“This isn’t normal.”
This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s Jessica Jones Season 2, episode 4, titled “God Help the Hobo.” To see where we left off, check out our review of Season 2, episode 3, and follow along with our full season binge here.
This episode reminds me of Daredevil Season 2, episode 3, “New York’s Finest,” in which the Frank Castle chains Matt Murdock up on a roof and proceeds to have an ideological debate with him for almost the entire hour.
Like that installment, “God Help the Hobo” saves most of its action until the end, but still manages to make the emotional dynamics between its characters just as compelling as a physical confrontation can be. (Of course, your mileage may vary on episodes that allow the characters to examine their navels for 50 minutes — I come for the inner turmoil, and the occasional hallway fights are just gravy.)
For one thing, we have Jessica being forced to confront her issues with control — not in court-mandated anger management, which would be far too easy, but in her interaction with Oscar the sexy super, who warms up to her after she saves his kid’s life, but then wisely pumps the brakes when she attempts to jump his bones ten minutes later.
It’s telling and oh-so predictable that just when they’re starting to approach a moment of real intimacy, Jess tries to suck all the emotion out of it by turning it into a meaningless hook-up. It reflects well on Oscar that he’s not prepared to do it, because he clearly values her more than she values herself in that moment. Krysten Ritter can do so much with the most subtle expressions, it’s fascinating to watch her slowly excavate the layers of vulnerability at the heart of her character while simultaneously trying to keep a lid on everything Jessica is feeling.
Carrie-Anne Moss also continues to deliver a powerhouse performance as Jeri unravels — while we initially see her exploring cutting-edge treatments for ALS, when her doctor comes up short, it doesn’t take long for her to consider assisted suicide, which quickly progresses to trying to buy drugs from overseas online. Her struggle this season is a mirror image of Jessica’s — as she points out, “There is a killer inside of me and I will not give it control.” Both women may have wildly different methods of coping with their powerlessness (internalizing that pain or externalizing it), but both are equally damaging.
Then there’s Trish, who’s totally twitterpated by Griffin who, on paper, seems practically perfect in every way (he even passes Jessica’s background check) until we see him taking mysterious phone calls while she’s in the shower and stealing intel from her laptop. The show is being a little too heavy-handed about his sneakiness for me to buy that he’s actually as bad as they obviously want us to think he is, since Trish is really due for a break in the guy department, and it would be needlessly cruel to dump another douche on her.
But not even a seemingly idyllic relationship can stop Trish from pursuing what she thinks she needs in order to make herself feel valuable and valued; she’s so desperate to be a “hero” — or at least be in charge of her own destiny — that she takes a whiff of Will Simpson’s special inhaler and almost ends up killing their only lead in the hunt for their super-powered mystery woman.
Said lead, former IGH nurse Inez Green, offers another piece of the puzzle about the mystery woman: She wasn’t working for IGH, she was a patient too, one who scarred Inez for life and killed another nurse. The elusive killer certainly seems like a villain, even if she prevents Pryce Cheng’s henchman from stealing all of Jessica’s IGH research. That good deed is somewhat lessened by the fact that she goes full berserker on the guy and splashes the thief’s entrails all over his van, resulting in Jessica being arrested for his murder — but is she purposefully trying to frame Jess, or just trying to make sure that her IGH research doesn’t fall into another pair of hands?