Things take a dark (darker?) turn this episode. Kilgrave (David Tennant) is lurking around in Jessica’s apartment while she’s out on a bender, when poor, innocent Ruben (Kieran Mulcare) shows up with banana nut bread. When asked why he’s there, why he baked for Jessica, he honestly answers, “Because I love her.” Which is enough for Kilgrave to force him to kill himself. Because you see, there can be only one. Kilgrave is doing all of this out of love for Jessica. But we’ll get to that and how fucked up it really is in a minute. First off, we get to this episode’s lunatic plan to capture Kilgrave and prove that he’s responsible for all the death and mayhem. Upon finding poor, innocent Ruben in her bed after having cut his own throat, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) has a breakdown and decides that the only way to make everyone safe is for her to go away. But the only place safe from Kilgrave, the only place she can be secure that he won’t get to her without exposing himself to the world, is locked up in a Super Max Prison. Honestly, it’s better than the last plan. Except for the whole locked up for the rest of her life after confessing as a serial killer. But you can’t just confess to something like that and be locked up. So she brings along poor, innocent Ruben’s head, which she tore from his dead body with her bare hands. Okay. She’s desperate, but can we just take a moment to focus on this? This is seriously disturbed shit. Our hero just walks into a police station with a human head in a bag. If she wasn’t going to have nightmares already about the death and destruction all around her, I can only imagine this will end up haunting her for years to come. When Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) shows up to offer a defense, she refuses to allow the lawyer to represent her, demanding she leave the police station, and then after demonstrating her super powers to the always charming Detective Clemons (The Wire‘s and Treme‘s Clarke Peters) is ready to be locked up for good when suddenly she’s set free. But it wasn’t Hogarth’s doing. An entire police precinct stands waiting with their weapons at either their own heads or the heads of others, with Kilgrave waiting to take the credit for saving her. And this is when we really get a glimpse into the psychology of Kilgrave and his plans for Jessica. As I said, he’s doing it all out of love. The concept of male entitlement and the damage it can cause is never far from the surface of Jessica Jones, but this takes the cake. None of the lives that Kilgrave has ever come across have mattered in the least to him, until Jessica became the one that got away. And what does every man want more than anything? Whatever it is he can’t have. But when Jessica walked away, something changed in Kilgrave. He didn’t become a better man. He’s still a raving psychopathic loon. But he’s a loon who thinks he’s found his perfect match and he’s decided that he loves her, as much as a raving psychopathic loon can love someone. This is where it gets interesting. He knows that his power has meant never having a real emotional connection with anyone. He knows already that having Jessica under his control wasn’t the same thing as the thrill he felt when she walked away, leaving him for dead (seriously, some guys just can’t take a hint). He knows that for this love to mean something, she has to choose him too. So Jessica is given a choice. Come to her childhood home – of her own free will – or the madness will continue. He can keep waiting in the shadows forever. That’s what stalkers do. This mentality is frankly horrifying, and it’s interesting how this relationship is playing out compared to the last work the show’s creator Melissa Rosenberg adapted: Twilight. It’s almost as though this whole series is an apology for the warped romanticized stalker bullshit that was Twilight. Along the way to that fateful meeting at the police station, we are introduced to Trish’s mother, Dorothy (Rebecca De Mornay) and we also discover that it isn’t just Jessica and Luke who get aggressive sex scenes to play out as Trish (Rachael Taylor) and Simpson (Wil Traval) get more and more intimate. Daredevil was clearly about male power fantasies, having the ability to beat the shit out of those who think they can get away with it, those we’re normally powerless to do anything about. Jessica Jones is all about power fantasies too, really, and it’s extremely interesting to see these preoccupations play out. I mean the guilt and self-abuse that Jessica puts herself through isn’t gendered, and Kilgrave’s impact on lives isn’t really gendered either. But the narrative continues to frame the central conflict as one of emotional violence rather than the physical violence that is the mainstay of something like Daredevil (or any of the Marvel movies or TV shows so far). Trish’s desire to protect herself and Jessica’s rape-survivor mentality are fairly traditional for a story like this; tales of female empowerment. But at the same time we have things like Hogarth’s divorce drama straight out of L.A. Law. The concept of gendered roles in this sort of narrative is subverted, making what might seem initially like “female power fantasies” become simply “power fantasies.” Everybody in this show is dealing to varying degrees with issues of obsession, guilt, coercion, and individual responsibility. But because I’m aware of who’s behind the scenes, I’m finding myself noticing little things that would probably be done differently if a man were in charge of the adaptation, and I’m starting to see that Simpson’s gung-ho military/cop approach to saving everyone from Kilgrave is doomed. And so is Malcolm’s passive urge to save Jessica from herself. Jessica is walking the middle ground between passivity and aggression and doesn’t need anybody to save her. Speaking of subverting traditional masculine superhero narratives… Episode 8, “AKA WWJD?” finds Jessica choosing to move back into her childhood home, which has been painstakingly redecorated to match the last time she lived there, and spend some time in the suburbs with Kilgrave. And an armed guard and a couple of highly-paid, but mind-controlled servants to cook and clean. This is also the episode where we discover (for the most part) the secret origins of both Jessica and Kilgrave – and here’s an odd bit; Kilgrave comes off the more sympathetic in the flashbacks. And remember when I said Simpson’s efforts were doomed? Well… Nearly this entire episode is spent with Jessica and Kilgrave lounging around her childhood home with Kilgrave giving Jessica every opportunity to admit that the two of them are fated to be together. There are no fistfights or dramatic showdowns. In fact, Kilgrave is about as charming as a raving psychopathic loon can be while refusing to admit or understand the depths of the emotional damage he is responsible for. The idea of rape and consent is also explicitly addressed this episode as Jessica admits openly for the first time that Kilgrave raped her both physically and mentally. But he doesn’t like that word, “rape.” What rapist does? When he frets that he never knows if a woman is really consenting or if he’s coercing the consent, it’s appalling and I’m pretty sure many women watching the show have heard something similar at some point in their lives. Before long, Jessica does develop more of an understanding of Kilgrave. Not a sympathy, really, but a simple understanding. Especially after he shows her what was in that case she dug up that last night of her captivity. For some reason, Luke’s wife had video evidence, the only remaining video evidence, of Kilgrave’s existence. And the fucked up thing is that it’s a video showing his parents conducting experiments on him, extracting cerebral-spinal fluid for testing, and then his powers suddenly awakening. So part of his attraction to Jessica turns out not just to be the fact that she rejected her, but the fact that she had a normal life and maybe, just maybe, he’d like a taste of that with her. When he’s not ordering people to slit their own throats or murder their parents. And that’s when Jessica gets an interesting idea that I really didn’t see coming (by the way, we are so far away from the source material now that Jessica Jones is almost entirely its own original thing); she wants to show him how it feels to be a hero, to help someone rather than just demand fealty. So the two of them rescue a wife and her two kids from their shotgun-wielding husband/father. But rather than let Kilgrave order him to blow his own brains out, Jessica has him force the man to surrender to the police. The look of satisfaction and thanks on the woman’s face is something Kilgrave has never experienced, and if helping people is what it’s going to take to convince Jessica they should be together, he’s willing to give it a shot. And it’s not random that this rescue is an abusive relationship gone apocalyptic. It’s not commented upon in-narrative, but it’s a microcosm of Jessica’s and Kilgrave’s relationship. The irony that Kilgrave naturally decides, without hesitation, that the husband should die for the torment and abuse he put his family through is allowed to linger for the viewers. Tennant’s mercurial performance is perhaps at his most Doctor-like this episode as he swings wildly from manic to soothing, from evil to caring. There’s even a minute there when it seems like maybe, just maybe, this could work. But there’s really no chance in hell of that and it plays uncomfortably on the familiar trope of the good woman wanting to change their troubled man. But remember, Jessica Jones is about subverting those clichés, and Jessica’s willingness to stay with Kilgrave is a ploy. The episode ends with her getting the drop on him, drugging him, and getting away. But not before Simpson shows up and tries to man his way into the scenario with a couple of army buddies. Jessica isn’t having it and flies away with Kilgrave over her shoulder as the nosy neighbor Kilgrave humiliated earlier (Jessica kind of liking it helped to really smudge the boundaries between the characters) arrives with a package for Simpson: the bomb he’d planted earlier in the house. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.