REVIEW: Marvel's Jessica Jones Episode 3 - AKA It's Called Whiskey: "I Wasn't Strong Enough"

In Episode 3 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones – AKA It’s Called Whiskey, Jessica and Kilgrave continue their dangerous game of cat and mouse, Jessica discovers she has another superpowered ally and Hope’s innocence is publically called into question by someone she thought was on her side.

As always, this review will include spoilers so please be cautious if you have not yet watched the episode.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is presented as a superhero adventure series but at its core it is a psychological drama that focuses on the nature of abuse; it just so happens that some of the protagonists have superpowers. To be abused in any situation – be it sexually, mentally, physically – is a terrifying and isolating experience and the effects can be exacerbated hugely if the victim is not taken seriously by those supposed to offer protection. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has taken themes that are familiar motifs - coercion, uninvited sexual advances, sexual and sexist language, guilt-tripping and threats – and woven them through this noir thriller to add another layer to the story which separates the series from any other Marvel production. Therefore Hope’s predicament is a metaphor for the experiences of thousands, millions of people worldwide, mainly, but not exclusively women, who experience horrible experiences at the hands of others. Rape, psychological torture and physical abuse are considered terrible, repugnant acts, but it’s a sad fact that reports of these crimes seem to trigger a sort of mental block and victims can be subjected to disbelief or questions of who really was to blame.

Hope murdered her parents. That is an undisputed fact. Now her defence that she was under the mind control of a powerful individual is the subject of public ridicule. She is being vilified by the media who cannot accept that a being with Kilgrave’s powers can exist; this is presumably the same media who accepted that their city was recently saved from aliens by an extraterrestrial god and a green monster. People with superpowers are out there in this universe, yet Hope’s claims cannot be granted even the tiniest credence. Hope, and Jessica before her, like so many experiencing abuse within a relationship, experienced the duality of both needing to flee and being scared to leave Kilgrave’s control. She was aware that she was being controlled, but she couldn’t break away. Her own words were there in the back of her head, but when Kilgrave spoke to her, all she could think of was what he wanted her to do.  As her claims are picked apart live on Trish’s radio talk show – by her own lawyer Hogarth, no less –she is very publically thrown to the media and other doubters who are waiting for an opportunity to rip her to shreds like a shoal of hungry piranha. She is tried and found guilty by media before her trial has even begun. Her only hope is for others with powers to come forward, or for Jessica to tell her story, but at the moment she’s not willing to do that. It’s clear that Hope’s tearful account of her time with Kilgrave have stirred up unpleasant memories for Jessica – will her own fragile state of mind hold out?

Jessica, meanwhile, has discovered that she’s not the only superhero in the neighbourhood as she and Luke Cage, he of the unbreakable skin, compare notes. The general consensus seems to be that being a superhero is not all that it’s cracked up to be and both of them, for their own reasons, want to keep their powers under cover. Their origins remain a mystery too, though we can be pretty certain that we’ll find out more about Jessica’s accident soon. However the ‘experiment’ that Luke teases is likely to be kept under wraps until his own Netflix series launches next year. What is divulged though is that Reva Collins was Luke’s wife, and Jessica’s guilt at being her killer is more than she can bear, and she tries to distance herself from him.

Again largely in the shadows in this episode, Kilgrave is very much manipulating the game and he ups the stakes by targeting someone very close to Jessica. The nature of Jessica and Trish’s relationship isn’t made clear yet, but there is definitely a long history there and in spite of their recent differences Jessica still regards Trish as someone she can trust. Fortunately Trish has Jessica in her life too, because her martial arts fail her when she faces death at the hands of Officer Will Simpson of the NYPD who Kilgrave has sent to kill her following her on air taunting of him. Jessica uses the situation to locate Kilgrave, tricking Simpson into thinking he has succeeded in his mission and then following him as he returns to report. Finally Kilgrave is revealed as he washes his hands of Simpson. Believing that his assassination mission is complete, he orders the cop, with casual brutality, to walk off a building, barely shifting his gaze from his rugby match. When he and Jessica come face to face, he actually looks quite pleased with himself. As far as he is concerned, the abuser has control of the situation again, even if he does not yet control Jessica.

But Jessica has a bigger shock to come when she discovers evidence of Kilgrave’s overbearing preoccupation with her: he has been having her photographed all around the city. Stalking, of course, is another tool of the creepy and obsessed, intended to watch and intimidate, to locate and control. In this digital age, Kilgrave could quite easily keep tabs on Jessica, yet he chooses to have her photographed and has amassed a huge collection. As he has chosen to plaster his walls with them, they’re probably as much for his own pleasure as they are for surveillance. It’s not clear whether Jessica was intended to find this and how she was supposed to react. Her priority now is to uncover the person acting as photographer on Kilgrave’s behalf. From the locations of some of the pictures she suspects that it’s someone close by. The worst is that she knows that Kilgrave is just toying with her. He’s barely got started yet, Fortunately Jessica has a plan, she just has to create the right situation to bring it to fruition, but she’ll have to act quickly before Kilgrave gains more ground against her.

Jessica Jones – Krysten Ritter
Kilgrave – David Tennant
Jeri Hogarth – Carrie-Anne Moss
Hope Schlottman – Erin Moriarty
Trish Walker – Rachael Taylor
Will Simpson – Wil Traval
Malcolm – Eka Darville
Ruben – Kieran Mulcare
Wendy Ross-Hogarth – Robin Weigert

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is now available to stream on Netflix.