Netflix’s new Marvel series Jessica Jones follows on from Daredevil and captures the life of little-known ex-superhero Jessica Jones in a dark fantasy series. Developed by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (of Twilight and Dexter), the series stars Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) as superhero-turned-private-investigator and Carrie-Anne Moss as high-powered lesbian lawyer Jeri Hogarth.
The second episode, “AKA Crush Syndrome”, picks up soon after a brainwashed Hope Shlottman pulls the trigger on her parents. Jessica is then questioned inside the police interrogation room, trying to convince the officer that if she’d known Hope’s intentions, she would have stopped her. Assuring the officer that she has nothing to do with the murder, Jessica adds, “the only thing you can charge me with is trying to make a goddamn living in this goddamn city.”
Walking into the neighborhood bar on the same day, Jessica sees the police interrogating Luke about whether he knows Jessica or not. When it becomes obvious that Luke’s not very happy to see a different face of Jessica as a private investigator, she lies and tells him that she was hired by a man who suspected his wife cheating on him with Luke. “That night you came to my place, that was all just part of this job?” Luke asks. The emotional sparks between Jessica and Luke begin developing from this episode.
The film noir clichés in Jessica Jones draw our attention to a rather different New York, an unsafe, gloomy, gothic city full of rainy streets and ominous silhouettes. Kilgrave might be lurking in the next dark corner. “I am not safe anywhere…every corner I turn, I don’t know what’s on the other side. I don’t know who’s on the other side,” Jessica tells her best friend Trisha.
She looks at herself in the mirror. “It’s better, being alone, it’s safer, with Kilgrave out there. He cheated death, how?”
The show also makes great use of a classic noir convention where the protagonist’s voice-over narrates her state of mind, drawing us into her anxieties, moral ambiguities, and feelings of entrapment. As attracted as she is to Luke, she can’t afford to dwell on his disappointment in her; she has a mystery to solve. How did Kilgrave survive the accident? How can she find his weakness?
First, she visits Hope at a mental hospital, expecting to find clues about Kilgrave. Besides wanting to stop him herself, Jessica needs to find a way to prove Hogarth that Kilgrave’s mind-control powers are real, so that Hogarth will agree to represent Hope in court.
Instead, all she gets from Hope is, “You should kill yourself!”
“Probably, but I’m the only one who knows you’re innocent,” Jessica says.
Jessica finds the closest hospital to where the bus accident had taken place a year ago. Using her super strength, she breaks into a locker room and steals light-pink scrubs and an ID badge (you definitely want to see Jessica in a pink heart-patterned scrubs). Acting dumb, she gets a nurse to help her access the records of all patients brought to the hospital after the accident on January 20.
Finding no signs of Kilgrave in the archives, Jessica tracks down Jack Denton, one of the ambulance drivers involved in the accident. Jessica finds out that Jack, now wheelchair-bound and nearly mute, was found unconscious in an alley after having “donated” both of his kidneys to a patient. Jack’s religious mother tells Jessica that a mysterious donor sent by God had paid for Jack’s dialysis machine.
The next morning, Jessica receives a call regarding the person who leased Jack’s kidney machine: a surgeon named David Kurata. Kurata explains that, after the fatal accident, one of Kilgrave’s kidneys had been destroyed and the other had started to break down, a phenomenon known as “crush syndrome.” Even though Kilgrave could have survived with one kidney, he wanted to be “made whole again” so he intentionally maimed the bus driver. Kurata’s conversation with Jessica has two bonuses. First, his story convinces Hogarth to take on Hope’s case. Second, Jessica finds out Kilgrave’s weakness: surgical anaesthesia!
Then Jessica finds out that Luke is in danger because of her lie about investigating his affair with the married woman. She rushes over to the bar to protect him, not knowing that he has superhuman powers as well. On one side of the dive bar, Luke swats three guys like flies; on the other side, Jessica tosses men twice her size across the room with one hand.
Despite the investigation-heavy plot, the episode ends on a rather sensual note. Luke catches Jessica in her apartment, naked and wet, as she’s putting on her tank top.
“I saw you,” he says.
Jessica tries to play dumb again, but this time, she can’t hide what she is.
“I saw you, and you saw me,” Luke emphasizes. Then Luke takes out a saw. He pushes the saw against his torso and turns it on. Sparks fly. Then the saw grinds to a halt. Turns out, the bartender has secrets of his own…including unbreakable skin.
This second episode of Jessica Jones does a great job of setting the mood and introducing Luke Cage’s abilities, Kilgrave’s intentions, and the kinds of obstacles we’re likely to find throughout Jessica’s personal journey to face Kilgrave.