The season, and series, are almost over, and there have been a lot of surprises and twists along the way. Trish got her wish, and it’s done pretty much nothing good for her (or for Jessica, for that matter). Now Dorothy’s dead, Salinger is still causing problems, the sisters are getting pushed further apart by Trish’s poor judgement. This episode has the name of Trish’s comic book superhero identity, “Hellcat.”
As they’ve done a few times this season, the episode shows some of what we saw last time from Trish’s point of view, as well as bits from Trish’s past. It opens at Dorothy’s funeral, with Trish talking about stories about her late mother, before flashing back to the past. We’ve heard about Dorothy’s abusive parenting style, and we get to see more of it here. After child Trish repeats Dorothy’s mantra of “I got this,” we move to a different flashback, of Trish’s more recent past when she found her mother’s body. This, of course, leads to her rush across town, knocking out the cops, and attacking Salinger, and being stopped from killing him by Jessica’s last-minute arrival. This is followed by Jessica cleaning Trish up, and the press conference.
The flashbacks continue as we see Dorothy pushing young Trish at an audition, and being every bit as ruthless as you’d think from what we’ve learned about her. In more recent flashbacks, we see Malcolm drop off those clothes for Trish again, and the noisy neighbors. This time, we see Trish’s resolve to lay low doesn’t last that long, and the woman-abusing neighbor has a really bad night. Jessica and Erik get there, and the new part is after the scene, Erik going after his vices again to distract him from the side effects of his power. We get to see some new material when Trish continues her string of bad choices, and goes to the hospital to see Salinger. They taunt and threaten each other, and Salinger is just as smug and annoying as ever, despite being hospitalized, again, with new injuries. He finally give Trish a hint about something he left for her and she leaves.
After Trish goes back to her mother’s place and talks her way past the cop on the door (at least she didn’t attack this one, too), there’s another flashback to Dorothy’s extreme stage mom life, which even Niccolo Machiavelli would be proud of. It also shows how dismissive of Trish’s feelings Dorothy is. Back in the present, Trish finds Salinger’s “present” and it was really a bad idea of Salinger’s to goad her like this. On her way out, Trish has a conversation with the doorman which stiffens her resolve, not that she needed it. Desperate for distraction and probably feeling powerless, Trish pays a call on Erik and talks him into going along with her latest ill-advised plan. Erik has many concerns about this, and Trish has just the same amount of compassion for his worries that Dorothy did for young Trish. The cycle of abuse continues. This shifts to young Trish doing what Dorothy told her, and making progress on her first big break.
In the present, Erik and Trish embark on a mission that, when they’re done, is going to complicate Jessica’s life immensely, as well as screw up Erik and Jessica’s love-life. I won’t dispute that their target deserved some justice, and maybe even what he got, but the fallout was nasty, out of control, and is another great example of Trish not thinking things through. Once again, things get away from Trish, but there’s a weird side effect from Erik’s powers that’s probably all the justification she needs to decide she did the right thing after all. At the funeral home, Trish finds out how her latest bit of stupidity is going to make life harder for those around her. Outside, we get another angle on the two cops questioning Trish, and it being driven home to the vigilante how much worse she’s making things. Getting both frustrated and bitter, Trish snarks at the cops about what she sees as the differences between how they are treating Jessica and Salinger.
Deciding she needs to make things better, and certainly about to make things more complicated, Trish goes back to see Erik again and she pushes him into going along with yet another hare-brained scheme to try and help Jessica. That Trish gets to do what she has decided she likes doing anyway I’m sure is just a coincidental bonus. I do believe that Trish honestly wants to help Jessica, but I really wonder exactly where on her priority list that falls, if she’s actually being honest with herself. I’m sure Erik going along with it actually is him trying to help Jessica. I think there’s also an element of the guilt Erik is feeling for the way he’s used his abilities in the past, which he wants to make up for and Trish has no problem exploiting.
Speaking of exploiting, we get another flashback of young Trish and Dorothy. I have to say, the more of these I see, the less bad I feel for Dorothy. I don’t know that she deserved her brutal death at the hands of a sadistic serial killer, but I can’t find in me to feel too sorry for her. Dorothy both steamrollers over Trish’s feelings and lays a massive guilt trip on her, which, I’ll have to admit, was some impressive multi-tasking and manipulation. In the now, Trish goes over one of Erik’s files about another low-life scum who has managed to cause double digit deaths through is own selfishness and greed. Even with him agreeing to help, Trish keeps pushing at Erik to do what she wants in the future. Trish learned well from her mother. Trish and Erik go over a few last minute details and go to their tasks.
In flashback, we get to see more of the rise of young Trish and the manipulations of Dorothy. She knows what she wants, I’ll give her that, but the woman is really despicable. They even work in a plug for ABC, the networks that’s part of the vast Disney empire that also owns Marvel Comics now. In the present, Trish is getting ready to go do something she shouldn’t when she gets another visit from someone who should know better. Jeri stops by for a very tense visit. Clearly, neither of these women like the other very much. Jeri comes bearing blackmail, which always ends so well for anyone doing it. After some mutual threats, the meeting ends on a bad mutual note and Trish giving Jeri a warning. I’m not sure which is worse at this point, Jeri or Trish. What’s sad is, I have no doubt both of them think they’re perfectly right to do what they’re doing.
At Dorothy’s funeral, Trish and Erik’s plan hits a snag as someone they need for it to work has disappeared. The pair debate what to do next, but there’s no way Trish is backing down at this point. She has her mind set and is going to do what she wants to do, under the pretense of it being good and helping her sister. The brilliant idea they manage to come up with is going to seriously piss off the one they’re “helping” if she ever gets the details. With their scheme in play, Trish gets an excuse to go mete out more “justice.” The plan goes off the rails almost at once since Trish can’t keep control of herself. Erik tries to intervene, but it’s too little, too late. Of course, there’s the other weird side effect of Erik’s abilities to consider, which is all the justification Trish needs to keep doing what she wants and claim it’s for the greater good. I’m a little disappointed in Erik, but with what’s happening to him, I can understand why he’s not putting up more of a fight on this issue. He does say he’s not helping Trish anymore, but she’s got her next “mission” planned already. The episode closes on some familiar music from the show’s history.
What I liked: I can’t say I enjoyed the flashbacks, but they did a great job of showing what Dorothy was like, and how she damaged Trish so badly that Trish’s behavior in the modern time frame is understandable. Trish has learned well, and turns some of the same manipulation on Erik, and I bet she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it, and would deny it was the same thing. I understand Erik getting sucked in to this with what he’s learning about the new twist on his powers. I give the show-runners credit for having the guts to do another episode where the main and titular character is mostly off-screen.
What I didn’t: I get it’s not going to be a happy show pretty much ever, but damn this is getting dark. I really don’t like Dorothy, what Trish has become, or Jeri. Trish is becoming the posterchild for every person who is afraid of superhumans, and doesn’t even realize the damage she’s doing to supers in general and Jessica in particular.
It was another well-done, if dark, episode. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. Only two more to go to sort all this out.