Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episode 13

We’re done here. And I really do love this finale. (I actually watched it in the same run as the previous two episodes, in a bid to get ahead of things, I’ve got a big couple of weeks coming and I want to get as much done early as I can.)

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Season 1: Episode 13: “AKA Smile”

The finale, which is a very good episode in it’s own right, is now completely over run in my mind by the appearance of Claire.

I don’t know what it is, you guys, but Claire Temple is my favorite part of The Defender-verse, so anytime she’s involved it’s like nothing else matters. Not Jessica snapping Kilgrave’s neck, not Trish having a coming reckoning with her mom, not Hogarth defending Jessica to the DA, nothing, can dampen my love and deep belief that Claire is not only the most important character in the Netflix branch of the MCU, but in the MCU in total. (OK, maybe Coulson can hold a candle to her. BUT HE’S THE ONLY ONE!)

Moving on, the non-Claire portions of the episode, which are mercifully brief. Jessica and Trish make a plan to take on Kilgrave, and I really do love the headphoned, hoodied Trish fake out. It’s such a cool moment, and I love the look on Tennant’s face when he realizes that he’s been duped.

The ending itself, with Jessica realizing that she’s going to be a hero now, is another favorite, and I also love Malcolm and Claire interacting. (See how I brought that back around to Claire?)

Other Stuff:

  • Malcolm is Jessica’s Karen. Trish is her Foggy. Someday, I would like all four of these people to sit down and have coffee. Claire can arrange it. Also, I mean literally have coffee. Not in the Luke Cage sense. Maybe Trish can have them on her show, “My friends is a superhero, let’s chat!” I don’t know who from Luke’s world would be there, Misty? I guess? But she’s gonna be a cyborg at some point, and everyone else Luke cares about dies.
  • I feel like I should make some grand sweeping statement about the feminism of this show. I really did notice how few white dudes there are. (White women in abundance, and not many WOC, a valid criticism I saw early on when the show started) but I think Kilgrave might be the only white dude you see regularly. Which is pretty amazing. The show deals with rape, abuse, loss of control, asserting yourself and a hundred other issues critical to feminist thought and media that it’s almost impossible to pull out each element.
  • You see Claire and Luke’s easy chemistry birthed here, and while I do ultimately want him and Jessica to get it together, there’s something to be said for someone you just click with, over the angst and back and forth.
  • As amazing as David Tennant is, I really hope that Kilgrave’s death proves permanent. Ressurection will surely be a crucial point in The Defenders but I hope that Jessica gets to remain fairly grounded. You know, like how Iron Man solo movies remain about corporate intrigue and terrorism?

OK, so next week we dive into Daredevil season 2. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I doubt it will). I did watch that one at a slower clip to begin with, over the course of a week rather than 2 days, so, we shall see…

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Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones: Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12

OK everyone, we’re nearing the end of Jessica,  which means that we dive into Daredevil again. Which is actually more frightening than thinking about Kilgrave controlling people.

(Not really)

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Season 1: Episode 11: “AKA I’ve Got The Blues”

In the aftermath of Hope’s suicide and the attempted hanging of her friends, Jessica becomes fixated on finding Alfred, Kilgrave’s father, and well, saving him? Except she’s pretty convinced that he’s dead so mostly she’s just driving around to morgues looking for the body.

This gets interrupted by Trish and Simpson and their drama, because Simpson is crazy from his crazy trying to be Captain America pills, or whatever the hell is happening there. I barely care about this plot.

What is cool, is that we get a flashback to Jessica’s learning about her powers and the bond that she and Trish make, trying to save Trish from her mother. It’s very cool, very touching and incredibly interesting. Of course the episode ends with Kilgrave texting Jessica and telling her to go to Luke’s bar which he blows up and Luke walks out of the bar ON FIRE.

I mean, there’s lots of stuff in this episode that I like, but mostly LUKE’S BACK. (And we are 8 weeks away from revisiting Luke properly.)

Season 1: Episode 12: “AKA Take A Bloody Number” 

I love Mike Colter as Luke Cage so much, that I’m thinking about skipping Season 2 of Daredevil, just to watch Luke Cage again. I probably won’t, but you know, these things can happen. Anyway, this episode, which is all about Luke and Jessica tracking down Kilgrave (although it turns out Luke was being controlled the whole time.) is really, actually my favorite episode of the show.

Like, it feels a lot like the extrapolated the whole of Luke Cage’s milleui from this episode. There’s the man hunt, the teaming up (with Jessica, not Claire, we get Claire in the next episode! HURRAY CLAIRE!), the fight in a night club, everything’s just kind of there. Of course it also ends with an epic, emotional one on one fight between Jess and Luke, where she winds up shooting him in the head.

Meanwhile, Kilgrave is running around with his father, trying to upgrade his powers, using the stem cells from Hope’s aborted fetus (yuck) and as it turns out, succeeding, and Trish learns from her mother that there’s a connection between Jessica getting her powers and Simpson’s medical trials. So, that’s a big deal.

Other Stuff

  • Lately I feel a lot like Malcolm, with his, “They’re idiots and I’m the only asshole who doesn’t know it?” speech. I’m actually a firm believer that the only way this stupid awful world gets better is if we all take care of each other, it just feels like lately that’s a minority belief, or at least a irrelevant one.
  • I want to talk about Luke more, but it’s just going to lead down a hole of OMG Luke Cage is so good. Like so good. SO SO SO good.
  • The whole Malcolm helps Rachel get past Reuben and being mind controlled thing is nice, because I like Malcolm, but I really, really, don’t like watching Rachel.

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 9 & 10

Everything I do feels very small this week. But I do this. I point to the light. In the case of Jessica Jones the light is kind of greyish, but it’s a light none the less.

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Season 1: Episode 9: “AKA Sin Bin”

This is a really good episode. Intense, for sure, but wonderful. Jessica had Kilgrave held prisoner in his glass cell, and gets Jeri to come see him. Unfortunately, Jeri points out that there’s nothing she can do with anything Jessica gets from him, you know, because of the whole kidnapping aspect of this particular enterprise. Jeri is also distracted by, you know, her divorce, her attempt to get Hope a plea deal, and the intoxicated possibility of having control over Kilgrave (which she of course does not have, it’s all an illusion.)

Jeri gets Hope that plea deal and she decides to take it, which makes Jessica desperate, and so she tracks down Kilgrave’s parents. And this is where the fun begins.

And by fun I mean unspeakable horror.

So, Kilgrave (with Jeri’s help? I really don’t remember) stages a most awesome breakout, but first, he forces his mother to kill herself with scissors, after feigning regret and forgiveness to his parents. It’s terrifying, but leads to what is ultimately the most badass moment in the whole series.

During his escape, he orders Jessica to let go of him. She does not. Reflecting on that moment, she flashes back to Reva’s death, realizes that she left before he got hit by the bus, and she smiles

Season 1: Episode 10: “AKA 1,000 Cuts”

So it was Hogarth that helped Kilgrave escape. They say it outright, I don’t know why I couldn’t remember that. Anyway, he orders he to take him to a doctor so she takes him to Wendy, who patches him up and then he, exasperated, orders Wendy to kill Hogarth. Pam comes in and kills Wendy instead. Jessica comes in and tells them all that they’re screwed and it’s awesome.

Kilgrave tells Jessica that he’ll trade his father, who is working on a vaccine that will innoculate against his control, for Hope. Jessica tries to control the whole situation and falls up very short, although the image of Malcolm, Robin and the support group in nooses is both haunting and very cool, like something right from a comic book.

But Hope’s death is awful, it’s tragic and unnecessary, and harsh, and I kind of love everything about the scene. This girl is completely and utterly hopeless, and there’s nothing left for her.

Oh, also Simpson has gone berserk and that’s really boring. I think the only thing that Daredevil season 2 is better at than Jessica Jones is it’s execution of “Crazy Veteran Who Kills Everyone.”

Other Stuff

  • Pam dumping Hogarth is ridiculously awesome.
  • But nothing is better than Jessica’s remembering her moment to escape from Kilgrave and missing it. Her fantasy of the white horse, the moment where he orders her to cut off her ears, all of it is so well done. The fact that he’s only now understanding what a monster he is, except for that he isn’t.
  • Malcolm and Robin go searching for Reuben. And then, she find out the truth and causes way more problems then she solves. Basically, the whole point of the second episode is that you can’t control anything.

 

 

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones: Season 1: Episodes 7 & 8

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Season 1: Episode 7: “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”

There are two truly amazing images in this episode that I can’t ever quite let go of. One of them is brutal, the other is just beautiful. The image of Reuben, bleeding from his freshly cut throat in Jessica’s bed is haunting and fabulous, and Jessica looking over the city on a bridge, saying her goodbyes to it, is also brilliantly staged and so stunning, that I hadn’t even remembered it from my first watch through.

The crux of this epsiode though, is about Jessica further losing control. Reuben’s death is horrifying and the fact that he is truly an innocent is not lost on Jessica or anyone around her. I’m not a huge fan of the character of Robin, but the way she becomes unhinged at Reuben’s disappearance really reminds you that these are people who are meant to be on the outskirts of the world, even Hell’s Kitchen, which is all shadows.

The rest of the episode plays out with a brilliant two handed scene between Kilgrave and Jessica in the police station, where he will not allow her to turn herself in. It’s terrifying and some of the best acting I’ve seen David Tennant do. (Which, considering how much Doctor Who I’ve watched, and that Richard III I saw him in…well, that’s saying something right?)

I also love that Malcolm is all in with Jessica. I really love his character! I’m really excited about it moving forward with more of this show. (Season 2 and all…) But the visit to Trish’s mom, and the flashback to Jessica’s early days with the Walkers is also chilling and a good reminder that abuse is kind of the watchword of this series, recovering and moving past it, and it’s cycles.

Season 1: Episode 8: “AKA WWJD”

This might be my favorite episode. A lot of Jessica Jones takes romantic comedy and drama cliches and plays them for terror, and the “grand gesture,” Kilgrave purchasing and recreating Jessica’s childhood home is easily the most cogent and most terrifying of all of these. And this episode never plays the gesture, or the way Kilgrave is treating Jessica, holding her emotionally hostage as he threatens the lives of the servants that he’s hired.

And there’s another brilliant double scene, where Jessica finally says, “you raped me,” and we get the most salient comment on rape culture I can possibly say. Kilgrave’s complete misunderstanding of consent, boundaries and why Jessica felt violated is so spot on to what I’ve heard men say.

Meanwhile, Simpson (ugh) is really hoping to kill him, and Jessica makes him do a heroic act at one point and finally, captures him. Seriously, the moment where she stabs him in the neck is one of the most satisfying in the whole series, and there are a lot of satisfying moments.

Other Stuff

  • OFFICER BRETT MAHONEY SHOWS UP IN THIS EPISODE! Unfortunately for Jessica, she has no cigars to bribe him with. Unfortunately for Brett, he’s being controlled by Kilgrave.
  • Everything about Jessica demanding a lawyer makes me wish that Matt and Foggy showed up. Sadly, or possibly for the best, they do not.
  • The flashbacks to the day of Jessica’s family dying are really affecting. There’s nothing idealized in this day, it’s a normal frustrating and ultimately awful day.
  • Jessica’s neighbor is awful, but that doesn’t mean that she deserved to be blown up.
  • When Jessica and Kilgrave go to break up the hostage situation the Star Wars references are golden, but I also get Doctory vibes from it. Of course, the Doctor wold have just empathized the hell out of everything instead of ordering, but still, it’s all there. It’s all about the framing, that’s what this show has taught me.
  • Jeri’s divorce is actually a very compelling B story, I just never remember to write about it. But I do like it, and Carrie Ann Moss is fab.

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 5 & 6

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We’re halfway there everyone, can you believe it? I can’t, I mean, this show is so intense, I’m glad to be taking it slowly.

Season 1: Episode 5: “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me”

The one thing that The MCU in general excels at is portraying realistic intense friendship. As someone to whom such friendships mean everything, I’ve always really enjoyed it. Rhodey and Tony, Steve and Bucky, Thor and The Warriors 3, Nelson and Murdock, and of course, Jessica Jones and Trish Walker. This episodes, pre Kilgrave flashback doesn’t get into everything about their friendship, but it does show us my favorite things about it, Jess and Trish’s protector, and Trish as Jess’s cheerleader. There’s more there, but I love that they are those things to each other. Also, Jess taking on that gross guy in the bar is probably the most realistic depiction of female friendship I’ve ever seen.

As for the rest of the episode, it’s really notable for a few reasons, we see Simpson (ugh) for who he really is, a shoot first ask questions later man-splainer, we get Malcolm’s whole deal, ex social worker who Kilgrave got addicted to drugs in order to force him to stalk Jessica, and we see Kilgrave, in all his glory, meeting Jessica for the first time.

Everything about that meeting is super creepy, especially since, if you didn’t know his deal, or it were scored even slightly differently, it could come off as charming. And that’s the genius of casting David Tennant in this role. He’s smooth, he’s attractive, he’s kind of perfect, and he’s just sinister enough that every woman I know shudders at the thought of him.

Episode 6: “AKA You’re A Winner”

This is a really great episode, and definitely a stand out in the series so far. I’d forgotten about it. Between the payoff of Jessica revealing to Luke that she killed Reva, and that horrible, horrible moment of “you are a piece of shit,” and the creepy Kilgrave ending where it’s revealed that he bought Jessica’s childhood home.

It’s so creepy and David Tennant is so good.

You know who else is good? Mike Colter. I know I talk about how good he is a lot, but he’s just very good in this role. And I know that I’m fifteen weeks away from watching Luke Cage again, but I kind of want to skip right to it. I won’t, but, I kind of want to. I really, really like that character and that performance.

Also good? Carrie Anne Moss. This begins the most disturbing run of Jerri’s arc, you know, where she steals Hope’s aborted fetus to see if she can reproduce Kilgrave’s powers. Seriously, it’s deeply disturbing. Not because of the abortion. Because of the stealing and power cloning. The abortion is fine. I mean, sad, and all, but fine.

Other Stuff

  • Trish makes Jessica her Jewel costume. In Alias, the original comics run, Jessica was a superhero known as Jewel, who betrayed the Avengers while under Kilgrave’s control. It’s a fun easter egg that I’ve always appreciated.
  • Look, sometimes all I want out of life is a beautiful man to look me in the eye and tell me that I am not a piece of shit. I didn’t know that this was something that I wanted until I saw this show, but it’s something that I want now. Also, if that guy could just be Mike Colter, I would be OK with that too.
  • You know, I keep forgetting that Claire isn’t really in this one. I mean, I know she pops up at the end, but still, it’s really good even without her.

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 1: Episode 3: “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”

We’re into the main story now, which is, Jessica trying to track down Kilgrave in order to prove that Hope is innocent. Trish is also helping, although her way of helping is basically calling Kilgrave out on the radio and getting him to send Officer Sampson (UGH) to kill her. Anyway, he doesn’t but, Jessica does drug Trish to make it seem like she’s dead, which I guess is a thing that we can deal with later, and then she follows Sampson to find where Kilgrave is, but she just finds a creepy room full of pictures of herself.

This leads her to break up with Luke, and we learn, of course, that she killed Luke’s wife Reva, while under Kilgrave’s control. The break up sucks, because they went on a super cute date where they talked about having super powers and had some really hot sex and it’s a bummer that she feels like she can’t be with him until this whole Kilgrave thing gets settled, which is actually totally fair, but also way sucks.

Jessica is on the hunt for Sophentinol, which is a surgical anestesia which would simulate his death and allow him to be held prisoner. So that’s what’s going on there. Oh, also, Jeri is building Hope’s case around the fact that she had a psychotic break, until they can prove that Kilgrave is real and can in fact mind control people.

But hey, we also met Sampson. (UGH)

Season 2: Episode 4: “99 Friends”

OK, so, Jessica’s new directive is to find who’s the one who’s been taking pictures of her, the answer really is crazy heart breaking. Anyway, she’s focused on that, and puts together, with Hogarth, a group of people who are also dealing with Kilgrave having controlled them at some point. She uses their stories to figure out his movements and where she can find him.

All of the stories that Jessica verifies, in addition to having a proper physical description have an air of desperation about them, but there’s nothing quite like the story of the man abandoning his son when Kilgrave decided to enlist him as his chauffer. It’s an amazing turn of writing and acting.

Here’s something I think I might be turned around on, and that’s Sampson and Trish hooking up here. I still don’t like it, but the moments of it, him respecting her decision to wait on the other side of the door, the stories of their childhoods, and eventually, her letting him into the apartment, it plays way better than I initially thought it would.

Other Stuff:

  • This is our first mention of “It’s Patsy” and Trish as Patsy Walker. One of the smartest things done in the Defenders verse so far is incorporating the weird trajectory of comics character Patsy Walker into the character of Trish.
  • Sometimes I wish that the show didn’t have to deal with the Kilgrave stuff, and we could just get a whole episode of Malcolm, Robin and Reuben hanging out in the apartment building. But not really.
  • I really don’t love the super hunting couple that comes after Jessica because her mother died in The Battle of New York. I didn’t like this plotline here or in Heroes: Reborn. However, at least here it’s over quickly and the rest of the show is good. Not so much in Heroes: Reborn. 

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 1 & 2

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I waited a day because throughout this week, I had neither the time nor mental space to give Jessica the attention she deserves. This show is so amazing, and I really can’t wait to watch it slowly and really see it and savor it and notice things that I didn’t notice before. But also, I am not super tempted to binge it, because, wow this show is intense, I didn’t even remember how intense.

Episode 1: “AKA Ladies Night”

It is important for me to get it out of the way so that I don’t just babble on about it incoherently. Mike Colter is a stunning ebony god of a man, and I’m not sure what women kind deserved to get him cast as Luke Cage, but I am grateful for him. The scenes that he and Krysten Ritter have in this episode are all smoking hot. And then they go for coffee. (Yes, I understand said metaphor has not yet been introduced.) That scene is really important, because of feminism, and also because of sexiness, and because of shirtless Mike Colter.

Anyway, now onto the important parts of the show, like characters that are not Luke Cage and plot! So, we meet Jessica when she puts a man through her door, then she goes off and gets her job from Jeri Horgath, only to then be approached by the parents of Hope, a young girl who’s disappeared and is acting strangely, Jessica tracks her down, only to learn that Kilgrave, who, clearly has some history with Jessica, is the one who took Hope and brainwashed her. After Jessica rescues her, Hope then, on Kilgrave’s orders, killed her own parents.

Recently, I learned that a pilot of a television show should always be about the day everything  changed. So, that’s a pretty big change. We also meet Trish and Malcolm, the closest thing Jessica has to friends. I love Malcolm, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with him again.

Episode 2: “AKA Crush Syndrome”

The title of this episode refers not to Jessica’s obsession with Luke but to the medical thing that was going on with Kilgrave after he got hit by a bus, something we learn in the episode. It is, however, also an apt description of Jessica’s whole deal with Luke, and I want to talk about that a little bit. (Guys, I love Luke. I know we’re twelve weeks from dealing with his show at this point, but I just think he’s wonderful and that we should all pay a little more attention to him.) Anyway, one of the other women that Luke’s involved with is married, and Jessica tells Luke so. Turns out, that husband didn’t hire Jessica, and he’s coming after Luke, so, Luke and Jessica have a super powered bar fight, and in probably my favorite Luke Cage moment (besides the “n-word speech”) he comes and finds her and demonstrates his super power by taking a buzz saw to his perfect, glorious abs.

Jess is turned on, as are we all.

Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to track down Kilgrave, so that she can prove he exists, that his powers exist and that Hope is innocent. She wants Hogarth to take Hope’s case, and Hogarth isn’t interested, but eventually comes around. (This is Hogarth’s whole character, right there.) Kilgrave, meanwhile, moves into a fancy apartment that is occupied by a family, in a chilling introduction to a character who previously only hung out in the shadows.

It’s a really, really, good scene and David Tennant is really really good in it. Oh, also, Trish and Jessica renew their friendship, we meet Robin and Reuben, and Trish is learning self defense.

Other Things

  • When I first watched the show I was really cognizant of it’s paralells to Veronica Mars, and in fact once attempted to write a whole piece about it. Obviously there’s the noir/PI thing, but there’s also the rape survivor thing, the change in personality due to PTSD thing, the larger conspiracy thing. Jessica does have super strength though, and Veronica does not.
  • In the second episode, when Jessica talks to the ambulance driver who’s kidney’s Kilgrave stole, she says, “God didn’t do this, The Devil did.” I actually said out loud, “No, no, The Devil is the other guy.” I badly cannot wait for Jessica and Matt to meet one another. I think that their guilt complexes might explode the world.