For its fifth episode, Jessica Jones mounted its most thrilling hour yet while simultaneously exploring power dynamics in way that felt totally natural to the world of the show. Basically, “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me” was Jessica Jones at the series’ best, and I really hope it can maintain.
The action picks up 18 months ago, back when Jessica was working some dead-end desk job. Her work ethic isn’t the greatest, but that’s not a problem when she has dirt on her corrupt boss. Since this type of work isn’t working for her, she extorts her way out of a corner with only a few filing cabinets as casualties. Considering what she is capable of, I’d say that everyone in the office got off pretty easy.
The flashback is a set-up for Jessica Jones’ most interesting story details so far and serves as a partial origin story for Jessica’s first stint as a would-be superhero. Ridiculously overqualified for her jobs, Jessica can’t find her place in the world, and her closest friend thinks the answer is simple: Go out, and save people. But Jessica resists. She doesn’t want a costume — even one that looks identical to her outfit from the comics — and she definitely doesn’t want to be called Jewel.
Although the idea doesn’t appeal to her, Jessica has a change of heart when she’s faced with the reality of saving someone. That opportunity comes along while working another job, this time advertising two-for-one hoagies while dressed as a giant sandwich. When a little girl wanders into the street, Jessica stops the cab with her fist. “Hey, get off the road, you stupid sandwich,” the driver says.
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So Jessica has found her calling, and through that, we see the full scope of Kilgrave’s atrocity. As revealed toward the end of the episode, it was saving Malcolm from a group of muggers that alerted Kilgrave to Jessica’s abilities, what made her attractive to him. This is what makes Kilgrave just like any sex criminal. He takes the identity that she has struggled to find and reduced her to an object (hair, skin, and fashion sense) meant for his pleasure. The exchange is quiet and absolutely chilling and, in a single scene, establishes David Tennant as most terrifying villain in the Marvel universe.
What I’m really enjoying about this show is that everything I described above also happened in a heist episode. So far the series has mostly worked with a more relaxed pace that had Jessica stalking and following quietly without pops of action. But I really dug the more structured — and consequently more propulsive — approach to drugging and kidnapping Kilgrave.
The revelation that Malcolm has been the one taking photos of Jessica has led her straight to the Purple Man. Every day at 10 a.m., her drugged neighbor receives instructions from a random person in Union Square, who tells him where to meet Kilgrave and deliver the new photos. The reliable pattern is just what Jessica needs to stick Kilgrave with her anesthesia, but it’s going to be more complicated than she initially thought.
NEXT: Down goes Kilgrave — or does he?