After thirteen episodes, Jessica Jones brings Jessica and Kilgrave to a final bloody confrontation. I’ve been continually impressed with the way this show has slow-burned its story-lines, and builds to an extremely emotional and personal climax. Unfortunately, the final episode struggles under the weight of trying to wrap up so many story-lines.
I love Rosario Dawson, and was thrilled when her name popped up in the opening credits. But Claire’s role here winds up cluttering an already stuffed final episode. Like in Daredevil, Claire spends most of the episode stuck in the hero’s apartment, mostly serving as a soundboard. It’s too late to give Claire an arc of her own, so she mostly serves as a soundboard to wrap up the arcs of Jess, Luke, and Malcolm.
Kilgrave is completely over Jessica at this point. He’s hellbent on expanding his powers so he can control her again. While I still don’t much care for this story-line, I do love Kilgrave’s emotional state. He’s the bitter ex, wanting to hurt and deny Jessica the way that she hurt and denied him. David Tennant’s look of rage as he makes out with Trish while watching Jess is one of the eeriest, best moments with the character. I mentioned it elsewhere, but I love that Kilgrave isn’t a Hollywood psychopath, but has natural, sympathetic emotions taken to an unholy extreme. But I’m disappointed that for all the talk of Kilgrave expanding his powers while looking down at a city full of people, it only pays off with a couple dozen people at the dock.
And can we talk about the docks? What the hell is Jessica’s plan here? Trish arrives to be a distraction why? Kilgrave immediately spots Jess and the cops spray her location with bullets. And once Kilgrave has Trish under his control, how does Jessica know that he’s going to get close enough for her to grab him? The whole plan is totally nonsensical to me. Were Jess and Trish just winging it, hoping to get lucky? And why the hell did they dress up what is obviously a bank as a ferry station?
But despite all the flaws, there’s still so many good things in this episode. Jessica being hunted in the hospital is a killer setup and wonderfully executed. Kilgrave’s woe-is-me monologue as he stares down over the city is delightfully melodramatic. Claire’s total lack of surprise when she discovers that Luke has already slipped out. Kilgrave uses the phrase “anal crumpet.”
Though Jeri’s defense of Jessica at the police station doesn’t have the visceral impact of snapping Kilgrave’s neck, it’s probably the most important scene of the episode thematically. Jessica Jones is not a series about suffering abuse, it’s a series about surviving abuse. Like so many women before her, Jessica’s credibility is called into question by the state. It’s also noteworthy that the dubious DA is a woman. Jessica Jones isn’t interested in being about men vs. women. Rather, it’s about the insidious ways that society marginalizes victims as much as their abusers.
And the climax, though leaden with plodding plotting, is an incredible thematic conclusion to everyone’s arcs. In the end, Kilgrave’s giddiness when he thinks he can control Jess again proved that he never loved her. He’s willing to force Jessica to choose him because he’s convinced she’ll “love” him some day as well. But when forced to profess her love for him, Jessica turns it around; instead, she professes her love to Trish, paying off a beautiful moment set up earlier in the episode. The show elegantly contrasts the two relationships. Love isn’t about what you get, or how you feel; love is sacrifice, doing what’s best for the other person, even when it hurts you. It’s something that Jessica and Trish know from experience, and something that Kilgrave will never understand.
After thirteen hours spent with Jessica, I never want to leave the dingy apartment/office of Alias Investigations. Jessica Jones is the most fully-realized, well-developed character in the MCU. I’m absolutely gobsmacked by Melissa Rosenberg’s accomplishment in this series. This is probably the best genre show since Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and without question the greatest superhero show ever made.
Though it strains to wrap up so many dangling story-lines, it never loses sight of the big picture. Jessica Jones is a wonderful story, expertly told, and sticks the landing with confidence and verve.
4 Broken Windows out of 5. I hope that poor Alias door stays destroyed forever. I was going to give this episode a 3, but that incredible final tracking shot bumped this up a full point for me. Just an absolutely perfect shot to end on.
But MCUE’s coverage of Jessica Jones won’t stop here. We have an article coming up with our wishlist for season 2. Speaking of which, hurry up and renew it, Netflix!
If Luke and Jess ever went bowling, they’d have to pay for the bowling alley. These people can’t even fuck without destroying an apartment, I can’t imagine what damage they’d cause with a bowling ball.
Mike Colter is so fucking huge, it’s scary. Literally scary; when Luke was having his brain seizure/whatever, I was legitimately worried about Colter’s future health. It’s a little neurotic, but after James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman (plus my own father’s health), I’ve become a little skittish about big guys heading into middle age. I hope Colter’s taking care of himself.
Claire’s definitely flirting with Luke in their final scene together. In Luke Cage, I hope she and Luke hook up, just so The Defenders will feature the most awkward love quadrangle ever.
Jessica poetically summarizes her relationship with Luke: “You’re the first person I ever pictured a future with. You’re also the first person I ever shot in the head.”