Monday, December 28, 2015

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 6, "AKA You're A Winner!" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

Image Courtesy

Jessica Jones takes a decidedly emotional turn in episode 6, “AKA You’re a Winner!” when one of the major plot questions from previous episodes gets resolved (answering the question of “Why doesn’t Luke Cage appear in all the episodes?” very decidedly!).  In addition to this emotional moment, we also learn more about Kilgrave and his diabolical “plan” with regards to Jessica.  I remember being a little confused—not to mention weirded out—by Kilgrave in this episode, but as the series continues his actions begin to make far more sense.

The episode picks up right away with Kilgrave earning himself some money—why he needs money when he can just tell people to do things, however, is unclear for now.  Of course, being the kind of guy he is, Kilgrave does not stoop to the level of actually working for a living; instead, in a scene which I think was ripped straight from the comics, he just plays poker against a bunch of tough mafia types.  He goes all-in, orders the rest of the players to go all-in, and then tells them all to fold, leaving him as the default winner.  And what’s his hand?  The exact worst possible hand in Texas Hold’em:  a mixed-suit 2 and 7 (meaning that they can’t be part of a flush or a straight).  When one of the mafiosos objects to Kilgrave leaving without giving them an opportunity to win back their money, Kilgrave simply orders him to put his head through a post!

Why does Kilgrave need money?  It turns out he is making a very special purchase, one which has to be above board—or at least legal—he’s buying a house.  He offers the owner double the asking price, and then studiously avoids using his powers to force the man to accept the purchase.  Eventually the owner agrees to sell and Kilgrave tells him to move out by the next day.  What’s so special about this house?  It’s the house Jessica grew up in!  Now that is creepy…

Meanwhile, Jessica attempts to get any information she can about Kilgrave out of the now-clean Malcolm, about 5 days after the last episode ended with his decision to quit the drugs.  Malcolm doesn’t know anything about Kilgrave, so the most exciting aspect of this conversation is the little Easter egg they throw in—the first of 2 in the episode:  Jessica asks if Kilgrave goes to the “Nitehawk” movie theater, a definite reference to Kyle Richmond, a.k.a. Nighthawk, who is the Batman-analogue of the Squadron Sinister/Supreme before reforming and joining the comic book Defenders.  While this is a fun little nod to a minor character, I also kind of hope that Nighthawk will actually appear in the MCU at some point in time, particularly as he and the Squadron Supreme are making an appearance in the All-New, All-Different Marvel.

Image Courtesy
Jessica and Malcolm are interrupted when Luke arrives looking to hire Jessica for an investigation.  In a rather amusing scene, Malcolm is suspicious of Luke, thinking that he’d been “Kilgraved” and starts threatening him.  However, Jessica, who knows better, informs Malcolm that “If he’d been Kilgraved, you’d be dead already.”  After all, a mind-controlled Power Man is a deadly Power-Man!  So Malcolm leaves and Luke explains to Jessica that he wants her to help him find Antoine Grier, a man who disappeared on his loan shark and whose sister is worried about him.  We find out later that Luke took the case for the sister in exchange for information on his wife’s death (can you say “conflict of interest for Jessica”?), and he wants Jessica to help him out because it could get dangerous and he knows that she can take care of herself.  Jessica is initially reluctant to take the case, as she still feels terrible about becoming involved with Luke after killing his wife (even if Kilgrave made her do it), and even tries referring him to another P.I., Angela Del Toro.  Who’s Angela Del Toro?  None other than the fourth White Tiger, the niece of Hector Ayala, the original White Tiger (the second Easter egg of the episode).  Interestingly, she has partnered with both Daredevil and Iron Fist in the comics, and the tiger amulets that give her powers were originally broken from a statue that came from K’un-L’un (Iron Fist’s mystical city).  Also, the original White Tiger was a member of the comic book Defenders for all of a mission in Defenders #64, so there’s that.

Jessica finally agrees to take the case and the two of them search Antoine’s apartment and learn that he left willingly.  They eventually discover information that leads them to him:  he’s a sucker who applies for tons of contests.  Jessica uses this to call and tell him that he won an Xbox and draw him out of hiding.  Jessica and Luke follow “Antoine” (an imposter using his cell phone) back to a warehouse full of pot plants (“Sweet Christmas!”), where they discover that Antoine has decided to become an “entrepreneur.”  They grab him and prepare to return him to his sister, but they are attacked by the loan shark and his goons, and Luke and Jessica need to fight them all off.  This is the first time we really get to see either of these characters fighting, and it does not disappoint.  They are both much more of brawlers than martial artists like Daredevil, so they are just throwing guys across the room and punching them like crazy.  Near the end of the fight Jessica takes Antoine out, leaving Luke to finish off the thugs, something he’s not overly happy about.  I do think that under other circumstances that would still have been the smart play—leave the dude with unbreakable skin to keep them occupied while the chick without unbreakable skin secures the target—but in these circumstances Jessica’s intention is actually to deliver Antoine and receive the “payment” from his sister before Luke can get it.  Luke is (justifiably) upset at this, and becomes all the more upset when he sees the file, which shows that the bus driver was drunk the night that Reva died, and that the driver’s brother covered it up so he could keep driving.  This whole case is pretty interesting, particularly what it demonstrates of Jessica’s and Luke’s abilities.  However, the payoff of the plotline is probably the best part of the entire episode.

Image Courtesy
We see Luke on the same bus which he thinks killed Reva, driven by the same driver.  He waits until the bus is empty at the end of the route, and menacingly confronts the driver.  The driver realizes that he’s the woman’s husband and pleads for mercy, claiming that he hasn’t touched alcohol since that night and has been trying to atone for what he’d done.  However, Luke is having none of it and throws the man through the windshield onto the pavement.  He’s just about ready to kill him when Jessica shows up and tells the driver to run.  Luke turns on her in confusion, and she finally has to explain that she was the one who killed Reva by punching her full-force so that her heart stopped.  Luke is shocked at the revelation, then horrified to learn he’d slept with the woman who killed his wife.  Jessica for her part is devastated to have had to tell her secret and by Luke’s rejection of her, so soon after he had told her that he believed her story about Kilgrave and wanted to help her defeat him.  In that earlier scene he told her she was not a “piece of sh*t;” in this scene he takes that back and calls her a “piece of sh*t” before walking off and leaving her alone.  I found this scene to be the most powerful of this episode, and one of the most powerful of the season:  Luke is essentially an externalization of Jessica’s own self-loathing over what happened while she was under Kilgrave’s control.  Here’s this man that she felt particularly drawn towards and who seemed to be on her side but who abandons her when he finds out the depths of what Kilgrave made her do.  Overall, this was a really well-done scene.

The rest of the episode does a lot to set things in motion for future episodes.  In the first place, Jessica discovers that Hope is pregnant with Kilgrave’s baby and does not want to keep it because it serves as a constant reminder of what he did (which actually does not hold true for all rape victims, but I digress).  Jessica agrees to help her get an abortion, which she arranged for with Hogarth.  While waiting with Hope for the pills to take effect, Hogarth asks the nurse to have the dead baby sent to a particular lab, which the nurse questions.  At the time I assumed that Hogarth was looking for DNA evidence that Kilgrave fathered the baby (evidence that he raped Hope), but thought that a more sinister motivation could be possible.  This plot thread does come up later in the season, and it’s a bit of a doozy.

Meanwhile, Malcolm decides to join the Kilgrave Victims’ Support Group as a way to cope with everything that happened to him under Kilgrave’s control.  I really like Malcolm’s character; it seems like every superhero needs a non-powered friend or two to keep them grounded:  Iron Man has Happy, Captain America has Bucky/Peggy/Sharon, Thor has Jane, and Daredevil has Foggy and Karen.  For Jessica, Malcolm and Trish both seem to serve this role, which is important because both of them see her as a hero while she herself does not.  Malcolm and Trish are the ones who push her to fight against Kilgrave and to keep doing the right thing.  On top of that, Malcolm offers a counter-example to Jessica:  he suffered almost as much at the hands of Kilgrave, but he chooses to work through the experience and even uses it to help other people.

I really enjoyed this episode, particularly how it upped the emotional ante for Jessica.  I’m disappointed that this (spoiler) removes Luke from the series for several episodes, but it also feels very “earned” for him to take time to himself after learning about Jessica killing Reva.  The Easter eggs for Nighthawk and White Tiger were both pretty cool, and especially the fact that White Tiger now actually exists (in some form) in the MCU.  There is some fun action and a lot of emotion.  Watching Jessica and Luke fight together really makes me excited to see them fight together again, possibly in Luke Cage and almost certainly in The Defenders.

What did you think of this episode?  Do you want to see White Tiger and/or Nighthawk in The Defenders or another Marvel Netflix series?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

No comments:

Post a Comment