Jessica Jones: ‘AKA Top Shelf Perverts’

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TW: rape.

(Original post at The Boar)

Welcome back to week seven of the Jessica Jones series blog! Last week ended on a pretty pessimistic note, so let’s all take a moment to prepare ourselves for the fallout. Take a deep breath… Ready? Let’s go.

The aftermath of her conflict with Luke has left Jessica reeling, a state which intensifies horribly with the revelation of poor Ruben’s death. His mutilated body maintains a constant physical presence throughout the episode, a reminder of the stakes of association with Kilgrave.

Who could be more innocent, more vulnerable, than Ruben? Whose death could have been more pointless and arbitrary? (I hope you’re in heaven eating banana bread and looking at giraffes, buddy. RIP.)

Jessica Jones has a tendency to bash the viewer over the head with its point at times; Jessica finding herself covered in Ruben’s blood is hardly an understated visual metaphor

But for all its lack of subtlety, understanding Jessica’s guilt is a necessary and compelling part of understanding Jessica herself. I know and you know that she isn’t a monster, but that doesn’t stop Jessica believing it. Her guilt itself is a reason to root for her- the fact that she cares about having unwillingly killed Reva sets her aside from the other two villains we see this week.

Neither Trish’s mother Dorothy nor the insidious Kilgrave seem to feel any guilt for the way they treat those around them. Dorothy Walker profits off her daughter’s childhood career, whilst denying the abuse she inflicted on her to maintain it.

Kilgrave refuses to use his powers on Jessica only so he can maintain his twisted sexual fantasy, in which his rape and assault of Jessica was consensual. Both avoid the consequences of their immorality, unlike Jessica, who lives with the effects of her actions.

Seeing Dorothy Walker in all her vacuous, exploitative glory made me really appreciate just how moral Trish is. I was worried that after she started carrying Simpson’s gun Trish would become a darker character, but her resolution not to murder Kilgrave has remained strong. In an increasingly murky world, Trish and Malcolm are two individuals we can rely on to temper this gloom.

Malcolm, for his part, has become Jessica’s rock- seeing him pick Jessica up off the floor of the escalator is a wonderful parallel with his dependence on her whilst he was still on drugs. His defence of Jessica to Robyn was deeply touching, and seemed to make a minor impact on her eventual acceptance of Jessica, however one-sided her relationship with Ruben might have been.

I’d like to have seen more of Robyn in this episode, and I hope she’ll be humanised more in later episodes. She clearly regards herself as more a mother to Ruben than a sister, and relinquishing her control of him was a huge step for her.

Watching her let go without knowing Ruben was dead was probably the saddest moment of the series since Jessica’s talk with the paralysed ambulance driver, yet another casualty of Kilgrave’s depravity.

Over the course of the episode, Jessica gravitates towards a more effective (if horrifying) solution to the Kilgrave problem. Jessica’s reliance on alcohol is a clear manifestation of her masochistic tendencies, and serves no purpose other than to punish herself. Her plan to get herself incarcerated in supermax is a real longshot that offers little to gain, and it’s doubtful that Jessica would consider such an idea if she weren’t so depressed. Returning to Kilgrave, an act of extreme self-sacrifice with appalling implications, at least gives Jessica a chance.

We’re yet to pick up on quite what Kilgrave had planned for Jessica’s house, beyond making it a creepy living memorial to her life before being orphaned. We also haven’t heard anything about what happened to Hope’s foetus, and I’m not sure whether I’d prefer that detail to be unceremoniously dropped without explanation or to carry on for the sake of consistency.

There are a lot of plotlines still in flux, and I’m intrigued as to whether they’ll all be wrapped up successfully. Right now, my faith’s with the writers, who delivered some truly staggering moments of emotion this week.

 

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