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[TV Review] ‘Jessica Jones’ Episode 1.04 – “AKA 99 Friends”

This episode took on the fallout that can come from super-powered encounters in a number of ways.  I honestly can’t recall anything else within the MCU tackling similar material, outside of Tony Stark’s PTSD problems in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3.  Sure we get the “toll of being a hero” routine from time to time, but that’s standard issue superhero drama.  What we often don’t see is the effect that this extraordinary events sometimes have on the little guy, namely civilians.

Amidst her continued search for Kilgrave, Jessica encounters a side P.I. job that she initially believes to be a trap set by her adversary.  Instead, the reality is quite different.  Yes, this client is a would-be assassin intent on taking her out, but it has nothing to do with the Purple Man.  Jessica’s life is threatened simply because she is gifted.  She is endangered because she has powers.

The woman and her husband want Jessica taken out because they were there in New York when the portal opened and the Chitauri descended upon the city (as seen in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers).  The woman’s mother was killed during “the incident” and she has be stricken with grief and anger ever since.  As often happens with sorrow, it has bred hatred.  In this case, a hatred for those with “gifts” and a desire to see them removed from society.

Jessica deals with the situation, but there are no doubt plenty more out there like this couple.  People out of their minds with anger, fear, and sorrow who are pointing an accusatory finger in the wrong direction.  This is something that holds true not only within the fictional realm, but within our own reality as well.  Watch the news for an hour or two at any point during the day and you are sure to see it.

On the flipside, we are also shown just how Kilgrave can destroy a life without actually taking it.  The story of the man who was forced to abandon his child on a street corner and then held captive as Kilgrave’s driver for weeks on end is a heartbreaking one.  The crying child left on the corner is depressing enough, but not nearly as much as the ultimate consequence of such an act.  Because of Kilgrave’s commands, which must be obeyed, this man lost his family.  His wife left him and took the child with her.  Kilgrave has moved on with his life without a care in the world. while this man has lost everything.  It’s a soul-crushing tale and one rarely told within superhero-themed films and TV shows.

While the character work within this series continues to shine, especially in the therapeutic interactions of Trish and cop Will Simpson during this episode, it’s moments like the one above that stand out the most in this series.  Melissa Rosenberg is charting new territory not only for Marvel, but for superhero adaptations as a whole.  Each episode highlights a new facet of this universe that either hasn’t been looked at or is at least being cast in a very different light.  It’s all utterly fascinating and deftly handled.  This show might not be perfect, but it’s certainly striking a lot of chords within me.

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