Monday, January 18, 2016

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 8, "AKA WWJD" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

Image Courtesy

Can a leopard change its spots?  That’s the question which “AKA WWJD,” the next episode of Jessica Jones, asks.  And at the end of the episode, you’re really left wondering whether it really is possible for a villain like Kilgrave to change.

At the same time, this episode also starts to flesh out Jessica’s back story, which remains extremely faithful to the comics.

The episode picks up where the last one left off, with Jessica arriving at her old house which Kilgrave bought and restored for her (his “grand romantic gesture”).  While in the entryway, Jess flashes back to the last time she was in the house, the morning of the accident.  The rest of the episode follows up with further flashbacks which fill in those blanks, up until Jessica causes the accident by fighting with her brother, causing her father to take his eyes off the road.  I wasn’t overly surprised to see flashbacks of the accident; Daredevil season 1 did the same thing.  I did appreciate how different the “origin story” handling in Jessica Jones was from Daredevil:  Daredevil showed the results of the accident right away and focused a lot on everything afterward; Jessica Jones showed everything up to the accident (not the accident itself) near the middle of the season and then later on showed a couple incidents afterward.  I was worried that the Marvel Netflix series could fall into a rut of needing to show origin stories in their first seasons and becoming predictable about when and how, but so far they have done it in distinct ways.

Meanwhile, Jessica enters the house, where Kilgrave has his bodyguard (paid, not controlled) search her, and this gives us our explanation for what brought her here:  where I thought after the last episode that she was in despair and offering herself to save others, her cell phone recording reveals that she actually came to get proof of Kilgrave’s existence and of his powers in order to save Hope.  That really makes a lot more sense than my assumption!  However, despite this Kilgrave still wants her to live there with him:  he wants her to trust him and he wants her to stay with him willingly.  Then he introduces his “staff” and we discover that not all is as it appears.  Though Kilgrave is paying his maid and cook, they are still under his control, and he is willing to order them to hurt themselves if Jessica steps out of line.  What does this say about Kilgrave’s claims that he will not control her or manipulate her?  Even though he isn’t using his power on her directly, he is certainly using other people to manipulate Jess.

Image Courtesy
On Jessica’s second day with Kilgrave, she tries at breakfast to get the proof she needs, but he doesn’t bite.  Instead Jess’ old neighbor comes over and talks to them all about Jess’ family, which upsets her.  Kilgrave calls Mrs. De Luca on her lies, and she admits that she was lying to make herself feel important.  Kilgrave wordlessly asks Jessica if she’d like for him to make Mrs. De Luca slap herself for lying, but Jess shakes her head no.  It’s at this point that Kilgrave tries to touch her and she just explodes on him with all of her pent-up rage after he raped her repeatedly all the time that she was under his control.  However, he honestly did not think that he was raping her because she was going along with it—he claims that his power is something of a curse because he never knows if someone is doing what he wants because he told them to or because they actually want to.  It’s at this point that he mentions one of the more amusing (and disturbing) orders he gave someone:  “I once told a man to go screw himself.  Can you even imagine?”  No, I can’t imagine—and I’m not sure if I even want to!

However, Jessica does manage to learn something about Kilgrave for her trouble.  He shows her what was on Reva’s flash drive:  videos of Kilgrave’s parents experimenting on him.  According to him, his parents were intentionally trying to turn him into a freak.  When they succeeded, he used his powers to make them stop, and they abandoned him.  He thinks that because Jessica also received her powers against her will, they should understand one another.  Of course, this isn’t exactly the truth, as we learn later in the season, but who really expects the complete truth from Kilgrave?  He’s always working some sort of angle.

At this point Jessica makes a rather interesting decision:  there is a developing hostage situation on the news (a father taking his wife and 2 children hostage at gunpoint), and Jessica decides to see if Kilgrave can be a hero and help those people.  She takes him to the scene of the hostage situation, and he talks their way through the police perimeter (including the awesome line, “We can go about our business.  Move along.  Move along.”  I’m a Star Wars fan.) and into the house.  Jessica bends the bars to get them inside, and they confront the family in their living room.  Kilgrave quickly defuses the situation by telling the father to let his family go (and telling the family not to tell anyone about the two of them).  However, he’s about to tell the father to commit suicide by putting his shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger when Jessica stops him.  Instead, Kilgrave contents with telling him to turn himself in to the police.  When the two of them get back to the house, Kilgrave is exhilarated by the feeling of having helped somebody—so much so that he wants to try fighting crime with Jessica, with her acting as his conscience (because he genuinely thought having the guy kill himself was the correct decision).  This proposition throws Jessica off, and she decides to go for a walk to think it over.

Naturally, Jessica’s walk takes her to Trish’s apartment, where the two of them talk about the possibility of Jessica staying with Kilgrave long-term and serving as his conscience, never knowing whether or not he is going to use his ability against her.  The possibility of “harnessing Kilgrave’s powers for good” is extremely tempting for Jess because of all the good he could do, but the tradeoff of having to stay with him and relive her trauma constantly—and perhaps physically relive it with him—feels far too great.  In the end, Jess makes her decision.  She returns to Kilgrave, drugs his hostages, and then drugs Kilgrave with the Sufentanil.  Then she escapes the house and takes Kilgrave to the CDC holding facility—and to do so she pretty much takes off flying.  I find a lot of Jessica’s actions in this episode to be interesting—going to the house and trying to use Kilgrave for good especially.  You do have to wonder how the series would have been different if Jessica had decided to stay with Kilgrave—but I think any chance of her staying with him died when he forced her to kill Reva Conners!

Image Courtesy
There are two other significant subplots to mention as well.  The first is with Simpson, whose one-man crusade against Kilgrave reaches fever pitch in this episode.  He is still staking out the house at the beginning of the episode, but he quickly escalates to setting a bomb in the basement to take out Kilgrave and everyone else in the house (except Jessica, whom he plans to rescue before detonating the bomb).  However, Jessica convinces him that she hasn’t been “Kilgraved” and then tells Kilgrave about the bomb so his bodyguard can disarm it.  We next see Simpson when Trish finds him talking to a few of his old Army buddies to convince them to help him take out Kilgrave.  He tries to convince her that Kilgrave is gone and they can resume their relationship, but she tells him that Kilgrave won’t be gone until he is behind bars and Jess is no longer in danger.  We find out just why Simpson is so certain that Kilgrave is not going to be a problem any longer at the end of the episode when Simpson and his army buddies appear at the house at the same time that Jess is leaving with Kilgrave.  Simpson takes the bodyguard out to help her escape and then offers to execute Kilgrave right then and there.  However, this option does not sit well with Jessica, who needs Kilgrave alive to offer proof of his existence and powers so Hope can avoid a life sentence for her parents’ murders.  Jessica leaves (flying?), and only a couple seconds later Mrs. De Luca comes over and blows herself up, killing Simpson’s friends and critically injuring him.  I have to say that Simpson is not my favorite character in this series, and I really don’t think that his motivations are quite as well developed as those of the other characters.  However, at this point in the series I think he’s okay:  reading into it, I think that he fears Kilgrave’s power—power which could make him do something he really didn’t want to do—and he wants to protect Trish by keeping her as far away from it as possible.  It makes sense, but his bloodlust still seems to come out of nowhere.

The other subplot involves my other least-favorite character of the series:  Hogarth.  She and Wendy are meeting with their divorce lawyers to figure out a settlement agreement, but Wendy is very unhappy with the proceedings and keeps increasing the percentage she wants based on her blackmail material.  Later in the episode, Hogarth receives an email threatening to expose her jury tampering.  Hogarth texts Jessica demanding dirt on Wendy, and Kilgrave (who has Jessica’s phone) receives the message.  This of course sets up for Kilgrave to know how to manipulate Hogarth going forward.  My issue with Hogarth is just the opposite of my issue with Simpson:  I understand Hogarth’s motivation for everything she does, but she’s just too unlikeable!

Overall, I really like the idea of seeing Kilgrave attempt to be a hero with Jessica guiding him.  That was something I never expected to see—that and his origin story—but which I realize now that I really wanted to see!  This episode really helped to humanize Kilgrave as a little boy whose parents performed painful experiments on him as a child and who just does not know the difference between right and wrong (he’s a psychopath).  Can he really be blamed for his actions?  If things were different could he have become a hero and used his powers for good?  These are not easy questions to answer.

What did you think of this episode?  Did you like seeing Kilgrave play hero?  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