Jessica Jones: ‘AKA 1,000 Cuts’

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TW: rape

(Original post at The Boar)

This week, Jessica Jones treads familiar ground for the superhero genre, and asks what’s the cost of fighting a dangerous criminal. The lives caught in the crossfire become the central focus of AKA 1,000 Cuts, as Jessica’s allies each cause the death of a guiltless bystander.

By far the best scenes of the episode were thanks to Carrie Anne Moss, Hogarth’s divorce proceedings finally coming to a violent head, and Wendy’s promise to leave her ‘bleeding on the floor’ becoming startlingly literal. Incited by Kilgrave to attack her ex-wife, Wendy’s eventual death is the product of machinations so monstrous, they’re almost impressive.

Hogarth is quick to reassure Pam that she won’t go to jail, but can’t see how killing Wendy might have damaged her, and refuses to see how she has facilitated the violation of two women she claimed to love.

Utilising Kilgrave, however close she may have come to her death, has paid off for Hogarth. She might pretend to be on the side of the angels, but Hogarth comes from the same calculating place as him – they’re both manipulative, cunning, and selfish to the core.

Even the way she’s framed betrays Hogarth’s inner darkness – she’s a stark figure in black next to her two lovers, each dressed in white but with blood on their hands. In the end, Pam and Wendy take the collateral damage for Hogarth’s greed.

Not one to be left out, Simpson lets his dark side loose this week in his twisted interpretation of justice.

Vigilantism has an interesting place in the Marvel universe – after all, Jessica often operates outside the law, and down the road we know Matt Murdock is doing exactly the same thing (with added spandex).

Vigilantes are fundamental to Marvel, and yet Simpson is an excellent deconstruction of that superhero trope. He believes himself to be a hero, a Steve Rogers-lite who can make the tough decisions where others can’t. But his own brand of violent retribution, fuelled by whatever pills Kozlov gave him, means he’ll kill whoever stands in his way.

Like Hogarth, Simpson’s actions in this episode result in the death of an innocent. I’m disappointed that we’ve lost Detective Clemons, and thus the venerable Clarke Peters from Jessica Jones, particularly as his death was so lacklustre. He didn’t get a character arc like Wendy or Hope. Clemons’ death was sudden, violent, and purely to measure Simpson’s darkness. It’s not the first time that the show’s killed off a black character to heighten the stakes or justify a white character’s emotional development; Reva and Clemons deserved better than that.

In a week of many departures, the most significant exit was Hope’s. More than any other character, she has become emblematic of Kilgrave’s corrupting presence. Hope makes the ultimate sacrifice knowing that she was holding Jessica back from killing her rapist, and isn’t robbed of her agency like Wendy or Clemons.

Jessica wasn’t responsible for Hope’s death, but she has denied Robyn the closure that she desperately needs. It’s easy to find Robyn frustrating considering how close Jessica was to catching Kilgrave again, but our heroine has allowed her grief for Ruben to become warped and dangerous.

Robyn and Hope are ‘imperfect’ victims – angry, bitter and abrasive women who are still worthy of our sympathy and respect.

I’ve neglected to talk about Kilgrave much in this review, but for once, the supporting elements of Jessica Jones have been given a chance to shine. The consequences of Jessica’s realisation that he cannot command her anymore are muted, as he can still control her friends. Unless Jessica chooses to be entirely devoid of empathy, she’s only been given a slight advantage.

What an enraged Kilgrave does next will be explosive – and we can only hope it doesn’t involve that ridiculous foetus storyline, which surfaced again this week. AKA 1,000 Cutshas showcased some of the best characterisation in Jessica Jones, and it would be a real shame to spoil it with a weak plot in the next few episodes.

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