(Original post at The Boar)
It’s week three of the Jessica Jones series blog! Welcome back! Now, down to business- quite literally.
Jessica and Luke continue to have kinky, potentially property-damaging sex. From Jessica’s confession that she “waits in dark alleys and takes pictures of people boning” to Jeri Hogarth’s illicit affair with secretary Pam (Susie Abromeit), sex in Jessica Jones is furtive and usually extra-marital. Our superheroes almost, but not quite, escape this trap- their coupling in the first episode is removed of any intimacy, and even in this episode, Jessica can’t bring herself to look Luke in the eye when she asks him his opinion of Kilgrave.
The real danger of men like Kilgrave becomes clear through this exchange- that even all-round good guy Luke, who previously expressed interest in whether there were more people with abilities out there, didn’t believe Hope’s story.
It’s a terrifying yet very real scenario for assault victims, and the writers of Jessica Jones have once again used Kilgrave’s mind control powers as potent allegory for rape. Hope is, thankfully, given an interview on Trish Talk and gets the chance to tell her side of the story, a painful reliving for both her and Jessica.
Speaking of Trish, we’re granted a glimpse into her past when Jessica sees her bruises and asks if her mother’s back in her life; this brief implication of child abuse adds painful irony to Trish’s proud statement, “no-one touches me any more unless I want them to.”
It’s also poignant in light of her later assault, in which an enraged Kilgrave, whom Trish provokes on air by calling him impotent and pathetic, orders Officer Simpson (Wil Traval) to kill her. More and more of Jessica’s acquaintances are being drawn into Kilgrave’s web, putting her in an increasingly difficult position.
AKA It’s Called Whiskey embarked on an explication of Jessica’s complex morality, detailing the push and pull of her daily moral dilemmas. The message of the episode, encapsulated by Luke’s statement that the battle between good and bad usually comes down to “which part wins that day”, can seem a little too obviously stated at times (show don’t tell, Jessica Jones writers).
Still, overall it’s an effective exploration and it results in some fantastic sequences which present us with a problem.
Jessica, our hero, engages in some questionable (and sometimes downright immoral) behaviour at times. What’s more, she knows this.
When she attempts to steal sufentanil from a local hospital and looks for a distraction, she debates internally how many people she could knock out before it stopped being the right thing to do.
Later in the episode, she achieves her goal only through manipulating Malcolm, one of the few people consistently reminding Jessica that she’s a good person. His hurt look of realisation in the hospital waiting room, and Jessica’s consequent grimace, are heart wrenching moments.
The writers ultimately make it clear that Jessica may well be morally grey, but she’s on the side of the angels. When faced with a chance to capture Kilgrave (whose face we finally saw), Jessica chooses not to take it. Why? Because it would result in the death of Officer Simpson, who Kilgrave ordered to jump off the building.
Perhaps this is what makes Jessica’s relationship with Luke so suddenly jarring. The biggest development of this episode is the discovery Jessica’s connection to Reva, Luke’s late wife- through a series of flashbacks, it’s revealed that Kilgrave ordered Jessica to kill her.
Though Jessica knows she wasn’t responsible for her actions, it’s clear that she feels guilty, and decides to break off her relationship with Luke in light of it. Again, Jessica’s moral compass hasn’t been pointing due north- this is definitely something that Luke should have known about before sleeping with her- but her good side wins out on this particular day. Whether their relationship can survive this knowledge, or if Kilgrave has rendered their partnership untenable, remains to be seen.
AKA It’s Called Whiskey was a thought-provoking episode, but not as consistently brilliant as its predecessors. Some unanswered questions for next week- why did Kilgrave want Reva dead? How did Jessica briefly break free of his control? Who will comfort poor Luke? (Me, I whisper at the screen, stroking a picture of Mike Colter’s face.) Tune in next week.