AKA Crush Syndrome
Welcome back folks. Sorry for taking awhile to get back to reviewing Jessica Jones. Family business came my way and I was unable to get to it, but from here on out I’ll be reviewing two episodes weekly in the interest of letting binge watchers and weekly watchers alike get some thoughts. AKA Crush Syndrome starts off fairly closely behind the horrific finale of the previous episode, with Jessica being interrogated for possible involvement with Hope’s murder of her parents by Detective Oscar Clemons… or if you’re a fan of The Wire by Lester Freamon.
While Jessica isn’t in any immediate danger, it reinforces the stakes that the show is playing with Hope’s innocence and life hanging in the balance of Jessica proving the existence of Kilgrave. That throughline of the show is one of the areas where it excels. While many a show has taken a crack at rape as drama, Micah Schraft’s script inverts the focus away from the actual physical act in favor of showing the control people have over their lives, their mental stability, as well as the horror that comes from the line between consent and lack thereof shattering thanks to Kilgrave removing free will from people. Jessica’s angry defiance towards people telling her what to do makes more sense when played against Hope and David Kurata’s much more visible pain.
Speaking of Jessica, Krysten Ritter crushes (no pun intended) the episode as she did the last. It can be difficult to play a character who is aggressively defiant without that overshadowing the pain it’s masking, but Ritter plays it well. That latter sympathy shines through in her conversations with Hope and Trish attempting to give one person hope past her pain, and convince the other that she isn’t hiding her pain by acting out. Speaking of Hope, whatever her faults may have been in attempting to run in the first episode, Jessica reacts quickly in attempting to give Hope the help she needs in moving past her pain as Trish gave her. The episode doesn’t take that loss: of her parents, her dignity, and her self-respect lightly, but it does attempt to show what having someone who’s suffered the same pain can do to help. Of all the things the show does remarkably well, it’s contextualizing mind control into it’s real-world analogues.
While he made a short appearance as a hallucination in the first episode, David Tennant makes his first actual appearance as Kilgrave in this one. While he’s more slickly dressed than the Doctor, Kilgrave inverts that appeal fairly quickly with his very casual destruction of an innocent family’s evening: including smashing toys and sending children to cower in a closet. It’s short, but an effective summation of his character: an overgrown child doing whatever he likes, while other people pay the cost. It’s an effective maneuver on the part of Schraft on sapping away any sympathy Kilgrave could achieve from being played by David Tennant immediately.
The episode also earns points dealing with the morality of Jessica’s chosen career as a private detective, being that she essentially finds out secrets about people on behalf of clients. While in this case her sniffing into Luke Cage’s life has potentially deadly consequences, she does still have a conscience. Even while her actions prove ultimately unnecessary, they show that Jessica is at her heart a decent person. That said, it’s also a great way of working Luke into the show. Everything about the core of the character is there: his no-nonsense attitude, his unbreakable sense of dignity, and the unbreakable skin as the poor buzzsaw finds.
While AKA Crush Syndrome doesn’t have quite the same oomph as the pilot, it still advances the plot well while giving us more info on the characters. Most second episodes tend to reinforce the pilot while reiterating what we know about the characters, Jessica Jones has a sense of the length it needs to be and doesn’t focus on repetition so much as advancement. The Netflix model of releasing all episodes does a great deal to relieve the burden that broadcast television faces in maintaining an audience, and luckily the viewership is responding to that.
5 out of 5 Smashed Toy Cars
- “Children should be seen and not heard. Or better still: not seen and not heard.” Has become something of a meme in my Jessica Jones-watching family. Creepy as it is, it’s still way too quotable.
- Kilgrave’s tendency to force his victims to enjoy or have their emotions comply with what he wants them to think, is yet another spooky reinforcement of the mind control = rape/abuse analogy there, eh?
- Also to note: The hope is to simply do two episodes a week for our beloved binge watchers, hopefully you’ll all agree. See you Friday!