Jessica Jones: "AKA Top Shelf Perverts" - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Jan/160

Jessica Jones: “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”

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Points converge as Kilgrave and Jessica both move into position against one another.  There's a guarantee of collateral damage - but who will take the first fall?  Andrew and Ryan look at the seventh episode of Jessica Jones, "AKA Top Shelf Perverts!"

Right on the edgeJust to make sure my cards are on the table for this episode of Jessica Jones - "AKA Top Shelf Perverts" is goddamn bonkers.  I mean this both as a kindness and as a criticism.  Whatever kind of show Jessica Jones seems to be aiming for reaches its, to-date anyway, apotheosis in "AKA Top Shelf Perverts".

Every character is presented in a concentrated dose of what's made them unique so far.  Some of this is for the better, like when Jessica and Kilgrave have their long-awaited conversation in the police station and when Kilgrave loses his temper we get a taste for what he finds attractive in Jessica.  Other parts just seem extreme for the sake of near comedy as Trish and Simpson have sex so enthusiastic on her end it seems like she's trying to pierce her cervix (which given the nature of their relationship seems more than less likely).  Even the worst subplots become the worst versions of themselves as the divorce between Jeri and her wife adds blackmail to the already loaded subplot.

Oh yeah, and Malcolm shows up looking like an extra from Breakin' 2 (a touch so weird I couldn't help but love it) only to say Ruben's name in one of the most terribly written pieces of dialogue Jessica Jones has produced so far.  Ruben who, in addition to his garden variety sexist creepiness, turns out to be the male reflection of Jessica and his sister the female reflection of Kilgrave.  Then his throat is slit because his sole function has to move the plot forward.

Before we get into the similarly over-the-top (for Jessica Jones anyway) visuals of "AKA Top Shelf Perverts" let me know what you thought Ryan.  Because you're typically the more generous of the two when it comes to Jessica Jones so far and this is easily its most memorable, disastrous, and excellent episode yet on my end.Drinkin' 2 Barfin' BoogalooI love how this show just seemed to go bonkers with "AKA Top Shelf Perverts".  While the brother and sister characters were strange and seemed to belong in a different show, I usually laughed at them.  Like you said, I am generous of the show and liked the craziness in short bursts.  While it is true that his character and his death were just there to further the plot, I couldn’t help but feel bad for poor Ruben.

This episode really brought Kilgrave in the forefront and got the story really started and it was time.  I loved the slow burn of the reveal to his character but after the scene with Krysten Ritter and David Tennant in the police precinct how can anymore say anything other than “yes please, can I have a another?”

Kilgrave as a love-sick puppy trying to do the “right thing” is part creepy and part funny and I can’t wait to see more of that, especially Jessica’s reactions to his advances.  The one thing I was thinking while watching this episode was what are they going to do in the second season because I can’t imagine them topping this bad guy.

Now that I have heaped enough praise on this episode, let me now rant.  Please, please, PLEASE drop the love triangle/divorce/blackmail episode.  I like Carrie Ann Moss but I grind my teeth when she appears.  I can’t see where this story line is going and I don’t care.  Unless it ends with one of them killing every character on this show in a murder suicide type deal, it wasn’t worth the time.  Ok rant over, what else do you want to talk about?Comforting little spot we're inNewer Andrew cutout commentary Just that I completely agree with you about Moss' subplot.  It's always been written as a rough parallel to whatever's going on in Jessica's life.  Maybe it'll feel less like "INSERT PARALLEL THEMES HERE" now that Ruben and his sister are likely out of the picture.  But, like I said in the intro, the good is amplified as well as the bad throughout "AKA Top Shelf Perverts".

What character work we did get moved the self-hatred of survivors guilt along excellently.  The opening scene with Jessica finally confronting Jeri's ex to sign the divorce papers was a great example of this.  Jessica has the huge monologue where she seems right on the edge of letting the poor woman fall on the rails as Jessica talks about how much of a shit person she is.  Then, right when the woman falls, Jessica immediately breaks the façade and just goes, "Shit," to herself.  It's a great performance moment for Ritter as we can see how quickly she can shift emotional tones and a powerful written moment as we see Luke Cage's words did leave an effect but one that she's already been hitting herself with.

The slow burn at the police station was another good example even if, and I have to quote my notes here, "This scene is spectacularly well acted even with the bad dialogue."  For as many cop shows as I've watched I don't think anyone has been able to sell the line about being x years away from retirement.  There are few performers less worthy of such a line than Clarke Peters, but even he seems to be struggling with the familiar laps the script is circling.  Another performer given absolute madness to sell is Wil Traval as the increasingly enthusiastic sex buddy of Rachael Taylor's Trish.  This is how I choose to define him because it may not matter in the next episode.  He's been an absolute creep, a wounded warrior, sparring partner - essentially whatever the script has needed him to be.

It seems Simpson is the embodiment of the '80s-esque musical genre smash intro and this episode was his dirty sax sex moment, but hell if I can figure out how they're carving his path (even though I know where it's going).

Ryan Commentary StampI’m not sure if it was a character beat but I can’t figure out the secretary to Moss.  Is she good, evil, a shade of gray?  She seems to be too nice to be having an affair with a woman but she doesn’t like her lovers shady dealings.  Much like Simpson her character is whatever the story needs her to be that week.  Speaking of Simpson, I hope they figure out him soon.  I started out really digging him but then the show switched up his motivations and personality and I haven’t been picking up what they have been throwing down. I also know where he is going to end up near the end of the show but the way has been a bit bumpy so far.

What did you think of the blocking of the police scene during their conversation?  I loved the deep focus so you could see everyone frozen in place and just spectators to the macabre courting ritual that Kilgrave was doing at this time.  I really liked how they didn’t do too many close-ups just to show that everyone else are just puppets in Kilgraves world and made the end of the scene (one that started with a wet Jessica depositing a head on a desk) even more surreal.A separate nemesisNewer Andrew cutout commentaryAs I read that, if the start of the police scene had slightly worse dialogue it would have been perfect camp.  The head rolling and Jessica's constant insistence to be put away is odd enough then everyone cheerfully pointing their guns at one another worked well with our ongoing reports of deepening police corruption.

That deepening corruption was the through-line with the colors of this episode.  Loved the bold dark colors and neon lighting of the opening moments - the first in a long time to really capture the same sense of vibrant danger in Jessica Jones' introduction sequence.  Then there was that spectacular blue and purple beam which literally separated Jessica from the dark as she threatened Jeri's ex.

I also loved how Trish's mother is cloaked in this corruption.  The purple we've come to associate with Kilgrave's stalking is draped around Trish's mom to the point where her wardrobe, office, and home are consumed by it.  The emotional abuse Jessica suffered from her comes in a shade of purple, just like a bruise, and always prevalent in the best moments of Jessica Jones.  The electric back and forth between Ritter and Rebecca De Mornay was a sign that Jessica Jones is sliding into the full comic book melodramatic darkness I came to know as love in Alias.

Ryan Commentary StampI love your interpretation of the purple and the bruises and it fits perfectly.  While there is some punching in the show, most of the violence in the show is of the emotional kind.  As you mentioned in the beginning the word of Luke Cage cut her deeper than any type of physical violence could have done and it just adds to the number of emotional scars that this woman has.  Her family dying, her horrible adopted mom, Kilgrave, her being a witness and not stopping another family being torn apart and finally Ruben.  While she thinks that going away to prison is the heroic thing, it is more she just wants to give up.  She seems done with life seeming to kick her repeatedly when she is down and the way to get away is to go to prison.

Now that is off the table because Kilgrave won’t allow it, I am curious what kind of scars will be forming soon for Jessica or if she is going to go more traditional superhero show and start punching and kicking things.  With where the next episode seems to be going, I can’t wait to see.

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Next week, "AKA WWJD?"

Posted by Andrew

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