Welcome to the world of flashbacks and Jason Bourne wannabes. Here’s the 3 most important parts of Jessica Jones Episode 5.
Go ahead, you can admit it. Those of you who knew about this:
…were wondering how it was going to show up in a show as dark and grimy as Jessica Jones has been.
Jessica’s origin story as Jewel was retold this episode in pitch-perfect fashion, and it was easily the #1 most important part of the episode, for several reasons. We’ll get to that.
But before then, we’ve got the #2 and #3 most important parts of the episode to get to, so let’s hurry up and talk about all of it!
#3 – More Hellcat Foreshadowing
After writing the recap for last episode, I realized that without meaning to I stopped hiding references to someone called “Hellcat.” Whoops. A little prior comics knowledge slipped through without a proper spoiler warning. So this is your spoiler warning on the Hellcat front for the rest of the series. The foreshadowing is too prevalent and too interesting not to talk about, so I’m getting into it.
Hellcat, as you may have gathered, is the superhero alter ego that Trish eventually takes on in the comics. She’s a street-level superhero who relies on natural athletic and martial prowess (a-la-Batman) and (in the comics) very low-level psionic abilities occasionally augmented by alien technology. Basically, she’s an athletic do-gooder who sometimes can lift things with her mind, but the telepathy and related skills are a really minor part of her character.
As we see in this episode, particularly in the flashbacks from before Kilgrave kidnaps Jessica, Trish loves the idea of being a hero. Part of it was her childhood – she was exposed to tales of heroism as a kid – and part of it is trying to flee the shallow notoriety of her teen acting career. She doesn’t have powers, but she’s the one pushing Jessica to strike out as a hero.
Jessica: “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you go put on a cape and run around New York.”
Trish: “You know I would if I could.”
Trish is trying to live vicariously through Jessica’s heroics.
Then in the present, we see her both adamant that she can play an important role in capturing Kilgrave and devastated that she wasn’t more help when they were attacked by Kilgrave’s security. And this has been building all series (already!). Trish practicing Krav Maga. Trish attracted to an ex-spec-ops police officer. Trish wants to be a hero SO bad, but doesn’t seem to have the physical or emotional prowess to pull it off. I can’t wait to see what changes if she actually becomes the costumed Hellcat.
Does she undergo special martial arts training? Does she get picked up by aliens? Does she get blasted by gamma radiation? Ok, even though the show has directly referenced the Hulk a couple times now (more than the rest of the Avengers, which is a little weird), gamma rays aren’t likely. But it’d be pretty fun if it did happen.
#2 – Kilgrave’s Mind Games
Kilgrave is a bastard. A really smart, conniving bastard.
A recurring story in comic books involves heroes struggling to cope with the loss of powers. Spider-Man wants to help people, but starts slipping off walls. Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits have been shut down. Superman giving up his godlike abilities and dealing with the tough realities of mortal life.
But Kilgrave? He’s planned for this moment, and it’s what’s making him such a compelling villain.
See, it would be really easy for Kilgrave to rely on his powers to make his life run like clockwork. Have a handful of drones, make sure they check in twice a day, live life in the protection of a nest of mind controlled servants.
But Kilgrave has anticipated the limits of his own power so expertly, even a near-perfect trank-and-grab isn’t successful. He’s planned for that eventuality and hired private security. Or take Malcolm. Kilgrave doesn’t rely on his own power, but he understands the power of need. So he hooks Malcolm on heroin and makes sure Malcolm knows where his supply comes from. Damn, that’s sinister.
Even worse, though, is where Kilgrave moves beyond physical precautions and into the realm of psychological torment. He doesn’t need to have Jessica under his direct control to mess with her mind. He has Malcolm, and that’s enough to get Jessica to send him pictures of herself without ever having to use his powers! I mean, holy s***. Kudos to Jessica for being so selfless on Malcolm’s behalf, but this is not going to end well.
#1 – The Flashbacks
This is, in a way, what we’ve all been waiting for. We knew Jessica had tried the hero thing and that it somehow resulted in slavery to the Will of Killgrave. And if you’ve read Alias, you know how it happened in the comics, too.
Jessica Jones mixes up the formula a little, but in a way that feels great for the series. The street level Netflix heroes, especially the ones we’ve seen in Jessica Jones, aren’t really the types to be donning star-spangled body armor or wear a big cape. Daredevil had a costume, but he’s doing the hero thing a lot more overtly than Jessica is, who still hides behind a personal vendetta against Kilgrave and her work as a PI.
So it makes perfect sense that not only does Jessica not rush out to become a superhero the moment she gets her powers, but Trish has to coerce her to try heroics at all. The costume that Trish makes for Jessica is an awesome nod to the comics, but it makes more sense for this iteration of the character to stay in jeans and a leather jacket.
The initial encounter with Kilgrave has been changed up a bit, too – although I’d wager we’ll see more of their dinner before it’s all said and done. (We saw a muddled flashback in the first episode, remember?) Instead of finding Jessica as he’s eating and commanding her to kill some police that are chasing him, he happens upon her when she’s just helping someone (ends up being Malcolm) just being assaulted on the street.
I found these flashbacks to be a great addition. So far every episode of Jessica Jones has unpacked its characters’ pasts just a little more, and this one did that in a big way. The series feels like a giant puzzle where the edges – the past – are almost complete, but we still don’t know what picture lies at the center.
Here’s to finding out!