Week of January 15, 2023:

AKA I've Got the Blues (Jessica Jones s1 e11) released November 20, 2015 (where to watch)
AKA Take a Bloody Number (Jessica Jones s1 e12) released November 20, 2015
Scott Hardie | March 11, 2023

I'm disappointed: "AKA Sin Bin" was so violent and disturbing that it has turned off Kelly from finishing Jessica Jones. She already sat out for "AKA 1,000 Cuts" and it took about a month for her to decide to skip the rest too. I understand her choice because this show is so hard to stomach, but it's a bummer because we had (re)watched the entire MCU together up to this point and I don't want to go on without her, and also because I think the key episodes of Jessica Jones's first season are possibly the best and smartest thing that the MCU has ever produced and I enjoyed discussing them with her. Well, at least I can now get back on track with watching and writing. Onward…

AKA I've Got the Blues: Setting aside my foreknowledge of the rest of the series for a moment, this hour does not bode well for the show ever trying to focus on any villains other than Kilgrave. Simpson just isn't very compelling, and except for the inventive fight choreography, it feels like this episode is going through the motions with the inevitable next stage of his story arc. (Even the episode's title, which I presume is a reference to his pills, feels like a lazy pun.) Kilgrave is far more watchable, and both of them effectively dramatize certain criticisms of men as experienced by women, so I think the problem with Simpson is that the pills that scrambled his brain also let him off of the hook for his amoral behavior. What's especially galling about Kilgrave is his sincere denial of responsibility for his actions despite being of sound mind and able to see what he's done, just like too many real people who leave emotional wreckage in their wake and refuse to acknowledge it, Simpson similarly denies that he's the bad guy, but his protestations meant more dramatically when he was merely a chauvinist jerk who kept screwing up Jessica and Trish's plans after elbowing his way into them. Now that the pills have turned him into Officer Murderpants, his blindness to his own atrociousness reads as a mere side effect of the medication. What is the show to do with him now, other than force Jessica and Trish to outrun him and outfight him? He has no meaning or dramatic purpose any more. (It's kind of a shame that he wasn't featured on the later Punisher series, since his comic-book incarnation as Nuke was partly a criticism of the hyper-aggressive, hyper-violent, hyper-patriotic American attitude of the mid-1980s as exemplified by film series like Rambo and Missing in Action. Much more interesting contrasts could have been drawn between that version of Simpson and Frank Castle.) Do you agree or disagree with my analysis?

The subplots are a mixed bag. Trish's eagerness to take a red pill and self-satisfaction after surviving it feel like the real reason for the time spent on Simpson here, and they work well for her character, as do the childhood flashbacks that show more hints of the hell that Dorothy put her through. The child actors playing teenage Trish and Jessica manage to sound eerily like their adult counterparts despite some clunky dialogue. I don't buy the hasty reintroduction of Kilgrave and Luke at the end; it feels too openly villainous for Kilgrave. Malcolm's dispiriting story about surrendering hope in humanity is worthy of more attention; there's too much else going on for it to register. I enjoyed the banter with the morgue attendant; little moments like that make the show more bearable. (6/10)

AKA Take a Bloody Number: Just some scattered thoughts this time:

• So Riva's connection to Kilgrave is finally established, albeit still murkily. When I wrote that the show never explained it, that was after fruitlessly researching online, so I tried to get it right, but I still made a mistake.

• I busted out laughing at Robin's idea of a romantic backdrop down at the waterfront. And how empty is New York City in the MCU, anyway? Wouldn't that place have at least a few people working?

• The purple nightclub set was very telegenic, and Jessica approaching Kilgrave on the stage became one of the signature images of the series, even though that specific image was Photoshopped together and didn't appear in the episode. But for my money, Jessica and Luke in the battered apartment was the best shot of the hour, not just for its pleasing composition, but for its multiple layers of symbolism (the casework takes precedence in the foreground but the heroes brood behind it, the gap between Jessica and Luke is larger than ever, Jessica's life is rubble and shadow but there's still a light in the middle of it, etc).

• Anyone familiar with addiction should have felt their blood run cold when Dorothy asked about the red pills and Trish promised that "I didn't relapse."

• It's been a while since Aaron Shurtleff blogged here on Funeratic, but I'll name a song of the day in his honor: Gogol Bordello's "Start Wearing Purple."

• Dorothy is odious but so well written. Less so is the brushing off of the Simpson & IGH subplot with an "I can only deal with one Big Bad at a time." Comedies can get away with being meta; serious dramas have a much harder time.

• Since every episode is named for a line of dialogue, I'd have preferred "AKA The Hits Keep Coming," given its layers of meaning. That fight scene, especially the final part at the police car, was just brutal. Between that, the crying man at the fence outside, the blender, and the poor courier, this was an especially cruel hour for Kilgrave. (8/10)

Erik Bates | March 19, 2023

AKA I've Got the Blues: Not knowing anything about back story from the comics, I thought this was perhaps a callback and/or somehow related to Extremis. Considering how Will and Trish never exploded, though, I'm guessing it's not.

AKA Take a Bloody Number: Does Luke have super-strength, too? The way he picked up the landlord in the apartment and casually moved her aside was beyond "I'm just strong" and was done with comedic ease that implies that his skin isn't his only gift. Has that been addressed?

Also, complete random thought: Did young Luke Cage get pimples, and if so, how did he pop them?

Scott Hardie | March 21, 2023
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