Jessica Jones is Untethered

We roll to an appropriately noir conclusion, with every character competing as to who can make the most terrible choices in the same week.

(Obviously Daredevil wins that contest, despite not appearing in this show, but I digress…)

 

Season 2, Episode 12: “AKA Pray For My Patsy”

Written by Raelle Tucker & Hilly Hicks Jr
Directed by Liz Friedlander

This entire episode is structured around women having hurtful, powerful and painful conversations with each other, mostly about themselves or other women, not men. A rare thing in drama, but especially in drama involving superheroes.

Jessica and Dorothy hover at Trish’s bedside. In a surprising turn, Jess does not (yet) get a barrage of abuse and guilt-tripping from Dorothy, who is weirdly supportive. Possibly she’s in shock.

Trish is by no means the first person to use a backyard quack to try to gain superpowers… which is a disturbing trend ...

Visting Hours Are Over, Jessica Jones

It’s easy to forget at times that Jessica Jones is a show about superpowers, because of the heavy genre focus on crime investigation/noir, not to mention the lack of spandex. But one of the big questions that runs through various superhero narratives (and Marvel comics/cinematic works in particular) is that of superhero law and order.

How do you police people with powers? What new laws do you need to deal with them? How do you incarcerate them without removing their human rights?

Do they even get human rights?

We see this play out practice in these episodes where it’s previously been theoretical: Alisa is incarcerated, and she’s a prison fatality waiting to happen. But is she going to be the killer or victim?

Season 2, Episode 10: “AKA Pork Chop”

Written by Aida Mashaka Croal
Directed by Neasa Hardiman

The first red flag comes when Jessica and Jeri Hogarth visit ...

Call That Angry, Jessica Jones? This Is What I Call Angry

Jessica Jones is used to being angry, but as it turns out, she pales in comparison compared to her mother. And Trish, to be honest. Time to get a new hobby, Jess!

(Contains spoilers for Jessica Jones 2.8 & 2.9, please try not to spoil beyond this in the comments. We’ll get to the later episodes soon!)

 

Season 2, Episode 8: “AKA Ain’t We Got Fun”

Written by Gabe Fonseca
Directed by Zenta Fuentes

Jessica wakes up chained to a bed, and the episode only goes downhill from there. Dr Karl tries to justify his life choices to her, and encourages her to join their happy family, on the grounds that Jessica’s mother hardly even murders anyone (except when she does).

KARL: You could calm her down.

JESSICA: Just so you know, I rarely have that effect on people.

Jessica is able to talk herself out ...

Jessica Jones Unlocks More Tragic Backstory

Cynical? Disaffected? It’s amazing Jessica Jones can even get out of bed in the morning. (Though to be fair, mostly she falls out of bed.)

(Contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Episodes 2.6 and 2.7; please try to avoid spoilers beyond this point in the comments.)

Episode Title 2.6 AKA Facetime

Written by Raelle Tucker
Directed by Jet Wilkinson

JESSICA: Fish were hurt, people were terrorised.

Sopping wet, Jessica flees from the scene of the damaged aquarium, pausing only to rescue her phone with the bag of rice method.

She spots an update on Trish’s love life via a gossip magazine which is… an impressive turnaround in reporting. Don’t print magazines have at least a weekly schedule? Apparently Marvel’s New York has print magazines that update at the same rate as websites.

What did Jessica learn from her aquarium adventure? Mostly that her former doctor and ...

Jessica Jones Tries Something New

The word of the day is “misanthrope.”

Predictably, Jessica struggles to get through even one court-mandated anger management class… which is fair enough after she articulates all the reasons she has to be angry.

(Contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Episodes 2.4 and 2.5; please try to avoid spoilers beyond this point in the comments.)

Season 2, Episode 4: “AKA God Help the Hobo”

Written by Jack Kenny
Directed by Deborah Chow

Jessica’s fun and games from last episode has led to Malcolm being splashed all over the gossip rags as Trish’s new boyfriend, but he’s more concerned with convincing Jessica to let him do some work other than carpentry on her damaged apartment.

After Pryce Cheng makes Malcolm a job offer, he finally gets up the nerve to make some demands of Jessica, to let him help with cases, learn the PI trade from her, and ...

Jessica Jones Knows Where To Ditch A Body

If doors were the overriding theme of Episode 1, then the word ‘freak’ is all over this one. As is often the case with Jessica Jones, there’s a double meaning in that: people with powers, of course, who are referred to in this show as Supers or Powers (Powereds?), but also the recent run of freak accidents happening to people associated with that mysterious lab, and the people experimented upon.

Jessica, being the noir heroine she is, kicks off the episode with a bunch of performative Bad Behaviour In Bars including far too much whiskey, broken glasses from slamming them down too quickly (her bartender is remarkably understanding) and a less-than satisfying hookup in a toilet stall.

Did I mention that it’s raining? So raining.

(Contains spoilers for Episodes 2.2 and 2.3 only, please try not to refer to episodes beyond this in the comments.)

...

Open The Door Wider, Jessica Jones

If a door won’t stay closed, build a stronger door.

My favourite thing so far about Season 2 is that Jessica Jones’ toxic relationship with doors continues unabated. If anything, the doors are more significant this time around.

Welcome back to Jessicaland! Each of the Marvel Neflix series has its own visual language which is all the more interesting because they each take place in the same city, with overlapping geography… and yet each of them clearly is set in its own universe.

The universe of Jessica Jones is one of noir angles and shadows, of broken buildings and big glass windows best viewed through a long-lens camera. Our hard-drinking, angry detective is even harder drinking and angrier this time around. She’s lost her taste for pro bono work, and is deliberately choosing clients she doesn’t like so she doesn’t have to care about anything which… is not melding well ...

There’s Nothing ‘Only’ About Being a Journalist: An Appreciation of Sarah Jane Smith

“I have learned that life on Earth can be an adventure, too. You never know what you might find!”

Sarah Jane Smith was one of the most influential figures on me growing up, as a media representation of a professional working woman, as well as the “girl reporter” archetype.

In 1970s Doctor Who, the role of the female co-star evolved to someone who was a proper partner to the Doctor, if not entirely his equal. These included “Actually I have a doctorate too” Liz Shaw, “I got better marks at school than the Doctor” Romana, “I can rescue myself with skeleton keys” Jo Grant, and “I will stab you in your sleep” Leela.

But Sarah Jane Smith was the first Doctor Who companion who balanced an outside job with her TARDIS adventures. When we met her in “The Time Warrior,” she was investigating the same missing scientists plot ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 8: Tapestry of Lions

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< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading the Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. It’s the last installment of this series of angsty heroes, feisty heroines, stoic warriors and chatty animal companions. Fly, my pretties, fly! Will the prophecy be fulfilled? Will the end result be worth the generations of tragic romances and arranged marriages?

The Story

Meet Kellin: latest of a long line of Cheysuli Princes of Homana, destined to become Mujhar and sire Cynric, the chosen one of the Prophecy that his family has been obsessively building towards for generations. Kellin is the loneliest kid of all lonely kids. Raised in the Palace by Brennan and Aileen, his loving but protective grandparents, he feels abandoned by his father Aidan, who is living in seclusion ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 7: Flight of the Raven

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< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading the Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. This is the book I remembered least of the original series, and the only one I didn’t own—I think it’s possible I refused to purchase this one because I loathed the front cover (which is impressive because some of the covers I did buy are quite terrible), and possibly because of the tragic ending? In any case, I liked this one a LOT more than I expected this time around…

The Story

Meet Aidan: the black raven of the family. Since he was very young, this red-haired Cheysuli son of Brennan and Aileen has suffered from overwhelming nightmares about his role in the succession of the Lion Throne: he dreams of being ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 6: Daughter of the Lion

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< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading the Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism.

In which we finally get our first female protagonist since Shapechangers: an angry, magical warrior who has a Lot Of Complaints about (a) the expected role of princesses, (b) the patriarchy, (c) pompous older brothers, (d) the lack of swords in her life, and (e) WHAT HAVE YOU GOT?

This one used to be my favourite! Let’s see how it holds up.

Trigger warnings for discussion of rape, abortion and miscarriages.

The Story

Meet Keely of Homana, sword-swinging, snarky daughter of Niall and younger sister of Brennan, Hart, and Corin, all previous protagonists in this series. For the first time since Book #1 we have a female hero, and for the first ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 5: A Pride of Princes

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< p class="p1 frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading the Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. In which three strapping princes go through hell and back, and happy endings are for families that don’t have an over-complicated prophecy to fulfil, no matter the personal cost…

The Story

Niall of Homana ruled as Mujhar for 20 years in relative peace, with his mistress Deirdre at his side and five healthy adult children—but the lack of recent attacks and wars means that his three sons have grown up into entitled brats, more interested in their respective hobbies (Brennan = training horses, Hart = gambling, Corin = reliable with the laydeeez) than their princely responsibilities. After one awful night in which the wayward princes cause a diplomatic incident and cause a ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 4: Track of the White Wolf

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< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading the Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. A new book, a new Cheysuli prince—but this one isn’t Cheysuli enough for the Cheysuli (or Homanan enough for the Homanans). Also introducing: fake Ireland, sinister Atvia, and a bunch more babies to add to the complex work of art that is the royal family tree.

The Story

Meet Niall, son of Donal and Aislinn: 18 years old, and heir of Homana. He is the next link in the chain of kings fulfilling the Cheysuli prophecy about the return of the Firstborn, but while Niall has Cheysuli, Solindish and Homanan blood in his veins, he looks all Homanan—indeed, he is the image of his grandsire Carillon which pleases his mother and the ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 3: Legacy of the Sword

legacy-sword

< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading The Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. I wasn’t expecting this one to be my favourite so far! An epic struggle of one man with himself, some interesting gender politics along the way, and a new generation of angry magical kids start making themselves known.

The Story

Meet Donal: son of Alix, heir of Carillon. Donal is destined to be the first Cheysuli Mujhar of Homana, fulfilling an ancient prophecy. He resents it thoroughly. Donal is a man divided: his heart and instincts belong to his Cheysuli half, and yet he is duty bound to serve his Mujhar and Homana. He has no interest in marrying Carillon’s daughter Aislinn, whom he sees as more of a sister—and already has ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 2: The Song of Homana

song-homana

< p class="frontmatter">Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading The Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism. Another concise, fast-paced read which manages to pack several volumes worth of Epic Fantasy Plot into a single volume—but this one, quite startlingly, is told in 1st person instead of 3rd, as well as having a different protagonist to Book 1. (Oh, fantasy series made up of single narratively satisfying volumes, where did you go?) This time it’s Carillon, Alix’s cousin and the dispossessed Mujhar of Homana, who takes centre stage. This book wasn’t one of my favourites of the series, so I had reread it far less than Shapechangers and thus only had a vague memory of what went down. I can see why I didn’t love this one, as ...

The Cheysuli Reread, Book 1: Shapechangers

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One thing that struck me, rereading Shapechangers for the first time in more than a decade, is how fast it is. It’s rare to find fantasy fiction in volumes less than 120K these days, let along in a book as slender as this first Chronicle of the Cheysuli. But oh, the pace! It rattles along at an extraordinary rate, even if it does require a few conveniently placed conversations about the current political situation to get the reader up to speed. By Chapter 4, we’ve been introduced to the main players, caught up on most of the relevant backstory, and are full steam ahead into our adventure.

I would love to see more modern fantasy follow this structure.

I have to assume that these books are at least partly inspired by the historical interactions between Native Americans and European colonists in North America. This isn’t something that occurred to me ...

Introducing The Cheysuli Reread

Art by Boris Vallejo

Jennifer Roberson is one of the writers who shaped the way I look at and think about epic fantasy. Her Chronicles of the Cheysuli books had a powerful effect on me because it was the first time I read fantasy that felt like social and family history as much as a history of politics and war.

Roberson is one of the authors I think of as the Sword and Sorceress collective, because she had many stories published in the DAW Books series edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley that were published across the 80s and 90s. I found that these books were great for finding new authors to read, as it was a good bet that if they wrote at least one story for S&S, they cared enough about female characters to put plenty of them in their novels, too. Regular contributors to these anthologies included Diana L Paxon, Charles De ...

The Last Stand of Daredevil and Elektra (Featuring: The Punisher)

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This post covers Daredevil Season 2: Episode 13 and is extremely spoilery for the entire season. Find more Daredevil episode recaps here.

THE STORY SO FAR: Matt makes terrible life choices, breaks up the band, and spends a lot of time punching ninjas. That boy needs a stick to hit people with. Show: get on that.

 

EPISODE 13: A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen

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It’s fitting that while this season has ranged all over the “city” of Hell’s Kitchen (including, gasp, visiting other boroughs of New York!) it all pretty much comes down to one building, one rooftop, and the street below it.

A couple of really significant things happen off-screen in the early part this episode—hasty editing? Pushed for time? Not on Netflix, surely.

Anyway, those things are:

  • Sgt Brett is beaten up and threatened for the official police files on Daredevil, including info on everyone he ...
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Daredevil Can’t Hear Ninjas (or His Own Terrible Life Choices)

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This post covers Daredevil Season 2: Episode 11 (“.380”) and Episode 12 (“The Dark at The End of the Tunnel”) and is extremely spoilery. Find more Daredevil episode recaps here.

THE STORY SO FAR: Thanks to a grand collaboration involving the Punisher’s violent shooting sprees, Matt’s stalky superpowers, Foggy’s legal know-how, and Karen’s newly-embraced investigative reporting skills, the gang have uncovered a massive conspiracy surrounding the District Attorney’s office and a drug lord called the Blacksmith, not to mention a completely different centuries-old immortality conspiracy involving Matt’s old backstabby mentor Stick, Matt’s homicidal assassin ex-girlfriend Elektra, and a whole lot of ninjas belonging to a group called the Hand.

These are special ninjas, by the way, who can keep their heartbeat silent and thus Daredevil can only hear them by the swishing of their swords. You’d think if this was an important premise of the show then they would ...

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Prisoner: Cell Block Daredevil

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This post covers Daredevil Season 2: Episode 9 (Seven Minutes in Heaven) and Episode 10 (The Man in the Box) and is extremely spoilery for those episodes. Find more Daredevil episode recaps here.

THE STORY SO FAR: Matt Murdock has wrecked his love life, his closest friendships, the most important trial his law firm has even taken on, his law firm, and now his world is infested with ninjas. So many ninjas. Seriously, his life makes Jessica Jones look like a well-adjusted member of society. Pretty much the only positive thing he has achieved this season was getting the Punisher arrested. At least he has that to keep him warm at nights…

 

EPISODE 9: Seven Minutes in Heaven

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Vincent D’Onofrio dominates this episode, returning as the terrifying and compelling Wilson Fisk. The cold open of the episode tells the story of his time in prison thus far, from a ...

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