In Jessica Jones’ “AKA 99 Friends,” Jessica’s penchant for living her authentic life comes back to bite her. I love that Jessica, while (justifiably) paranoid and overly cautious in some aspects of her life, is not being ashamed of her abilities, she owns her strength and refuses to let those hateful folks make her feel otherwise. But it’s a tough world out there even for someone as strong and as forceful as Jessica, she might really want to start collecting those friends.
You do you, Jessica.
How many are like Jessica? And in Hell’s Kitchen alone? I’m sure Jessica doesn’t really know. But she might want to start collecting friends here and there because even for someone as strong, and forceful as Jessica Jones – it’s not safe out there for anyone.
99 Friends … But Can You Trust Anyone?
Back in the series premiere Jessica talked about the power of denial. How in a world where “the big green guy” and “the flag waver” saved New York City from alien invaders so many people still choose to believe that people with abilities don’t exist. They rationalize and ignore what happens in front of their eyes because they can’t handle it. So when Jessica flaunted her super strength when serving a subpoena, she never expected anyone would believe the jerk in the Aston-Martin.
Sure, straight up denial is one way the world has reacted to these major events – but fear, anger, and violence are also common reactions for people when faced with the unknown. In “AKA 99 Friends,” Jessica comes face to face with the people who hate her simply because of her abilities. She had been aware that there were people like that out there, but being tracked and hunted by these people made it all too real.
A few hints have been dropped about the anti-supers attitude before we actually meet these hunters, like the talk radio host playing in the background in the bodega Jessica pops into. Luke’s secrecy around his abilities, and his reaction to Jessica’s “whatever” attitude indicates that he’s perhaps had some experience with people strongly opposed to those with abilities. But it seems like the encounter with Audrey was the first time Jessica came face to face with people who so violently subscribe to this.
Jessica shoulders the responsibility for so many things that she’s done – either on her own or under Kilgrave’s influence. When Audrey tells Jessica her story about how her mother died in “the incident” and is now blaming anyone with abilities for that destruction who took her family away from her Jessica has a well-deserved shit fit. Damn anyone who wants to put any more guilt on her. She had nothing to do with that.
Jessica rages. Tears apart their apartment. She smashes, and crashes and notably, avoids actually physically harming the couple. It’s her words that are meant to cut deep. Jessica isn’t there for other people to work their shit out on.
“Men and power. It’s seriously a disease.”
Trish Walker just hits the nail right on the head. She’s not talking about power like the gifts or abilities that Jessica and Luke also possess. She means the other kind of power — the kind that Kilgrave craves, and the kind that makes his particularly use of his abilities especially abhorrent. When Jeri stops to wonder what could be possible if Kilgave’s power could be used for “our side,” Jessica bristles. She knows how destructive that power is. It’s predicated on the invasion of someone’s most private place — their mind, and takes away their freewill and ability to consent.
These abilities can be good or they can be bad — but maybe not every power has the potential for both. In an episode where Jessica is being hunted because of having her gifts (not how she’s using them), we are asked to think about the potential of each power – and how it’s important to consider who has the power — and how it’s used.
What else happens in “AKA 99 Friends”:
Trish and Simpson bond through her reinforced safety door when he comes to apologize (against Jessica’s advice) and brings her a gun. They discuss their childhoods, and directly broach the attempted murder brought on by Kilgrave’s influence. As they sit on either side of the door, only one of them appears on screen at a time, joined only by the disembodied voice of the other – avoiding placing them physically in the same frame until Trish decides to let him in. The long talk, but also the understanding that he blames himself more than Trish blames him allows her to trust him enough to let him past the door and into her home. Next time we see them they’re sharing the screen equally – on opposite sides of a table.
After the radio call out on Trish’s radio show, Jeri has been collecting an endless stream of folks who claim that “Kilgrave made me do it.” Jessica was brought in to screen the group. Many are just looking for a scapegoat, or are delusional (I’m looking at you mom of pregnant teen) – but the message managed to bring in several actual Kilgrave victims.
Jessica goes to the newly formed Kilgrave Survivors Support Group – she keeps her distance and pushes (hard!) for information. This brings us to the episode’s big reveal. Turn out that one of Jessica’s very few friends has been used against her. Malcolm, has been feeding Kilgrave information about Jessica. Has been surveilling her for an undetermined length of time. Not only has her privacy been invaded by his surveillance, but it cuts even deeper finding out that it was another friend taken by Kilgrave. And alone, in her apartment with this discovery, our tough as nails Jessica can cry.
Photo Courtesy of Netflix