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 eight and nine, so beware of mild spoilers for all episodes so far.
When we last left Jessica at the end of episode seven, she was staring down a dead end, her only remaining lead an ATM receipt with little detail to go on. Now, at the start of episode eight—“My Door is Always Open (Now)”—and after touring all the ATMs across multiple districts, she has finally figured out which one Jamie visited in the hours before his death and, surprise surprise, it’s the one directly opposite the Hellfire Club. A few instances of serendipity (and one uncovered bodega scam) later and Jessica finally has more than a single scrap of paper to go on. Now with complete access to Jamie’s phone, leads are finally starting to pile up.
Of course, good luck like that always comes at a cost, and soon enough, Jessica finds herself face-to-face with a lot of muscle, some of it super-powered. One quick and dirty fight later leaves Jessica minus several pieces of evidence (plus one broken rib). However, spotting Hellfire owner Shaw in charge of her attackers proves to her once again that she’s following the right path—even if it is proving to be a painful one.
This episode takes Jessica from being stuck at a dead-end to finding herself with multiple new directions in which to head, but still, it would seem that all roads lead to Brandon, the one major character we are yet to meet. Opening up these new roads gives us and Jessica a sense of purpose again, and having her attacked mere moments later adds to the tension that has been building every time she takes another step closer to the truth.
Episode nine—“Bad Taxidermy”—introduces a character I’d been waiting to see make an appearance in this story, Luke Cage. Recovering from her fight with Shaw’s superpowered goons, Jessica knows she needs some physical backup for the time being and arranges to meet one of the Nova Naledi flares at Luke’s bar. Luke is naturally concerned for Jessica’s health, not to mention her mental well-being, but his compassion doesn’t have much chance to linger. It turns out the flare Jessica planned to meet there, Sam, was banned from the bar some time ago for underage drinking. Instead, the pair head to one of Sam’s favorite haunts, an old-fashioned gentleman’s club they know their way around that is furnished with private rooms where no one comes knocking.
The conservation is illuminating, although that is often because of what is left out rather than what is actually said. By the end, Jessica’s suspicions have begun to shift along a new path and she has set some new wheels in motion to see where they will lead her next.
This wasn’t the most thrilling of episodes, certainly compared with the previous one, but it did allow for us (and Jessica) to sit back and take a much-needed breath. It was great to see Luke Cage make an appearance, but I was also grateful that his presence didn’t overwhelm Jessica’s agency. Sam is an interesting character, so I was happy to have them back at the forefront. They are clearly hiding something too, although I’m yet to get an idea of what that might be.
There are a lot of strands of information currently weaving through Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire and I’m hopeful that soon they will start to come together so we can see where they are headed. Until then, check out my recap of Black Widow: Bad Blood episodes eleven and twelve and come back on July 24th for more from Jessica Jones.