Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available to view now on Netflix, and as with Daredevil we’ll be providing (mostly) daily episode-by-episode coverage for those who want to follow it with us. Each instalment of these viewing notes will look at how the show’s plot, characters and story relate to the comic source material, providing background information and pointers for those who want to know more.
Please note that while we might occasionally reveal the way plots developed in the comics, we are trying to be sensitive to any surprises the TV show may have in store. These notes are written immediately after the episode is watched, so any speculation about the way the story may go is purely that!
All we ask is that if you’ve seen future episodes that confirm, contradict or otherwise twist things we talk about in this piece, please respect people who don’t have the luxury of binge-watching and please don’t put spoilers for future episodes anywhere in the comments. You can, however, swap spoilers in our ‘What Did You Think? post. Thanks.
Jessica incarcerates Kilgrave in an attempt to get video evidence of his powers so that she can prove Hope is innocent. She finds Kilgrave’s parents, hoping to provoke him, but her plan backfires when her failsafes malfunction and he escapes after killing his mother.
So it turns out Kilgrave isn’t the only psychopath in the show’s cast, as Jessica takes to torturing her captive both psychologically and physically in order to extract a confession from him. Remind me again whether we’re supposed to think she’s the good guy or not?
It’s safe to say that there were things here that didn’t work for me. Jessica’s focus on freeing Hope is understandable, but the idea that a video of Kilgrave’s ability would somehow be convincing evidence (or even admissible in court) stretches the entire premise of the episode well beyond breaking point. For those who thought Jessica’s plan to get thrown in jail herself was deliberately unworkable, would they argue the same applies here too?
In fairness, I get that this is supposed to be a reversal of the last episode, trapping Kilgrave in his worst nightmare the same way Jessica was trapped in hers, and their interplay makes for a compelling watch even when it’s in service of an obviously doomed idea. But from the moment she starts electrocuting him, there’s no way this can end in triumph for Jessica, and that makes me confused about whether I’m supposed to be accepting the show’s faulty logic or actively challenging it. At one point the show Jessica acknowledges that she’s just helped his case by beating him up, but she doesn’t do anything differently as a result.
The thing is, even the video they do end up with – which let’s remember is considerably more extreme than the one they were trying to get – could be easily dismissed as fakery, especially in light of Jessica locking Kilgrave up in a cell then beating and taunting him. Furthermore, handcuffing a senior police detective to a wall after her friend pointed a gun at his head doesn’t seem like something that’d help her credibility.
It’s completely possible that at this point we’re not supposed to agree with Jessica, but at the same time, she’s the show’s protagonist. If we can’t get behind her actions, who are we supposed to identify with? It’s not that she isn’t sympathetic, it’s that she’s constantly on the cusp of total incompetence. Does the show want us to root for her paper-thin strategies to succeed, or nod wisely when they don’t? Because as dumb as her plan was, it seems like the show’s writers think it would have been fine had it not been sabotaged.
I assume it was sabotage, anyway, because whatever else, this show’s writers know enough not to leave major plot beats hanging on coincidence. Even Kilgrave’s parents had a stated reason for being in New York rather than as far away from their son as they could be.
Logically, we can assume Hogarth cut the wire in exchange for access to Kilgrave’s powers – but would she really be that gullible? I’d guess she wants Kilgrave to help her get rid of her wife (one way or another) after the, er, pep talk from Pam. But it seems like Hogarth isn’t the sort of person who’d try to bargain with someone who had that much power over her. To be honest this entire divorce/jury blackmail subplot – in which not one single person is behaving like a normal human being – has me begging for the days when Daredevil used to kill time getting Karen and Foggy to shuffle papers. At least the dialogue in those scenes was snappy.
The appearance of Kilgrave’s parents is a surprising twist, but my surprise was more than slightly tempered by the immediacy with which the characters began spewing exposition. I like that they’re not the evil scientists Kilgrave portrayed them as – rather, he’s got his own warped perspective on their attempts to save his life – but nothing about their presence feels like organic storytelling. It’s a pretty major element to introduce just as the show’s supposed to be heading towards its conclusion.
It’s also a little irritating that this is something like the fourth time Jessica has come face to face with Kilgrave and managed to lose him. I get that he’s difficult. I get that she can’t just rip his head off for logistical reasons. But if you’ll permit me to release my own inner psychopath, there are plenty of ways to temporarily disable someone’s voice without killing them. Shouldn’t she at least be considering one of them?
I genuinely don’t know what’s going on with this show right now. Those first 6six episodes were tightly-plotted and tonally consistent, but from that point on things have spiralled into unrecognisability. If you had told me the withdrawn, needy and self-destructive Jessica Jones of episode one would be spending episode nine interrogating Kilgrave as if she was taking lessons from the CIA’s finest, I’d have said you were watching the wrong show. And yet here we are.
In case it needed saying, nothing that happens with Jessica and Kilgrave bears are resemblance worth mentioning with the comics, though the introduction of Simpson’s red, white and blue pills does confirm once and for all that he is playing Nuke. Nuke is a villain created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in Daredevil #232 (July 1986) and he’s basically the same as he is here – a war veteran who takes pills that give him superhuman strength and uncontrollable rage – with the exception that there’s no American flag tattooed on his face, which is his trademark in the comics.
And finally, we get the big twist: Jessica IS immune to Kilgrave’s powers. It’s been hinted at a couple of times, but it’s a major development and one that should, at the very least, give us a good reason for Jessica to continue working alone. I don’t mind admitting that I’m not feeling very optimistic about the next few episodes, though.