Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones: Season 1: Episodes 7 & 8

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Season 1: Episode 7: “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”

There are two truly amazing images in this episode that I can’t ever quite let go of. One of them is brutal, the other is just beautiful. The image of Reuben, bleeding from his freshly cut throat in Jessica’s bed is haunting and fabulous, and Jessica looking over the city on a bridge, saying her goodbyes to it, is also brilliantly staged and so stunning, that I hadn’t even remembered it from my first watch through.

The crux of this epsiode though, is about Jessica further losing control. Reuben’s death is horrifying and the fact that he is truly an innocent is not lost on Jessica or anyone around her. I’m not a huge fan of the character of Robin, but the way she becomes unhinged at Reuben’s disappearance really reminds you that these are people who are meant to be on the outskirts of the world, even Hell’s Kitchen, which is all shadows.

The rest of the episode plays out with a brilliant two handed scene between Kilgrave and Jessica in the police station, where he will not allow her to turn herself in. It’s terrifying and some of the best acting I’ve seen David Tennant do. (Which, considering how much Doctor Who I’ve watched, and that Richard III I saw him in…well, that’s saying something right?)

I also love that Malcolm is all in with Jessica. I really love his character! I’m really excited about it moving forward with more of this show. (Season 2 and all…) But the visit to Trish’s mom, and the flashback to Jessica’s early days with the Walkers is also chilling and a good reminder that abuse is kind of the watchword of this series, recovering and moving past it, and it’s cycles.

Season 1: Episode 8: “AKA WWJD”

This might be my favorite episode. A lot of Jessica Jones takes romantic comedy and drama cliches and plays them for terror, and the “grand gesture,” Kilgrave purchasing and recreating Jessica’s childhood home is easily the most cogent and most terrifying of all of these. And this episode never plays the gesture, or the way Kilgrave is treating Jessica, holding her emotionally hostage as he threatens the lives of the servants that he’s hired.

And there’s another brilliant double scene, where Jessica finally says, “you raped me,” and we get the most salient comment on rape culture I can possibly say. Kilgrave’s complete misunderstanding of consent, boundaries and why Jessica felt violated is so spot on to what I’ve heard men say.

Meanwhile, Simpson (ugh) is really hoping to kill him, and Jessica makes him do a heroic act at one point and finally, captures him. Seriously, the moment where she stabs him in the neck is one of the most satisfying in the whole series, and there are a lot of satisfying moments.

Other Stuff

  • OFFICER BRETT MAHONEY SHOWS UP IN THIS EPISODE! Unfortunately for Jessica, she has no cigars to bribe him with. Unfortunately for Brett, he’s being controlled by Kilgrave.
  • Everything about Jessica demanding a lawyer makes me wish that Matt and Foggy showed up. Sadly, or possibly for the best, they do not.
  • The flashbacks to the day of Jessica’s family dying are really affecting. There’s nothing idealized in this day, it’s a normal frustrating and ultimately awful day.
  • Jessica’s neighbor is awful, but that doesn’t mean that she deserved to be blown up.
  • When Jessica and Kilgrave go to break up the hostage situation the Star Wars references are golden, but I also get Doctory vibes from it. Of course, the Doctor wold have just empathized the hell out of everything instead of ordering, but still, it’s all there. It’s all about the framing, that’s what this show has taught me.
  • Jeri’s divorce is actually a very compelling B story, I just never remember to write about it. But I do like it, and Carrie Ann Moss is fab.

Felicity: Season 1: Episodes 5 & 6: War Stories

felicity-season-1Season 1: Episode 5: “Spooked”

Felicity and Ben get mugged, and react to it in different ways. Felicity reacts by applying for a job at Dean and Deluca, helping the police and talking Ben through his feelings. Ben reacts by calling Felicity in the middle of the night to talk about his feelings and then making out with some other girl at a Halloween Party.

My hatred of Ben grows strong, it may turn me into a Sith, or like whatever the WB version of a Sith is. (Chad Michael Murray? A male vampire from Buffy before they fell in love with Buffy?) I mean, I kind of hate Felicity too, but I also relate to her, because I so get being that girl, I was that girl for so many guys when I was that age, and younger, but oh God, is it awful to see it being acted out by a character I like so much. I want to shake her.

Anyway, Noel encourages Elena to go with him to the party, which he winds up skipping because he’s taking care of a crying drunk Felicity, because OMG HE’S THE BEST EVER.

Julie, meanwhile, is hanging out with Zack and they kiss a few more times and I like this plot a lot. Overall this was an interesting episode that was made awesome by a few weird touches that I’ll get into below.

Season 1: Episode 6: “Cheating”

This episode is, for reasons I guess I understand not about Noel cheating on his girlfriend with Felicity. (Which I would have much preferred.) Instead, it’s about Felicity rewriting Ben’s paper for their poetry class because Felicity has BOUNDARY ISSUES. Ben didn’t ask her to, she just did it. And it’s pretty awful, because they both wind up in big trouble for plagiarism, and because it illustrates both of their most monstery qualities.

Anyway, that’s all happening with Julie and Zach get ready for their second date to go see Solaris, which Julie is only marginally interested in. She fakes it, but winds up being honest and hey, he likes her anyway. Also, Elena and Blair, the guy she hooked up with on Halloween also deal with having relationship things, mostly, he’s really sweet, and she’s kind of freaked out about it.

Oh, and Noel goes to Ben’s apartment and eats some Marzipan that Ben’s roommate (GREG GRUNBERG!) made. Because adorable.

 

Other Stuff

  • Why I Hate Ben: He makes out with a Pink Power Ranger (haha, I totally get that. That’s really funny) instead of Felicity at the Halloween party. He also bails on their couple costume. Granted, he confesses that the mugging reminded him of being scared of his father, and while I always have sympathy for WB Characters With Horrible Abusive Fathers. (Love you Nathan Scott and Pacey Whitter) Ben has none of Pacey or Nate’s redeeming qualities, so it’s not enough.
  • Team Noel: If anyone likes you even after you throw up on them, they deserve to continue being your friend. Also, he’s nice to Elena, who’s sort of a jerk to everyone, but Noel is so nice he’s even nice to her.
  • Actors I Love On This Show: Guys! Greg Grunberg! Who I knew was on the show and I was waiting for, but oh the glory that is the beginning of the most important friendship in all of entertainment, that of JJ Abrams and Greg Grunberg. Also Ian Gomez! Not only do I enjoy his work, he’s married to Nia Vardalos, which makes him the coolest man alive.

Badly is An Adverb

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Movie Post Season Round 3:

The Nice Guys Inspires Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

The Nice Guys held on to the number one spot in this seasons movie season for an almost unreasonably long amount of time, and I maintain that is by far one of the best action movies ever made, far eclipsing Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which is in many ways, it’s big brother. You know, because of Shane Black, and casting actors against type and all of that.

But there are two things that Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang has that The Nice Guys lacks, and that’s the performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe are very good, but they’re not a match for these two. Plus I love the genre and writing play in this movie.

Basically, like all good film noirs, it’s starts with a guy and girl. The guy is Harry and the girl is Harmony. They were friends in high school, and now they’re both in LA trying to be actors. Well, Harmony is. Harry is actually a petty theif who accidentally winds up auditioning for a movie. But, Harmony’s sister turns up dead, and with the help of a PI named Perry, who’s consulting on Harry’s movie, and is very gay.

The movie itself moves very quickly, the characters are fun. (Although the content, particularly Harry’s attitude towards both Perry and Harmony is problematic at best. If I didn’t know Black’s work as well as I do, and know his satiric bent, I might be offended by some of it.)

Overall, I was really glad to revisit the movie though. I recall watching it in high school, but didn’t have much to remember it by, except for loving Robert Downey Jr. And he really is incredible in this movie, which tends to get forgotten in his career resurrection in favor of Iron Man, Black took a chance on him when no one else would and American cinema is richer for it. And Val Kilmer is also amazing, but he usually is. At the very least, he tends to make interesting acting choices.

I was happy to revisit this movie, and I really hadn’t remembered many of the details about it, and I do think that The Nice Guys is a better execution of the kind of thing that Shane Black likes to do, but this has the stronger performances.

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 5 & 6

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We’re halfway there everyone, can you believe it? I can’t, I mean, this show is so intense, I’m glad to be taking it slowly.

Season 1: Episode 5: “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me”

The one thing that The MCU in general excels at is portraying realistic intense friendship. As someone to whom such friendships mean everything, I’ve always really enjoyed it. Rhodey and Tony, Steve and Bucky, Thor and The Warriors 3, Nelson and Murdock, and of course, Jessica Jones and Trish Walker. This episodes, pre Kilgrave flashback doesn’t get into everything about their friendship, but it does show us my favorite things about it, Jess and Trish’s protector, and Trish as Jess’s cheerleader. There’s more there, but I love that they are those things to each other. Also, Jess taking on that gross guy in the bar is probably the most realistic depiction of female friendship I’ve ever seen.

As for the rest of the episode, it’s really notable for a few reasons, we see Simpson (ugh) for who he really is, a shoot first ask questions later man-splainer, we get Malcolm’s whole deal, ex social worker who Kilgrave got addicted to drugs in order to force him to stalk Jessica, and we see Kilgrave, in all his glory, meeting Jessica for the first time.

Everything about that meeting is super creepy, especially since, if you didn’t know his deal, or it were scored even slightly differently, it could come off as charming. And that’s the genius of casting David Tennant in this role. He’s smooth, he’s attractive, he’s kind of perfect, and he’s just sinister enough that every woman I know shudders at the thought of him.

Episode 6: “AKA You’re A Winner”

This is a really great episode, and definitely a stand out in the series so far. I’d forgotten about it. Between the payoff of Jessica revealing to Luke that she killed Reva, and that horrible, horrible moment of “you are a piece of shit,” and the creepy Kilgrave ending where it’s revealed that he bought Jessica’s childhood home.

It’s so creepy and David Tennant is so good.

You know who else is good? Mike Colter. I know I talk about how good he is a lot, but he’s just very good in this role. And I know that I’m fifteen weeks away from watching Luke Cage again, but I kind of want to skip right to it. I won’t, but, I kind of want to. I really, really like that character and that performance.

Also good? Carrie Anne Moss. This begins the most disturbing run of Jerri’s arc, you know, where she steals Hope’s aborted fetus to see if she can reproduce Kilgrave’s powers. Seriously, it’s deeply disturbing. Not because of the abortion. Because of the stealing and power cloning. The abortion is fine. I mean, sad, and all, but fine.

Other Stuff

  • Trish makes Jessica her Jewel costume. In Alias, the original comics run, Jessica was a superhero known as Jewel, who betrayed the Avengers while under Kilgrave’s control. It’s a fun easter egg that I’ve always appreciated.
  • Look, sometimes all I want out of life is a beautiful man to look me in the eye and tell me that I am not a piece of shit. I didn’t know that this was something that I wanted until I saw this show, but it’s something that I want now. Also, if that guy could just be Mike Colter, I would be OK with that too.
  • You know, I keep forgetting that Claire isn’t really in this one. I mean, I know she pops up at the end, but still, it’s really good even without her.

“It’s Not Ben, OK?”Felicity: Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 1: Episode 3: “Hot Objects”

I thin the thing that’s striking me the most about the show is how quiet it is. I mean, aside from the occasional instrumental faux indie song, there’s almost no music, no one raises their voice above a whisper. It makes the whole thing feel very intimate and much  more serious.

Anyway, Felicity’s dorm is throwing a party, and Felicity is fixated on inviting Ben and then, maybe possibly having sex with him. I still do not understand her attraction to this person. So, she’s focused on that, but she’s also freaking out because her Inorganic Chemistry professor, who she worships, doesn’t seem to like her very much. Anyway, in her tape to Sally for the week, Felicity talks very briefly and without much fanfare about wanting to have sex, kind of maybe sometime in the future, which then gets put on instead of music at the party for a second, which is very embarassing, but the whole thing is so vague, it’s kind of hard to invest in her humiliation.

Anyway, the party itself is kind of glorious, one of the dorm kids. (Not John Cho or Constance Zimmer) gets her sketchy cousins to help Noel put the whole thing together. It winds up quite elaborate, but also someone gets sick, and also, Meg tells Felicity that Ben is into Julie and Julie is into Ben and they’re probably boning. They aren’t, because Julie cares more about her friendship with Felicity than boning Ben. Which is very nice.

Season 1: Episode 4 “Boggled” 

Noel and Felicity kiss while playing Boggle and it’s the best thing in the world. It’s awkward, and weird and fun, and cute and great. It’s also complicated because Noel is her RA (why does no one call him an RA, why do they all say “Resident Advisor” as if no one has ever been in a college dorm before.) but also, it’s Fridge lottery week. (These kids don’t just bring a mini fridge to college? Weird) Anyway, Felicity gets the fridge, because it turns out that Noel rigged it. SCANDAL! (Hey, I didn’t even do that on purpose.)

It gets even more scandalous, because Elena wanted that fridge and she figures out the whole thing, and then gets even more complicated because Meg decides to tell Elena that

Julie goes on a date with a guy that turned all of his clothes pink in the wash, which I think is really funny because Amy Jo Johnson! (She was the Pink Ranger…my brain is wired weird.) Ben tries out for track and it’s super boring, but Felicity indulges her stalker tendencies by watching him run and remembering watching him run in high school.

Weird.

Other Stuff

  • Why I Hate Ben: He goes into an acting class, because he couldn’t get the elective he wanted and he refuses to take it seriously. Also, after the party, he goes to Felicity’s room and sleeps over, and HE KNOWS HOW SHE FEELS ABOUT HIM AND I’M PRETTY SURE HE’S A MONSTER.
  • Team Noel: Noel is great. Noel gets Felicity chocolate for the party and her chemistry book. He’s also kind of not great, when he finally asks Felicity on a date just to tell her he has a girlfriend. I mean, really? What the hell man? Then he Nice Guys all over her, but at least he apologizes. They also kiss, and it’s great, and they maintain their friendship/
  • New Friends! At the party, Felicity meets Elena, who I like a lot, but is also kind of pushy, but that’s pretty great, since Felicity can be such a doormat.
  • Actors I love who are on this show: Ben’s acting teacher is a character actor I love who’s name I can’t think of.

I Don’t Know When, I don’t Know How

Movie Post Season: Round 2

Moana inspires The Little Mermaid

I have a lot of history with The Little Mermaid. It was the first movie that I ever saw in a movie theater. I was two years old and my Aunt Mary brought me. I don’t remember that viewing, nor the countless after that specifically. But I do remember car sing a longs to “Part Of Your World” and couch dance parties to “Under The Sea.”

The Little Mermaid isn’t my favorite Disney movie, but I think it’s an important one. It’s considered the first film of the “Disney Renaissance” and therefore has a special place, also, “Part Of Your World” make me cry reflexively, and Ariel was my favorite Disney Princess to meet on my trip in last April. (We talked about my “thingamabob” which was my necklace that’s a beach badge…she was really great. Good job random Disney cast member!)

Anyway, there is something very special about The Little Mermaid, that I can’t quite put my finger on this time around, but I’m definitely glad I chose it for this. Ariel and Moana simply feel more akin than any of the other princesses. Yes, they want literally exact opposite goals, (Ariel wants out of the ocean and Moana wants on it) but something about their defiance of expectations really feels at home. Not to mention that there’s something distinctly Hei-Hei like about Scuttle and something distinctly Sebastian like about Maui.

Going back to this movie felt like getting a warm hug, though, which is why I think it works best in this context. I felt connected to something bigger when I saw Moana and I think that same connection comes through in The Little Mermaid. 

 

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 1: Episode 3: “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”

We’re into the main story now, which is, Jessica trying to track down Kilgrave in order to prove that Hope is innocent. Trish is also helping, although her way of helping is basically calling Kilgrave out on the radio and getting him to send Officer Sampson (UGH) to kill her. Anyway, he doesn’t but, Jessica does drug Trish to make it seem like she’s dead, which I guess is a thing that we can deal with later, and then she follows Sampson to find where Kilgrave is, but she just finds a creepy room full of pictures of herself.

This leads her to break up with Luke, and we learn, of course, that she killed Luke’s wife Reva, while under Kilgrave’s control. The break up sucks, because they went on a super cute date where they talked about having super powers and had some really hot sex and it’s a bummer that she feels like she can’t be with him until this whole Kilgrave thing gets settled, which is actually totally fair, but also way sucks.

Jessica is on the hunt for Sophentinol, which is a surgical anestesia which would simulate his death and allow him to be held prisoner. So that’s what’s going on there. Oh, also, Jeri is building Hope’s case around the fact that she had a psychotic break, until they can prove that Kilgrave is real and can in fact mind control people.

But hey, we also met Sampson. (UGH)

Season 2: Episode 4: “99 Friends”

OK, so, Jessica’s new directive is to find who’s the one who’s been taking pictures of her, the answer really is crazy heart breaking. Anyway, she’s focused on that, and puts together, with Hogarth, a group of people who are also dealing with Kilgrave having controlled them at some point. She uses their stories to figure out his movements and where she can find him.

All of the stories that Jessica verifies, in addition to having a proper physical description have an air of desperation about them, but there’s nothing quite like the story of the man abandoning his son when Kilgrave decided to enlist him as his chauffer. It’s an amazing turn of writing and acting.

Here’s something I think I might be turned around on, and that’s Sampson and Trish hooking up here. I still don’t like it, but the moments of it, him respecting her decision to wait on the other side of the door, the stories of their childhoods, and eventually, her letting him into the apartment, it plays way better than I initially thought it would.

Other Stuff:

  • This is our first mention of “It’s Patsy” and Trish as Patsy Walker. One of the smartest things done in the Defenders verse so far is incorporating the weird trajectory of comics character Patsy Walker into the character of Trish.
  • Sometimes I wish that the show didn’t have to deal with the Kilgrave stuff, and we could just get a whole episode of Malcolm, Robin and Reuben hanging out in the apartment building. But not really.
  • I really don’t love the super hunting couple that comes after Jessica because her mother died in The Battle of New York. I didn’t like this plotline here or in Heroes: Reborn. However, at least here it’s over quickly and the rest of the show is good. Not so much in Heroes: Reborn.