Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Review - 'Jessica Jones', S01E08 - 'AKA WWJD?'






Much like with the previous episode, things took a strange and unexpected turn in the eighth episode of Jessica Jones. While things got increasingly out of hand in the previous episode, though, this time, the stranger turns that the episode takes actually become a significant strength, as things go in an unexpected, though still very dark, new direction. 

Here, we have an episode that benefits a great deal from focusing on the immediate result of Kilgrave's bizarre, and genuinely unnerving, declaration of love for Jessica. Kilgrave has, apparently, been in love with her since the moment that she left him to die - an obsessive, and very creepy, idea of love that seems to be firmly based on the idea of him wanting something that he can't have. So, rather than compelling her to return to him, Kilgrave wants her to choose him - and, in order to convince her, he has put a great deal of time and effort into recreating her childhood home.

Jessica, of course, has reasons of her own for agreeing to go along with this - believing getting close to Kilgrave would give her the opportunity to get a recording of a confession that will prove Hope's innocence. And, of course, Kilgrave also has a back-up plan, just in case - employees, a cook and a chef, who are under strict orders to kill themselves if Jessica gets too aggressive.

It is a very strange, and genuinely unsettling, situation, overall. Kilgrave, it seems, is completely oblivious to the pain and suffering he has caused - not even truly considering what he had done to Jessica and Hope, and however many others there had been, to be 'rape'. The suggestion seems to be that he is, actually, completely amoral, rather than deliberately evil - not that that excused anything that he has done, of course. Perhaps the most disturbing part, though, is that Kilgrave seems entirely convinced that he can win Jessica's heart, despite all of the pain he has caused, and that he continues to cause. Kilgrave's characterisation, here, is a great combination of fascinating and genuinely unsettling - and, the fact that David Tennant continues to play him in such a charming and charismatic way only makes things more confusing for the audience.

Jessica, herself, even seems to form conflicted feelings about Kilgrave, at one point. Going as far as toying with the idea of trying to influence him, in return - convincing him to use his mind-control abilities to defuse a tense hostage situation, in the hope that it might teach him the value of using his abilities for noble, rather than selfish, purposes. It was a fascinating idea, even if Kilgrave's first thought was to have the man responsible stick his shot-gun in his own mouth. It was, also, incredibly strange to see Kilgrave and Jessica actually working together. Kilgrave did, after all, turn out to be absolutely right when he pointed out that they made a good team - though, obviously, the idea didn't sit well with Jessica.

Kilgrave even proved to be the source of some fantastic, though still disturbing, black comedy in this episode - at one point, casually telling his employees to peel the skin off of each other's faces if he's not back in two hours, and at another, hinting at the horrors that resulted from the time he absent-mindedly told someone to "go screw themselves" (I don't really need to imagine the likely results, though - I've read Preacher).

Jessica's plans are complicated when Officer Simpson involves himself, though. Simpson, it seems, is still adamant that Kilgrave needs to be killed, rather than captured - and, that it needs to be done as soon as possible. He has even rounded up a couple of old contacts from his time in the military to help. Rather than the devoted ally he had seemed to be originally, Simpson seems to have become something of a 'wild card' on the series - actively working against Jessica, now, as she attempts to find some way to use Kilgrave to free Hope. It is definitely an interesting complication for her - and, one that I am interested in seeing play out.

There was, also, finally a level of genuine character drama in the interaction between Jeri and Wendy, and in their whole 'divorce' sub-plot, which should have been there from the beginning. It is still strange that it took so long for this story-line to develop into something interesting - but, better late then never, I suppose.

At this point, it has become very noticeable that Jessica Jones is at its best whenever the focus is narrowed onto a specific situation, or the interaction of specific characters. Jessica Jones is, simple, a much smaller scale, and much more character driven, series then even Daredevil had been - but, that is far from a weakness.

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