“AKA God Help The Hobo” opens with a New York City heatwave. Jessica Jones, of course, is still dressed in jeans and a leather jacket because that’s how she rolls. But the heat has upped everyone’s emotions. I’m always a fan of these Marvel Netflix shows adding more of an episodic feel to their “13-hour movie” approach and the rising temperature immediately sets this episode apart. So too does the fact that Jessica begins attending her court-mandated anger management support group, where she shocks even the angriest of her fellow attendees with her dark life story.
“AKA God Help The Hobo” is another slow-burning episode, but it sees some of the season’s various storylines start to coalesce. In addition to working with Jessica to stop her partners’ buyout, Hogarth now seems destined to end up working with IGH as she attempts to either end her own life or find an illicit, cutting-edge cure for her ALS. Elsewhere, Oscar moves away from his one-note antagonism to start forming a genuine friendship with Jessica, one complicated by the fact that she’s more open to casual sex than he is (a nice subversion of gender stereotypes). Pryce Chang, meanwhile, tries to recruit Malcolm for Chang Consulting as part of his ongoing attempt to take down Jessica. Being the perfect Hufflepuff that he is, Malcolm doesn’t sell out his boss. But he does negotiate a new partnership with her, one that will give him a sense of purpose, a place to be, and some much-needed stability.
Those are good, solid steps for the season to make as it starts to take shape. Yet Jessica Jones is still relying on some weird narrative leaps too. For instance, it’s slightly strange that famed Hollywood director Max Tatum is tied into this story through his connections to Metro General Hospital of all places. It makes sense to a certain extent; Jessica argues that Max is a major donor and would therefore have some sway over getting the hospital to illegally release files on IGH patients if he threatens to pull his donation. But just at face value, “Trish and Jessica threaten a sleazy Hollywood director in order to get medical files” is a weird bit of convoluted plotting. It would make more sense if they were either investigating something within the Hollywood world or if Max were more directly connected to IGH. But as it stands, it feels like the show is just smashing together two compelling but unrelated stories through the thinnest of plot mechanics.
Thankfully, the emergence of the mystery woman (who seems to be referred to mostly as “The Killer,” so that’s what I’ll call her too) has given this season a new sense of forward momentum. Trish and Jessica’s attempts to hunt down The Killer lead them to Inez Green, the other person alongside Jessica and Whizzer to have her medical bills paid by IGH. Though at first they think The Killer and Inez are one and the same, it turns out Inez was actually an IGH nurse who barely lived to tell the tale after being attacked by The Killer—a cancer-patient-turned-monster under IGH’s care. More importantly, Inez is yet another foil for Jessica. Living on the streets while on the run from IGH, Inez has had to harden herself in order to survive. Isolated, alone, and living in constant fear, Inez is everything Jessica worries she will one day become if she loses control of her life. So too is The Killer.
As the opening anger management scene suggests, there’s a strong theme of female anger running throughout this season. It’s a quality shared by Jessica, The Killer, and Inez—three women who immediately lash out when they feel threatened. Elsewhere, “AKA God Help The Hobo” uses its comic book roots to tell a more metaphorical story about Trish Walker’s anger too. Much like she downed Will Simpson’s pills during a crisis last season, Trish uses Simpson’s inhaler to give herself a physical and mental boost while tracking down Inez. Trish has always been a character who’s equally obsessed with protecting herself (she basically lives in a locked box) and with jumping straight into danger. The inhaler provides a way for her to do both of those things at once. Unfortunately, it also increases her aggression, a side effect she’s all too happy to ignore while enjoying the high of her new abilities.
But by far the biggest act of aggression in this episode comes from The Killer, who brutally murders the associate Pryce Chang sends to rob Jessica’s office. It’s a little hard to tell if The Killer is explicitly trying to frame Jessica or if she has some other agenda of her own. But either way, Jessica winds up taking the fall for the murder. It’s yet another moment in which Jessica must contend with the question of how much violence she’s capable of. If she and The Killer are both IGH experiments, does that mean Jessica has the same capacity for violence too? “That’s not me,” she keeps repeating while starring at the bloody crime scene. She’s ostensibly speaking to the cops, but she’s even more so reassuring herself. There’s power in anger but there’s also danger in it too. And both Jessica and Trish need to make sure they let their anger fuel them, not destroy them.
- Griffin Watch: This episode sees Griffin take an ominous phone call, which is so overtly menacing that I’m back on the “Griffin can’t actually be evil” train.
- I love the subplot about Malcolm becoming Trish’s faux boyfriend in the tabloids.
- The costuming choices in this episode are really bizarre. Oscar and his ex are dressed in summery clothes, but Vido is wearing jeans and a long-sleeve button-up shirt in the middle of a supposed heat wave.
- Pryce’s “prejudice” against superpowered people really isn’t working for me.
- It’s disappointing to see Jessica Jones’ second season continue to center its feminist messaging almost solely on white women. This season has added two more women to its regular cast (Janet McTeer’s Killer and Leah Gibson’s Inez Green), both of whom are white.
- “Patsy Goes To Rehab: There’s your comeback show.”