Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jessica Jones Recap: "AKA Ladies Night" (1x01)

Trigger warning: This show is rated TV-M because it deals with realistic portrayals of sex, abuse, violence, swearing, and PTSD. Be warned before reading this recap or watching this show.

Following in Daredevil's footsteps, Jessica Jones is Marvel's second Netflix show. It reveals a new side to the so-called "superhero" through the story of Jessica Jones, who is currently a private investigator for Alias Investigations. (If you  need a brief overview of the show, check out this post by Anna G.)  Sky, Anna, and Jaime join forces to recap the first episode, "AKA Ladies Night." We plan to recap the entire series, much like we did Daredevil, by alternating weeks. Join us as we return to Hell's Kitchen to wash evil from the dark corners of the city. Spoilers included.

We begin with the famous Marvel logo and a detective-themed, opening credits.

Anna: First of all, the theme sequence is great. I love the feel: the music puts me in mind of a detective flick, which obviously it's supposed to. I love the art style; we're getting a rough, purple intrusive look at the neighborhood, which we know is Hell's--WAIT, A MINUTE. DID I JUST SEE MATTHEW MURDOCK?

Fun fact, Melissa Rosenburg, the executive producer of Jessica Jones, also wrote for Dexter and the Twilight Saga.

Sky: I have to agree with Anna, the opening credit sequence is awesome. I never skipped it, and the theme song always filled me with excitement about the intrigue to come. I love the mixture of traditional detective-style music with something different. It mixes the genres of mystery, superhero, and action perfectly. I love how artistic the credits are as well. I love the small glimpses we get of Luke Cage (and I even thought I saw Matt Murdock in the opening sequence once). Purple is my favorite color, and though it’s representative of less-than-positive things in this show, it still lends itself to a positive aesthetic in the opening credits, at least for me.

Jaime: The graphics definitely draw me in. I love the watercolor-like splashes of purple, hinting at the villain of this season. The darker shades mixed with the silhouettes and the detective-esque music sum up the show's themes pretty well. Can I hire the artist to decorate?

The episode starts with a view of New York City and a voice-over by Jessica.
Jessica: “New York may be the city that never sleeps… but it sure does sleep around.”
We see an anonymous couple having sex in an alleyway, while Jessica snaps pictures and talks about her role as a private investigator. Clients hire her to find dirt about people--often their significant others. And when they find out, they aren’t always happy.
Jessica: “Knowing it’s real means they gotta make a decision. One, do something about it. Or two, keep denying it.”
One man gets particularly angry when Jessica tells him that his wife is cheating on him with his brother. (The couple from the alleyway, it seems.) He starts fighting with her, but Jessica fights back and throws him through the glass panel in her door, shattering the nice sign that says “Alias Investigations.” Pictures of the couple from the alleyway and broken glass fall to the ground. (Jaime: She's definitely a badass. Bonus points for strong female lead, Marvel. Also, this scene is taken directly from the comics, which is fantastic.)

Later, Jessica walks the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, continuing with her voice-over and giving us a better glimpse into her cynical personality.
Jessica: “People do bad shit. I just avoid getting involved with them in the first place. That works for me. Most of the time.”
As she says this, a bus passes by with an advertisement for a morning talk show on the side--Trish Talk. Jessica looks slightly perturbed when she sees it but continues on her way. The camera pans up to show us a tall glass building. Inside, Jessica walks into the office despite the fact that she doesn’t have an appointment with someone named Ms. Hogarth. Hogarth’s secretary calls her bluff, which means this probably isn’t the first time this has happened.

Ms. Hogarth meets up with Jessica, and they talk. It’s clear they have a slightly adversarial, yet professional, relationship. Ms. Hogarth is a lawyer, and Jessica is a private investigator--one of the best. Ms. Hogarth tried to recruit Jessica to the agency, but she turned the job down--she prefers freelance work.
Hogarth: “So you said with an impressive string of expletives.”
Hogarth says that Jessica is erratic and volatile, but Jessica says she’s effective. She’s solved eight cases for Hogarth that no one could. In return, Hogarth has accommodated Jessica’s methods and difficult personality. Jessica says that Hogarth needs her methods and asks very strongly for a case. Hogarth smirks a little and says that she needs a summons served to Gregory Spheeris, owner of several gentlemen’s clubs. He’s being sued by one of his dancers, who fell off the stage when a pole came loose and sustained permanent brain damage. Hogarth is representing the dancer… and other people interested in Spheeris’ property. (Jessica is relieved at this.) Due to Spheeris’ bodyguards, he’s difficult to serve papers to… which, Hogarth says, is Jessica’s specialty. 

Later, while on the toilet (Sky: I love this), Jessica calls Spheeris’ office, pretending to be a ditzy receptionist. (Jaime: She does an exceptional job at pretending to be someone else. I love it. I love her.) She discovers that Spheeris will be getting drinks tomorrow at 7. The only problem? She’s out of toilet paper. (Sky: This is the first time Jessica uses the word “shit,” and it becomes kind of a catchphrase for her.)

Then, she grabs a few drinks, strips off her clothes, and hits the pillow. But she can't sleep. So, she gets up and dressed before packing a bag, which includes a thermos of alcohol. She leaves the apartment. We get another voice-over where Jessica says some cases won’t let you go. She climbs a fire escape--with ease--and settles into people-watch. It seems as if she's working on another case, when actually she's, well....being pretty creepy and spying on her neighbors, including a man she seems oddly fixated on. 

She watches a couple of people, then across the street, the man in a beanie steps out of a building with a woman. (Sky: Is that Luke Cage? That’s totally Luke Cage.) They walk down the street, Jessica snapping pictures the whole time. She watches as they go inside another building. Then, beanie-less and jacket-less, the man appears at the window, wearing Luke Cage’s trademark yellow shirt. (Sky: Words can’t express how excited this made me.) He looks out the window contemplatively, hands in his pockets.

Jessica watches him, then slowly closes her eyes. A sign behind her turns purple, and a man leans in and whispers in her ear that she wants to do it. In a flash, it’s over, and the sign turns back to red again, leaving Jessica visibly panicked. She starts rattling off street names.
Jessica: “Main Street… Birch Street… Higgins Drive… Cobalt Lane.”
(Anna: I really like that her coping techniques of repeating childhood roads isn't portrayed as anything other than just that.)

She glances back at the window. The woman Luke came in with approaches him, wearing only her underwear, and kisses him. Jessica opens her thermos and takes a swig of alcohol, apparently bothered by what she sees, though we don’t really know why yet.

Jessica eventually manages to get some sleep, and we see her passed out on her bed (an empty bottle of alcohol nearby) as her neighbors argue loudly in the background. To shut them up, Jessica throws a boot at her ceiling, which causes plaster to crumble and fall on her bed. (Her apartment is literally falling apart.)

Fully awake now due to the hole in her ceiling, Jessica gets up and checks her phone, which she forgot to charge last night. (Anna: Yep, I forget to plug my phone in too.) A noise from the other room catches her attention. She pulls on pants and goes out. A man--Malcolm--stands by the fridge, having fallen asleep while eating her peanut butter. When she wakes him up, he asks her what she’s doing in his apartment, and she explains that this is her apartment.

(Sky: My tiny, wonderful son. I love him.)

She leads Malcolm out of the broken door to the hall. A couple stands outside her door, asking for her investigative expertise. Their daughter, Hope, has gone missing. Jessica invites them in, and while Bob tries to fix her door, Barbara tells Jessica more info about Hope. She was at NYU with an athletic scholarship, but she decided to take a break, which isn’t like her at all. Now that she’s quit the team, the Shlottmans decided to get on a plane to Manhattan. But the police can’t help. Someone at the precinct referred them to Jessica. (Anna: It seems to be a point that no one specifically says that it was a police officer that recommended seeking her out.)

Jessica takes the case. She begins researching. This leads her to Hope's former best friend and roommate. (Sky: Just so you know, this was the part where I avidly started silently chanting, “Please be Kate Bishop, please be Kate Bishop…”) She learns Hope disappeared unexpectedly, leaving the friend with a less-than-stellar roommate, who records time-lapse films of his life. As Jessica says, “Riveting.” She ends up ripping off his camera. (Anna: Jessica smash.)
Random film student: “...there’s no cuts.”
Jessica: “Oh, look. I found a cut.”

Jessica also learns Hope left because of a guy. Case solved, or so it seems. (Sky: And sadly, Hope’s friend wasn’t Kate Bishop after all.)

Elsewhere, Jessica locates Gregory Spheeris leaving a club and taking off in a fancy-schmancy sports car. When he pulls to a stop, she appears at his window, asking for directions to the Chrysler Building. He tries to drive away, but Jessica stops him and lifts the rear wheels of his car in the air with her bare hands. (Jaime: Yes, with her bare freaking hands.) She hands him his summons to court. He threatens to tell the world about Jessica and her magical powers, but Jessica says she isn’t hiding.

Jessica: “Do I look like I’m hiding? No. You wanna know why? Because no one wants to know. They wanna feel safe. They’d rather call you crazy than admit that I can lift this car. Or that I can melt your insides with my laser eyes. Which won’t leave a trace.”
She serves him the papers, snapping a photo of him to boot, then walks away. (Jaime: I repeat, badass.)
Jessica: “Laser eyes. Moron.” 
Back at her apartment, Jessica is passed out in front of her computer with an empty glass of alcohol. The light turns purple again as we zoom in on her sleeping face. A man leans in and licks her face. (Sky: This is when I knew we’d be reaching new levels of horrifying.) She wakes up shaken and crying, then starts reciting street names again. (Anna: Poor Jessica. So far this is handling her PTSD well.)

Her phone rings--it's Hogarth. They discuss her encounter with Gregory Spheeris. Hogarth's secretary comes up behind her and caresses her shoulder while she's still on the phone with Jessica. Hogarth compliments Jessica's work and tells her she'll notify payroll. Hogarth then ends the call and turns to kiss her secretary. 

Once more, Jessica skips out on sleeping and goes to hang out near the fire escape again, which is across from a bar. She curiously peers through the window while holding her own stash of alcohol. Just as she turns to leave, someone speaks. It's Luke Cage. He strikes up a conversation about her choice of alcohol and hanging around without ever going inside. He invites her in, offering her a ladies night special. Jessica caves and goes in. She stays for a while until only she and Luke are left in the bar. They banter back and forth, small talk really. (Anna: Oh Jessica, be nice to the nice man.)

She tells him she's a P.I. He isn't too thrilled about this tidbit of information. More jokes, more banter. She admits her job isn't too thrilling; she mostly takes pictures of people having sex in dark alleys.

Luke notices that she’s been watching him like a hawk since she walked in--maybe it’s her way of flirting. Jessica says she doesn’t flirt, but he does. It’s purposeful--a way of getting customers to drink more and tip more. Luke seems impressed and asks what else she can tell him about himself. (Anna: Just kiss.) She thinks that if a drunk person threw up or spilled something, Luke would roll with it… but if they scratched or broke something… well, “he’s toast.” She notes how clean his bar is. He cares about it more than anything or anyone--there’s history there, something personal but private. Luke likes women, and women like him. Luke says that sounded like flirting. 
Jessica: "I'm not flirting, I just say what I want."
Luke: "What do you want?" 
Cut to them sleeping together. Jessica tells Luke she won’t break, but Luke insists that she will (Sky: hinting at something, perhaps?). Afterwards, Jessica gets up and goes to the bathroom, seeming bothered. She washes her face, then looks at herself in the mirror. She opens Luke’s mirror cabinet and pushes the medications aside to see a photo of a woman.

She shuts the cabinet and bites her lip, getting teary-eyed, then steels herself and goes back out to the bedroom. She puts her pants, shoes, and coat back on, then leaves, saying, “Sorry,” as she goes. (Anna: *Awkward sad turtle walks out*)

Jessica returns home and wakes up on the couch to more arguing from the neighbors. She yells at them. Then, Hope's mom calls her. Jessica continues her investigation by tracking Hope's credit card. She's been spending a lot of money to make her boyfriend happy--lingerie, ties, a restaurant. 
Jessica: “She’s either an idiot in love, or she’s being conned. Which amount to pretty much the same thing.”
(Sky: Voice-over Jessica is full of such wisdom.)

Jessica takes notes while leaning against a sign advertising Trish Talk. (Jaime: This sign has shown up twice now. Good foreshadowing, Marvel.) Her discoveries lead her to an Asian restaurant, which she appears to recognize since she stands outside and whispers to herself, "No. No way." While this restaurant is called Niku now, it used to be called Il Rosso. She asks a man who works there if they’ve seen Hope, and he reluctantly admits that she was there last Tuesday. She forcefully asks him to tell her what happened.

As he speaks--telling of a man who somehow convinced the host to remove a couple from a particular table in the back and order an Italian dish from an Asian restaurant, the scene slowly morphs to a flashback, featuring purple lights and Jessica's own date with the mysterious purple man. He tells her she will love her food, and she repeats back that she will love it. He tells her to smile… and she smiles. Jessica realizes that Hope has been ensnared by this exact person. 

Absolutely stunned, she runs out to the sidewalk. We see the world, blurry, as if from her perspective, as she tries to ground herself by reciting street names. It seems to help, but only a little. She starts running, fear on her face.

She goes to Hope's parents and demands to know who referred them to her.  It wasn’t a cop--it was a civilian, and he had a nice… English… accent. Just like the man she was with in the past at Il Rosso. Just like the man who has been haunting her dreams. Jessica tells Hope's parents to pack and leave, to get out of town. Then, she goes home and does the same. She tries to book a ticket to Hong Kong, but she's low on cash. She calls Hogarth to lend her money, but the lawyer refuses. As Jessica hangs up, Hogarth sees her secretary (her name is Pam), and Pam smiles. However, another woman walks in and kisses Hogarth, then they leave for dinner reservations. (Sky: Ooh, I smell trouble… The plot thickens!) (Anna: WHOA, WAIT A MINUTE. JERI IS CHEATING ON HER WIFE WITH HER SECRETARY?)

Hitting a dead end with phone calls, Jessica gets in the elevator. At the last second, Malcolm hops on too. Jessica tells him she needs money, and Malcolm offers her his TV. Jessica says he can keep it.

In a ritzy apartment elsewhere in Manhattan, we finally get to see the mysterious Trish we’ve been seeing so much of. She’s talking to two of her assistants about the show. (Sky: Channing Tatum apparently exists in the Marvel universe. Awesome.) Then, Jessica arrives on the balcony. Trish gets rid of her assistants and lets Jessica in, though she doesn't seem to be too thrilled to see her. (Anna: There's a heck of a lot of tension and history here. Is this her sister?) She's even less thrilled when Jessica flat out asks for money. Trish asks why.
Jessica: “He’s back.” 
Trish insists it’s just Jessica’s PTSD, since it’s been a year and Jessica saw him die. Jessica insists it’s not her PTSD, but Trish asks if she’s been having nightmares and flashbacks.  She tells Trish about Hope and the Shlottmans. Trish asks why the man would pick Hope--is she gifted? Jessica says she’s maybe a gifted athlete. Jessica reminds Trish of how the man took her on their one month anniversary… and now he’s doing the same thing with Hope. 
Jessica: “The lingerie… the gift… the restaurant.”
Trish: “The hotel?”
Trish says she’s calling the police, but Jessica insists that the police can’t help.
Jessica: “You know what he can do. You know what he made me do.”
Trish says that Jessica is running. Jessica is worried about what will happen if he gets his hands on her again. Trish says she can’t leave the girl with him and that Jessica is far better equipped to deal with the man than Hope is. 

Trish: “You’re still the person who tried to do something.”
Jessica: “Tried and failed. That’s what started this. I was never the hero that you wanted me to be.”
Trish caves and gives Jessica the money. But as she rides in a taxi presumably to the airport, Jessica can't let Hope go either. She goes to the hotel, where the doorman recognizes her by name. Jessica walks through the halls of the hotel and zeroes in on one particular room before pulling the fire alarm. As people clear out, Jessica walks towards the one room at the end of the hall. As she does, the light flickers purple, and there are the sounds of whispers. 

(Sky: Quick side note: I love the subtle usages of color in this show. In the comics, Kilgrave was the Purple Man. While they abandoned that name, they still integrated it well in the show. With purple flashes of light, purple neon signs, and the purple opening credits, it’s clear that purple is a motif we’ll be seeing. Awesome.)

Jessica walks into the hotel room and through the suite. The shadow of the man appears, and he asks, “Did you miss me?” while putting his hand on her shoulder. (Sky: I’d seen the episode before, but this still made me jump.) (Jaime: I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but think of Moriarty here. Wrong British dude. And then, I thought what a horrifying world it would be if Moriarty and Kilgrave were friends.) Nothing’s there, and Jessica keeps walking through the suite towards the bedroom. 

When she gets there, she finds Hope laying on the bed, looking in the direction of the window. Jessica asks if he is here--if Kilgrave is here. Hope says he’s not, and he left five hours and twenty-one minutes ago. She’s been staring at the clock. Jessica calls Hope's parents to instruct them to meet at her office.

Jessica tells Hope they need to move, but Hope says she can’t. Kilgrave told her not to move. She wet the bed. Jessica seems to steel herself for what she has to do, then she grabs Hope’s coat and tries to put it on her. Hope screams that she can’t leave as Jessica drags her away from the bed. Hope manages to break free and gets back on the bed, so Jessica lifts her up and carries her. Hope fights it the whole way, breaking lamps and clawing at door frames. Jessica knocks Hope’s head on the door frame, knocking her out.

Back at Jessica’s office, Jessica says that Kilgrave’s control does wear off, but it takes time and distance--so they’re both getting out of there. Hope says Kilgrave made her do things that she didn’t want to do… but that she wanted to. 

Jessica sits down next to her and starts telling Hope to remember the street names she lived on as a kid. She then tells Hope that none of it is her fault, and she wants Hope to say it. Hope repeats it back to Jessica, albeit falteringly. (Anna: It's good to see Jessica in this light, her compassion for Hope is evident. If only she were able to give herself a little more of that grace.)

Hope's parents arrive, and they embrace. Jessica tells them to take her far from the one who took her. They thank her. Hope even gives her a hug. Jessica smiles a little, then tells them to go and she’ll be right behind them. Jessica packs up her stuff and says one last little goodbye to her apartment, then shuts her broken door behind her.

Hope and her parents reach the elevators first. As Jessica walks toward them, Hope looks over at her, and everything turns to slow motion. Hope reaches for a gun… pulls it out… and starts firing as the elevator doors shut. Gunshots continue to fire as the elevator goes down the shaft. Jessica takes the stairs, rushing towards the ground floor. She opens the elevator door, and Bob’s bloodied, lifeless body falls out. In the corner of the elevator, Barb is slumped against the wall, her blouse stained with blood. Hope keeps firing even though she’s out of bullets. She has a vacant, chilling look on her face as she turns to look at Jessica and tells her to smile. 

(Anna: Well, that was one of the single most sad and terrifying things I've ever seen on screen.) 

Jessica walks away, and Hope drops the gun, coming to awareness of her actions. She screams for her mom as a crowd gathers. Jessica walks the opposite way and out onto the street, where a taxi pulls up. As she stands outside the taxi, shocked, we get another voice-over.
Jessica: “Knowing it’s real means you gotta make a decision. One, keep denying it. Or two… do something about it.” 
With a determined look on her face, Jessica walks back into the hotel. 

Cue end credits.

What do you think of the first episode of Jessica Jones? Will you keep watching?


Post a Comment