A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Post traumatic stress disorder is a tricky thing to capture within the bounds of storytelling. In one sense, it’s extremely simplistic yet that very thought process of simplicity harms not just the realism of the stories being depicted on screen, but also adds negative colorations to the necessary conversations around mental conditions that have been, are, and will continue to be dismissed as being unimportant. PTSD is an unfortunate blanket term under which each traumatic experience is bundled under, with little regard for the complexities, similarities, and differences that mark each respective experience. Jessica Jones, for its problematic elements, has a sharp grasp of that concept and considering how it often is traced back to one evil man with a British accent, it’s incredibly impressive. Jessica is our protagonist and she’s been abused in ways the audience doesn’t even know yet, but that understanding is not alone. Kilgrave’s abuses have so far focused largely on the mental, but that alone transforms his abuses into the physical for once Kilgrave has control over someone’s mind, the body is sure to follow. There’s never serious doubt from the series in regards to the authenticity of Jessica’s feelings, the first positive step in recognizing the legitimacy of what she feels achieved. Yet there’s no belittling of the trauma anyone else feels at the hands of the silent nemesis (finally revealed in full form this hour). There simply is and a myriad of different shades within it. It’s a bit of a repetitive point to bring up again and only in the third review of the series, but the consistency in this regard is as surprising as it is admirable.
AKA It’s Called Whiskey is a thrilling installment in spite of its nature as being an investigative episode where Jessica continues to piece together clues to get closer to Kilgrave. But the episode first opens upon the previous installment’s thrilling but not completely surprisingly cliffhanger. Jessica and Luke Cage are arguably the most intriguing romantic Marvel relationship outside of Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna on Daredevil (I refuse to acknowledge the Black Widow-Hulk relationship from Age of Ultron) and to see it brew so quietly in spite of the commotion is incredibly rewarding. Why Jessica was spying so intently on Luke before she actually was assigned a case that had him in the mix remains to be seen, but there’s a hint that she may have suspected that the barkeeper had a strong secret in his mind. Or she simply had a crush on him, as the title from the previous episode would suggest, but that seems too simplistic in the grand narrative scheme of things. The stunning reveal that Jessica had killed Mrs. Cage under Kilgrave’s influence had the potential to be melodramatic but the writers keep it just under the guise enough where it colors each one of Jessica’s interactions with Luke without overwhelming any of their sequences together. That sequence outside the food carts is especially vital, allowing for two individuals who felt so alone to connect on a level that they inherently can’t with so many others. It just so happens that the tinge of tragedy is a constant.
As the Hope front continues to go rather poorly for Jessica, her search to find and trap Kilgrave with the sedative continues at full force. There’s a slight complication, however, as Trish is attacked by a police officer named Simpson while he’s under Kilgrave’s control. Trish’s skillful use of Krav Maga stalled Simpson for a bit, but without Jessica arriving on time and handling the situation, her death would have been imminent. An attack on the person Jessica unabashedly cares the most for in this world spurs her into action and she manages to find Kilgrave in the most innocuous of settings. He’s simply sitting upon a sofa and enjoying a sports game, ordering Simpson to go jump off the rooftop of the skyscraper where the apartment is. Jessica saves Simpson’s life, albeit barely, and in the process the audience gets their first full glimpse at David Tennant’s Kilgrave. The entire sequence is beautifully constructed, leaving no trace of suspense untouched but it works most of all because of how utterly quiet it is. There’s no overdramatic overtures that would harken the arrival of some grand character, including the removal of any necessities of swelling music with loud lighting. Tennant simply turns around and in an instant, there’s a complete chill that settles throughout the frame and subsequently the sequence itself. Jessica’s reaction is simply perfect, mixing terror, relief, and grief into one beautiful expression. Kilgrave escapes but leaves another weakness behind on his terrifying wall: Jessica herself.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Yes, well, you are very gifted.”
+“The costume didn’t work out.”
+“Your compassion is overwhelming.”
+“Uh, graduating from alcoholism?”
+“All the doctors I know save small villages.”
+“You got the decimal in the wrong place.”
+“Is biochemistry a thing?”
+“Maybe you’re a bit racist.”
-The voiceovers are grating
-We meet Wendy. Somehow I still don’t care about the whole divorce thing.
Episode Title: AKA It’s Called Whiskey
Story by: Liz Friedman
Teleplay by: Liz Friedman & Scott Reynolds
Directed by: David Petrarca
Image Courtesy: Doux Review