Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “AKA Take a Bloody Number” and“AKA Smile.” Spoilers for season 1.
Episode 12 AKA Take a Bloody Number
Written By: Hilly Hicks Jr
Directed By: Billy Gierhart
Luke and Jessica run from the police after his bar blew up—correction, after Luke blew up his bar at Kilgrave’s behest. Jessica is suspicious about whether Kilgrave has left any other orders in his head, and keeps him under observation until the requisite twelve hours is past.
The episode title (and I have to say, waiting for the episode title to be spoken each time is a fantastic, slightly cheesy part of the show which I really enjoy) is spoken by Kilgrave in a flashback about how he got hold of Luke—who rushed up to kill him shortly before Kilgrave entered the restaurant with Hope.
It’s hard to imagine that Kilgrave was ever not Tennant-British.
Shaken by his experience under Kilgrave’s control, Luke is a lot more sympathetic to Jessica’s history, and her choices. It even seems like he might be interested in picking up their romance again, if the deliberate lingering around in a towel after his shower is anything to go by. Oh, the scorching looks. And the meaningful pauses. And all that stuff. *Fans self.* They get through a lot of important discussion topics. She confesses that she believes Reva’s death is what severed Kilgrave’s hold on her.
Meanwhile, Kilgrave and his dad Albert are working on enhancing and expanding his powers. He tests out his range at a nightclub to moderate improvement. What he wants, of course, is for his powers to work on Jessica again… and he’s willing as ever to torture and humiliate his dad in order to make that happen.
Trish hasn’t been wasting her time in hospital—she investigates the mysterious Russian doctor who turned Simpson into a battle droid. He worked for a corporation called IGH which doesn’t mean anything that she can work out. She has a surprise visitor—her mother, who vamps in and out of her hospital room, and later turns up at her apartment with a surprise: a file that connects IGH to Jessica, as they paid her medical bills after her accident.
In a show full of gloriously bitchy people, Dorothy Walker’s performance is pretty impressive, and it gives us further inside into the troubled, broken relationship between her and Trish.
DOROTHY: I was a godawful mother back then.
TRISH: And not now?
DOROTHY: How would I know? You never gave me another shot at it.
As with Simpson, Trish is not willing to give her mother an inch, trusting in herself rather than falling for further attempts at emotional blackmail. Stay strong, Trish!
Luke’s 12 hours is up, and he is determined to help Jessica, promising to keep his distance from Kilgrave. She guesses that Kilgrave is keeping Albert alive, to work on increasing his powers.
Remember Malcolm? He’s bitter and Jessica’d out. He’s going home to his family, little suitcase trundling behind him. Considering what he said last week about his parents, their church group, their community projects and so on, I actually think this sounds like a good move for him. Supportive network! Mend your parents’ broken hearts. Fly, Malcolm, fly away from all this!
The cranky woman at the hotel who won’t let them take Kilgrave and Albert’s stuff because she was stiffed on the bill (and has sold most of it via eBay) is another great one-off character. I am enjoying the show’s randomly sassy NPCs.
The chemicals from the hotel lead Luke and Jessica to stakeout a lab Kilgrave once got supplies from, which gives them plenty of time for deep and meaningfuls.
JESSICA: They say that talking about a trauma… that it helps. That and jogging, two things that make me feel like crap.
After she rejects his attempt at an apology, Luke offers her forgiveness instead, and swears he will keep telling her she is forgiven every day for as long as she needs to hear it.
Hold on to that amazing moment, because Kilgrave is shortly going to ruin it forever.
They follow a courier from the lab to that park again, and Jessica asks Luke to stay out of range. Luke replies with the phrase “Do what you gotta do,” which, you might remember is what he said the first time Jess broke it off between then, before all the secrets came out.
The courier is a deliberate red herring, as Jessica realises when he stabs himself through the mouth with a pair of garden secateurs in the middle of the park. UGH.
Trish is waiting for Jessica at her office to tell her about the file, and is very intrigued by Luke/Jess. She ships it immediately, especially when she realises Jessica is Actually Letting Someone Help Her.
LUKE CAGE: I’m uniquely qualified.
Yes, sweetie, you surely are.
Trish reminds Jessica that even if they weren’t in the middle of this screwed up situation with Kilgrave, she would still probably push Luke away and refuse to allow herself happiness, and maybe it’s time to think about different ways to live her life. Even if that does mean shacking up with someone whose wife you totally killed that one time.
Jessica gives Luke the USB which Reva wanted him to have, with the videos of the kids being experimented on… oh. So that’s why she had it.
Despite having left with his trundle suitcase at least once already, Malcolm locks his door with an air of finality and is about to leave yet again when he hears Robyn having a meltdown at a postal worker upstairs.
She’s freaking out with Kilgrave-paranoia, but the parcel turns out to be a power supply Ruben ordered before his death (she wouldn’t let him pay express shipping, so he never got it). Malcolm comforts Robyn and the two of them stage a meaningful farewell for her brother at the dock where Malcolm bricked his body, and Jessica tore off his head with her bare hands.
This final scene between them is actually comedy gold, and I—I hate to say this—I think I’m starting to appreciate Robyn. Why, show, why do this to me now?
ROBYN: Enough. Pisces are the most forgiving of the zodiac.
MALCOLM: You forgive me?
ROBYN: I’ve thought about breaking into your apartment and sticking a screwdriver into your eye.
MALCOLM: Biblical. Eye for an eye.
Kilgrave and Albert have taken over a beautiful apartment belonging to a couple who are of course doomed. Albert is excited that the stem cells from the foetal remains are giving him major progress on the upgrade, but the pressure is getting to him.
There’s one more bike riding scene for Luke/Jessica fans before it all goes to hell. Oh those cute matching helmets. They investigate the nightclub where Kilgrave made his recent experiment with controlling a crowd.
JESSICA: Breaking and entering, my specialty.
LUKE: As well as punching, kicking, drinking, and talking shit.
JESSICA: Four essentials of being a PI.
There’s a clue we need to worry about—a kid that Kilgrave told to stand facing the park ‘forever’ is still there, a full 24 hours later. Uh-oh.
Inside the SO PURPLE OMG nightclub, they pose as the liquor authority and stage a “raid” to observe the security footage, but it’s too late.
Kilgrave returns to his “testing arena” while they’re inside (did he pick this nightclub because of its purple lighting? I’d say so). Jessica sends Luke to safety and prepares to confront her enemy…
But Kilgrave has a nasty card up his sleeve. He mocks Jessica by repeating Luke’s forgiveness speech and reveals that he didn’t overhear it—he wrote it.
Luke has been under Kilgrave’s influence all this time, doing and saying everything he was told. Including that time he lingered in nothing but a towel after his shower and there was hand-holding. *Sobs.*
This confirms that Kilgrave’s powers have more reach—not only has his influence over Luke been extensive, he was also able to compel him over the phone.
Jessica is pursued through the building by Luke, who has been ordered to kill her. They wreck the building and each other in a haze of purple light to the sound of Kilgrave crooning into a microphone about how clever he is.
We get some intense smash-and-pain scenes, including Luke pulling Jessica bodily through a wall. She keeps begging him to break Kilgrave’s hold, but he is relentless. Then the police turn up, which adds to the stakes.
Jessica fights Luke off desperately and ends up with only one chance to survive his onslaught—a police-issue shotgun. She begs him to stop so she doesn’t have to, and he cares about her enough to pause for a second and say that line again…
LUKE: Do what you gotta do.
She shoots him in the head at point blank range, and he crumples to the ground.
COMICS AND CONTINUITY
Remember that elegant origin exchange back in Episode 3, when Jessica said ‘accident’ and Luke said ‘experiment’ to describe how they got their powers? Both of these are expanded on in this episode. We still don’t know whether Jessica got her powers from her accident or not, but if the mysterious IGH were involved in it, then it may be a lot closer to the ‘truck spill’ story from the comics than I thought! (We’re gonna have to wait for Season 2 for that one.)
More importantly, Luke. I’d been wondering all along who Reva was and why she had this footage of Kilgrave—but of course, it makes sense now. She had that footage because Luke is one of the kids who was part of those experiments, and she was trying to protect him. Right?
Is anyone else starting to suspect that Walter from Fringe might have been behind all this? I’m just saying, it feels like his work.
In Luke’s comics origin story, he was an adult and a volunteer for the Super Soldier program, while serving a prison sentence for a crime he did not commit. Reva Connors was the girlfriend of his former friend, criminal Willis Stryker, and after she and Luke got together, Stryker framed him and got him arrested.
This new version, of course, has a much higher potential for angst in Luke’s own upcoming series. Bring it on, Netflix.
Jessica’s apartment. I know I mentioned this last episode, but OMG the dents in the plasterboard.
Dents in the plasterboard is the major theme of this episode, with her fight against Luke punching through all kinds of walls, doors and so on in the night club.
Jessica tearing off a police car door to use as a shield and a weapon is a glorious thing and supports my initial feelings about this show, sing it with me, JESSICA JONES DOES NOT RESPECT DOORS.
I do love the artistry with which they have wrecked her apartment and I kind of hope that if it goes to a second season, then the dents and holes remain, possibly only slightly patched over, as a testament to Jessica’s history as a bad ass private investigator and a terrible renter.
She solemnly locks her door as she leaves, even though the glass panel is gaping open.
In other news, yes Trish really should fire her doorman. This is getting ridiculous now.
Episode 13 AKA Smile!
Story By: Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
Teleplay By: Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg
Devastated at hurting Luke so badly (he is unconscious after she shot him in the head, though has no apparent wound), Jessica takes him to the hospital. She hasn’t thought this through, though—the staff are concerned when their needles bend and break on his skin, and it isn’t long before Kilgrave’s pet police officers arrive to make trouble.
Jessica has to get him out of there again, but she’s made an unexpected friend—an unflappable ER nurse who has seen all this before and knows superhero detritus when she sees it. YOU GUYS IT’S CLAIRE!
JESSICA: Look I know that we scare you and you’ve never seen anything like us, but this is a good man.
CLAIRE: And what are you?
JESSICA: I’m an asshole.
CLAIRE: You don’t scare me. And you’re not my first.
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) has done her time picking broken glass out of Daredevil’s abs (and the rest), and now she has an unconscious Luke Cage to care for. She helps Jessica smuggle Luke out of hospital, and even takes him back to the apartment herself when Jessica is distracted by the fact that Kilgrave has turned the hospital into a siege.
Fun fact about Kilgrave’s new powers: not only can they last up to 24 hours now, they also work via PA system. That’s… not good.
After fighting off the entire population of the hospital, zombie apocalypse style, Jessica returns to her apartment to find Claire sitting on a convulsing Luke—she has to drain the excess cerebral fluid from his cranium by syringing him through the eye socket. At least I think that’s what happened, I was hiding behind my fingers and hyperventilating.
Jessica begs Claire to stay and nurse Luke so she can save the world, and despite having a real job to go to, Claire agrees. Oh Jessica, if only you had neighbours who could help out with your unconscious boyfriend, but you’ve alienated almost everyone you know!
Before she leaves, Jessica cuddles Luke and admits to his unconscious body that she wanted to take him on a proper date.
JESSICA: You’re the first person I ever saw a future with. You’re also the first person I ever shot in the head.
Kilgrave, still treating everyone around him like dirt, insists his father performs a radical operation to increase his powers even more, despite risking death. The veins in his face turn purple! Woo purple!
Jessica and Trish track down the apartment where Kilgrave is staying. Waiting in the car, Trish asks Jessica to come up with a code—something she would never say even in a text message—to prove that she hasn’t been “kilgraved.” Jessica, who has been thinking a lot about lately what an asshole she is, decides dryly the obvious choice is “I love you.” It’s a sweet moment, which plays off beautifully in the final act.
Inside, Jessica finds blood everywhere, Albert dying and armless on the floor, one of the apartment’s owners dead from drinking drain cleaner, and his partner (Justin Boden) still trying to ‘remove Dad from the face of the earth,’ one limb at a time in the garbage disposal. It’s awful.
Malcolm (who still hasn’t left, I notice!) checks in on Jessica’s broken flat and ends up having a heart to heart with Claire about what it’s like to be the all too human auxiliary support crew for super friends. They bond, and he takes a turn watching over the unconscious Luke.
Claire’s role in this episode is to have intense emotional conversations with complete strangers, while dispensing occasional medical aid.
Before the final showdown, Jessica calls Jeri Hogarth and lets her know that Kilgrave now has far more extreme powers, thanks to her little power play with the foetal tissue she took from Hope. Jeri is wrecked—Pam is being charged with murder and won’t see her, and her career is on the verge of imploding. Jessica orders her to survive (professionally at least) because she has to defend Justin, the poor guy who killed Albert. Doing the occasional good thing is the only way to live with the self loathing.
Bedecked in an emo hoodie, her raggediest skinny jeans and a pair of stereophonic headphones, a downcast Jessica goes to meet Kilgrave in an abandoned station where he’s hanging out… but no, it’s not Jessica at all, IT’S PATSY!
Patsy cosplaying as Jessica Jones to cause a distraction is very high on the list of awesome Trish Walker things in this episode.
Jessica fights off Kilgrave and his army of cops, and we finally get to see her mostly fly—leaping and falling with style.
She chases Kilgrave out to the waterfront, to face a crowd of workmen and other civilians. Kilgrave orders them all to start killing each other, while he makes his getaway in a yacht… but he just can’t resist trying his powers on Jessica as she powers after him…
He yells ‘STOP’ and the crowd stops killing each other. Jessica stops, frozen, obedient.
Kilgrave doesn’t believe that she is really controlled, much though he wants to, and tests her by taking Trish (whose protective headphones have fallen off) under his power. There’s a kissing scene. It’s super gross. Move on quickly.
Jessica, docile and obedient, is willing to let him take her sister. Kilgrave promptly forgets Trish exists, and dances around Jessica, gloating his head off.
He tells her to smile, and Krysten gives her her creepiest beauty pageant smile yet, all teeth and sincerity.
Kilgrave orders him to tell her that she loves him, and Jessica happily says the words—over his shoulder, to Trish. And then she grabs him by the jaw, tells him to smile, and snaps his neck.
I have honestly never been happier to see a David Tennant character dead, and that includes the super long regeneration scene in The End of Time.
Luke Cage awakes in Jessica’s apartment to find a stranger—Claire—has been taking care of him. She lets him know that Jessica is in jail for murder (there were soooo many witnesses), but the good news is, the person she murdered is Kilgrave, HOORAY.
While Claire is working her way through to her third meaningful pep talk of this episode, Luke bails. He has his own show to get started on!
Jeri Hogarth proves what a shark of a lawyer she is by arguing with the DA that Kilgrave is a verb—she’s already planning to prove his mind control powers by multiple witness statement in court, and she’s throwing in a claim that Kilgrave’s death was suicide by Jessica Jones.
In one of the most impressive pieces of character development yet seen in this show (which is saying something) Jessica manages to keep her mouth shut through the proceedings.
After a hug from Trish, Jessica returns alone to her smashed up apartment. Malcolm is waiting for her (he’s either cooking or cleaning her kitchen, it’s adorable).
She barely has the energy to plug her phone into the charger and once she does, the messages start pouring in—from potential clients, desperate people begging for help. Jessica starts deleting the messages but runs out of energy even to do that—and when her phone rings, Malcolm answers it for her in a simple statement that pledges his eternal friendship while also serving as a job interview.
“Alias Investigations, how can we help?”
COMICS & CONTINUITY
Oh Luke Cage and his unbreakable skin. His beautiful unbreakable skin. There’s a storyline in the New Avengers during the Dark Reign era when Luke needs urgent medical care after going into cardiac arrest—and as in this episode, ordinary medical instruments are no use!
Netflix Luke doesn’t have established friendships with the Wasp and Doctor Strange so they can perform emergency surgery on him via miniaturisation—what he has is Night Nurse.
Claire was introduced to the Daredevil Netflix series as an amalgam of two characters—Claire Temple, a love interest for Luke Cage (noooo leave my ship alone) and Linda Carter AKA Night Nurse, another refugee from “girl comics” (as was Patsy Walker) who became known as the dispenser of first aid to battered superheroes. In Daredevil, Claire patched up Matt a bunch and they had a brief romance.
It’s an odd sort of choice, to introduce a guest star from the successful sibling show for the season finale, right as the story is wrapping up—not quite as awkward as that time Hercules turned up for the birth of Xena’s baby, but it could easily have gone that way.
Claire and Jessica bond quickly through a mutual interest in doing the right thing, and a shared sense of dark humour. Claire’s life advice for the lovelorn, superpowered and the human sidekicks is all informed by her experience on Daredevil, while making very few actual references to the other show. I think we can all be super grateful she didn’t call Matt in, as his body under Kilgrave’s influence would have been terrible!
Consider that Claire is down to be a regular in the Luke Cage show (currently filming), I guess this plot thread is close to a backdoor pilot? In any case, her scenes provide some welcome thoughtful discussion and quiet moments, to balance out the drama and angst of everyone else in the show, precisely because she’s not that invested in these people and their lives.
Other continuity references include the scene where Kilgrave orders the crowd to kill each other, a direct reference to the last conversation he and Jessica had in Alias before she beat him senseless.
Jessica’s leap-and-fall method of mostly flying in this final act is pretty much exactly what we see in the Alias arc “The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones,” when she first learns how to use her powers.
Jessica Jones 1, Kilgrave 0.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading, it’s been fun to burn through these with you all, and to hear all the commentary about this dark, crunchy gem of a superhero show.
Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Marvel Comics tragic, and a Hugo Award winning blogger and podcaster. Tansy’s latest piece of published short fiction is “Fake Geek Girl” at the Review of Australian Fiction, and she writes comics reviews on her own blog. You can find TansyRR on Twitter & Tumblr, sign up for her Author Newsletter, and listen to her onGalactic Suburbia or the Verity! podcast.