‘Jessica Jones’ Season 2 Review, Episode 1: ‘AKA Starting at The Beginning’

[:en]Actress Krysten Ritter was on the set of the new TV show 'AKA Jessica Jones' on March 24 2015 in New York City. |[:]

Reeling back from the aftermath of the first season and the dull and uneven Defenders team-up series, our girl Jessica Jones is at it again. She’s drinking, she’s detecting, and most importantly she’s dealing with trauma. So much trauma.

So, pour yourself a drink. I sure am. And let’s cue up the jazzy music, start the hard-boiled voice-over narration and dive into the murky neo-noir world of Jessica Jones.

The episode opens with Jessica doing her PI thing, photographing the adulterous rendezvous of a wayward pizza delivery guy. His wronged lover offers to triple Jessica’s pay if she agrees to kill the pizza guy. Word around town after her deadly showdown with Kilgrave is that Jessica’s a cold-blooded killer, a superhero vigilante. And she’s struggling with her infamy. Jessica declines the offer. Killing’s not her style, no matter what people say about her.

Meanwhile, Trish is on the trail of the mysterious circumstances that led to Jessica gaining superpowers. In order to retrieve a medical file, Trish pulls a Ghostbusters 2 move and dons her Patsy wig to perform at the birthday party of hospital security guard’s daughter. Said file reveals that there was a twenty-day gap between when Jessica was admitted to the hospital after the car accident that claimed the lives of her family and put her into a coma, and when she was assigned a hospital bed. Where she was during that stretch of time holds the key to how Jessica got her powers and Trish is getting to the bottom of it.

During Jessica Jones’ first season the most important relationship was between Jessica and Trish. Made sisters by the car crash that took away Jessica’s family. The bond between the two while strong is continually tested by their different perspectives and disagreements on how to handle the past. Trish’s investigation into Jessica’s past and Trish’s segments about superpowered people on her radio show, Trish Talk, creates even more tension between them.

Jessica is none too pleased, to say the least. Trish feels she finally has “something to say” instead of the usual fluff pieces her show mostly covers. The fundamental difference in their approaches to the past is that Jessica wants to keep that door closed while Trish wants to bust the door down. Jessica’s inability to deal with her past is made extremely evident when Trish presents her with her dead family’s ashes that have remained in Trish’ storage for what must be several years at this point. Their dynamic builds on their existing character traits and takes them to interesting new places, with Trish being the proactive one and Jessica wanting to run away from her problems.

Speaking of running away, this episode brought someone into the fold I thought I’d never see, The Whizzer. The D-list Marvel speedster made his first live-action appearance. Complete with a pet mongoose named Emil, both a reference to how the Whizzer got his powers via mongoose blood transfusion and to the Whizzer’s father, Emil who provided the life-altering procedure.

The Whizzer repeatedly begged Jessica for protection from some mysterious assailants. Jessica scoffs at him, thinking his claims of superspeed and attempts on his life are the result of a delusional mind. As it turns out though, the Whizzer is, in fact, a super. After his final attempt to receive Jessica’s protection ends in an altercation with her, and in the struggle, The Whizzer runs out of Jess’ apartment and meets a grisly end, being killed by falling construction debris.

It’s all very Loony-Tunes-esque. I felt like a piano could have landed on his head, to be honest. The effects for the Whizzer’s super-speed also left a lot to be desired. Honestly, they should have learned something from makers of The Flash, because if The CW is pulling off better effects than you, you’ve got problems.

Besides, the death of obscure heroes, Jessica also has to contend with the arrival of rival PI, Pryce Cheng. The head of a rival PI firm, Cheng is everything Jessica is not: professional, smugly confident, and connected. After poaching clients from each other, Jessica gets into an altercation with Pryce at his office, injuring him and getting arrested in the process. Resulting in her getting probation and mandatory anger management classes.

Pryce was able to get in a verbal sucker-punch that knocked Jessica down a few pegs. “Super? You’re the weakest human being I’ve ever met.” Taken aback, Jessica’s even scarring herself at what she could do. Is she the killer everyone thinks she is? That’s something she’s likely going to grapple with throughout this season.

Meanwhile, Carrie Ann Moss is still slinking around as super-lawyer, Jeri Hogarth. Hogarth too is dealing with her actions from the previous season, reeling from the fallout of her wife’s death and her lover’s lawsuit against her. Hogarth’s law firm partners smell blood in the water and not even the cameo mention of the money Jeri’s bringing in from Rand Enterprises appears to be enough to keep her partners at bay. Hogarth backed into a corner is always dangerous and though Jessica and her aren’t on speaking terms any longer, Jessica is not far from Hogarth’s mind.

The episode caps off with Jessica tracking down who was feeding The Whizzer antipsychotics and therefore may have had a hand in creating and ultimately destroying him. This mysterious benefactor is surprise, surprise, IGH. Hinted at in season one as the outfit responsible for Jessica’s powers, it seems like IGH is set to be this season’s big bad.

Jess goes to the facility where The Whizzer’s pills were being distributed from and as fate should have it, it’s also the same place she was tested on and given her powers. Via brief flashbacks, we begin to put together the picture of what happened to Jessica and catch a glimpse of Freddy Kruger-like “monster” who this writer is guessing to be IGH’s enforcer and the guess of the Whizzer’s death.

The theme of the episode and probably the whole season for that matter appear to be “how do you deal with your past? Do you run from it, delve back into it for answers.” Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg is in the director’s chair for this inaugural episode and she did decent job building off of the previous season while not retreading too much ground. It’s very easy for a character like Jessica to become a parody of herself. While the drinking and snarkiness are fun, the show realizes that these character traits are really bad coping mechanisms that Jessica needs to deal with. Given the strengths of its characters and the potential for real growth, I give AKA Starting at The Beginning 3 downed whiskeys out of four. Hopefully, the rest of the season will continue to explore the rich stories that come from living with trauma and how people can recover from it.