Saturday, November 21, 2015

REVIEW: 'Jessica Jones' - Jessica Investigates Kilgrave's Accident While Complicating Her Own Life in 'AKA Crush Syndrome'

Netflix's Jessica Jones - Episode 1.02 "AKA Crush Syndrome"

Jessica vows to prove Hope's innocence, even though it means tracking down a terrifying figure from her own past.

"AKA Crush Syndrome" is a messier episode of Jessica Jones than the series premiere was. It's a bit chaotic as it jumps from plot point to plot point. It reveals little details about all the characters. But it largely feels like introductory story bits that will help inform each character moving forward. The hour is also not as stylish as the first one was. This is still a very immersive world. But it was less engaging in this hour. Because Jessica chose to stay and fight Kilgrave once again, that means she has to deal with the complications of her life. She's determined to do things a certain way. That leads to some interesting connections with the other characters. But that only really amounts to a handful of really effective moments.

This episode wants to remind the audience that Jessica would rather be alone and isolated in this world. She is a very competent private investigator. But she wants to push people away so that they can't get hurt because of her escalating battle with Kilgrave. She wants to protect her friends from herself in this very tense time. It's a type of character brooding that really works well on the show because Krysten Ritter is so fantastic as Jessica Jones. This episode showcases the isolation that comes after a very traumatic experience but it also shows the determination Jessica feels to make sure this doesn't happen again. Jessica has this very personal history with Kilgrave. She knows exactly what he is capable of. He is still just a shadowy figure in the background for the audience. His arrival has been teased very heavily. Jessica is preparing herself to confront him. But to do that, she believes she needs to forge ahead alone.

Jessica knows just how manipulative Kilgrave can be. Hope's parents are only dead because Kilgrave was sending a message to Jessica. She wants to make sure that Hope can't be sentenced for this crime - even though it seems like an open and shut case to the detectives and lawyers. Jessica knows the truth but that's going to be very difficult to prove. Fortunately, her investigative instincts are very strong. She knows how to obtain enough evidence to convince Hogarth to take on this case that looks so much like a loser. It's a journey that takes Jessica all across the city. She has to embrace her past in order to help Hope - who is blaming Jessica instead of Kilgrave for her life being destroyed in an instant. The accident that seemingly killed Kilgrave is seen. It's a devastating moment where a bus is flipped over and then hits Kilgrave as Jessica was fleeing the scene. She needs to understand that moment in order to realize what he has become in the time since that day.

It's amusing to watch as Jessica sneaks around in order to get the information that she needs. She uses references from ER and Grey's Anatomy to convince a nurse at the hospital that she is one too and needs to access the system. She is quick to think that she'll need the dialysis machine number if she is going to get any answers from the driver of the ambulance that carried Kilgrave away from the accident. But as fun and informative as those moments are for her character, they also show just how devastating this world is because of her. The investigation into Hope's parents' murders exposes a few of her secrets. She ruins people's lives just because they come into contact with her. All she needs to do is pass them by in order to interrupt their lives. A woman's affair with Luke is exposed and causes her marriage to end. That only happens because the police find those pictures and then go and question Luke. Jessica is sitting alone on the train. When she punches the window out of frustration, she interrupts all the happiness of the rest of the commuters. Jessica confronts the two people in the apartment right above her. They are weird twins but she still makes them feel even more uncomfortable around her. This is exactly how Jessica believes she has to live right now.

And yet, Jessica has plenty of friends and allies by the end of this episode. Hogarth has agreed to be Hope's lawyer after Jessica tracks down another one of Kilgrave's victims - who also shares the news that anesthesia is Kilgrave's biggest weakness. Trish proves that she isn't willing to give up on her friendship with Jessica just because Jessica desperately pushes her away. She's even taking hand-to-hand combat lessons in order to protect herself. And lastly, Luke reveals himself as a gifted individual as well. Jessica goes to the bar to stop a rugby team from beating him up - since the husband of the woman Luke was sleeping with is on the team. And yet, that sequence proves that both of them are more than capable of handling these kinds of threats without too much difficulty. It exposes their secrets in a way that makes the two see each other differently.

All of this basically boils down to a lot of plot happening in order to connect the various pieces of the show better together. It's not all that successful at all. And yet, the show does something truly amazing in its final moments with two back-to-back great scenes. Kilgrave's big introduction on the series has been very anticipated. He shows up in the present in order to take over a family's apartment as his new base of operations. It's a very chilling and menacing sequence that shows just how easy he can take over people's minds. He doesn't care about this family at all. They are simply there to serve him and his needs. It's horrifying but a very effective tease of what's to come with that character. His face is never seen. It's just his words and his actions that control so much and inflict so much pain. And then, the episode ends with Luke confronting Jessica in her apartment about the powers that she has as well. She wants to deny but he knows what he saw. In order to make that point more clear to her, he takes a circular saw and puts it right on his abs. It shows that his body cannot be cut. He's unbreakable. That surprises Jessica. She has ruined his life as of late. And yet, they now have this shared connection of powers. She's been around powers before and that didn't work out for her. So, she'll probably be wary of Luke. But he could become a much more valuable ally than she ever thought before.

Some more thoughts:
  • "AKA Crush Syndrome" was written by Micah Schraft and directed by S.J. Clarkson.
  • Hogarth's wife learns about her affair with her assistant. She is very angry on the phone. And yet, the audience never sees the fallout of that action. That's slightly strange but also completely unnecessary for this messy episode.
  • Hogarth also learns just how personal this case is for Jessica the moment she meets Hope. She learns that Jessica is a survivor from this mind control man as well. She doesn't let that piece of information throw her off balance though.
  • It's great that everyone comments on Jessica's apartment door as soon as they see it. Trish replacing the window that says Alias Investigations is the first step to getting it properly fixed though.
  • Yeah, those twins are very weird. Not sure what their purpose is except to be just as alienating a presence as Jessica but still not being alone.
  • The episode concluding moments with Kilgrave's introduction and the reveal of Luke's powers are great. And yet, they probably would have been more effective if they were switched. The cold menace of Kilgrave felt more like an episode ending moment.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.