A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Jessica Jones continues to impress mightily in its second week, setting itself substantially apart from any Marvel property on screen, film or otherwise. The noir elements alone are substantially different, its closest companion coming from its Netflix colleague Daredevil or the rival DC Universe’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The gritty world of Hell’s Kitchen is suitable for such a style of filmmaking, its story benefitting almost effortlessly from its stylistic choices where darkness permeates through every frame. More so than just serving as an appealing visual aid, however, the stye is a significant contribution towards the story itself, fueling the understanding of each character and their relation to the world around them. Sleuths and shadows are an inherent part of Jessica’s world and the less than savory characters that inhabit them inform her worldview to a substantial degree. From Jessica herself to Jeri to Kilgrave, there’s a varying degree of nastiness that is prevalent, a nastiness that permeates substantially throughout the shadows Jessica must wade through in order to find evidence against Kilgrave and exonerate Hope. As a private investigator, Jessica’s primary job arguably centers around her ability to separate the ephemeral from the existing, a job that she is able to do with aplomb until Kilgrave is confirmed to have been involved. With him, every existence could be ephemeral, every truth could be a lie, and every innocent hug could be a portend to fatality.
Kilgrave’s increasing presence accentuates the aforementioned shades of darkness considerably, leaving behind terrifying results as a consequence. Each antagonist in the Marvel universe is unique (to varying degrees of success, mind you), but Kilgrave is the one whose impact has been most deeply explored. On Daredevil, there’s Wilson Fisk and his temporary companions in crime, but Kilgrave is alone, completely alone. He simply doesn’t have the ability to be with someone in as significant of a fashion – his powers don’t allow for that to occur. I’ve noted Kilgrave’s lack of physical presence more times than necessary, but what truly works is the series’s deceptions of how he, from the shadows, is able to control the lives of others with such impunity and an utter lack of remorse. That lack of remorse directly feeds into the most vital aspect of the series and what, despite its mistakes, makes it truly stand out. Abuse comes in a myriad of ways and it is often simplified to the point of damage, where the abuse itself becomes inconsequential in its simplification. Jessica Jones refuses to treat any of Kilgrave’s actions as inconsequential and to simplify them in an effort to make a broad statement about abuse. Kilgrave employs a complex variety of controlling mechanisms (although we’ve only seen a small amount at this point) and his victims are given the proper complexity and understanding without demeaning any of their personal experiences.
AKA Crush Syndrome is a solid follow-up to the premiere, if a bit heavy in the plot collection side of things. Jessica, spurred to action to save Hope’s life, goes heavy into her private investigator mode but she simply cannot save Hope’s life by herself. She asks Jeri to represent Hope in this case, but that is a request met expectedly by Jeri’s cold and calculating demeanor. Having never lost a case (a truly clichéd way of making an impressive lawyer in more storylines than I care for), she isn’t about to grasp one in which the accused is, based on the evidence available, completely guilty. Jeri may not exactly be an embodiment of anyone’s ideas on friendship or warmth even, but she has a point here. Without evidence, Jessica may convince Jeri but she doesn’t comprise the entire jury by herself. She infiltrates a hospital with some hilariously awful Grey’s Anatomy references, but she manages to find a patient that could lead her to Kilgrave, who had damaged one of his kidneys when she had literally thrown him under the bus. The doctor in charge, in a startling revelation, leads Jessica to believe that the only way to stop Kilgrave is to use a sedative to knock him out so his powers are rendered inert. But that doesn’t answer all of her questions. The patient in question is another one of Kilgrave’s victims, a man lying comatose in his mother’s home, having lost both of his kidneys to the Purple Man. Kilgrave could have taken one but he wanted to feel whole again and as Jessica looks into his latest victim’s eyes, he begs her to kill him. He couldn’t bear to live like that anymore but Jessica couldn’t bear to pull the plug on him. It’s a hauntingly disturbing sequence, moved out of Jessica’s mind in part only because of the surprising event that closes out the episode in a cliffhanger. Luke Cage turns out to be one of the gifted ones, capable of bearing any amount of pain and to prove it, he puts a sawblade to his sculpted abs and there is simply no pain. Game on, indeed.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Hard to imagine.”
“Hard to forget.”
+“I’m not safe anywhere.”
+“Self-respect. Get some.”
-Does anyone care that Jeri is cheating on her wife Wendy? Is this really relevant? As Wendy isn’t a character yet, it’s hard to feel any sympathy here.
Episode Title: AKA Crush Syndrome
Written by: Micah Schraft
Directed by: S. J. Clarkson
Image Courtesy: Marvel Cinematic Universe