Opinion: How a Second Viewing Changed My Mind About Jessica Jones

With my first viewing of Jessica Jones I was unimpressed. I thought it was just ok. The first half of the show bored me and I thought Jones was completely unlikable. The plot seemed to take too long to develop and all I really cared about was seeing more Luke Cage and the demise of Kilgrave.

***Full Spoilers for Jessica Jones follow***

The second time around was a completely different beast. With The Defenders coming out I decided to re-watch Daredevil season 2 since I knew it would tie in to the story of The Hand. Once I finished with Daredevil season 2 I figured I would give, what was previously, my least favorite Marvel Netflix show another try.

It didn’t take long for me to realize my previously held opinion was wrong! Jessica Jones is certainly a rude alcoholic but the real question is why? We learn that only 18 months earlier she was a hero doing her best to make a difference in the world. Sure she goes out with Trish for a drink but she’s happy and by no stretch and alcoholic. In fact, she’s quite pleasant to her friends and overall of a cheerful disposition.

It’s when the absolutely wretched Kilgrave shows up that things change. In her time with him she is raped repeatedly and forced to kill for him. Experiencing just one of these would cause even the strongest of people to take a deep dive with their life. I’m no psychologist but it’s obvious that Jessica is in need of therapy rather than coping in the bottle.

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Throughout the course of the show we learn of Kilgrave enacting many atrocities. Below is a list of a few ways her uses his power throughout the season:

  1. Forces a man to abandon his son
  2. Forces children to enter a closet to stay indefinitely
  3. Makes Hope kill her parents
  4. Commands his staff to look out for Jessica without being allowed to blink until her return
  5. Forces his mother to stab herself as many times as the number of years she abandoned him
  6. Makes a nice neighbor lady to blow herself up
  7.  Tells a man to put his head through a pole

The above uses of his powers are just the tip of the iceberg. Kilgrave is a deplorable person who cannot be redeemed. I love that they showed his back story and tried to paint his parents as awful people. Granted, his parents aren’t shining examples of purity either but they were doing what they could to save their son’s life due to a degenerative brain disease he had.

When I first watched the show, I remember thinking Kilgrave was nuts and that actor David Tennant did a fantastic job but even that thought is an injustice when it comes down to it. Tennant’s performance coupled with Ritter as Jones is nothing short of a masterpiece and I can’t believe I missed it the first time around!

Kilgrave psychologically tortures Jessica throughout the entire season and he doesn’t even know it. Her coping technique of remembering her childhood home is brutally ripped from her when she comes to live with him. She has no idea going in that she would be returning to her childhood home, the very place that helps her keep her sanity. Even more frightening is that Kilgrave had made the home look just as it did when she was a child, even down to the CD collection in her room.

kilgrave at her home.jpg

This level of obsession is what one would expect from a stalker which Kilgrave also does by compelling her neighbor Malcolm to follow her and take pictures. Further, Malcolm is the very same man she saved the night she was abducted by the mind controlling maniac and now, this once noble young man, has been turned into a drug addict because of her.

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Jessica’s guilt reaches a tipping point when Kilgrave uses his power to force neighbor Ruben to kill himself in her bed.  She can’t help but feel that she is the cause of the pain to all those around her. Malcolm addicted to drugs, Ruben killed, Trish nearly killed, Hope in prison, etc. So overcome with guilt, she decides to turn herself in for a murder she didn’t commit just so that no one else has to suffer because of her.

ruben death

The depth to which the writing team dove into this is impressive. They created a villain who, even after this most recent death, is so oblivious to right and wrong that he states that he’s never killed anyone, despite the fact that his commands have directly led to numerous deaths. Kilgrave’s moral compass is so shattered that he cannot even see that what he does to others is vile and atrocious! Instead, he feels that he is the supreme authority and can dole out judgement as he sees fit.

Summary

Jessica Jones tells a story of a tortured soul who is doing her best to recover from extremely traumatizing circumstances. That she still manages to be here at all is a credit to her character.

What further drew me in this time was relating with the other victims. The idea of my free will being taken from me, forcing me to do anything I didn’t want to, is a frightening thought. These people were forced to do things from giving a coat jacket to child abandonment, to blowing themselves up. Luckily we live in a world where super powers don’t exist and don’t have to worry about being mind controlled.

How I was ever bored with any of this show I do not understand. I cannot wait to see what else is in store for Jessica in The Defenders and for season 2 of Jessica Jones!

 

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