Jessica Jones: AKA Smile

"I love you."

What does it truly mean to be a hero?

That seems to be the question at the core of these Defenders series. Matt Murdock, who was alluded to several times throughout this episode, is someone who wants to be a hero, both in the courtroom and in costume. But, as Claire says, he's also someone who wrestles with his conscience daily and constantly questions whether or not his vigilantism is truly for the greater good or simply a means of hurting people with moral justification. Jessica Jones, on the other hand, is not someone who sees herself as a hero, or even a good person. Trish, Luke, Malcolm, Claire, these are all good people, all heroes. Jessica? She's an asshole (her words, not mine). But she's an asshole who gives a damn, if only occasionally.

That's why she couldn't walk away from Hope after she killed her parents, it's why she couldn't just stand by and do nothing while Trish's mom abused her, despite promising not to. Jessica can't help being a hero, and a huge part of her wishes she could. As she said before, being a hero puts a target on your back. It was being a hero that ultimately brought her to Kilgrave's attention and turned her life to shit. Being a hero has caused Jessica nothing but pain and misery so why bother? Why answer all those calls for help? Better to delete them all and climb into bed with Jack, Johnny and Jim for company. If Malcolm hadn't been there is that what Jessica would've done? I like to think no. I like to think she would've got out of bed, picked up the phone and asked how she could help. Because deep down inside there is a little voice telling her "that's what Trish Walker would do."

This episode cemented that the heart of this series is the unbreakable bond between Jessica and Trish. They have both suffered at the hands of monsters, both have been controlled, used and abused, but they found love and strength in each other. Trish sees Jessica as a hero because she is her hero. She is the one who saved her, the one who has always looked out for her and tried to keep her safe. Jessica sees Trish as a hero because she wasn't destroyed by her mother's abuse. She came through it all an optimist, someone who strives to help others and believes in the pure idea of heroism. When Jessica finally said those three magic words to her, the words Kilgrave desperately wanted her to say to him, it wasn't just a means of letting Trish know that she was in control, she meant every word. She loves Trish with all of her heart and the feeling is more than mutual.

I loved that the final confrontation was not some elaborate action set-piece. Yes, there was a lot of gunfire, punches being thrown and Jessica falling with style, but when you got right down to it Jessica and Kilgrave's showdown was a battle of wills between the abused and her abuser. Jessica had to play it smart to defeat him without there being any more collateral damage. After everything that has happened, she wasn't prepared to let anyone else suffer because of that monster. It must've taken every ounce of control she had to just stand there and do nothing while Kilgrave made Trish kiss him and boasted of raping her while still refusing to acknowledge that what he does is rape. That creep just kept on making my skin crawl right to the end. I actually cheered when Jessica grabbed hold of his face and told him to "smile" before snapping his neck.

I honestly didn't expect Kilgrave to actually die. I hoped he would because he was such a loathsome piece of slime, but David Tennant has been so good in the role I assumed the writers would want to keep him around for as long as was plausible. It's not like Jessica Jones has an extensive rogues gallery they can fall back on. But killing him was undoubtedly for the best. The last thing I'd want this show to do would be to pull a Heroes and turn Kilgrave into another Sylar.

The battle was done, and Jessica kinda won, so why didn't she sound her victory cheer? Because defeating Kilgrave didn't  magically undo all of the damage that he has caused, didn't bring the dead back to life, and sure as hell won't heal all the wounds she has received. Jessica may have rid the world of Kilgrave and prevented others from suffering because of him, but she will likely never rid herself of him. That's why we call them emotional scars, because even when they heal you can still see them, still feel them. You can never get rid of them, you can only learn to live with them

What does the future hold for Jessica and Luke? He’s gone off now to star in his own series, which is usually the kiss of death for any TV relationship. Just ask Buffy and Angel. But this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe and we already know that they will see each other again in the upcoming Defenders series. But what comes after that? Will they continue to appear only on their respective shows? Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I pray that those crazy kids will somehow be able to work everything out and that they get to share the future that Jessica pictured. After all, they’ve got an adorable baby Captain America to make.

Notes and Quotes

--Someone please get Pam the number for Nelson & Murdock. She doesn't deserve to linger in jail for Jeri's fuck ups.

--And now we know the downside of having unbreakable skin. Luke better hope he never gets appendicitis.

--Was anyone else a little disappointed that Kilgrave didn't turn full purple after that final injection? I was so sure that was where they were going.

--Kilgrave's dad being dismembered alive and shoved in the garbage disposal? No problem. Claire sticking a great big needle in Luke's eye? Ewww, excuse me I need to go do something else in another room for a minute. Maybe five.

--Goldfish, the name of the yacht, is also the name of an earlier comic by Jessica Jones creator, Brian Michael Bendis.

--So who is likely to nab Kilgrave's body first, S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA or this IGH lot?

--Claire felt like a more rounded character in this one episode than she did in all of Daredevil. I loved her and Malcolm's little chat, reflecting on what it means to be a normal person amongst all these super-powered individuals.

Claire: "Guilt makes people do stupid shit."
--And by "people" she no doubt means Matt 'I lost my lease because of your stupid sexy ass' Murdock,

Jessica: "This is a good man."
Claire: "And you?"
Jessica: "I'm an asshole."

Kilgrave: "You really are an anal crumpet."

Jessica: "You are who you are: A sack of dark oozing shit in an expensive suit."

Jessica: "I need a drink. You want a drink? I'm getting a drink."

Malcolm: "Alias Investigations, how can we help?"

And that's season 1 of Jessica Jones over and done with. I'd like to say a big thank you to Josie, J.D., Joseph and Laure for helping out so we could get these reviews up as quickly as possible. I hope you've all enjoyed them and with any luck we'll all be back again for season 2.

Four our of four adorable baby Captain Americas.
Mark Greig is just like his country, he's young, scrappy and hungry, and he's not throwing away his shot. More Mark Greig.


migmit said...

> He’s gone off now to star in his own series

Really? I had no idea. If so, I need to see that. I hope it turns out much better.

Last time I was saying I can tolerate Ritter making an appearance on "Luke Cage" series. That might be true, but I really want Rosario Dawson to be a regular there. Their short scene together with Mike Colter was probably the best in the whole season.

And now, it's finally over. "I declare this case closed".

Billie Doux said...

I loved that it ended with "Smile." I loved that Malcolm ended up working with Jessica. And I liked how they brought in the woman from Daredevil. Every time they showed the broken window in Jessica's door, I thought that it looked a little like a cartoon woman had run through it and left an outline.

So I'm definitely on board for anything with Luke Cage. What a great job by the Jessica Jones team! Thank you all for a set of terrific reviews.

Lisianpeia said...

I loved S01 and the reviews! They were really good =)
I'm gonna leave the third reference to Buffy: Malcolm and Claire's talk reminded me of the speech Xander gives to Dawn in Potential (s07e12).

Dustin said...

Agree about the needle in the eye.

Before the series came out, I skimmed an article where David Tennant commented that Killgrave would be a great villain in the greater MCU. It made it sound like he would still be around to cause havoc so I was certain that he wouldn't be killed in the finale. I'm so glad that this assumption proved incorrect (though Billie's rules of TV still stand). As the series painfully demonstrated, it would be next to impossible to contain him, and there would be more pain, suffering, and death if he continued to exist.

Dustin said...

Oh, and I forgot to add a big thanks to the reviewers for getting these episodes up so quickly. Netflix insta-binge is both a great blessing and a great curse. Kudos on the turnaround time.

Josie Kafka said...

Thank you and congratulations to all the Agents of DOUX who decided to spend their Thanksgiving (or their random November week) watching and reviewing this show.