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Ranking Jessica Jones's Victories Against The Patriarchy
While a plot to kidnap Kilgrave goes awry, Jessica is still able to score some major points for Team Sisters Doin' It For Themselves.
The neo-noir of Jessica Jones's earlier episodes is mostly absent from "AKA The Sandwich Saved Me," giving way instead to action/spy fare that's more in Marvel's wheelhouse. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the failed abduction and neutralization of Kilgrave succeeds more at establishing the dynamic of the show's primary Scooby gang than moving the plot forward. The trifecta of Jessica, Trish, and now Will feels, more or less, like a complete group -- one that I'm excited to watch work together for eight more episodes. (Luke Cage is absent for the second episode in a row, but it feels like just a matter of time before he returns to turn this trifecta into an even more badass quartet.)
"Sandwich" also shows us for the first time how Jessica and Kilgrave (and Malcolm) originally met. It's nothing revelatory, but the flashback gives Kilgrave more unobscured screen time than the previous four episodes combined -- that is, until the final scene, which we'll get to. Kilgrave needs no deepening as a character. He is an uncaring, psychopathic monster who abuses his power to ruin the lives of everyone around him for mere pleasure. Absolute power like the kind Kilgrave possesses would turn anyone into a supervillain.
One of the many things that sets Kilgrave apart from his more grandiose Marvel movie counterparts is the scale of his destruction. From what we can tell, Kilgrave has no desire to conquer the world or vanquish any foes. He doesn't get his kicks from murdering millions, but from stripping agency from individuals, particularly women. When he witnesses Jessica using her "gifts" to save Malcolm from a pair of thugs, the idea of overpowering her is too much for him to resist. Jessica saving Malcolm purely because it makes her "feel good" only deepens his desire to dominate her.
That is what Jessica Jones does: she saves the downtrodden and vanquishes the bad guys. Yes, she also takes pictures of cheating spouses and behaves brusquely toward practically everyone around her, but her main gig is hero. This episode's other flashback sequence makes it clear that, while she might scoff at the spandex and dopey monikers of more well-known superheroes, her mission is no less heroic. Who needs "the big green guy and his friends" arguing over dick size while the world melts when you have Jessica who will just step in and do what's right?
Kilgrave may escape her clutches, but Jessica is no slouch in this episode when it comes to knocking deserving dudes down a few pegs. Let's count down Jessica's latest minor victories against men, The Man, and a monster (of a man).
- Office Boss Man
In a flashback to the days before Alias Investigations got off the ground, Jessica takes on some gigs below her skill level. Besides the titular hoagie sandwich flyer girl, Jessica takes on the role of an office drone with a shitty boss.
Putting her latent snooping skills to good use, Jessica blackmails her boss out of six months' severance for his embezzling ways. When, on her way out the door, the dude chooses to send her off with an "I bet your mother's real proud," Jessica resists punching him in his dopey face, instead choosing to leave him with some knocked-over filing cabinets to clean up.
Jessica doesn't much care for anyone who's not Trish, so why should her feelings toward Will be any different? Throw in the fact that he's now turned his remorse over attempting to kill Trish into a booty call, and their frenemy status is firmly established.
Jessica puts in double eye-roll duty over Will's smarmy self-assuredness, and, while she ultimately consents to Trish's insistence that he help them out, never does she agree with his assertion that she and Trish "need" him. Jessica unleashes a few choice barbs in the run-up to their mission, but it's actually Trish who delivers the best one-liner: "Last night was fun, but that doesn't mean I want your opinion."
While Jessica's plan to kidnap Kilgrave ultimately fails (it's only Episode 5, after all), he still doesn’t get everything he's after. Kilgrave's insistence that his female victims constantly smile while he degrades them is a clever nod to those misogynists in our own universe who like to tell women, unsolicited, that they'd be so much prettier if they'd only stop frowning. Kilgrave doesn't just want Jessica to do what he says; he wants her to thank him for it.
With Malcolm detoxing in her bathroom at the end of the episode, Jessica takes a call from Kilgrave. Further establishing his proto-abuser mindset, he tells Jessica that by forcing Malcolm to shoot up, Kilgrave wasn't "making him do anything he didn't want to do." Sure, all social workers are really just in it for the life-destroying drugs. Kilgrave offers to leave Malcolm alone, on one condition: Jessica has to take up Malcolm's duty by sending Kilgrave photos of herself. "And don't forget to smile." Jessica agrees and shoots off her first selfie:
In other words:
- Happy Hour Douchebag
Kilgrave possesses the three characteristics you want in a supervillain: he's intelligent, he's charismatic, and he's unapologetically self-interested. When you're all of those things, even if you're not a supervillain, taking what you want can become a habit. But when you're only self-interested, and have fooled yourself into thinking you're smart and charming, shit can get ugly when you have to deal with someone who's got your number.
Such is the case with Happy Hour Douchebag, who attempts to hit on Trish while she's commiserating over drinks with Jessica. When HHD fails to take the hint that Trish isn't interested in his lame pick-up lines, he ups the pervert ante by telling her how he used to watch her show as a pre-teen and "box the bald-headed bishop." Disgusted by this Wall Street shitheel, Jessica challenges him to a strength-test bar game. If he loses, he apologizes for being a sexual harasser, picks up their tab, and skedaddles. If he wins...
...well, did you really think he'd win?