A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
It’s a magnificent trick of Jessica Jones that it manages to pull off any shred of sympathy for Kilgrave. Accentuated by the writing and David Tennant’s mesmerizing performance, Kilgrave has become the absolute embodiment of male privilege and toxic masculinity, his unrepentant and despicable behavior portrayed in rape, abuse, and murder. It’s nevertheless quite difficult, however, not to see that screaming child and not feel your heart breaking a bit, regardless of whom the child grows up to be. I saved the in-depth discussion of Kilgrave’s past for this review as his parents come back into the picture and his past feeds more directly into the events of AKA Sin Bin, a slight step down from the absolute heights of the previous week but a tense one nevertheless that ends on an unexpected bloodbath. The flashbacks in question centered around a young boy sitting in a chair in what looks like the exact definition of a mad scientist’s basement torture room, the sort you would expect to see in a horror movie directed by the late, great Alfred Hitchcock. He’s alone, terrified, crying out for his parents before, in one particularly nasty instance, they take out cerebrospinal fluid from his back without anesthesia. The presentation of his parents is subsequently pathetic, if superbly convenient for the narrative itself that they appear at the best possible opportunity for Jessica to use them. They arrived back in the city so they could find their long-lost son Kevin and they try to explain themselves by noting that those experiments were conducted because Kevin had a degenerative neurological disorder. It lends an explanation, but I frankly don’t think the episode itself does nearly enough work to sell it compared to how much it thinks it has accomplished in that regard. Jessica rightfully points out that they still abandoned their child and let him develop dangerously on his own without anyone to guide him onto the right path.
Seeing Kilgrave locked up within a glass chamber, with Jessica right outside, is a cathartic feeling the series has duly earned by this point, even though it loses points on the execution of how communication itself worked through the glass. Jessica is in control and she lets that feeling of triumph mix in with her fury, grief, and needing Kilgrave to make a confession. That confession would free Hope and would vindicate the trauma she has suffered through. There would be a point to it all and Kilgrave understands that need for a confession acutely, even if his actual reading on so many aspects of Jessica’s emotional states are contorted in terms of how they reflect upon his own self rather than what she may be conveying. But there will never be a confession because Kilgrave can simply see no mistake. Everything within his prism is colored by this abusive sense of love and as he explained last week, he saw in everything Jessica’s consent and none of her contempt. As Jessica realized more and more that the confession she wanted was never going to arrive, her fury mounts and she becomes physical with Kilgrave, amounting to what even Jeri notes as being torture. Trish shuts the operation down and in giving into her anger, Jessica loses her grasp on potential evidence and the back and forth of the power dynamics shifts heavily towards the side of the man in the glass chamber.
The moment when Kilgrave confronts his parents is the best performance from David Tennant to date on the series. He rants at his parents about leaving him behind, abandoning him to fend for himself and grow his powers without anyone to guide him through. His anger towards his parents is valid, but in that one moment when his mother is walking towards him with scissors in hand, his anger begins to dissipate and the suspense builds quietly. Prior to that, however, there is a key sequence involving none other than Kilgrave himself and Jeri. Jeri as a character has almost functioned as an enigma so far, a frigid enigma to be sure, divided between two specific storylines. On one hand, there is the matter of her divorce, which quickly went south after Jessica’s train accident with Wendy. It now threatened to engulf all of her career and render her irrelevant, at least in the terms of how she saw it. The second half of it has been her case defending Hope, which to be fair has been quite a hit or miss. The divorce is certainly something that is making Jeri feel more vulnerable and that in and of itself is understandable. Kilgrave taps into that vulnerability and her hubris and it works. The camerawork builds narrowly as Kilgrave’s repentant mother later raises the scissors and then suddenly it cuts to Kilgrave menacingly whispering “For every year you left me alone, stab yourself.” Trish panics and pulls down the lever that electrocutes the water inside but nothing happens. Jessica is in shock as Kilgrave’s mother stabs herself and he rushes towards his father, demanding that he cut his heart out. That grotesque act doesn’t happen but Kilgrave manages to escape, courtesy of Jeri’s treachery. As he runs though, Jessica notices something. She comes into contact with blood as Kilgrave brushes right into her and she is able to resist him. The irony of circumstance.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You’re a murderer, Kevin.”
+“Yeah, well, this bitch is now in control of you, asshole.”
+Kilgrave using the word “bitch” to try to demean Jessica is pitch-perfect
+Reeva knew about the torture clips
+“I won’t hit a woman.”
+“I wish I had a Mother of the Year award so I could bludgeon you with it.”
+“You didn’t explain to me, you just left.”
-Jessica and Trish, why would you leave Jeri alone with Kilgrave? WHY?
Episode Title: AKA Sin Bin
Written by: Jamie King & Dana Baratta
Directed by: John Dahl
Image Courtesy: Jessica Jones Wiki