This weekend, A.V. Club contributor Caroline Siede is watching all of the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. After she’s finished with an episode, she’ll post a quick response. Though she’s working straight through the season, she’ll be taking some breaks, too, posting five reviews on Friday, four reviews on Saturday, and four reviews on Sunday. Weigh in on this episode in the comments below or discuss the whole season on our binge-watching hub page.
“AKA 99 Friends” (season one, episode four)
The film noir aspects of Jessica Jones are back in full force in “AKA 99 Friends,” which is great because I really missed them in the past two installments. The show doesn’t just pay homage to the noir genre, its lifts pretty directly from that 1930s/40s source material with a trumpet-heavy jazz score, high camera angles, hard-boiled narration, and a protagonist downing booze straight from the bottle.
Though Jessica is still committed to stopping Kilgrave, life must go on for our favorite PI so she also takes on a new client named Audrey Eastman. Audrey hires Jessica to snap photos of her cheating husband, but—as Bogie would say—Jessica knew this broad was trouble the moment she walked into her office.
I really appreciate that Jessica Jones doesn’t dumb down its characters to increase tension. For instance, when Trish gets a visit from Will Simpson (Wil Traval), the police officer who tried to kill her while under Kilgrave’s control, she doesn’t immediately let him into her apartment. Instead she takes time to talk to him from behind the safety of her reinforced door first.
Similarly, it makes perfect sense that Jessica is skeptical about Audrey considering the last clients who visited her office were sent by Kilgrave. And although it turns out Kilgrave isn’t involved here, Jessica was right to be suspicious; Audrey’s seeking revenge against “gifted” people because her mother was killed during the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Jessica takes the betrayal pretty well, all things considered. She smashes up Audrey’s room while dispensing mental health advice (“You take your goddamn pain and you live with it, assholes!”) and leaves Audrey with a warning about the 99 other gifted people she has on speed-dial.
The climax of the Audrey storyline nicely intersects with the other half of Jessica’s story this episode: Her knack for tough-love counseling. As she did with Hope in the premiere, Jessica helps Will come to terms with the fact that what Kilgrave made him do isn’t his fault. She also starts a support group for Kilgrave’s victims who have come forth thanks to the media attention around Hope’s case.
Though he hasn’t gotten much screentime, Jessica Jones has nevertheless done a remarkably good job of defining Kilgrave based on how others respond to him. He’s the kind of man who feels threatened by Trish’s on-air critique but is willing to believe her begrudgingly delivered compliments. He has no qualms about sending an 8-year-old girl to do his dirty work or forcing a father to leave his crying child by the side of the road. He’s a complete monster and the fact that he’s working with Malcolm to keep tabs on Jessica only adds one more layer to his villainy.
The reveal of Malcolm’s involvement is a crushing blow for Jessica, which means she’s likely more determined than ever to take down her enemy. So let’s press on and see if she does!
Stand out moment: Jessica spying on her client while casually perched between two walls several stories up.
Marvel Cinematic Universe connections: Audrey’s mother died in “The Incident,” which seems to be what this show calls the Battle of New York. Also Jessica refers to the “the big green guy” and the “flag waver,” which is almost as bad as Supergirl constantly calling Superman “the man in blue.”
Excitement to start next episode: 7/10
Hamilton lyric that sums up my binge-watching mental state: “I will never be satisfied.”