Warning: Spoilers ahead for Jessica Jones season 2.
Jessica Jones is a show filled with big moments. Fight scenes filled with tossed-around bodies, ultimate showdowns with super villains, and car-destroying confrontations with sexual predators are all par for the course in the world of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter). That’s why it’s easy to miss the smaller, quieter moments of the Netflix comic book series between all the sounds of men flying through glass doors and empty whisky bottles crashing onto desks. But, that would be an especially egregious mistake to make with a certain scene in the season 2 episode “AKA Freak Accident.”
The topic at hand is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment when Jess’ best-friend-slash-sister Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) tries to decide what to wear to face her rapist, director Max Tatum (James McCaffrey). The results of this long deliberation actually foreshadows season 2’s wild, fatal ending in a way no one would expect. So, let’s break the whole thing down.
As Trish prepares to confront Max, from whom she wants to get information about shadowy medical corporation IGH, she cycles her way through multiple “Trish”-type of outfits. You know, the kind of ensembles that are both expensive-looking and attractive, but not-exactly envelope pushing — a form-fitting red skirt paired with a simple black top, or a bodycon black dress with a few choice stripes. Trish has the kind of closet any wealthy, successful radio personality would have and looks displeased by the options in front of her.
The next time we see Trish, she’s wearing an exact replica of a classic “Jessica” outfit: jeans, black shirt, leather jacket.
Trish’s portrayer Rachael Taylor sees her character’s decision as a deliberate choice to gain strength by emulating her superpowered best friend. “For me as an actor, [this scene] was Trish negotiating with herself on whether or not she should use her sexuality to try to get what she wants,” Taylor explained to Refinery29 during an interview in New York City, on-screen best friend Kysten Ritter at her side. “Or whether or not she should channel her friend who she really admires and try to channel some strength to get what she wants.”
Trish has clearly been obsessed with powers since the beginning of Jessica Jones, but this is the first time we see her trying to actually slip into Jessica’s metaphorical skin to feel powerful. “I thought that was a beautifully observed, really small moment; a really nice little conflicting moment,” Taylor added. “I love that she made the choice to be more like her friend. Trish really admires Jessica in lots of ways — there’s a little message in there.”
The idea of Trish trying to “be more like her friend,” comes back in the final episodes of the season as the radio personality tries to get powers like Jessica. In “Three Lives And Counting,” where Trish undergoes Dr. Karl Malus’ dangerous gene editing procedure, Trish asks, “Do you know what it’s like to feel powerless?” Trish claims she wants the heightened abilities Karl might unlock so she can “help people who can’t help themselves,” but that question proves the systematically abused woman simply wants to feel protected. In her mind, the only way to do that is to be exactly like ass-kicking Jessica, down to getting superpowers from the mad doctor who ended up giving Jessica her own.
Women deserve to be looking at a version of female friendship that’s complicated and messy and nuanced and tangled and twisted.
While Ritter called Trish and Jessica’s relationship “the heart of the show,” we all know their relationship can’t be all “I love you’s” and sunshine on a gritty noir like Jessica Jones. “There are also these tinges of jealousy. Kind of wanting what the other one has,” Jessica’s portrayer Ritter noted. “The superpowers, Jessica hates the superpowers. Trish would kill for them.”
The Jessica Jones star is right, as Trish nearly ends up killing herself to become as super as Jessica. Karl’s risky procedure, where countless needles are stuck into or around one’s spine after they're shot up with a gene-editing vaccine, leads to a face-down and unconscious Trish seizing on a medical table. Eventually, blood starts pouring out of her mouth. Now we know precisely what kind of torture teen Jessica went through to become who she is, and Trish is doing the exact same thing. It’s the jeans-and-a-leather-jacket-as-a-power-up ploy taken to its its most extreme conclusion.
Although getting shot up with mystery vaccines that come with the verbal warning “it could all go terribly wrong” and nearly bleeding to death certainly seems like it should be the end of Trish’s drastic transformation into Jessica, it’s not. In season finale “AKA Playland,” Trish walks in Jessica’s same footsteps and kills the “monster” of the season, Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer), who, it’s eventually revealed, is Jessica’s mom.
When Jessica snapped Kilgrave’s (David Tennant) neck in season 1 closer “AKA Smile,” she was saving Trish, whom Kilgrave had threatened to kidnap and rape. When Trish shoots Alisa in the head, she believes she’s saving Jessica from being shot by police as officers were hot on the Jones women’s trail. After all, Mrs. Jones, who developed catastrophic rage issues after getting her powers, left a trail of bodies behind her and, as sympathetic detective Eddy Costa (John Ventimiglia) tells Trish, there’s no promise police wouldn’t kill Jessica while trying to apprehend the murderous Alisa.
The bloody scene might be difficult one to accept for fans, but it sounds like the Jessica Jones cast believes it only adds to Jessica and Trish's tense relationship. “I love that our show has a depiction of female friendship that is not perfect. I love that there are shades of jealousy between the girls … I think it would have been simpler to always have them on the same side, and in season 2 they’re not always on the same side,” Taylor said while explaining why this friendship is so important.
“Particularly my character, she’s not always doing the right thing by Jessica. There’s nothing to be gained by putting forth an overly simplified version of female friendship. Girls and women deserve to be looking at a version of female friendship that’s complicated and messy and nuanced and tangled and twisted, and our show does that really beautifully.”
This tangled and twisted tragedy leaves the Trish-Jessica relationship shattered by the last moments of the season, as Jessica can only see her sister as the person who killed her mother. But at least Trish got what she wanted: powers. Trish’s final scene in Jessica 2.0 suggests the procedure worked, as the woman now has cat-like reflexes and can catch an ill-fated iPhone on her foot.
Trish Walker is officially as superpowered as Jessica Jones — and a single outfit change told us it was going to happen.
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