Read enough comics over the years and you’re assured to see some pretty despicable and loathsome acts from the villains. Possibly unleashing a killer virus that wipes out a population, enslave planets or stuff a hero’s girlfriend in a refrigerator.
But this episode of Jessica Jones shook me. I’ve never felt as hopeless for a hero’s plight in defeating a seemingly unbeatable villain. There was so much to take in with this episode that this is going to be the one you’ll need to pause the binging to recollect yourself.
I’ve long since been against the show’s recurring black actor being the strung out crackhead, but this episode revealed Malcolm’s truly tragic tale. Malcolm was an aspiring social worker attempting to make a difference in his community when he encountered Kilgrave, who decided he’d make a perfect tool to stalk Jessica.
To help seal the deal and ensure Malcolm’s loyalty, Kilgrave made Malcolm develop a drug habit. Just when it seemed like Kilgrave didn’t have any further depths of depravity after forcing the man to leave his baby on the curb to play his driver, it’s clear Kilgrave is truly insidious.
To some extent, you could appreciate Wilson Fisk’s efforts in Daredevil to consolidate all crime under his thumb. You could root for him overcoming his social awkwardness in courting Vanessa, but there’s nothing likable or redeemable with Kilgrave.
David Tennant has made Kilgrave such a remarkably repulsive skin-crawling villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that there’s not even that begrudging respect for Kilgrave. He’s not oddly charming like Loki, an amusing robotic mirror image of Tony Stark like Ultron or exuding a bada$$ presence like Thanos. Kilgrave is a bad, nasty character and the show writers deserve a ton of credit for making such a dark, terrible villain.
Like that terrific Daredevil episode Nelson v. Murdock where we get a glimpse of Matt and Foggy’s earlier days, this one does some heavy backstory lifting taking us back 18 months ago. Jessica can’t hold onto a job, but is already exhibiting signs of being a master investigator and a willingness to stand up for those in need.
Trish is excited about Jessica actually considering being a hero, but a bit bummed that she won’t wear the suit she made for her. This leads to a funny exchange where Trish busts out Jessica’s comic accurate costume and suggests her hero name be Jewel. Even one scene of Jewel in action would have set up a nice contrast to Jessica’s more jaded, cynical approach to life.
In present day, Jessica is stunned to learn Trish and Simpson are hooking up. Team Jones hatches a plan to take down Kilgrave. Simpson comes up with the very helpful idea to use a dart gun so Jessica doesn’t have to get so close to use the anesthesia. Jessica will grab Kilgrave and Trish will drive the getaway van to take him to a soundproof chamber. This is a solid plan and it was pretty thrilling watching it work … for a moment.
Kilgrave knew Jessica had eyes on him and hired a security firm to watch his back. Unwittingly rescuing a monster, the security guards knock Trish out with a taser, battle Simpson to a standstill and keep Jessica pinned down with the tasers long enough to free Kilgrave.
I was fully expecting the plan to work and through some crazy gap in logic, Kilgrave would escape, but this made both parties look good. Team Jones for successfully getting to Kilgrave and Kilgrave for having a contingency plan.
The fallout from this major moral defeat affects the trio in different ways. Trish is disgusted she was so easily taken out of the fight, Simpson comes thisclose from going over the edge in torturing the captive security guard and Jessica tries to help Malcolm.
An interesting aspect of this subplot has been how both Kilgrave and Jessica have been using Malcolm to get close to the other. Jessica seems to realize she’d been just as guilty and chains him to her bathroom offering a sandwich and an option.
Either he can kick this addiction now and help her knowing that Kilgrave didn’t wreck another life in trying to get to her or he can kill himself and she drops the drugs and a syringe within his reach. Jessica probably needs to work on the pep talk a bit.
Malcolm says she can’t save him twice and in a flashback, we see Jessica preventing two guys from finishing their savage attack on Malcolm just as Kilgrave arrives and takes control of her. Their paths have been connected all along.
Even topping the super stalker room scene, Kilgrave calls Jessica the next day. She doesn’t say a word, but Kilgrave taunts her before making a deal to leave Malcolm alone provided she assumes his job and sends him a daily picture. Jessica checks in on Malcolm and sees the drug in the toilet.
With Malcolm at least trying, Jessica throws him a lifeline and texts Kilgrave a picture. You hate to see this thoroughly loathsome villain win, but Jessica’s options truly seem limited at this point.
Rating: 10 out of 10
The show has been amazingly consistent thus far, but this episode was the gem of the season’s first half as Jessica struggles to get the upper hand on Kilgrave.