Jessica tries to come up with a plan to save her mother while her most vulnerable friends endure new indignities
Credit: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Never a dull moment this season, eh? Just as it seemed like Jessica and her mother were getting on the same page, Alisa got arrested. Now she’s bald again, and more importantly in jail, but Jessica and Jeri have a plan. As they explain to her, the only way to get her out of this (or at least achieve the most comfortable sentence possible) is to tell the truth about everything she’s done, including a confession of Dr. Karl’s role and whereabouts. The only two things Alisa cares about in the world are Jessica and Karl, so she’s loath to give him up. But Jessica eventually gets her to acquiesce to the deal, because this is actually only part one of her plan.

The second part of Jessica’s plan includes getting Karl safely out of the country. As long as he lands in a South American country that doesn’t extradite, then Alisa can confess her knowledge of him (in order to get the best deal for herself) without jeopardizing his safety. Jessica doesn’t care about Karl’s safety, of course, but she does care about her mother. Keeping Karl safe means keeping Alisa safe.

Trish certainly doesn’t see it that way. For her, Karl is the story, and she really needs the story. She flubs her audition at the big news network. Her rant about the failures of the war on drugs and mass incarceration are well-intentioned, but coming down off her recent drug fixation, Trish simply can’t match the energy of her show-ending Trish Talk rant that got her in the door. When she overhears the station’s top producer getting called away to investigate a tip about a superpowered prisoner, she realizes that Jessica must have finally caught the killer.

So Jessica finally briefs Trish and Malcolm about the fact that the killer they’ve been chasing is actually her mother. Malcolm is heartbroken that Jessica still won’t keep him in the loop on vital information like this when he’s done so much to become part of the Alias operation. He’s also mad at Trish for inspiring him to take a drug again after all the work he’s put in to getting clean. Unfortunately, it feels like the Three Musketeers are splintering. Jessica reprimands her for taking drugs again (especially one whose contents she doesn’t understand!) but she doesn’t exactly have the moral high ground; in fact, she makes Trish leave the office so she herself can drink in peace.

Luckily, there are some positive influences in Jessica’s life these days. She calls Oscar to make sure Vido wasn’t around to see her mother’s arrest. He wasn’t, but Oscar can feel the pain in Jessica’s voice. She wants to go out in order to avoid any human contact, but he meets her halfway down and gives her a hug. It’s such a soft, sweet moment — doubly welcome in this episode full of pain.

Fresh off her “healing” by Shane, Jeri Hogarth is filled with new life. Although Jessica wants to get Dr. Karl out of the country and away from science so he can’t hurt anyone again, Jeri is like Trish in that she wants to use his skills for her own ends. Jeri believes the powers granted by IGH can be used to help the world, in the same way Shane’s powers have helped her.

Or have they? When Jessica meets with Karl to inform him of her plan, she learns that he never treated a patient named Shane, and that IGH never made a healer. She tells this to Jeri, along with her guess that Inez used nursing training to feed Shane the ALS knowledge he needed to fake a diagnosis, but the lawyer doesn’t want to believe. You can certainly understand, since we’ve seen how desperate she has been to find a cure. But some things really are too good to be true. When Jeri returns to her apartment, she finds it totally empty. Inez and Shane have finished their scam and have now taken everything. Jeri falls to her knees and scream-cries for a few minutes, in a truly painful moment. This season of Jessica Jones may not be as flashy as the first, but I really like its nuanced meditation on pain and abuse. This episode in particular shows the unique horror of abusing helpless people — both sick people like Jeri and prisoners like Alisa.

Alisa soon ends up with a nasty piece of work for a prison guard. This Dale guy appears to be nice at first, but when Alisa refuses to eat her meat-based dinner on vegetarian grounds, he demonstrates his desire to impose total control. Alisa is able to scare him off first, but then he returns with heavy-duty restraints and uses them to shock her repeatedly as he talks about a love of “rules” inherited from authoritarian grandparents. Dale is a villain in the vein of Kilgrave, terrifying because his desire to violently dominate others feels so real.

Soon enough, he even meets the same fate as Kilgrave. Upon realizing that he’s abusing her mother, Jessica follows him home to investigate — and finds a trophy room filled with the bloodied prison uniforms of prisoners who have committed “suicide” under his watch. This prompts Dale to sneak up behind her and start beating her savagely while screaming “self-defense” in true George Zimmerman style. That’s not a good thing to do to a superhero, of course; blinded by pepper spray and assaulted by kicks, Jessica lashes out desperately with a counter-attack that proves fatal. Now what is she going to do? Yet another excellent cliffhanger this season, if I do say so myself.

Case notes:

  • I’m getting worried about Trish. I think Alisa reads her right when she says the thing driving Trish nuts these days is a desire to have her own superpowers like Jessica. Hence the IGH obsession, the constant superpower coverage, and taking Simpson’s inhaler in order to enhance her natural abilities. It feels like her addiction has moved from drugs themselves to chasing a sensation of power and fame. Now that she’s gone so far as to knock out Malcolm and stuff him in the trunk while she confronts Dr. Karl, I’m guessing this won’t end well.

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Marvel's Jessica Jones
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