Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Review - 'Jessica Jones', S01E10 - 'AKA 1,000 Cuts'

Jessica Jones has, so far, been a series of consistently high quality. It has been tense, exciting, occasionally genuinely funny - and, most importantly, it has managed to darker themes and subject matter in a way that has not felt gratuitous or unnecessarily provocative. It hasn't been perfect, of course - there have been some weaker elements over the past nine episodes. But, this tenth episode of Jessica Jones would have to be the lowest point of the series so far, for me.

First, we have the revelation that it was actually Jeri Hogarth's fault that Kilgrave escape, after all. The reason why the electricity had failed right when Kilgrave had needed to be subdued was because Jeri had cut the wire. What was she hoping to achieve? I don't know - though, to be fair to her, her reaction does make it clear that she didn't really believe that Kilgrave would go through with ordering his own mother to kill herself. So, as the episode opens, Kilgrave has snatched up Jeri and ordered her to take him to a doctor that she trusts - who, of course, turns out to be Wendy.

Later, when Kilgrave leaves Wendy with the order to kill Jeri, Jeri is ultimately saved by Pam (Susie Abromeit), the receptionist who forms the third point on this awkward love triangle. How did Pam, of all people, happen to turn up at Wendy's house at exactly the right moment? I don't know. It was clearly intended to add extra drama, since Pam is now responsible for Wendy's death. It still feels horribly contrived, though - especially when you consider that Jessica, herself, also turned up only moments later.

And, then, there's Robyn (Colby Minifie), and the strange role she plays in this episode. Robyn and her brother, Ruben, have been an odd presence on the show from the beginning. Ruben was a little odd, but seemingly entirely harmless - and, the fact that he was clearly suffering from some sort of mental handicap, combined with the abuse he had to endure from his sister, went some way toward making him sympathetic. Robyn, on the other hand, has always been played so 'over-the-top' that she wouldn't have looked out of place as the 'wacky neighbour' character on a sitcom - and, even there, she might have come across as a bit much. It was tolerable when she was kept off to the side, and only made the occasional appearance - but, with her being suddenly brought into the spot-light, here, her failings as a character only become more apparent.

That entire scene, in which Malcolm felt compelled to confess his part in covering up Ruben's death only for Robyn to suddenly appear and reveal that she had followed him to the support group's meeting, was completely absurd. Honestly, if her sudden appearance behind Malcolm had been accompanied by that obnoxious 'record scratch' sound effect, it wouldn't have looked anymore ridiculous.

But, then, it manages to get worse when Robyn, somehow, manages to turn the entire support group against Jessica - resulting in the group's two men (which included, it should be remembered, the one whose only issue was that Kilgrave took his coat) accompanying her back to Jessica's apartment. The end result of all of this, of course, was that Kilgrave was one more able to escape thanks to random chance and the stupidity of the supporting cast.

So, the end result of all of this is an episode that was a bit of a mess. Honestly, this is probably the closest I have ever come to actively disliking Jessica Jones. Though, to be fair, the episode did still manage to pull off some truly great moments to balance out its weaker elements. There was definitely some wonderful dark comedy to be found in the idea of Kilgrave and Wendy bonding over their shared relationship troubles while she treated his injuries, for one thing. And, that whole sequence of Kilgrave ordering Wendy to kill Jeri with '1,000 cuts' was genuinely disturbing. Robin Weigert might not have had a great deal to do in her time on Jessica Jones - but, at least, she got some genuinely great moments before the end.

Also, Kilgrave maintains his status as the most genuinely disturbing villain we have had in Marvel's cinematic universe, so far. First, we have the disturbing offer he presents to Jessica, where he will arrange Hope's freedom on the condition that she turn over his father. Then, we have another tense stand-off between Jessica and Kilgrave complete with innocent by-standers prepared to hang themselves while Kilgrave calmly eats pasta.

On top of that, there's also Will Simpson, whose determination to kill Kilgrave has driven him to dig up some dark secrets from his, so far still largely unrevealed, past. Those red pills of his may give him a significant boost to his combat ability, but they are clearly taking a heavy toll on his sanity - and, his is, fairly obviously, going to present another difficulty for Jessica before the end of the season.

As much as I disliked some of the elements of this episode, there was still plenty to like about the episode, as a whole. Honestly, if this is the weakest episode we get of Jessica Jones, then the season will still end as a fairly resounding success.

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