Jessica Jones: "AKA It's Called Whiskey" - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Jessica Jones: “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”

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After their late night exchange of secrets Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are growing closer in a way few others on the planet can understand.  In the meantime Hope's case hinges on the public's ability to believe in mind control and Trish has Hope on her talk show to spread the word.  From the shadows Kilgrave continues to taunt Jessica into making a mistake.  Andrew and Ryan look at the third episode of Jessica Jones, "AKA It's Called Whiskey".

This is going to take some putting togetherSomething we talked about last week on "AKA Crush Syndrome", and I feel will be an ongoing discussion with regard to Jessica Jones, is how the new wave of 'net shows are constructed in a way which anticipates binge watching.  I bring this up because "AKA It's Called Whiskey" is a bad episode in the scope of binge watching but would be a decent "coming off hiatus" sort of story.  The first half of "AKA It's Called Whiskey" was a retread of almost the exact same images and dialogue spots we got in "AKA Crush Syndrome".

Thankfully the second half, picking up from when Trish goes on her ill-advised rant about Kilgrave, picks up the slack considerably.  The acting keeps things brisk in a way the poor direction doesn't.  This is the first episode of Jessica Jones directed by David Petrarca, whose sole cinematic outing produced Save the Last Dance 2 and visually lackluster shows like Big Love and Dawson's Creek.

Visually speaking "AKA Crush Syndrome" is a huge step down from the previous two episodes, but Petrarca's work on those shows let's Jessica and Luke's relationship breathe a bit.  Granted, that breathing is heavy moaning from the supersex their having - a point repeated so often I started thinking "enough already" in my head.  But the tender moments, even in the midst of passion as they realize neither one of them has to hold back for once, and the post-coital conversation were better than the rest of the shenanigans.  How'd you fare with Petrarca's first outing behind the camera?

Lovey dovey super folksI am a strange person and have always wondered what superhero sex might be like and I am glad that Jessica Jones finally let me peer behind that curtain.  I also seem to like this episode much more than you.  While I agree it picks up in the second half with the attack on Trish and Jessica battling her way through the family under the spell of Kilgrave but there is a very good moment near the front of the episode as well.

From the other episodes, we know that Jones is on a mission to stop Kilgrave and to her collateral damage is acceptable if she achieves her goal, but the scene she screwed over Malcolm to get the medicine she needs in her battle was cold and tough to watch.  I give the show and the director Petrarca credit for not overplaying the hand after she pushes Malcolm into the nurse to cause a distraction by having him yell at her.  The look she gets when she quickly passes him on her way out of the hospital said all that needed to be said.  A lot of this episode asked about good and evil and this wonderfully painted Jessica in a shade of grey.Glossed over with purple rageNewer Andrew cutout commentaryI'll give the teleplay by Liz Friedman and Scott Reynolds, with obvious kudos to Krysten Ritter and Eda Darville, much more credit over the direction in that sequence.  Almost everything in the hospital was filmed in easy to parse shots with none of the evocative lighting and obstruction we've come to associate with the direction in the previous two episodes.  The flushes of purple and emotional lighting was replaced by the two shades on the walls and the lights from the Pepsi machine.

Worse were the fight scenes, which were C-grade horrible.  The fight scene which capped "AKA Crush Syndrome" had a kitchen sink feel, like it was a brawl for all with Jessica and Luke holding the wild cards.  But Petrarca had little sense of space or kinetic motion in the fight scenes for "AKA It's Called Whiskey", making a baffling decision to film from a good distance away but still cut repeatedly so we don't even get to see the performers do their thing in the apartment brawl.  Then those throws which were horribly done.  The first time Jessica threw the police officer the camera holds on empty space for a solid beat before we finally watch the body fling through the air and then a second cut to see him hit the wall.  The one saving grace is that the next time we see her throw someone the camera at least stays with the same shot even if it hits an empty beat before hand.  When we finally get to the third time Jessica throws someone (which is a special kind of bad all its own), it at least avoids the dead space beat and goes straight to the wall.

The blandness applied to the dramatic showdowns as well.  When Trish is interviewing Hope with Jessica staring through the glass it would seem to be the perfect time for a reflection or purple lighting but Petrarca films for minimum affect.  Even when Hope breaks down and Jessica starts to go crazy you'd think that would be a good opportunity to do something, anything, different.  But it was bland, which in a show which has to this point defined itself by lighting texture and mood disappointed me badly.  I do have some other positive points to hit, but I'm not looking forward to Petrarca's episode next week, especially if we get the same "Jessica 'yer a loose cannon" speech from Jeri at roughly the same time as we did last episode.

Ryan Commentary StampYou are making good points and maybe it was the writing and acting I really liked in this episode because I have to tell you I dug this from beginning to end.  The chemistry between Mike Colter and Ritter is great and much like the comic book versions, they are quickly becoming my favorite superhero couple (granted the pool is pretty shallow to pick from).

I laughed out loud the way they worked in Cage's old "sweet Christmas" catch phrase and the way everything was going well between Jessica and Luke it was evident the rug was going to be pulled out soon and it was by the end of the episode when you find out Jessica actually killed, while under Kilgrave's control, Luke's wife.  Since you weren't as big of a fan of this episode, do you think they earned that pay-off at the end of this week?BetrayerNewer Andrew cutout commentaryI've got no beef with the acting and only mild beef with the writing.  The writing because the upstairs neighbor brother / sister thing is adding a bunch of quirk with nothing that's paying out immediately in terms of laughs and I'm having difficulty envisioning a long-term plan for.  But I do like the aside moments of Jessica delivering some street justice and her takedown of the faux-liberal biker brat for hurting Malcolm was the laugh this week I felt the "You're a perceptive asshole" missed last week.  It helps that the sequence involved a character who seems similarly adrift like the brother / sister but whose chemistry has a much more vulnerable quality than Jessica and Luke.

To the last moments...half and half.  Again, Petrarca's direction was rough because the fight scene beats leading up to the reveal were so bad.  But Ritter, and the production design, nailed the weird mix of affection and danger Kilgrave brings to Jessica's world.  One thing Jessica Jones has done to add emotional complexity to Alias is add murkier depths to their relationship.  David Tennant, similarly, did wonders with the few seconds we get to see his face with such a complicated look of murder and an almost paternalistic sense of lust.

Ryan Commentary StampIt is good that you brought up the bit of screen time that Tennant has had because it feels like he is in so much more than he is because of the shadow he cast.  Last week with his one scene in the apartment and the story the poor guy without his kidney's told about his encounter with him was chilling.

This week, we see him in the flesh for a scene and hear him on the radio but that's it, but we FEEL him every second of the show.  I liked the fight at the end of the episode a lot more than you because unlike most action scenes, the people Jessica was fighting were not her enemy and it made everything more complicated.  Although it is not a steep mountain to climb, I think Kilgrave might be the most interesting villain (or tied with Kingpin at the worst) in the Marvel U.PrideNewer Andrew cutout commentaryHah!  I agree, calling Kilgrave the second or equally most interesting villain in the Marvel Universe with respect to television and cinematic productions is making a mountain out of a molehill.  But it's worth pointing out when they're doing something well and considering our overall time with Kilgrave has been maybe five or six minutes at most the shadow he's cast and the menace Tennant brings to the role are worth our attention.  While I wasn't keen on this episode there's still enough to keep me optimistic that at least the acting and developing storyline will barrel through on to the next episode - and who knows?  Maybe Petrarca's direction for this one was a fluke and the next will be superb.

I'll hold onto my doubts, thanks, but I'll still leave some room for hoping for the best.

Ryan Commentary StampThree episodes in and the show is what I was hoping for all those years ago when it was supposed to be on ABC.   The cast is starting to gel nicely together and I am even starting to warm up to Trish now.  A quarter of the way through the show and I can't wait to get to the next episodes. Let's hope we see more of the fallout of Trish's attack and learn a bit more about officer Simpson even though I feel like I know where that story is going since I am a big fan of Frank Miller's Daredevil run.

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Next week: "AKA 99 Friends"

Posted by Andrew

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