Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 11 Review: “AKA I’ve Got the Blues”

Jessica Jones

My favorite part of Jessica Jones is the relationship between Jessica and Trish. Genuine friendships on television can be hard to find, and to find one that is as deep and involved as theirs can be rare. I didn’t really care all that much why Jessica and Trish were so close; just that they were was enough.

But to find out that Jessica was adopted not out of the goodness of Trish and her mother’s heart but to take away from Trish passing out in a nightclub really did something for me. It made me wonder how in the hell these two people, so far apart, became so close.

To be honest, I didn’t like the answer that I received. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the fact that their relationship evolved out of Jessica protecting Trish from her abuser mom; it was that it happened immediately. We had a few scenes of them interacting negatively, and then Jessica is breaking a sink and protecting Trish. It was also really heavy-handed: Trish says something to the effect of, “I won’t tell about your powers if you don’t try to save me.”

Save me? That’s not something you say in everyday conversation, even in that instance. That probably played really well in the writers room, but it doesn’t land here. It should’ve been something more, “I won’t tell if you stay out my business.” By saying “save me,” Jessica Jones is already giving away sort of drama that could come from that relationship.

We don’t get to explore the actually interesting in-between before Jessica and Trish become close friends. We don’t really get any sense of why Jessica would protect Trish, except that it’s the right thing to do in that moment. The problem with that is that Jessica is not a selfless person; she’s not the Superman archetype. She’s not really an archetype at all. She’s much more nuanced and shaded and interesting than that. I don’t buy that she would just protect Trish, but I would buy that Trish’s innate kindness would bring out the best in Jessica, and that Jessica’s resilience and strength would bring out in the best in Trish.

I like Point A and I like Point Z, but I wish that there had been more points along the way. We didn’t need to really reveal all about their relationship in this season anyway, and it could’ve been saved for a slower burn over the next season as well.

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“The horrors that Jessica has endured.”

That’s the second thing that I wrote in my notes for “AKA I’ve Got the Blues.” It struck me so powerfully, and so depressingly, that it almost became too much to think about within the text of the show. Her life has been one unending tragedy after another, one guilty step after another. Her parents and brother die; she gets these powers that she does not want and did not ask for; she is adopted by a family that sees her as a meal ticket. She makes her own life, and tries to be a hero, and then gets sucked up by Kilgrave. She’s assaulted and raped and made to do unspeakable things, and just when she thinks she’s escaped from it all, it comes back to the surface.

I can’t even imagine the kind of strength it takes for her to keep going. I complained about her excess drinking in my last review, but I get it now. It’s not that she drinks to forget, because clearly, it doesn’t help her. I don’t even think she can really get drunk anymore. No, I think Jessica drinks because she’s trying to kill herself.

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I liked this episode of Jessica Jones, but I do have some complaints. They won’t be as expansive as the novella I wrote for “AKA 1,000 Cuts,” so I’ll just list them off and be done with it.

We never get a clear approximation of what Jessica’s powers actually are. In this episode, she’s hit by a car and gets up shortly after, but before she was hit in the head with a board and was knocked unconscious for the entire night. She’s got super strength and super healing, but it’s portrayed inconsistently.

I also don’t like the fact that she was hit by a van. I could smell the setup a mile away; she needed to be beat up so that when she fought with Simpson later she wouldn’t win. I think it would’ve been more effective if they had Simpson and Jessica be a near-even match, and Trish decided to take the pills to help take him down. That would reinforce the theme of them being better together and as a team then apart.

There is a weird moment with Malcolm, too, when he looks at Jessica’s door and sees the flashlights in her apartment, and decides not to investigate. It’s played as this big turning point for Malcolm—as if now he doesn’t care about Jessica enough to go check it out. He turns on Jessica based on Robin’s influence alone, and then treats her like she’s the worst person in the world. The problem with that is that Malcolm had just spent the past year spying on Jessica for Kilgrave, after having be rescued previously by her, and then saved numerous times after by her, too. Sure, she wasn’t into the support group, and was super douchey about it, but to turn on her and essentially call her the worst person in the world? Nah. That doesn’t work.

That moment where Malcolm turns away from Jessica’s apartment is also undercut by the fact that he would’ve probably died had he gone to investigate. It’s a cheap way to get the audience to support Malcolm’s choice, to get us on his side and thinking that he did the right thing by turning away. Even if that wasn’t Jessica Jones‘ intention, it was a dumb moment.

Also, the dialogue tries too hard. This is a problem that reoccurs throughout the season. The show is noir, but it tries too hard to be that sometimes. They need to slim down the dialogue and make things sound more natural.

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Here’s a positive: Luke Cage is back!

I like the Luke Cage character, and the way that the Jessica Jones writers utilize him in this series. There is a minor misstep in one of the first episode when he brings in a power tool and presses it to his skin; it’s too campy for this type of show, and it rings hollow. But besides that, the writers have done a really excellent job making me like the character and giving him real emotional weight.

I’d give actor Mike Colter a B+ for his performance in this season. I feel as if Cage should be a little more frightening; he has incredible strength and enough pain that should make for a dangerous mix. But at no point did I ever think that he was dangerous. I feel like Jessica is dangerous, and that Trish is dangerous; I feel that Robyn is dangerous as well. But there is too much of a innate kindness that is a part of this performance, even when he and Jessica tangle.

I don’t think that Colter was given enough complexity to work with, but he did such a good job at making him interesting regardless. Hopefully, when he gets his own series, it will do a better job at giving him more complexity.

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Things are ramped up a notch with Luke Cage back and the explosion of the bar. This episode of Jessica Jones does a really good job in moving the final arc of the show forward. Even with all of the stuff that I don’t like, the show always manages to pull me back in.

[Photo via Netflix]

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