A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Kilgrave’s terrifying creeping is utterly atrocious to behold but hardly unsurprising in the same breath. He begins the episode by walking around Jessica’s apartment as if he owns the plethora of memories within, as if each and every single object within her admitted tepid living quarters is in some fashion an exemplification of the bond they shared, a bond he views as being romantic. There have been ample opportunities in the past couple of episodes for the show to take the view of Kilgrave simply hating Jessica for wrestling out of his control and it would have been a valid thoroughfare for the story to take (not saying that it would have been a validation of Kilgrave in any way, shape, or form) but a significantly less intriguing one. The turn into Kilgrave’s twisted form of love sunken in abuse is a much more rewarding, complex thoroughfare for the character to take, rendering his actions that much more murkier and difficult to unfold. Every single time Jessica hits him in some form of anger, Kilgrave sees it as a play of love. Her breaking of his teeth rather than outright killing him in the previous installment sends a message that she may not want him dead after all, a message Kilgrave understands but also misinterprets as being some form of an indication of love. His interpretation of said hatred and his subsequent behavior is of course meant to be within the realms of the extreme, yet it pivots towards a real-life parallel to toxic masculinity where women are rendered as just objects and little else, meant to be conquered. A “no” is perceived as being a delay for the inevitable affection as a straight-out refusal simply is, within that mindset, incomprehensible.
For her part, Jessica is still struggling with the emotional fallout of her confession to Luke last week. It didn’t work within the context of that episode or the relationship as a whole, to be frank, but seeing Jessica in a heightened emotional state by herself works rather well. She gets to work on Jeri’s favor assignment of getting some dirt on Wendy so Jeri can find something for her divorce and not lose control of her career. I haven’t acknowledged Jeri’s affair much by this point, but the whole relationship finagling between her, Wendy, and Pam is completely devoid of any emotional attachment and I don’t really have sympathy for anyone involved, even Wendy. Even when Wendy is at the door of a potential fatality, I couldn’t care, partially because I knew Jessica would save her and partially because I really didn’t care if she did anyway. Ritter continues to kill it as Jones, however, and her mix of fury, guilt, and terror as she rescues a trapped Wendy from an oncoming train is palpable. She was ready drunk at the point she started following Wendy, but that episode snapped her out of her reverie in the sharpest way possible. It is unfortunate that her day got significantly worse after that. She comes home, drunkenly flops on her bed and turns around to find a dead Ruben lying next to her, having slit his own throat. Ruben never gelled to me as a complete character, but his crush on Jessica was just sweet enough in a quiet sort of way that his death feels unsetting and nauseating in equal measure. It’s also the first real instance of where Kilgrave’s “love” manifests itself into a fatalistic understanding of possessiveness. He couldn’t bear the idea of the neighbor who brings Jessica banana bread being in love with her. The audacity of it all, the sheer magnitude of what that might mean to his hold over Jessica is too much to behold and once again the show cannily writes a real-life parallel to abusive partners.
Jessica is understandably quite traumatized by this pattern of people’s lives being ruined and people dying as a result of Kilgrave and she holds herself in contempt for that. It’s not difficult to believe that she would hold herself responsible for all the chaos and misery around her although in no real way is she at fault here. It’s a mechanism of control that Kilgrave exhibits and Jessica knows that, but she still can’t bring herself to absolve herself of any responsibility or guilt when the dead body of an innocent, naive man is lying in a bloody mess in her own bed. Her plan to solve this, however, makes absolutely no sense and it is the strength of the script in this specific sequence that the audience buys that Jessica would wholeheartedly go ahead with this even though everyone around her is noting that it is an extremely stupid thing to do. Her plan resides on the crux that if she does something truly horrible enough, then she would be sent to a Supermax Security Prison and that Kilgrave would have to go through several layers of security camera footage to find her and that would finally provide the proof she needs. To do so, she cuts the head off of Ruben’s body and dumps it on Detective Clemons’s desk. The ruse doesn’t work for Kilgrave arrives right on that scene. In the most macabre way one could imagine, he declares his love for her as all the officers around him are pointing guns at one another. When Jessica walked away from him, that created a challenge for Kilgrave and slowly he crafted in his mind the triumph he would receive if Jessica willingly came to him without any mind control whatsoever and the most vital part of that is having her to come to him while he lives in her old house. The thrill and the challenge are too irresistible to Kilgrave and Jessica acquiesces for now, but there is something significant up her sleeve to be sure.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Well… that is very specific.”
+“You’re her pimp.”
+“Taking you in was the worst decision of my life.”
+Jessica on top of the bridge? Corny, but awesome.
+“That is not what I expected.”
+“Jessica, I know you were insecure but that’s just sad.”
+Trish’s mom is a piece of work and I like how her awfulness makes the relationship between Trish and Jessica that much stronger without any over effort from the writers
-Malcolm, save yourself and Trish the bother the next time there’s a body in Jessica’s bedroom by simply stating “there’s a body in the bed and it’s pretty bloody.”
-Simpson still makes little sense as a character
Episode Title: AKA Top Shelf Perverts
Written by: Jenna Reback & Micah Schraft
Directed by: Simon Cellan Jones
Image Courtesy: Doux Review