Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire is a serialized novel released in a new episode/chapter every week on Serial Box. Today I’m recapping and reviewing episodes four and five, so beware of mild spoilers for all episodes so far.
Episode four (“This Is Going to Hurt”) sees Jessica flexing her detective skills in a variety of ways. Her suspicion that Jamie’s death isn’t the clear-cut suicide the police believe it to be is increased by a read-through of his autopsy report which includes a number of odd features. Those suspicions are high enough for Jessica to decide to dig around further at the Hellfire Club, but another encounter with its owner, Shaw, adds an extra layer of WTF-ery to her investigation, not to mention a layer of purple glitter.
Episode four gives us plenty of tension and a little bit of action for good measure. Snooping around the Hellfire Club, Jessica digs up a few clues but it’s her encounter with Shaw and his goons that brings this episode together. Her super strength has given Jessica an element of arrogance when it comes to fights, and seeing her unexpectedly meeting her match is as entertaining for us to read as it is surprising (and unwelcome) for Jessica.
Episode five (“A Visit from Old Friends”) opens with Jessica paying the price for her investigations the previous day. Thankfully, Matt Murdock owes her after the ice cream turf war fiasco, and soon enough Jessica is back on the case but with new difficulties to contend with, not least an order to remain at least 500ft away from any entrance to the Hellfire Club. Following up on an entirely different lead, Jessica meets with local dealer Sketchy Steve and befriends some of New York City’s homeless youths with the help of fast food, all in an attempt to find Jamie’s boyfriend Brandon who might just be the key to unraveling everything.
Almost the complete opposite of episode four when it comes to tone, episode five sees Jessica forced into contrition and agreements to play nice, and her displeasure at this drips from every word. Her interactions with Matt and Foggy bring some much-needed levity to the story, but it’s short-lived as Jessica is almost immediately back in the field hunting down drug dealers and homeless kids whose information can be bought for the price of some chicken nuggets. I loved the way Jessica’s demeanor changed entirely across these two chapters depending upon who she was talking to. For all her insistence that she “isn’t a psychologist or a forensic profiler by any stretch,” she knows exactly how to get people to talk and her interaction with Sketchy Steve was a true delight.
Playing with Fire continues to lay the groundwork for a thoughtful Marvel tale filled with the elements of social justice that I love to see from the company that gave us the X-Men and so much more. I’m already looking forward to the next episodes and hoping that Jessica is able to locate Brandon and begin to find some answers about what really happened to Jamie. Until then, check out my recap of Black Widow: Bad Blood episodes seven and eight and come back the week of June 22nd for more from Jessica Jones and Natasha Romanoff.
GeekMom received a copy of this book for review purposes.