Now this was way more like it.
A more focused Jessica, significantly increased threat from Kilgrave and the return of Luke Cage led to the most consistently enjoyable episode of the second half the season.
Since the midway point there’s been some good to great moments in each episode, but Take a Bloody Number managed to put it all together even if it was a radical departure from the slow burn format that’s long been established.
The switch in tone was most noticeable when Kilgrave abruptly decides to abandon his pursuit of Jessica for more super villain-y purposes. Having his father, Albert, amp his powers so he can control people across larger distances and through microphones and loudspeakers.
While I was glad to see Kilgrave finally decide to step his game up to be a citywide threat this was a dramatic leap from a character who’d been positioned more as the sadistic perverted version of Mr. Mxyzptlk.
We saw the worst of Kilgrave as he forced his courier to fall on a pair or garden shears for the gross out moment of the episode. The far more effective scene had him threaten Albert by making him put his hand in a blender. Kilgrave threatening to commit some major atrocities continues to be more fascinating than the overdone shocking death scene. With a character like Kilgrave, the threat of something horrible is frequently more chilling than the actual action.
Fortunately, Jessica didn’t have to deal with Kilgrave on her own as Cage was down to help her. Cage understood the importance of taking Kilgrave down as he’d gotten under his sway when he followed Jessica to the restaurant.
I always find Jessica more enjoyable as a character whenever Cage is around. He softens her rough edges and she’s not nearly as snappy and harsh with him. Jessica doesn’t have pity or constantly feel sorry for him, but Krysten Ritter continues to nail that fine line of self-loathing and shame Jessica has whenever she’s with Cage.
Too bad it’s all for naught as Jessica tracks Kilgrave down to a concert hall only to discover Cage is still under his influence. Worse, all those sweet somethings Cage was saying were straight from Kilgrave.
This leads to a major throwdown with Jessica desperately trying to stay alive without hurting Cage. It was a nice touch to have Cage’s skin make a hollow, metallic sound when it impacted walls and other dense objects.With Luke Cage and Defenders heading for Netflix, that cliffhanger of Jessica using a shotgun to Cage’s chin wasn’t going to keep anyone up late at night, but it made for a solid end point for the episode.
There were still some moments that felt out of place, but they were limited to smaller doses this time. Robyn remains quirky, weird and uninteresting. Still, it was hard not to feel a little sorry for her as she mourned Reuben’s death alongside Malcolm, who realizes he’s just not built to be a hard, uncaring person.
Since the reveal he wanted to be a social worker, Malcolm’s unyielding efforts to be a helper have resonated strongly turning around an initially weak character into one of the more interesting supporting cast members. I can’t think these scenes would have been so much stronger if Robyn and Reuben were played straight up instead of as quirky goofy neighbors.
After countless scenes devoted to her, I’m kinda surprised Hogarth has completely vanished from the series. It seems like the entire purpose of her storyline was just to free Kilgrave for the dozenth time this season.
Filling the void of cold, power-hungry alpha female is Trish’s mom, who visits her in the hospital with news of IGH, the group who paid for Jessica’s hospital bills after her childhood accident. I wish the writers allowed Jessica to veer away from Kilgrave a bit more so this could have been further explored this season, but it sets up a good mystery for Season 2 or the overall villain for Defenders.
Rating: 9 out of 10
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