Saturday, December 5, 2015

REVIEW: 'Jessica Jones' - More Kilgrave Victims Come Forward as Jessica Takes on a New Case in 'AKA 99 Friends'

Netflix's Jessica Jones - Episode 1.04 "AKA 99 Friends"

A new case demands attention as Jessica tries to find out who's spying on her for Kilgrave. Trish's radio show yields unexpected consequences.

Early in this episode, Trish and Jessica and walking down the street and Trish delivers one of the most powerful and thematic lines of the season so far: "Men and power, it's seriously a disease." This season is so much about the trauma Jessica and everyone else has felt being a victim of Kilgrave's. His power is dangerous and monstrously manipulative. It has been allowed to grow more and more powerful over the years because he hasn't been challenged. He is a white man with a ton of privilege. He can literally get away with anything that he wants because of his powers. He uses that to control people. This episode showcases just how vast his influence and the repercussions have become throughout the city. As that layer is revealed, it gives the show a stark focus on how Kilgrave has been able to keep this going for as long as he has been. With him gaining more popularity now, more and more people are coming forward using him as an alibi. Some of them are very much amusing. But some are genuinely painful and heartbreaking.

The majority of Kilgrave's victims are minorities. He uses them because they are not likely to get him noticed as much as white men of power and privilege. He can target women because he lives in a society that constantly undermines them at every turn. Men have the power which Kilgrave is exploiting for his own personal gain. He never has a permanent hold on another white man for very long. He took control of Officer Simpson for one quick task and then wanted to get rid of him. When all the other victims come forward here, the sole white man allowed on the list only had his jacket taken from him. He doesn't know pain as much as the fellow victims. But he was still technically victimized by Kilgrave. It's nothing compared to a woman playing cello for him until she made a mistake or a black man leaving his baby on the side of the road just to drive him around. Those are some horrifying and devastating details. Kilgrave ruined their lives.

Jessica starting a support group for Kilgrave's victims is a way for all of them to address this horrible experience they've all gone through. And yet, Jessica isn't using the group to deal with her own emotional problems from her time with Kilgrave. She is so determined and passionate about her pursuit of Kilgrave right now. She doesn't want to dig deep into her own problems because that may get her to re-question her mission. She is determined to find the person who has been surveilling her. She is getting more and more paranoid with each passing episode. Everyone is commenting on it now. Jessica only uses this support group in order to get insight on what Kilgrave has been up to. She doesn't really care about how reliving all the painful details could seriously harm these people. She just wants to know who meets Kilgrave every day at 10 A.M. to trade off all of the pictures. That's her sole focus right now.

Of course, Jessica's paranoia regarding Kilgrave is also affecting her work as a private investigator. That job is how she makes money. And yet, the last time someone referred her a client, two people were killed in her elevator. She is incredibly suspicious when a new client walks through her door saying she was referred by another lawyer at Jeri's firm. She is certain it is Kilgrave playing another trick on her. As she surveils this new client though, a different realization occurs. This isn't some plot by Kilgrave but from a bigot against people with powers in this world. This white woman comes from money and power. Her mother was killed in a collapsing building the day that aliens descended upon New York in The Avengers. Since then, she blames all people with abilities for that death. She gets her hands on a gun which makes her even more crazy. That's not a lifestyle Jessica is any good at. She's not a hero. And yet, this woman doesn't care. She just wants revenge on people she doesn't see as special. It's a hateful view that comes out of people having enough power and influence to actually do something but not be well-informed or rationalized about it. It's not a great episodic story. The concluding beats with Jessica rampaging the room to scare this woman and her husband into leaving the city isn't as powerful as the show wants it to be. The script is a tad too on-the-nose. But still, the overall affect is good. It ties the show into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe without being overbearing because of it.

Similarly, Simpson has good intentions when he continues to insert himself into Jessica and Trish's lives. And yet, he doesn't know how to reach out in an understandable and sympathetic way. His actions say so much. He wants to do the good thing. He wants to know the full story and be held accountable for his actions. That's something that Jessica is able to exploit to her advantage. He gives her illegal copies of the city's cameras so she can find the person surveilling her. With Trish though, his actions prove that he just doesn't understand how to go about helping these people. In fact, his actions could make things so much worse in the future. To make up for trying to kill her, Simpson gives Trish a gun. That's the only item that he as a white man knows to give her in order to make her safe. She accepts it but a gun could just as easily do more harm than good. Trish slowly lets her guard down with Simpson. And yet, she is never certain if she can really trust this guy or if she is just being lured into another trap by Kilgrave. She apologized on her show which has Kilgrave backing off for now. But he could still strike at any time because of Trish's proximity to Jessica. Furthermore, Simpson's story about playing with his G.I. Joe's as a kid proves the opposite of what he wanted. He wants Trish to know that he has always wanted to do good and help people. But Trish rightfully points out that he did so by burning plastic and ruining potential memories. That showcases that even good intentions can have dangerous consequences. That seems to be the core arc for who Simpson is on the show this season. When he's with Jessica, he aggressively attacks Malcolm just because he's looking in their direction. He overreacts and Jessica has to pull him off of her neighbor. That outburst shows that he may not be as helpful as he wants to be. And yet, he is still right in the end. Malcolm is the person working for Kilgrave who is taking photos of Jessica everywhere. That complicates the situation further as more and more of Jessica's world is being corrupted by Kilgrave.

Some more thoughts:
  • "AKA 99 Friends" was written by Hilly Hicks, Jr. and directed by David Petrarca.
  • Jeri listens to the same witness accounts of Kilgrave's actions as Jessica. And yet, her reaction is largely disappointment that Kilgrave isn't using his powers to make the world a better place. It's a thought that immediately sets Jessica off - rightfully so too.
  • Jeri's divorce isn't that interesting as a story. However, Robin Weigert is doing a fantastic job at infusing Wendy with so much humanity and emotion. That scene outside the restaurant was great because it showcased that Jeri is just as messed up in her personal life as in her professional one.
  • More insight is also given into Trish's past. She used to have her own TV show that came with a line of dolls orchestrated by her overbearing mom. She won a Teen Choice Award too!
  • Trish's apology to Kilgrave on air didn't really seem all that genuine. How did the rest of her audience react to that? Were they at all wary that she was acting differently than she usually is?
  • Pam: "She won't wait. She wouldn't listen." Jessica: "I couldn't hear you over that print."
  • Jeri: "You are coming across distinctly paranoid." Jessica: "Everyone keeps saying that, it's like a conspiracy."

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.