Thursday, November 26, 2015
Villains Multiply As Villainy Overcomes Everyone But Trish In "AKA I've Got The Blues"
The Good: Pacing, Generally good performances, Trish's character arc
The Bad: Diverges from the main plotlines to deal with a contrived subplot
The Basics: "AKA I've Got The Blues" has Trish's mother and Nuke taking center stage for the villain roles as Kilgrave goes into hiding following his most significant attack.
There are few shows that I have gone into with no real information that I still felt a great deal of anticipation for that I will go back to even if they let me down. The first season of Jessica Jones definitely met all of those criteria, though. I knew nothing of the protagonist, Jessica Jones, the Netflix previews got me excited about watching it and after a decent bit of rising action through the first few episodes, I was hooked. And then the season peaked with "AKA WWJD?" (reviewed here!) and it never quite recovered from the greatness it executed and the potential it revealed in that episode. "AKA I've Got The Blues" comes after that point, so it is when the season is on the downswing, laboring toward its obvious climactic battle between Jessica Jones and the villainous mind-controller Kilgrave.
"AKA I've Got The Blues" is set immediately after "AKA 1,000 Cuts" (reviewed here!) and there is no realistic way to intelligently discuss the episode without referencing some of the climactic events of the prior episode. Regardless of where "AKA I've Got The Blues" goes, it starts out in a wonderful way with a flashback that makes it perfectly understandable why so many people throughout Jessica Jones know the It's Patsy! theme song. If there is any significant tie-in between Jessica Jones and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is my sincere hope that when the inevitable meeting between Hellcat and The Avengers comes up, Dr. Banner, Tony Stark, The Falcon, and Ant-Man all start singing the It's Patsy! song to Trish. Odds are, though, whatever circumstance would unite the Marvel Cinematic Universe's disparate heroes, it would be a dark event. The longer "AKA I've Got The Blues" goes on, the more one has to wonder just how dark things have to get before an Avenger or two pops up to actually help the street-level heroes.
Opening with a flashback that shows how Jessica Jones woke up to Patsy being forced to take her in after Jones's family was killed, the episode flashes forward to moments after the biggest on-screen Kilgrave attack to date. The four survivors are confused and Jessica Jones tries to keep it together following Hope's suicide. Robyn even comes around to lying to the police about Kilgrave's attack, to protect the police who might investigate. Jones and Trish meet up and Jessica Jones insists on hunting down the local John Doe's at the morgues in order to find Albert, whom she assumes is already dead. Jones works herself to exhaustion searching for a corpse that does not exist, getting hit by a truck in the process.
Trish is visited by Simpson at the set of her show and she tells him off for being violent and scary the last time they met. Simpson lies to her about quitting The Program again, which leads Trish to abandon him and go to bring Jessica Jones back to her home. When the morgue calls in the morning, Jessica Jones discovers Clemons's body. Unfortunately, that leaves Trish vulnerable to Simpson's attack . . . which he does when his men come for him. That sets off a battle between Simpson and Jones that destroys the Alias Investigations office!
"AKA I've Got The Blues" is the closest viewers get in the first season of Jessica Jones of a heavy Trish Walker episode. Trish trades on her celebrity in order to get Jones access to the morgues and she has a solid arc from her past reluctantly rescuing Jessica Jones to the present where Jones has been her protector. "AKA I've Got The Blues" allows her to take the role of protector back and given how many crappy decisions Jessica Jones has made in the course of the season, it's refreshing to see someone else take charge. Trish is smart and detail-oriented, which makes her a nat ural private investigator, should the television incarnation of Trish follow her comic book source's lead, it will make sense.
Trish calls Simpson out on his bullshit, before she catches his slip-ups. She is a powerful character and Rachael Taylor plays her exceptionally well. Taylor makes Trish credible as a survivor of child abuse and someone who can hold her own with Jones and her bullshit. "AKA I've Got The Blues" helps prove that Trish can hold her own as a headliner; she need not be a sidekick only!
Krysten Ritter has one of her very few instances of breaking in "AKA I've Got The Blues," which is funnier than one might think to see. As Jones sings the It's Patsy theme song to Maury the elderly morgue guard, her eyes are cracking up and it's almost a delight to see Jessica Jones so simply delighted. If only it were a character choice . . .
The breaking is an unfortunate symptom of a larger problem. Director Uta Briesewitz gives Trish a good arc at the expense of some of the sensibility that has made Jessica Jones fly up until now. Simpson's science-altered body is regulated by three groups of pills - reds, blues, and whites. During the climactic battle, Simpson warns Trish against using the reds because without the blue pills, she will forget to breathe . . . before he tosses the pills away. In the time it takes for the paramedics to arrive while Trish's life hangs in the balance, Jones doesn't even attempt to find them! As well, when Simpson's goon friends arrive, they wait for him to take his pills and become . . . invulnerable? super strong? outright psychotic? (it's not entirely clear what the pills to to make him more soldier-y), which makes no real sense.
"AKA I've Got The Blues" does have a moment of truly impressive character and acting for Jessica Jones and Trish Walker. Elizabeth Cappuccino (who has to have one of the best names in show business EVER!) plays the young Jessica Jones opposite Catherine Blades (Young Trish) and for two young performers, they truly nail the instant camaraderie and quirks of reluctant friends finding common purpose. Cappuccino's delivery when she talks about the TV movie that would be made about Patsy is hilarious and unsettling, which is more than just the lines could have done.
Despite how cool the climactic battle in the episode is, "AKA I've Got The Blues" is yet another Jessica Jones episode that acts as more of a tangent to the main storyline, as opposed to an essential piece of the plot. The result is both an episode that is inherently flawed and one that fits into the overall narrative is a more awkward than organic way.
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Jessica Jones - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!
For other works with Mike Colter, please visit my reviews of:
Men In Black 3
Million Dollar Baby
For other television season and episode reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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