Episode Title: AKA Crush Syndrome
Original Air Date: 11/20/2015
Jessica vows to prove Hope’s innocence, even though it means tracking down a terrifying figure from her past.
In this episode we get a better sense of the character of Jessica Jones herself. Whilst the first episode did a good job introducing her to us, we only got brief hints as to her personality. Here it comes more into focus. Jones is someone who doesn’t want to connect to people, partly due to the experience she suffered as a result of Kilgrave. She’d rather burn all of her bridges than risk losing anyone, best seen in the scenes between Jones and Trish, with her paranoia being passed on to Trish, who is learning how to disarm people at the end of the episode to defend herself against attackers. At the same time, the barriers she has placed around herself are starting to break down due to her involvement with Hope and Luke Cage. She is starting to care for people again, but it’s clear she’s still suffering from PTSD as a result of what Kilgrave put her through. She also has a hard time getting people to believe that Kilgrave is even real, the main investigation of the episode is finding one person besides her and Hope who has encountered Kilgrave and walked away with relatively little damage. The episode also shows the impact that her investigations outside of Kilgrave have on people and the damage that she can do to people’s lives. Krysten Ritter continues to show the nature of Jessica brilliantly, her abrasiveness contrasting brilliantly with the more caring side we see at the end of the episode.
This episode we also find out more about Luke Cage, mainly the bulletproof skin of the character and I love how it was first shown, almost like a throwaway detail, a blink and you’ll miss it event, and when we see how strong his skin is at the end of the episode, there’s this wonder about how he got it. This is also true for how Jessica got her powers, with her strength being highlighted the most so far, and it’ll be really interesting to see how this all comes together. The powers, and the two hiding their powers from the world, makes Jessica and Luke more kindred spirits and enhances the relationship between the two, along with Jessica immediately going to help Luke when she finds out he’s in trouble, aided by strong chemistry between Ritter and Mike Coulter.
The episode also does an amazing job showing just how much of a threat Kilgrave is. We saw in the last episode that he can convince people to kill their parents but it goes much more into detail here. We see that he took a man’s kidneys to replace his own after he got hit by a bus chasing after Jessica and that he stayed awake for the whole procedure, along with the fear he instilled in the doctor who performed the surgery. We see the damage that the act has done to the victim, with him begging Jessica to kill him to end his suffering, in the most powerful scene in the episode. This makes it all the more intimidating when we finally see David Tennant as Kilgrave in the flesh at the end of the episode and this was a great introduction. His very casual nature in getting people to do whatever he wants and his blatant disrespect for everything comes across brilliantly. The way he’s filmed as well is excellent. SJ Clarkson makes it so we never get a full look at Kilgrave, only seeing his silhouette which adds to the air of mystery surrounding Kilgrave.
The direction overall by Clarkson is strong, continuing the surreal nature of when Jessica sees Kilgrave in her head and the main action scene is brilliantly handled. Ritter and the stunt team do a good job showing how someone with the physicality Ritter has can hold her own in the fight but it’s Coulter who comes off best here. His overall attitude is brilliantly downplayed, a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me attitude which lets you know he’s experienced a few too many fights in his life and he’s just gotten bored of them by now.
AKA Crush Syndrome is a great second episode. It helps to reaffirm the main plot elements of the show, does a great job in the true introduction of Zedediah Kilgrave and establishes more of the relationships and character beats to be built upon in later episodes, notably with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. If the show continues like this, it’s shaping up to be one of the best parts of the MCU.