Finally, after seven episodes, Jessica Jones and Kilgrave are in the same room, but it doesn’t go quite as Jess planned. She’s been working for the last five episodes on plans to bring in Kilgrave, none of which have come to fruition, but when he’s finally in front of her, she learns the truth is far stranger and more horrifying than she could’ve imagined.
After weeks of fruitless plans trying to find Kilgrave, Jess is ready to execute her worst idea yet: she commits to framing herself for murder and being sent to Supermax prison, with the idea that Kilgrave would have to come and save her. Just about everyone in Jess’ life points out what an awful plan this is, but Jess is stuck in a haze of self-loathing and can’t be deterred.
When Jessica Jones was announced, I figured that this would be the rare Marvel production that had to be tamer from the source material, since Alias is an extremely adult series. Yet Jessica Jones manages to feel darker, more mature, more grim than the comics ever did. Jessica drunkenly dropping Wendy on the subway tracks is worse than anything she ever did in the books. And when the subway bears down on her, she stares at it almost with relief, finally waiting to jump away at the last minute. Jessica’s a true anti-hero, capable of good, but more likely to find immense selfishness and evil. Jessica knows this, which is why her Supermax plan isn’t wholly for the benefit of Kilgrave; it’s to punish herself, to put her in a place where she can’t hurt anyone anymore.
Yet Jessica’s depravity can’t match Kilgrave. Jessica has no interest in Ruben, the awkward upstairs neighbor, but the second Kilgrave sees him as competition, the poor boy’s fate is sealed. Kilgrave isn’t afraid of killing innocents just to send a message, nor to hold the whole world hostage to get to Jessica.
I’ve loathed Ruben and Robyn from their very first scene, but there are few scenes as heartbreaking on this show as Robyn desperately asking Jessica if she’s seen her brother. She even promises to take Ruben to the zoo to see the giraffes. Robyn and Ruben are perhaps the best example of the show setting up a meandering, irritating subplot, only to pull the rug out from underneath us. Jessica Jones is smarter than the viewer, establishing these side characters and giving them tragic fates to show the true destruction of Kilgrave.
Trish and Simpson are two more of Kilgrave’s victims, yet their reactions are altogether different. Trish was attached by a brainwashed Simpson, her body bearing the marks to prove it. But Trish is making active steps against Kilgrave, tracking down his movements and purchases to get a idea on his exact location. And she’s even taking back her sense of security. While having sex with Simpson, she rides him to orgasm, but sharply denies him when he tries to kiss her. Trish isn’t just dating Simpson, she’s using her attacker to rebuild her identity, to make her feel that she is the one in control of her life.
Simpson, on the other hand, is not handling his trauma well. After Kilgrave violated his entire identity and sense of self, Simpson has slowly become obsessed with vengeance. He lies to Trish about Kilgrave’s location, convinced that Kilgrave’s death is the only way to ensure the world’s safety. And Simpson is probably right, but he’s not interested in safety, he’s interested in vengeance, and will eventually be consumed by it.
In the end, Kilgrave doesn’t really want Jessica to suffer: he wants her to be broken, to stop resisting his overtures. After a lifetime of people obeying his every command, Kilgrave’s ready for a new life of domestic bliss and happiness. But Kilgrave is a boy who never grew up, and can’t understand that to serenade Jessica, home is the last place she’d want to be.
4.5 Heads in a Bag Out of 5. When Malcolm dumped poor Ruben into the river, I thought, “That is the single most awful, depraved thing anyone not named Kilgrave has done.” That feeling lasted all of five minutes, until Jessica sauntered into the police station with a plastic shopping bag.
Hey there! You may recognize me from my regular reviews of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or last season of Daredevil. I’m taking over for Doug for the rest of Jessica Jones season one so we can both have much-needed Thanksgivings.
The whole police station falling into laughter has some of the most contagious laughter I’ve ever seen. It was a horrifying moment, yet instinctively I was gently chuckling along with them.
Jessica offers the bum a Blimpie’s gift card. I’ve never eaten Blimpie’s, but I know the final episode of 30 Rock has an entire subplot dedicated to avoiding eating there. So I assume the bum didn’t use that card anytime soon.
Kilgrave gets the best line: “I am new to love, but I know what it looks like. I do watch television.”
Trish gets a close second. After Jessica runs through a number of horrifying hypotheticals, including Trish bludgeoned to death with her vacuum cleaner: “We both know you don’t own a vacuum cleaner.”