A flashback heavy episode reveals more IGH secrets and how Jessica Jones got her leather jacket
Credit: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Jessica Jones’ life is messed up. That’s been clear since the first season. Not only did she lose most of her family in a car accident, but then she was trapped by Kilgrave’s disgusting spell. Well, “AKA I Want Your Cray Cray” adds yet another tragedy to Jessica’s backstory while also revealing what Alisa Jones — who takes over narration duties from her daughter — has been up to since the accident. (Spoiler alert: Nothing good!)

The flashback episode begins in the immediate aftermath of the Jones family car accident. Alisa, Jessica’s mother, wakes up in IGH, and her face and body are horribly disfigured (i.e. she’s the Meat-Face monster Jessica remembered in the premiere). In shock and scared, Alisa, who also has super strength, rampages through IGH and almost kills her daughter until Karl knocks her out. Over the next five years, IGH goes on to give Alisa even more treatments, which include facial reconstruction. Unfortunately, they can’t fix Alisa’s anger problems. Every time she gets pissed off, she flies off the handle and starts destroying things. During this period of time, Karl has also taken a special interest in Alisa. There’s something creepy about the way he relates to her. He clearly has feelings for her since she’s his big scientific experiment.

Alisa spends the next few years asking Karl what happened to Jessica until he finally comes clean: Jessica believes her entire family is dead, and she’s been adopted. This sends Alisa flying off the handle, but Karl sedates her before she kills anyone. However, Alisa doesn’t give up. When she regains consciousness, she throws Inez through the glass and kills Luanne after she reveals who adopted Jessica. Alisa escapes IGH to go find her daughter.

By this point in time, Jessica is in college and living with Trish, who is trying to rebrand herself as a sexy pop star with her annoying new single “I Want Your Cray Cray” and has an addiction problem. Jessica hates both Trish’s new song and her entire party girl lifestyle because she’s worried about her sister and focused on doing well in college. Ritter does a fantastic job of showing us how this Jessica is a bit less moody than present-day Jessica, but not a completely different person. She still has an edge and loves her brown liquor.

Trish’s incessant partying ends up causing a rift between her and Jessica, whom she drunkenly accuses of mooching off of her. So Jessica moves out and ends up shacking up with a cute bartender she just met named Stirling, with whom she enters into a relationship. Without Trish in her life, Stirling becomes Jessica’s sun, which ends up revealing just how desperate Jessica is for a family.

As we come to learn through these flashbacks, Stirling plays an important part in shaping who Jessica is: He’s working on opening a club called Alias; he’s partially the reason Jessica has no problem occasionally stealing; and he’s responsible for her iconic leather jacket, which he suggests she steal one night when they’re out. I’m not sure what’s lamer: explaining the origin of a leather jacket or the origin of a character’s tattoos. Both seem very unnecessary. Furthermore, it’s ridiculous that this is the first time we’re hearing about such an important person in Jessica’s life. That’s probably one of the major weaknesses of the episode. The presence of Stirling feels like a last-minute, shameless retcon. (Next: Yet another tragedy in the life of Jessica Jones)

After a month or so of living together, Stirling urges Jessica to reconnect with Trish, whom she hasn’t spoken to in quite some time. Their reunion at the club actually goes well, and Trish, whose addiction is threatening to get the best of her at this point, is overjoyed to meet Stirling. However, Jessica cuts their meeting short when Stirling brings up Trish investing in his club. When Jessica and Stirling return home that night, some of Stirling’s investors show up at their apartment and threaten to hurt him unless he gives them back their money. Naturally, Jessica steps in and kicks their butts.

Meanwhile, Alisa is hot on her daughter’s trail. She checks in with Dorothy first, who is able to point her in the right direction. Alisa tails Jessica to a bar, where she meets up with Stirling, and follows her into a bathroom. While in the restroom, Alisa overhears Jessica curse about not having a tampon, so she uses her powers to steal one from the vending machine in there. It’s one of the strongest scenes in the episode because you can feel how much this means to Alisa, and you also feel sad that Jessica, who is clearly longing for family, has no idea that her mother is right there. Jessica offers to buy Alisa a drink in return for the tampon.

When Alisa returns upstairs to the bar, she sees Stirling’s investors forcibly escort him into the alleyway and follows. Stirling’s investors offer to forgive his debt if he convinces Jessica to come work for them. Because he’s the worst, Stirling agrees. Obviously, this pisses Alisa off, and she confronts Stirling after the investors depart — and by confronts, I mean covers the adjacent alley wall with his brain. Jessica arrives in time just to find her boyfriend dead on the ground, unaware of what actually happened. Did the show need to add yet another traumatic event like this to Jessica’s past? No, it didn’t.

This tragedy does two things: First, it leads to a rapprochement between Jessica and Trish. When Jessica can’t get in contact with Trish, she goes looking for her and finds her on her knees in a bathroom with a drug dealer. Jessica rescues her from that situation, and their ensuing chat also convinces Trish that she needs to get help. There’s a tenderness in their scene that hints at how close they’ll become in the future. Second, a distraught and defeated Alisa returns to IGH and admits that she isn’t ready to be with her daughter, which pleases Karl.

From there the episode returns to the present, and Alisa asks Jessica if she could ever forgive her. Jessica responds by punching her, but Karl sedates Jessica before she can go any further.

Episode Recaps

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