10 Thoughts on Jessica Jones – AKA WWJD?

“Ohhhhh, that was a good episode.” Or so I said to my roommate right after I finished this latest installment. And boy howdy, was it. Up until this episode, things in the Jessica Jones universe have been thrilling and fascinating, but haven’t really deviated from traditional story structure. All that has changed with WWJD? (swipe out the Jesus ‘J’ with a more relevant ‘J’ name), which had Jessica acquiescing to Kilgrave’s plan to house her in her own childhood home. And after Kilgrave plays domestic bliss, Jessica hatches a plan to change things for the better. It was a great episode.

Here are some thoughts.

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1. Today we got a little of Jessica’s backstory

Her family died when she was a kid. It seems like they were on their way to a vacation and an altercation with her brother in the back of the car distracted her father and caused him to crash the car. She blames herself for this. It dissipates some of the mystery surrounding Jessica’s past and throws her struggle into sharp relief.

2. This arrangement is so novel

I can say with certainty that I have never seen a scenario in a superhero movie or show where the villain was a) in love with the hero, b) set up a domestic situation for the two of them to live in, and c) had rational conversations about their history and adversarial situation. So many things about this show are new in the superhero genre.

3. Kilgrave doesn’t know her

To try and make amends, he buys her a purple, sparkly dress. Which she promptly rips in half. Which points to an important point about Kilgrave. He says he loves her; that he wants to be with her. But the only ‘her’ he’s ever known is the one under that was under his sway. He does not know the real Jessica. He’s not truly in love with her. He saw what he wanted to see in her and now he’s obsessed.

4. Nosy neighbor 

A neighbor from Jessica’s childhood makes an unannounced visit in one of the more fascinating scenes of the episode. She comes by and Kilgrave invites her to breakfast. She begins rambling on and on about Jessica as a kid, but starts to slip into some dark territory, and laments how she had a feeling something bad was going to happen to her family but didn’t say anything. This, of course, upsets Jessica. And Kilgrave compels her to say why she would say such and awful thing. “Because it makes me feel important,” she admits while under kilgrave’s thrall. Later, that nosy neighbor has a pretty important role to play. But watching her admit that she’s just a lonely woman who wants to feel like she’s a big player was really intriguing. Props to whomever that actress was. She was just the right amount of slimy, sad, and pitiable.

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5. Where on EARTH are we going with Jeri and Wendy?!

Nothing really happened with them this episode. Seems like we’re in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to them. Every time Wendy comes on screen, it looks like she’s about to cry. But I don’t feel bad for her at all. She’s basically got a gun to Jeri’s head for 75% of her assets, and Jeri is trying to get Jessica to dig up some dirt on her. So far, we’re at a standstill. There must be something big coming for that story.

6. Another philosophical conversation, courtesy of Trish and Frank

Trish tracks down Frank, who tried to free Jessica, only to have her send him away. He feigns ignorance about Jessica’s whereabouts and tries to convince Trish to leave it alone and let Jessica take care of herself.  “Everyone wants to be the hero,” says Frank. “But we can’t. There’s us. And then there’s them,” he says, referring to Jessica and Kilgrave. It was another moment for the two of them to discuss the nature of their situation and take a moment to reflect on the philosophical bent that this show inevitably has.

7. Building empathy for Kilgrave?

Not only did we get Jessica’s backstory, but we also got a lot of Kilgrave’s backstory. Turns out, he was the subject of science experiments when he was a child by his own parents, who ran away after his powers grew too intense. This left him with no normal role models and led him down the path of evil. Like I always say (and somebody much more famous than I likely said), “It’s impossible to hate someone if you know their backstory.” And that’s kind of true. For a big chunk of this episode, you’re kind of on the side of Kilgrave, trying to understand him and maybe, just maybe, rooting for him. However, that is quickly turned on it’s head by the end of the episode.

8. “It’s called rape”

Kilgrave and Jessica have an argument about what he had done to her under his sway. She calls him out for raping her, and his response is of genuine surprise and indignation. He doesn’t believe he raped her at all. He believes he has an out by saying he never knows if people are doing what they do because they want to, or because he told them to. But there is no mistaking it: he raped her. And for that, he’ll never be forgiven.

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9. Jessica and Kilgrave save the day!

In an experiment to test the possibilities of Kilgrave’s power, she takes him to a hostage situation and convinces him to talk down the husband, saving the lives of him and his family. It’s an interesting little detour, and a bit of a fake-out. Of course, we know at the back of our minds that there is exactly zero possibility that Jessica and Kilgrave will team up and that will be the rest of the series. But for one, small moment… it seems like that will be the rest of the show.

10. And Kilgrave goes ahead and destroys all that good faith

But then, of course, he compels the most neighbor to bring a bomb (one Frank planted in the basement earlier) to Frank and blow herself and him up. My guess is that Frank is still alive, seeing as he has a lot of importance in the comics. But who knows?

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