish.
Back at the office, Zaya reports that she can’t get hold of Salinger. When the Bulletin calls for a statement, Jeri goes on the offensive, taking an anti-vigilante stance that would do J. Jonah Jameson proud. She does get briefly interrupted and sidesteps a question about Peter Lyonne, the man she arguably hounded to death in her selfish bid to steal his wife. Jeri is not remotely a hero by any lights, and the more we see of her, the more she seems to fall into the villain camp. Trish and Jessica have an interesting conversation with some banter and sisterly sniping. They have the potential to be a great team, which makes the rest of this so tragic.
The end of the show packs a hell of a punch. Malcolm comes to visit Jessica, and they talk about the concept of “no bad publicity.” Restless, Jessica is sure she’s missing something, and then puts the pieces together too late. Someone else makes a horrifying discovery, and one of the recurring characters throughout the series gets a nasty ending to their story. This is going to send someone off the deep end, and raise the stakes a lot for the final few episodes. It’s not a good ending for anybody on the show, really.
What I liked: The more we’re seeing of Costa, the more I’m liking him. He’s a good guy, who tries to do the right thing, and doesn’t have anywhere near as much darkness in him as most of the characters. I like that his personal life gets some attention, and they don’t make a big deal of things. Dorothy was actually useful this episode, and Gillain showed more of the actual person under all her snark.
What I didn’t: The ending was just ugly, and while it was a great drama moment, it’s one of the times the cliché of “Things will never be the same again” is true. That character was annoying, but didn’t deserve that. Salinger is smugly punchable every time he opens his mouth. I missed Erik, I really like him and Jessica together.
I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. Things are really going to heat up now.