Obviously, massive fuck-off spoilers ahead if you read on……
The end of episode eight upped the stakes as Jessica realises that Kilgrave can’t control her anymore and as we head into episode nine the series makes it clear that Kilgrave doesn’t just think that he isn’t a rapist, but that Jessica was repeatedly raped by Kilgrave. This makes the previous episode where Jessica spends a long time alone with Kilgrave to find out how to either stop him, or change him to become a better person all the more heroic.
And it’s these episodes that Jessica’s arc to become a hero is made clear, though she’s only doing what she’s doing to stop Kilgrave not to mention get some justice for herself and Hope, the girl forced to murder her parents by Kilgrave. In fact Kilgrave can’t be redeemed or saved but it’s also here that it becomes clear just why David Tennant picked this part rather than playing a heroic role in another Marvel project. Apart from Jessica and Luke, Kilgrave is the best role in the series, and Tennant plays him at times as someone that thinks he’s doing right, not to mention as someone that has finally found someone he genuinely loves in the shape of Jessica. It’s not as blatant as the comics thankfully..
I enjoyed Alias, and the Kilgrave story was very good, but there’s no escaping that there’s a huge element of titillation in a story about the main character being raped and abused by the villain. There’s none of that here as the viewer is forced to confront the result of rape as Hope’s not just tried to abort Kilgrave’s child, but is clearly such a damaged human being that painting Kilgrave in a titillating light would be grotesquely offensive. So Tennant plays him as a damaged monster, especially as Jessica finds the videos of Kilgrave’s parents experimenting upon him as a child.
But the big fanboy event in episode nine in the revelation about Simpson, the cop controlled by Kilgrave that became Trish’s lover. After being blown up by Kilgrave’s bomb in the previous episode, he’s seen by a specific doctor, Kozlov, he’s asking for who isn’t part of the hospital he’s in, but seems to be part of the military unit he used to be involved in. This up til now seems pretty pointless filler going nowhere until the moment Simpson asks for a red……
Simpson is being set up to be Nuke from the fantastic Daredevil story Born Again. For the casual viewer it’ll still work as it helps set up a superheroic fight later on in the series, but for the comic fan it’s a major moment setting up Born Again in either a future series of Daredevil, or a potential film.
The only problem is that these final episodes do become more superhero comic booky. Kilgrave changes from a stalking, creepy rapist to more of a megalomaniac comic book baddie at times, but it’s Tennant’s performance that holds it back from getting too over the top.
Episode nine is a pretty packed episode. There’s a lot of exposition, a lot of dialogue and a lot of huge plot revelations such as the discovery of Kilgrave’s parents (including some of the shittest accents you’ll ever hear as Jessica calls Manchester Uni) and the one about Simpson and oh, Kilgrave has been captured by Jessica and imprisoned in a special cell designed by Simpson. It’s all pretty breathtaking stuff but it’s a big, big episode that feels a wee bit too crammed full after the thoughtfully paced previous episodes.
As we move into episode ten Kilgrave has murdered his mother, taken his father captive, escaped after taking control of Hogarth and episode ten features Simpson losing his mind thanks to the drugs he’s on, but it’s Hogarth that becomes the victim of Kilgrave as she’s forced to take him to a doctor after being injured in the previous episode. This doctor is Hogarth’s wife, Wendy, who she’s divorcing and in order to clean up loose ends Kilgrave orders Wendy to cut Hogarth 1,000 times. Hogarth’s mistress Pam smashes Wendy’s skull in so in one fell swoop Kilgrave has destroyed another three lives.
Having his dad as prisoner means Kilgrave can concentrate on making himself more powerful in order he can control more people over a wider radius, not to mention a longer period of time, but also so he can control Jessica who’s realised she’s immune to Kilgrave’s powers. Episode ten is a bit of a relative breather as it allows characters to breathe a bit, until the ending where an escaped Kilgrave holds members of the Kilgrave survivors group hostage as they stand on a bar with nooses round their necks. He’s also got Hope under his control again.
At this point Jessica’s faced with the bad guy decision as to who to save? Hope takes that decision out her hands by breaking a glass and sticking the broken end into her neck as Jessica saves the others from hanging. At the end of the episode as Hope lies dying Jessica promises her that she’ll kill Kilgrave.
The final three episodes are where the series becomes more like a superhero programme. Episode eleven features a knock-down fight between Simpson (who is now quite mental and is hunting down Kilgrave himself) and Jessica (who’d normally pound even a pumped up Simpson easily, but she’s broken her ribs in a car accident) so we get a pretty brutal fight that wrecks most of Jessica’s flat and is only stopped when Trish turns up, drops one of Simpson’s red pills and batters Simpson long enough to give Jessica the chance to put him down for good.
We also get more flashbacks to Jessica’s childhood in these episodes, including the start of Trish and Jessica’s friendship not to mention Jessica discovering what she can do.These scenes are lovely little scenes and the kids playing young Trish and Jessica are fantastic. One of the other highlights of these episodes is the character Malcolm who started the series under control of Kilgrave and hooked on drugs but by the end of the series becomes a strong, reliable person that helps people.
But by the end of episode 11, Luke returns but he’s under control of Kilgrave and is forced to blow up his bar as Kilgrave continues to torture Jessica. Episode 12 is the Luke and Jessica show as the pair work together (Luke obviously survives the bombing and Kilgrave isn’t aware of his super powers) to track Kilgrave down so they can kill him. At this point it’s worth mentioning the fact that there’s some setting up of either a second series of Jessica Jones or The Defenders as Trish tracks down who IGH are as they’re the organisation behind Simpson’s and possibly Jessica’s abilities. Frankly this bit of plot development sticks out like a sore thumb but back to the story..
Problem is that although Luke would normally be free of Kilgrave’s power after 12 hours, once Luke and Jessica find him, his powers have increased and in fact his powers last 24 and spread a wider radius so he’s still under orders to kill Jessica which results in a huge Avengers style fight (albeit on a vastly smaller budget) that only ends when Jessica fires a shotgun at Luke’s head at point blank range knocking him unconscious for most of the final episode which avoids the easy situation of having Luke and Jessica save the day.
The final episode is good but the end feels empty. That’s because it’s been built up that Jessica is going to defeat Kilgrave, or kill him, and then she’ll embrace her being a hero and we’re in Marvel territory. Before that though it’s worth mentioning the connective tissue between Jessica Jones and Daredevil with the appearance of Rosario Dawson as nurse Claire Temple who helps Jessica with Luke who is still unconscious, but after some pretty eye-watering procedures from Claire, is nursed into health.
The big climax is set on the New York harbourside as Kilgrave tries to escape on the boast owned by more of his victims. He thinks Jessica is walking into the trap he’s set, but it’s Trish wearing a pair of headphones to block out Kilgrave’s power. Jessica simply walks into the carnage as Kilgrave has ordered the large crowd on the harbourside to kill each other but it’s hear that Kilgrave orders Jessica to stop, and she does. Kilgrave’s got power over Jessica again.
Kilgrave takes control of Trish (who’s had her headphones knocked off), and quite clearly threatens to rape her in a line that’s vile but Tennant manages to deliver it perfectly. Ordering Jessica to smile to check that his powers work he agrees to swap Jessica with Trish, but Jessica’s been bluffing and once Kilgrave’s close to Jessica and everyone else is safe she lifts him off the ground and snaps his neck killing him. It’s the logical end to the series, and as Jessica returns to her office to find Luke gone and Malcolm cleaning things up the expectation is that once she listens to her voicemails and hears the cries for help that she embraces her heroic journey because this is how the superhero genre works right?
Nope, not here. Jessica’s just killed someone. They were a psychotic rapist bastard but she’s had to give up so much that she doesn’t want to be the hero people think she is because ultimately she was only trying to keep herself alive.But there’s a lot going on at the end as Malcolm takes a call for Jessica as the suggestion is that she’ll be helped into a more heroic role.
Making Jessica a hero at the end of the series would have been false. It wouldn’t have worked because she’s still recovering from the abuse dished out to her by Kilgrave, not to mention the effects of killing Luke’s wife but Jessica’s not unchanged by the end of the series. She’s just overwhelmed so there’s the opening for a season 2 when it comes, which it seems isn’t going to be til after The Defenders in 2017 which is a pity. There’s a lot more that can be done with this idea, especially the idea that Jessica doesn’t want to be a hero but just do a job to pay the bills.
Jessica Jones is highly recommended. It does get into real superhero territory near the end, but for casual viewers this is probably Marvel’s most ‘adult’ project yet so I’d not recommend sticking the kids on front of this over Christmas to keep them quiet. If however you want something with a bit more meat to it than say, Ant-Man or the last Avengers film, then this is for you. The acting from all the cast is superb, but it’s Krysten Ritter and David Tennant that hold the programme together as both turn out the highest levels of acting, which is tough when both at times have to say some difficult lines. Also I have to say that they use New York as a character in itself here as the story moves from the cold, frozen months of winter through to spring and summer. They take every chance they can to liven up scenes of exposition or dialogue by using the city of New York as the backdrop and it’s perfect.
It’s a triumph for Marvel as was Daredevil who returns next spring for a second season, and think I believe Luke Cage is due near the end of next year with Iron Fist and The Defenders the year after.There’s also rumours that The Punisher’s appearance in Daredevil’s second season is going to spin the character off into his own Netflix series, plus the stories of a Netflix Moon Knight series (one of Marvel’s many Batman copies, but made more interesting because of it’s supernatural aspects) aren’t going away.If all this maintains the same quality then great, but I just hope they find the time to sneak in a second series of Jessica Jones in there so we can see more sooner rather than later.