Katarina overcomes the hidden ramifications of Jessica Jones Season 2.3 “AKA Sole Survivor”
Jessica Jones‘ third episode picks up hours after episode 2 left off. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) and Trish (Rachael Taylor) are disposing of Will Simpson’s (Wil Traval) body after he died protecting them (to catch up on what you missed during 2.2 read Future of the Force co-editor-in-chief Phil’s review). The beach scene seems so serene that you’d almost miss the bagged corpse being tossed far out into the waves. Simpson’s brief reappearance and then death feels a bit superfluous for a character that was a major part of season 1, but it’s his death that ultimately pushes Jessica to investigate IGH.
Now that her “past is killing people,” (was it not before?) she’s ready to confront it. On Trish’s suggestion, she meets with a hypnotist. When asked to think of her safe place, she draws a blank. This explains a lot about how she interacts with the world. Since she feels eternally unsafe, she is always on guard and thus always lashing out. This is not an excuse but a potential explanation for the way that Jessica constantly dumps on all the people in her life.
It’s in this episode that the story finally starts to ramp up. Jessica, through nightmares and trespassing, finds a lead on a Dr. Leslie Hansen that worked for IGH, but when they go looking for her all they turn up is a skull. Trish puts out a call for information on Dr. Hansen on her show and gets a phone call from the woman herself shortly after, asking to meet up. While Jessica is sitting at a bar with Dr. Hansen, a phone call comes in from the morgue, identifying the skull as (gasp) a Leslie Hansen. Dr. Hansen, or the person pretending to be her, argues that IGH were the good guys. They were life-savers and that Jessica should be grateful she’s alive, even as Jess wishes she’d died instead. The Dr. Hansen imposter seems to have been present when Jessica gained her powers given the way she talks about it. She’s even revealed to have powers of her own as she fights Jessica to escape. So who is this woman if not Leslie Hansen?
Meanwhile, Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) is still dealing with the implications of her ALS diagnosis. Her firm partners have come to force her out through a medical clause in her contract. Foggy Nelson (Elden Hansen) appears briefly to defend her seemingly for no other reason other than to remind us of the shared universe (or perhaps to set us up for a later episode). Hogarth turns to Jessica for help, which Jessica gives after listening to her moving speech. Carrie-Anne Moss has long been one of the standouts of this show to me and season two is no exception.
Trish Walker’s storyline so far is giving me pause. Trish, also known as the superhero Hellcat in the comics, is getting stress from every direction. Her producers want her to be less political, Jessica wants her to stop meddling in dangerous affairs, her boyfriend is worried about her, but Trish charges ahead, confronting a past abuser, seeking out leads and beefing up her self-defense skills. If Hellcat is the endgame for Trish’s story arc, then it feels like we’re being set up for another trauma-induced origin story. If done well, I could be on board but only time will tell.
Something that needs discussing is the way Jessica treats the people of color in her life. This has long been an issue on the show but it was especially prevalent in this episode. Jessica’s assistant, Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville) generally bears the brunt of Jessica’s hostility, despite propping her up at every opportunity. This is especially apparent in episode 2.3. Jessica is getting evicted thanks to her new, unfriendly superindendent Oscar Arocho (J.R. Ramirez). She uses Malcolm to appeal to her landlord, a gay man, to prevent her eviction, but fails. It’s in these interactions that the show stumbles. It has a lot going for it: the depiction of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a female showrunner, all female directors this season. But the way the narrative dumps on Malcolm, former drug addict and current sidekick, and Oscar, ex-con Latino single dad is uncomfortable at best. Jessica goes so far as to use Oscar’s son against him to prove his corruption. Yet the relationship is framed as Oscar being bigoted against powered people, when what seems more accurate is that he is trying to protect himself and his son. Superhero stories can easily serve as a metaphor for real life prejudice, but there are more tactful ways to execute this than what Jessica Jones has done so far.
Plot-wise, this is the first episode of this season where I felt truly invested and wanted to watch the next episode immediately. The mystery has finally deepened enough to hook me, even if the surrounding storylines are less than perfect. Onto episode 4 we go!