Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review - 'Jessica Jones', S01E13 - 'AKA Smile'

Much like the previous episode, this finale for the first season of Jessica Jones was very restrained - lacking in much of the tense excitement that we had from the last episode of Daredevil earlier in the year. Of course, it's more than likely that this was entirely intentional. Jessica Jones had always been a smaller-scale and much more personal story, in general - so, it makes sense that it would end the same way (though, before I get to the review, I should admit that I'm not going to be trying to tip-toe around any major plot-points in the way that I usually do - so, feel free to stop reading, if that's an issue).

It was great to finally see some connection to Daredevil, though - with Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) putting in an appearance as she helps treat Luke. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, especially coming to late in the season, but it was still a nice touch - especially since it seems to have further cemented Claire's position as the MCU's version of the Night Nurse, another character that fans of Marvel's comics might be familiar with. She has graduated from patching up Matt Murdock, and now seems to have found herself as the resident expert on how to give medical treatment to a man with impenetrable skin.

And, that was another interesting develop, too. The idea that Luke Cage's own 'gift' would interfere with any attempts to treat him, as needles simply couldn't pierce his skin, added an extra element of drama to the episode. Of course, with Luke's own series still coming, we knew that he wasn't in any real danger. But, it still gave us a great moment of emotional vulnerability from Jessica, when she admitted that she had allowed herself to imagine a future with him, despite everything that had happened between them.

Also, that scene where Claire needed to stick a needle through Luke's eye in order to draw out some of the built-up fluid and relieve some of the pressure, was difficult to watch. We were spared the sight of the needle going in, of course, but just seeing Jessica's reaction while she held Luke's head still was enough.

Having Luke by unconscious for much of the episode, only for him to recover and vanish at the first opportunity (without even time for any sort of proper 'goodbye'), was an odd note to end things on for the two of them. But, again, it was still strangely fitting. With the previous episode leaving us with the implication that much of what Luke had said and done had been scripted by Kilgrave (including, it seems, his decision to forgive Jessica), we are clearly being left with an obvious, and very deliberate, uncertainty about where they truly stand with each other. At this point, I'm anticipating that Jessica will play as large a role in Luke's series as he did in hers, here - but, of course, I have no way of knowing for sure.

It was interesting to see the ways in which Kilgrave's abilities had continued to develop, thanks to his father's reluctant efforts. The idea that Kilgrave was now capable of turning a hospital full of people against Jessica, while speaking over the intercom, was genuinely disturbing - and, it made for a very tense scene as Jessica was forced to make a quick escape, without hurting anyone. If anything, I was left feeling that this scene should have been longer - and that, perhaps, this should have been the setting for the final confrontation between Jessica and Kilgrave.

Instead, there were elements of the actual final confrontation that came across as a little awkward. For one thing, Jessica's plan to actually get at Kilgrave was pretty terrible. Sending in Trish as a distraction, with a hood pulled over her face and loud music playing through head-phones so that she couldn't actually hear Kilgrave, was great - but, then, Jessica was immediately spotted before she could even get close to him. So, what was the point?

Then, Kilgrave ordering a random group of innocent bystanders to kill each other as a distraction, while he makes a run for a waiting boat, simply wasn't as interesting as the potential scene we could have had, in the hospital (maybe it's not fair to judge this against the image I have in my own head - but, I would have liked to have seen more done with the idea of Kilgrave sending innocent people to hunt Jessica, specifically).

That being said, though, the idea that Kilgrave might have been willing to settle for taking Trish as a hostage was yet another genuinely disturbing moment from him, given what we already know about what he had done to Jessica and Hope while they were under his control. And, also, the idea that Jessica's final victory over Kilgrave would be a result of her out-smarting him, rather than simply over-powering him, was a great touch - with Jessica cleverly playing the part of falling victim to his enhanced powers until he was convinced to come close enough for her to attack. It wasn't the most exciting way to end things, sure - but, it was definitely tense.

Of course, the end result of all of this is that, barring some sort of classic 'comic-book' style twist, Kilgrave is actually dead (with his neck snapped the moment he got within arm's reach of Jessica), and David Tennant's role in Marvel's cinematic universe is over. As fitting as this is, from within the context of the story, it does feel like a shame that we lose such a great villain.

So, the first season of Jessica Jones comes to an end on a very sombre note - Jessica won, and Kilgrave is dead, but she clearly doesn't feel like a 'hero'. Her efforts to save Hope, the reason that all of this had begun in the first place, had ended in failure. Luke has vanished, and she had no way of knowing whether, or not, he had truly forgiven her for her part in his wife's death. But, despite this, there are also people who have genuinely come to see Jessica Jones as a hero - and, we end with the indication that she is going to keep trying to 'fake it' for their sake.

I have had issues with some elements of Jessica Jones, sure. There have been plot-points that didn't work for me, and characters I didn't care for. But, over all, this still felt like a great way to end an impressive first season.

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