Jessica Jones Review Episode 5
“AKA: The Sandwich Saved Me”
“The Sandwich saved me” is an important episode for Jessica Jones. It addresses her past, shows us the famous “Jewel” costume, adds a couple of coats of paint to a few character’s faces, and shows that not all people are innocent, not all heroes are super – both in terms of power and in terms of physicality. It shows there are a few jewels buried in the rough that are worth examining, always.
“I’m not really feeling the love tester. So I’ll make you a deal. If I beat you at the strength tester, you apologize, pay for our drinks, and find somewhere else to drink.”
“And if I win?”
According to Jessica there’s life before Kilgrave and after Kilgrave. The sandwich saved me gives a glimpse of life before Kilgrave. Jessica is your typical – or perhaps atypical millennial who has a strong sense of right and wrong – as it pertains to her world view. She proves she’s intelligent, observant, and willing to do – or – die for her friends. When Trish is harassed at a bar she steps in and proves that she can pack a punch – a whole lotta one. After proving she’s more man then Trish’s harasser will ever be (and twice the woman he’ll ever get).
That’s not what makes a hero though, but in between looking to the past and jumping to the future we see what shaped Jessica into a heroine. Trish wants to be a hero, Jess doesn’t ask for it but she unwillingly embraces the possibility and potential within her. When she discovers that her neighbor is responsible for tailing her and taking photos of her, her neighbor the drug addict she learns the sordid tale behind Malcolm’s past and the horror that Kilgrave brings into the world is unfolded. Kilgrave can make anyone do anything and it happens fast and how people react to that trauma effects everyone around them. He moves like a disease, a pestilence through lives and it’s a testament to his obsession with Jessica that he chose Malcolm –
We’ll get to that later.
For the moment we’re preoccupied with Jessica following Malcolm, discovering the means of Kilgrave transmitting messages, and the knowledge that Will Simpson, seeming GI Joe cop with a heart of gold who’s misunderstood has hooked up with Trish Walker, the details of which will remain a mystery to those of you who haven’t caught up yet. The following information however IS a spoiler, so for those of you who haven’t been checking out The Marvel Menu’s delicious meal – be wary. The following contains GREAT BIG ALL AMERICAN SPOILERS.
Simpson’s introduction into the series feels like tossing a bad penny into a fountain. You want to make a wish but you also want to get rid of a possibly grimy penny. His gift of a gun to Trish feels like an effort to give her some control in the worst way possible, and his behavior in this episode only gets more and more interesting. Apart from getting shot down by both Trish and Jessica, Simpson apparently is a war hero with an intense background and incredible skills who wants to help the team. As Jessica states, “I don’t need your help.” while Trish says “She doesn’t, but he could come in handy.” The great part about Simpson and Trish’s trust in Jessica is that both regulate the guy who normally would be driving to a backseat. While he provides them with Kilgrave’s prison (important) he mostly exists to share with us things about Trish (hinting at backstory when we could actually see it? C’mon guys)
In retrospect however Simpson serves a very important purpose, one illustrated in him taking Jessica to the “Guy who knows a guy’s” hideout. Sure he’s muscle – gotta get a guy to possibly lift up David Tennant (although I could lift David Tennant, David you doin’ okay buddy?) There’s a scene where he and Jessica are working together and we get a perspective on the opposing sides of heroism. As defined by men and women. Simpson says Jessica isn’t a hero and he’s seen real heroes, people who are willing to stay behind and do the right thing, to carry their guys out. Jessica in effect says that he’s GI Joe and a controlling toolbag. It’s beautifully shot because neither side can hear the other. Almost like the debate raging in Hollywood. Neither side can agree on what defines a hero and asks the audience – rightly – to chose what a hero means.
We see less of Simpson’s side (note: for a REALLY BIG SPOILER on Will Simpson stay tuned to the end of the article) and more of Jessica’s side, but Jessica honestly exemplifies what being a hero means – and not just because of the show.
A hero (masculine or gender-neutral) or heroine (feminine) (Ancient Greek: ἥρως, hḗrōs) is a person or character who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage, bravery or self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good; a man or woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities.
Jessica’s a hero, we see it as the audience and we know it. Ironically she saves someone while dressed as a hero sandwich – another name for a hoagie or a grinder. She steps in front of a car to save a small child, she does her best to save Simpson – sacrificing herself to save a guy she really dislikes by letting Kilgrave know she’s there and alive in the face of unimaginable terror and adversity and she – the most important to this reviewer – does her best to keep Simpson from torturing Kilgrave’s goons.
Like it or not, Jessica displays the characteristics of a hero, or in this case, a bona-fide heroine. There is a nobility to her character that many other heroes – even some avengers wouldn’t be willing to mimic. Consider that we’ve seen people like Phil Coulson condone the use of torture however indirectly, that Bobbi Morse has tortured, Daredevil as well. While these characters have perhaps questioned their tactics and their methods – Jessica proves that she’s worthy of Captain America’s friendship.
(She and Captain America are friends in the comics. It’s pretty amazing. She’s also friends with Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel).
Jessica sacrifices herself to save Will Simpson. She stops him from torturing Kilgrave’s guards even after learning they’re not controlled. When asked if she wants to take the low ground despite thinking that she’s a worthless person she refuses to do so – and the moments that we do see her take the low ground always hit her the hardest. She’s worthy of her sandwich costume, worthy of her leather jacket –
Maybe not so worthy of her white and blue outfit even though it addresses the question of the costume in a funny way after the darkness that she ends up facing. Jessica’s costume is one of the more…unique parts of the series. It fits her character in the comics, it does not fit her much darker adult MCU adaptation but she shuts Trish down in a gentle nod to the people who probably wanted to see her in it. It’s cute and fun, but this is a woman, not a little girl.
Yet like most of us, like all of us, she finds herself up against evil – real honest to god evil in Kilgrave. One of the other things that this show does well – it defines evil. Evil isn’t always readily available, and oftentimes the things that people see or define as evil are misunderstood or possibly mislabeled and misrepresented. The tragedy is when people in a haze of violence look for darkness and true malicious behavior and hurt others by looking for it. People are fundamentally good, but good that is misdirected can be just as bad as evil and danger. However evil is real.
It is out there.
It does exist.
Jessica Jones doesn’t just define evil for the MCU, it tells us that it exists, that it’s real and in our world every day. That’s what comes out in her storyline with Malcolm. After dragging him back to her apartment Malcolm goes through a detox and admits that there was a part of him that chose to be a drug addict. Like the SHIELD agents who chose HYDRA because they believed in what HYDRA represented, like Tony Stark spending most of his life profiteering off of world peace, the fact is that not everyone is Jessica Jones – and sometimes when people look inward what they’ll end up finding is ugly and sick.
Real heroes don’t just hit the bad guys or stop the cars or save lives. Real heroes run into danger, saving lives and giving people a chance to pull them out of the darkness and into the light. It might be harsh and unforgiving but in those lost moments people underestimate how important it can be to have a single person who believes in you. Jessica is cold to Malcolm but she gives him a shot to come back from the light. It’s an important lesson and proof that she’s worthy of her title of hero – and ready to face real evil. Will she have what it takes? Only time will tell.
NOTE: so I promised a few spoilers about Will Simpson. These are below. IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN SPOILERS PLEASE DISCONTINUE READING HERE.
So Will Simpson, if you put his name into google comes up as “Nuke” a super villain who’s more defining characteristics feature in a big way in later episodes. Obviously he’s missing a few key things (that shield’s a big one) but Simpson’s characteristics in this episode are interesting. For one, he’s a bit insensitive to human life (“There’s a pain center in the leg…” really buddy?) Will he go to the dark side? What did you end up getting involved in Trish?
Only time will tell…