Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire
Season 1 Episode 9: “Bad Taxidermy”
By Lauren Beukes, Vita Ayala, Sam Beckbessinger, Zoe Quinn, and Elsa Sjunneson
Narrated by Fryda Wolff
I was grinning from ear to ear after reading the latest installment of Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire. Episode 9: “Bad Taxidermy” is now my new favorite episode in this Serial Box exclusive.
Of course, I may be biased because Jessica Jones interacts with my favorite character among those this series introduced, the young flare Sam. Whose pronouns are “they/them”, by the way.
Not only that, but this episode also further connects Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire to the larger Marvel Universe. Spoilers ahead.
Everyone needs a friend
It’s Sam Beckbessinger’s turn to take the wheel as the writer for this episode, and what a ride it is!
The episode starts with an injured Jessica trying to get back to her feet after her encounter with Mister Telekinesis. What I like about this serialized novel is that it really shows us how human Jessica is, despite her superpowers. We feel her physical and emotional pain. Yes, she has a healing power, but that only takes care of the physical battering.
Episode 9 reminds us that everybody needs a friend. Even a loner like Jessica Jones.
And while Sam is not exactly her friend yet, the young flare is the one she’s closest to among all of the late Jamie’s fellow artists. So Jessica calls up Sam and sets up a meeting.
And then we meet Jessica’s friend.
Learning to ask for help
OK, I admit it. I was fanboying when Luke Cage finally made an appearance in this novel. We knew he had to be here, given their history and the fact that he’s just in the vicinity.
“Luke Cage works at a bar in Harlem, sandwiched between a Puerto Rican mega-church and a ballet studio, which picks up music from both venues. It’s Jessica’s happy place.
“It helps that Luke himself is nearly as strong as she is, and basically injury- proof. If she gets jumped by super-thugs again, he’ll be good backup. Even more miraculously, he’s a friend.”
We get to enjoy a long conversation between Jessica and Luke. It shows how much they care for each other (well, comic book fans know just how much they do). And how Jessica is trying to follow her therapist Mel’s advice. To allow herself to admit when she’s vulnerable and ask for help.
Drinks with Sam
It’s always a joy when the grumpy and cynical Jessica interacts with the cheerful and trusting Sam. And I love how Jessica doesn’t intimidate Sam at all.
“‘She crosses the street to where Sam’s huddled, digging into a bag shaped like a bat. ‘Hey, I said meet me in the bar, not adjacent to the –‘
“‘You’re not a very good listener, are you?’ Sam cuts her off calmly. ‘Seems like that would be a problem in your line of work.’
“Jessica shuts up.”
What’s even more amusing is how they lead a baffled Jessica to a private place where they can talk — and have free drinks, at the same time. It’s such a great twist with wonderful character moments for both that I won’t spoil it for you.
What’s up with Diane?
Then Jessica tells Sam what she discovered last episode about Jamie and Brendan’s appointment with Diane.
“‘Look,’ says Sam, getting angry now. ‘Diane doesn’t know you. Frankly, neither do I. If she didn’t want to tell you about it, she had a reason.’ They start to fidget with the tassel of their hoodie, all furious energy. Jessica can see they’re about to make an excuse to leave. God, this kid is so much like her it hurts.
“Jessica lets the silence settle around them for a minute. ‘Look. I don’t mean to offend you. About Diane. I’m trying to figure out what happened to Jamie. That’s my job.’
“‘I know.’ Sam nods. ‘I’m glad you’re doing it, really. But you’ve got to understand: Diane — she’s been like a family to us. More than that. She’s the one who made us a family.'”
Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire is such a wonderful novel that has made me appreciate Jessica Jones so much more. I can’t wait to read the next episode. And I’m just hoping that Sam won’t die somewhere along the way.
(Editor’s note: This review is based on an advanced reader copy provided by Serial Box. Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire Season 1 Episode 9 will come out on July 9. Exclusively available on Serial Box.)
- “The Big Easy” – Season 1 Episode 1 review
- “The Boy Under the Bridge” – Season 1 Episode 2 review
- “Never Saw It Coming” – Season 1 Episode 3 review
- “This Is Going to Hurt” – Season 1 Episode 4 review
- “A Visit from Old Friends” – Season 1 Episode 5 review
- “Fake It Till You Make It” – Season 1 Episode 6 review
- “It Was Always Burning” – Season 1 Episode 7 review
- “My Door Is Always Open (Now)” — Season 1 Episode 8 review