Jessica Jones: AKA WWJD?

"I have a conscience. It's... just more selective."

Kilgrave's history begins to come to light, and Jessica begins to question her own motives and reactions as a result, reaching out for help to her best friend. Meanwhile, Simpson is making plans of his own.

What would Jessica do? I actually think that's a smart question. At times Jessica's extremely reactive, not proactive. I don't mean that in a cheesy new-age way, but more from observation. Every action Jessica takes is in reaction to someone or something else. Even her previous failed plan - hide in prison - was in reaction to Kilgrave. So what does she do?

At the end of the previous episode I pretty much figured three things:
  • Kilgrave doesn't love anyone. It's more that Jessica simply appears to have broke his control at one point. He cannot fully control her involuntarily. The challenge for him now is to control her voluntarily, by choice. Once he has a few pins set up-she makes a choice to take photos for him, to do what he says to save a life-it becomes easier for him to convince her to do what he says without the bait. Simple Pavlovian training, but something which must be a quantum leap for someone who's basically a grown-up version of Anthony Fremont from the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life." When, for your entire life, you've just had anyone do whatever you say, figuring out the nuances of interpersonal relationships and normal behavior must be hard.
  • Simpson is working with Jessica to take out Kilgrave and he figures in her long term plan.
  • Kilgrave has some kind of contact with Hogarth by now.
As for number one: this episode showed us the elaborate lengths Kilgrave is willing to go to, the scenarios he's willing to establish to get into a partnership of some sort with Jessica. The bedroom recreation was terrifying. Likewise the dinner conversation - with the drunkenness and violence and razor blades, it's a dinner only Jessica Jones could have. Billie's completely right about this situation modelling that of an abusive relationship. Abusers never take responsibility for their own statements or actions. If only someone had taught Kilgrave! Then he might be a Good Person! Jessica buys it or plays into it-I'm never sure which; she's always testing the boundaries like she did with the wine. He saves someone, but has to be watched every step of the way, and is continually petulant each time he has to respect the potential wishes of others. I loved the buddy-up scenes and the pathetically tragic ease with which they worked together. It's clear that, were Kilgrave not three kumquats short of a fruit salad, many cool things could be possible.


Jessica seems to feel like she has a choice to make. She goes to Trish to ask her: should she play the mentor-behind-the-scenes, turn Kilgrave into a hero? Trish's response is spot on. Kilgrave is a psychopath. What he did to Mrs. de Luca at the end of the episode will happen again and again. It's not just about learning the words not to say, or to go after the bad guys. It's about letting go of a need to control and punish which is bigger than the both of us. Kilgrave's power may cause him to be a psychopath; it may be his nature which cause his use of his powers. The combination is an unbelievable danger however, and Simpson's right to worry, sealed room or no. So does Kilgrave love Jessica? I'm willing to admit he's obsessed with her - but, as with many abusers in abusive relationships, he mistakes obsession for love and control for caring. I also think there has to be some sort of ulterior motive behind his pursuit of Jessica: a child, or a steppingstone to power. Something.

As for the second point, I was totally off. Simpson's a lone commando and, like Jessica, seems determined to protect others at his own expense. I assumed he was working with Jessica because of a fleeting car clip at the end of the last episode. It turns out he's gone commando, bombing Kilgrave's basement and endangering whatever Jessica's plan is. I loved the moment with Jessica telling Simpson to get out and immediately turning and using the bomb to her advantage. She really is a PI, and while she has super-strength, it's her keen sense of strategy which has done a better job keeping her alive. She gets a team of security people replaced, earns some of Kilgrave's trust, and exploits his blind spot – a lack of caring for others or ability to understand that care. After all, he can't see Jessica's playing the long game and interested in getting Hope free. He only sees she saved his butt. All of this impacts Simpson's psyche; his discussion with Trish about the need to get out of the way of superheroes and let them save the day was definitely from the heart. Either he's full of BS or Trish has gotten to him, though, because by the end of the episode he's making Attempt #2 (Poor Mrs. de Luca. And wasn't that a gory explosion?) Well, it seems a break has finally shown in the Trish/Simpson relationship, but it remains to be seen if Simpson's survived the 'neighbomb.'

And my third point? No contact between Hogarth and Kilgrave that we've seen yet. Poor Hogarth is really suffering in this divorce. I don't sympathize with her obviously–she seems cold and distant–but she almost seems human while arguing with Wendy, and I thought the acting here was marvelous. I think I was wrong though; it looks as if Hogarth is going to be Jessica's secret weapon. Recording his childhood story was smart; we'll see how much Jeri can dig up. Although if the divorce issues keep spiraling downwards, and Jessica doesn't see the specious message Kilgrave sent Hogarth over Jessica's phone, all this may be moot. Remember, Hogarth still has Kilgrave's fetus. Maybe there's a way she can make some sort of anti-Kilgrave serum?

Finally, what do the revelations about Kilgrave really change? About Jessica? Jessica's family died in a stupid car fight. Kilgrave's situation was arguably far more dire. But his experiences as a child don't argue for excusing his decisions as an adult. They argue for poor rationalization instead. So what did Jessica do? Jessica's decision-to knock out the cook and housekeeper in a bid for the king-was entirely the right one, though I wish she had done it earlier, instead of entertaining so much of Kilgrave's self-indulgent whining.

Note: I originally thought Jessica had killed the servants. Several commenters pointed out to me that Jessica could simply have knocked out the cook and housekeeper so they would not have seen Jessica harm Kilgrave, therefore being impelled to kill themselves. So I made the edit to the final version above.

Bits and Pieces of Mrs. de Luca

Why don't they talk to the nameless guy and find out why he was holding his family hostage and then see if they could make a good person somehow? Those voice commands of Kilgrave might be more subtle than even he knows. Maybe Hogarth has a point; he doesn't use his powers effectively. Oh well, at least he lived.

We see the first real break in the Simpson/Trish relationship, and it's over a philosophical difference they don't even have. She's the woman who did krav maga to keep up with Jessica after all.

The dream Jessica has of her brother and parents coming to her. Warning or motivation?

Jessica can fly! (Sort of, as you may recall from a previous episode.)

Quotables

Kilgrave: How do you people live like this? Day after day, just hoping people are gonna do what you want. It's unbearable.

Simpson: Everyone wants to be the hero, right? But now I see that we can't be... because there's us, and there's them. And that's okay, but it just means that we can't always help. You can't always help. Not without getting hurt and becoming some extra problem.
Trish: You're saying this like it's about me, but this is about you. You're abandoning her.
Simpson: No. I'm getting out of her way. Both of us should get out of her way.

Kilgrave: Well, now that's out of the way, put the barrel of the gun into your mouth.
Jessica: You can't kill him.
Kilgrave: No, but he can kill himself. The man's clearly insane. He is never gonna be a productive member of society.
Jessica: That is not for you to decide.
Kilgrave: He will go to prison and feed off the tit of the taxpayers––
Jessica: You've never paid a goddam tax in your life.
Kilgrave: What would Jessica do?
Jessica: Make him turn himself over to the police.

Overall

Even better than the previous episode, and with more smartness than stupidity. Five out of five Simpson Explosives.

11 comments:

percysowner said...

I'm honestly not sure Jessica did sacrifice the cook and butler. My interpretation was that she gave them something to knock them out (probably the anesthetic that depowered Kilgrave), not kill them. Being unconscious removes Kilgrave's control so he couldn't use them to protect himself or threaten Jessica. I just can't see her killing them and not dying inside for the rest of her life. If it were me, I'd rather be drugged then free of Kilgrave than under his control.

Ashley said...

Hey. I love that you guys are reviewing the show so quickly so thanks! I also think she just drugged the cooks to put them to sleep as well. A few thoughts on the Trish/Simpson break up.

Simpson fears the things Jessica and Kilgrave can do. He strikes me as similar to a military friend of mine who can respect people in his field being better than him but if the enemy/someone different has the upper hand then he goes into assess the enemy mode to either destroy or manage them. Hence the questions to Trish about Jessica and her powers a few episodes ago. Plus he senses her dislike, doesn't appreciate her attitude and she isn't even considering neutralizing the threat which makes her dangerous. Then Trish (this woman he really likes) clearly is ride or die for Jessica and he doesn't get that/it bothers him.

Trish, however, doesn't fear Jessica or Kilgrave in the same way. She truly sees abilities as gifts with which to protect and help people. Simpson feels inferior not necessarily because of the extreme trauma he has suffered but because he's used to being at the top and in control of a situation. Jessica is an obstacle in his own goal to kill Kilgrave and he (who is used to protecting people and being the one people call) doesn't appreciate that nor her abilities that make her stronger. Trish, however, wanted to start fighting her own battles and help Jessica. Her need to learn martial arts wasn't trying to be on Jessica's level per SE other than she admires Jessica's strength and how it can help people and herself. Simpson looks upon these abilities with fear and the need to control/destroy or mange them. I always think he was planning to go back to the house and the break was about him not getting the bond between Jessica and Trish. He thinks Jessica is an obstacle (since she isn't Kilgraved) and doesn't get Trish's ride or die attitude for her. He's also very selfish in that he doesn't even try to talk to Jessica about other ways to help hope or get justice for others - no he wants to kill him and that is it.

JRS said...

I'm hoping you're right! I interpreted the whole thing as Jessica getting even more ruthless. The anaesthetic wasn't in the food for Kilgrave, but it might have been in the other food for the cook and butler.

Ashley, that's a great analysis - thanks. I think you're right, there's a sort of separatist them-or-us approach behind Simpson.

migmit said...

OK, first of all: where is that bit about "sacrificing the cook and the housekeeper" coming from? We saw them passing out, that's all.

Tennant is a really good actor. He is my least favourite Doctor, but he is really good. Ritter, however, is not. Their scenes together — and there were a lot of those — could be exciting. Instead they are just dull.

But that's not the last problem. This episode is filled with inconsistencies and missed opportunities. Let me name some of them:

— Jessica told Kilgrave there was a bomb in a basement, and he didn't even try to "convince" her to answer how the hell did she know about it? He knows all too well what buttons to push to get her to answer.

— Kilgrave is taken out with this anesthetic, but the not-so-friendly neighbour is still under his control? WTF?

— Jessica and Kilgrave walk to the crime scene and she encourages him to use his powers? Not even on the culprit; no, she makes him use them on cops. I would understand it if she already have a plan to take him out; sometimes the ends do justify the means. But she didn't, otherwise she won't go to Trish to ask her opinion.

— Kilgrave doesn't understand what other people feel, but he understands perfectly how Jessica is hurt by Mrs. de Luca's words?

— Kilgrave couldn't have known if Jessica wanted him, despite the fact that no more than a minute ago we saw him just ordering the neighbour to tell him the truth, and she happily spilled everything, even though some of it must have been hidden from her by self-delusion? OK, he might be lying, but that's a HUGE missed opportunity here.

— I'm pretty sure that client committing a crime is a perfectly valid reason for the guard to stop guarding and start arresting. He didn't have that chance before, but with Kilgrave unconscience? Again, WTF? Is this guy a complete sociopath?

Last time I complained that everybody was acting stupid (well... except for Jeri and this aging cop), and that was frustrating as hell. But this is not just character flaws; this is seriously bad writing.

At this point I'm debating with myself whether I want to know how it would all play out strongly enough to continue watching.

Billie Doux said...

Nice review, Joseph. Three kumquats short of a fruit salad. :)

Moving the Kilgrave/Jessica relationship to her family home was just so obvious a way to show the abusive relationship parallel. And now I know why they cast David Tennant. Because as horrible as Kilgrave is, Tennant is such a likeable actor that I kept thinking every now and then, could he *possibly* be redeemable, even though he so obviously isn't? (Tennant was my favorite Doctor, and he still is.)

Migmit, I get the feeling that this is not the show for you. Where did I get that impression? I don't know. :)

migmit said...

Billie, you're right. But I wanted to like it. I really, really did. As I said, Tennant is very good, Carrie-Anne Moss is, at times, terrific, and Mike Colter is a pleasure to watch. And it's Marvel. Their other show with a female lead (Agent Carter) is absolutely great, and in the beginning "Jessica Jones" was certainly better than "Daredevil". I'm frustrated because they waste the potential.

BTW, Tennant is my least favourite Doctor, but not because he was bad. I just think that all others were better.

Josie Kafka said...

I think you're right, there's a sort of separatist them-or-us approach behind Simpson.

I will simply nod in response to this comment, and make a subtle "ahem" noise in the back of my throat. Simpson is a developing character, ain't he? :-)

Jenna said...

Billie, I call that "The Tennant Effect". Here, it made me desperately wish for a spinoff series, where Jessica and a reluctant Kilgrave go saving the world together. Just imagine the possibilities! :)
Also, I've watched the whole series already, and this is my absolutely favorite episode, just because of the interaction between Jessica and Kilgrave. The Tennant Effect at work, again!

jenallday said...

Add me as a vote for the cook and housekeeper just going night night for a while. Jessica willingly killing people would be a huge hurdle!

Tennant is just fantastic in this. I can't look away from him in any scene. I knew he could be crotchety from Broadchurch but I'll admit I had my doubts about pure evil. I was wrong to have doubted him, so evil.

percysowner said...

I just read another review of this episode where it was pointed out that Kilgrave told the cook and housekeeper that they were to kill themselves is they saw Jessica hurt him. So I'm pretty sure she knocked them out so they wouldn't see her hurt him.

Kilgrave's control can be limited by how it is expressed. He uses that against Jessica by telling her he didn't tell her to kill Luke's wife, just to take care of her. Now he knew that take care of means stop permanently so meant kill, but he used it as his excuse to guilt Jessica. Jessica simply took note and found a way to save the servants by making sure they obeyed the letter of his command.

Lamounier said...

Fascinating episode. Great review, Joseph.

I’m going to go all apologetic and comment migmit’s critiques. :)

Jessica told Kilgrave there was a bomb in a basement, and he didn't even try to "convince" her to answer how the hell did she know about it?

It was implied he figured everything out on his own.

Kilgrave is taken out with this anesthetic, but the not-so-friendly neighbour is still under his control? WTF?

He didn't have that chance before, but with Kilgrave unconscience? Again, WTF?

migmit, I think it doesn’t matter if Kilgrave is out or not. Kilgrave’s mind control works as a drug that loses its effects as time goes by, it doesn’t matter if the doctor who applied the drug is awake.

Jessica and Kilgrave walk to the crime scene and she encourages him to use his powers? Not even on the culprit; no, she makes him use them on cops.

Well, they needed to get inside the house, so using Kilgrave’s powers on the cops was necessary. That’s better than Jessica knocking them out.

Kilgrave doesn't understand what other people feel, but he understands perfectly how Jessica is hurt by Mrs. de Luca's words?

Great point. I actually think he was lying about not understanding what other people feel. He understands but mostly doesn’t care.

Kilgrave couldn't have known if Jessica wanted him, despite …

Well, he knew she didn’t.