Monday, February 15, 2016

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 12, "AKA Take a Bloody Number" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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There are only 2 episodes of Jessica Jones season 1 left to review, but I think they are among the best.  Like I said on the last one, these last three episodes each contain a “boss fight,” with the emotional and physical stakes increasing on each one.  Last episode, Jess and Trish had to team up to take down Simpson while Jess was physically weakened.  However, this episode’s fight makes taking on a super-soldier look like a walk in the park!

The last episode ended with Luke blowing up his bar; this episode begins with his explanation of what happened to lead up to the actual event.  Evidently he had followed Jess to her meeting with Kilgrave, at which point Kilgrave put him under his power and ordered him to blow up his bar as revenge against him for “ruining” Kilgrave’s chances with Jessica.  However, Luke tells Jess that the subject of his powers “never came up,” leading her to assume that Kilgrave will think that Luke was killed in the explosion.  Luke and Jess then leave the bar (because Luke doesn’t want to talk to the police and his name isn’t on the bar—that’s not suspicious!) and return to Jess’ apartment.  Jess then explains to Luke that she is now immune to Kilgrave’s powers because Reva’s murder severed his hold on her, and that before this she was not trustworthy.  She then tells Luke to lay down on the bed for the next 12 hours so she can be sure that he is not under Kilgrave’s control anymore before they start tracking him down.

Once Luke hits the 14-hour mark, Jess reluctantly agrees to let him help her track down Kilgrave.  She suspects that he is trying to increase the range, duration, and strength of his powers so he can control her again, and that’s why he needs his father alive.  This leads them back to Albert’s apartment, where Jess finds a drug which leads them to a lab where Kilgrave is putting the workers to work making a chemical which he needs, so Luke and Jess stake the lab out to wait for Kilgrave to pick up his next shipment.  While waiting, they talk about what happened with Reva, and Luke tells Jess that he forgives her for what happened.  This is a really good scene for how it sets up the rest of the episode:  it looks like Luke has finally come to understand just what Jess went through under Kilgrave’s control, because he himself was under Kilgrave’s control.  However, this series can’t possibly be that simple!

Eventually someone arrives at the lab and receives the shipment of chemical, so Luke and Jess follow his taxi until it drops him off.  At that point Jess follows the guy, but loses sight of him just long enough for Kilgrave to receive the chemicals and tell the courier to kill himself with garden shears.  They’ve run out of clues, so Jess and Luke return to the office, where Trish is waiting for them.

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To backtrack a bit, Trish was released from the hospital early in the episode, and her mother stopped by to visit her a couple times because she had heard Trish was there and suspected a drug relapse.  Trish isn’t very happy to see her mother, but her mother does bring her information on IGH, the organization responsible for Simpson’s powers and for which Dr. Kozlov works.  Specifically, her mother has an envelope with Jess’s medical records in it with the IGH name on it—IGH was also responsible for the accident which gave Jess her powers!  This is an interesting development, and one which I really like for how it sets up a season 2 in which Jess and Trish will investigate IGH and run into Simpson again.  However, her mother isn’t just there with information; she also wants Trish to endorse a bottled water company, so Trish makes her leave.  I guess that relationship won’t be repaired any time soon!

Trish and Luke have a slightly-awkward meeting in Jess’s apartment, but Trish definitely approves of Luke since she can see how much Jess cares for him.  I find it quite funny how strongly Trish is “shipping” Jess and Luke.  Even though Jess doesn’t want to consider a relationship while Kilgrave is still on the loose, Trish tells her to hang onto the thought and at least consider it once she’s defeated Kilgrave.  Again, this series can’t possibly be that simple, especially where Jess and Luke are concerned!

When Jess rejoins Luke, he is on the phone but hangs up as soon as she walks in.  Jess gives him Reva’s flash drive (the one Kilgrave killed her over and which Reva had left a note for Luke to find), telling him that she’d only looked at the Kilgrave experiments but there were other files on there meant only for him.  I assume that this is setting up the Luke Cage series, and probably going to play into Luke’s search for the truth of who framed him or how he got his powers, but we won’t know until Luke Cage is released this summer.  But I don’t think this means there’s a connection between Kilgrave’s and Luke’s powers.

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At this point we should touch on Kilgrave’s story in this episode, as he is in fact forcing his father to experiment (presumably with Hope’s aborted fetus) to improve Kilgrave’s powers.  He is testing his powers throughout the episode, trying to increase his range and duration, such as at a theater, where he discovered that he could affect most of the people there (but not in the farthest rows).  However, he does not think this is enough; he is still afraid of Jess and worried that he still won’t be able to affect her.  I really like Kilgrave’s development as a villain this season:  he looks positively unstoppable at first, but when he discovers that he cannot control someone (Jess), he suddenly reverts to acting like a little child.  Unfortunately, this means that anyone near him is in danger, especially his father (whom he orders to put his hand in a blender, though he stops him before he actually hurts himself).

On that note, Luke suggests to Jess that Kilgrave might be testing his powers, which leads them to a news story about a theater where a man told everyone to shut up and they obeyed—the story assumed it was all part of a setup.  They check the story out by going to the theater where it took place and asking for security footage.  However, Kilgrave is at the theater, so Jess tells Luke to leave so Kilgrave can’t control him and turn him against her.  She goes to confront Kilgrave, who discovers that his powers still don’t work on her… but that’s okay, because he still has an ace up his sleeve:  Luke has been under his control this entire episode!  When Jess made Luke stay put for 12 hours, at that point Kilgrave’s powers had already increased to last for 16 hours, and since then Kilgrave had been communicating with him by phone to maintain his control.  Even Luke’s “I forgive you” speech was given to him by Kilgrave—that was Kilgrave telling Jess that he forgives her for leaving him (creepy…)!  This is absolutely devastating for Jess… and it only gets worse when Kilgrave orders Luke to attack her.  This is the “boss fight” of the episode:  Luke pursuing Jess through the bowels of the theater and trying to kill her.  One thing I really like about this fight is that it pushes the bounds of what we know about Jess’s powers, specifically when it comes to jumping/flying.  I think it’s possible that at some point they could show her learning to actually fly.

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Eventually Jess escapes from the theater and is met by a pair of police officers.  However, Luke barrels out after her and knocks both officers out, leaving Jess to face him on her own.  She tries using a door of the police car as a shield (channeling her inner Captain America), but that doesn’t last very long and she instead grabs a shotgun from the car.  She begs Luke to fight Kilgrave’s control so she doesn’t have to shoot him, but Luke can only manage to tell her “Do what you got to do.”  Though she doesn’t want to, she has to shoot him pointblank in the face, and he falls to the ground unconscious.  She kneels over him saying “I’m sorry,” and that’s where the episode ends.  I actually really liked this fight because it shows both of their strengths and weaknesses.  Jess doesn’t exactly have physical weaknesses which are explored by this fight, but she very much has a psychological weakness, that having to fight someone she cares for puts her at a major disadvantage.  Additionally, she is definitely not as strong as Luke in a physical contest.  For his part, Luke is essentially an unstoppable force in this fight, as nothing Jess does can stop him.  However, he is badly injured by the shotgun blast.  I suspect that this has such an effect on him because of the range and target.  Even though it could not break the skin, the force was still transmitted to his brain.  This is something that the next episode will explore in greater detail.

There is one other subplot in this episode, which follows Malcolm and Robyn and the fallout of Robyn’s discovery that Ruben was murdered.  Malcolm has decided that he needs to leave after everything that’s happened, but he is really second-guessing the decision—the instinct to help people is just too strong.  Before he can leave, he hears a commotion from upstairs as Robyn freaks out when a deliverywoman drops off a new phone charger for Ruben.  Malcolm calms her down and they bond while talking about Ruben and his banana bread—I love when Malcolm says that the banana bread was so good it’s like crack, asks Robyn if it was made with crack, and she tells him it was actually nutmeg!  It makes me think of an episode of King of the Hill where nutmeg is the secret ingredient in every single recipe.  Anyways, Malcolm brings Robyn down to the pier where he “buried” Ruben, and she says that it was actually a really good resting place for him because they are Pisces, and that Pisces are forgiving, so she’s going to forgive Malcolm.  I actually like the two of them playing off each other; I think she’s much less annoying alongside Malcolm.

I really enjoyed this episode, and especially the fight between Jess and Luke.  That was another one of those things that I didn’t really expect to see in this season, but that I’m really glad they added in there, especially since this is one of the few legitimate justifications for us to see Luke absolutely cut loose on Jessica!

What did you think of this episode?  Who do you want to see Jess fight next?  Let me know in the comments!

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