Jessica Jones: "AKA 99 Friends" - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Jessica Jones: “AKA 99 Friends”

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Jessica sees her worst fear realized when she uncovers the surveillance room Kilgrave has run on her every movement.  When your opponent can control the actions of potentially anyone with a word, how do you return to a regular life?  Andrew and Ryan look at the fourth episode of Jessica Jones, "AKA 99 Friends".

Vague reminders of what's out thereI wasn't a big fan of "AKA It's Called Whiskey" last week as it represented something of a step back for Jessica Jones after it's great first two episodes.  But now, barely thirty minutes after finishing "AKA 99 Friends", I am having trouble remembering what even happened in the episode.  Almost nothing about it stuck out to me, and since the episode focused more on a "case of the week" format and some of Jeri's (Carrie-Anne Moss) romantic troubles - which, by the way, I can do without moving forward thanks - "AKA 99 Friends" almost seems by design an episode for minimal attention.

A big problem with "AKA 99 Friends" was the decision either by the vast committee of Executive Producers or teleplay writer Hilly Hicks, Jr. to excise Luke Cage entirely from the episode.  Yes, Jessica decided to "call it off" after finding out just how closely Kilgrave has been monitoring her, but considering the way Luke approached Jessica to mingle secrets and bodies it's a bit odd that he is completely absent after her mild tell-off last week.  Even the oppressive sensation Kilgrave usually brings to the table wasn't as noticeable with even less stylized camera work.

One welcome surprise in an otherwise forgettable episode involved Trish and Officer Will Simpson - who tried to murder her under Kilgrave's influence last week.  Jessica Jones works best when it focuses on two individuals who have been through a traumatic episode and try to reach out to one another in spite of the pain.  Trish's understandable paranoia and Officer Simpson's guilt was nicely mirrored by the darkened steel door which separates the two as they get close.  Considering how horrible the Jeri love triangle divorce subplot went earlier in "AKA 99 Friends" I was happy to see Trish and Officer Simpson get a nuanced and well-acted moment to themselves.Stranger DangerI have said from the beginning that I was skeptical about the love triangle story with Jeri and nothing has changed my mind about this.  They might be really good actresses doing their best with the parts but it is something that is out of place on a show like Jessica Jones.  While I missed Cage in the episode because Mike Colter has such good chemistry with Kristin Ritter, I don't think the episode was worse with him sitting it out.  While there wasn't any big "wow" moments, there was a lot to like in this episode.

My favorite scenes were the ones with Trish and Office Simpson and how the shot always showed that the gun was close to her even after she lets him in the door.  Close behind these scenes were the support group scenes for the Kilgrave victims.  A moment that the audience is expecting to be silly with all the fake stories turns chilling when we get to the real victims.  The woman who was told she had a nice smile and had to keep smiling was chilling and another good way to make Kilgrave so chilling when he is off-screen.  Another thing I loved was Jessica's paranoia because with his mind powers, it literally could be ANYONE following her.  A lot of people feel all the world's eyes on them, but for Jessica it could be true.  Finally, the thing I have been dying to ask you is since you hate the Avengers films, what did you think about the case this week tying directly into that world?Trust IssuesNewer Andrew cutout commentaryGlad you brought it up because I am split right down the middle on the reveal.  It makes perfect sense that some people in New York would want to lash out at "specials" after "the incident", and it gives Ritter the opportunity to nail one of my favorite lines in the comic.  The moment she threatens to pick the bullet out of her jacket and shove it through her now-hostile client is a great one, and the monologue she delivers while pummeling both the client and her husband is a spectacular showcase for Ritter finally getting to vent some frustration verbally and physically.

The flip side of this is that I'll be surprised to be seeing or hearing much more about the suspicion people have of specials throughout the rest of Jessica Jones.  It's a great moment, sure, but kinda highlights how uneventful the rest of the episode was and how it needed this one moment to really stick out.  I also find it odd that the destructive implications of people like Jessica and so on are only being expressed on the small screen versus any of the Marvel films as they enter double-digits.

Those enjoyable moments were over much too fast and didn't really gel well with either the slow-paced procedural part of Jessica doing her job or the ongoing relationship troubles of Jeri.  I might be softer on an episode like "AKA 99 Friends" if this was a full series, but considering Jessica Jones is a limited series focused in on Kilgrave and the destruction he brings I'm less sympathetic.  The status quo remains roughly the same for our major players, so did the show runners think this would be a good hour for their viewers to stay tuned in but use the opportunity to go make dinner?

Can't say, but if Kilgore's influence is felt performance-wise through one little girl and the expressive lighting minimized yet again next week I'm going to start to get worried about this middle stretch of Jessica Jones.

Ryan Commentary StampLike Marvel's Daredevil, I am glad they are showing that aliens coming in and blowing the hell out of your town would have implications for all.  The one pet peeve I have is can we call the characters by their name?  Why doesn't anyone say Hulk, or Iron Man or Captain America?  It's not like Marvel is going to sue them for doing it.

Now that my small rant is done, I think that this episode had more than enough good performances and moments to make me pay close attention.  I loved the small moment when Jessica realizes the little girl is under the influence of Kilgrave and says that she is sorry.  That is showing the open wound that she still has and her desire not to have anyone else go through the same thing.  We are a third done with the season now and I expect the episodes to start ramping up to a big meeting between the two soon but I have liked the small character building that they have been doing, even if I have to suffer through the out-of-place love triangle.

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Next week: "AKA The Sandwich Saved Me"

Posted by Andrew

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