Week of December 18, 2022:

AKA It's Called Whiskey (Jessica Jones s1 e3) released November 20, 2015 (where to watch)
AKA 99 Friends (Jessica Jones s1 e4) released November 20, 2015
Scott Hardie | January 6, 2023

AKA It's Called Whiskey: Here's another good episode, although the pace is starting to slow down; notice how the quest that occupies Jessica for the whole hour amounts to nothing in the end and you start to understand why these Marvel shows feel so padded and overlong. I liked Jessica's remorse at abusing her friend Malcolm in the hospital; Krysten Ritter and Eka Darville played the scene very well without any dialogue. Kilgrave continues to be scarily effective in small doses and in Jessica's reactions to him, joined this time by Hope's freak-out at the mere sound of his voice. I liked Jeri's clever manipulation, and how signs of Trish's own mental health problems keep appearing despite how collected she seems on the surface. I also liked the banter with the Polish repairmen, and how this show dips a toe into the horror genre sometimes with scenes like Jessica approaching the whirring printer. But I wonder how Dr. Kurata intended to make an effective escape if he left a forwarding address. And now that it's revealed that Jessica killed Riva (albeit while enthralled), I don't like that Jessica allows her infatuation for Luke to go on for so long before she finally accepts that dating him is wrong. She's normally too conscientious and too wary of attachments for their fling to have been believable. Are we supposed to accept that Jessica's moral horror at having murdered someone was so strong that it allowed her briefly to resist Kilgrave's mind control, but also so weak that she would enthusiastically sleep with the victim's widower under false pretenses just months later? I don't, and I'm glad that the show seems to be done honoring its fidelity to their relationship in the comics and is moving on.

I know that it's not accurate to call Kilgrave an "ex-boyfriend" or to say that what he made Jessica perform was a "relationship," but the show *is* doing a very effective job of using his powers to condemn bad behavior by boyfriends everywhere. It's positioning him as the ultimate "stalker ex," or "the ex-boyfriend from hell" as one critic called him, and using him to excoriate terrible, shitty, entitled, controlling, abusive men who deserve all of the criticism that they get. (I myself have written perhaps too much about AOS's Leo Fitz in this project, but he's every adjective from my previous sentence.) There might be some level on which Kilgrave has genuine romantic feelings for Jessica, but it's clear that his current behavior is much, much more about controlling her and tormenting her. And more importantly, the show makes it clear how very evil his behavior is, unlike far too many Hollywood productions where "good guys" successfully woo women this way, and how irrelevant that evil makes any genuine romantic feelings. (Would FitzSimmons shippers watch this series and think that Kilgrave is adorable and that Jessica should just give him a chance because he's "been through so much" recently? That's the kind of crap that I read about Leo Fitz when I look up fan conversations from the time of AOS's original airing.) I don't have it in me right now to write a whole essay about how very damn good Jessica Jones is at condemning bad men, both the real kind and the TV kind, and besides, I'm sure that a hundred other think pieces about it have already been written if you want to sift through spoilers to look them up. But I cannot praise this show enough for doing the important work of calling out this misogynistic bullshit in the pre-#MeToo era, and to do it within a genre that is understood to appeal to a certain toxically masculine fandom. Whatever the show's minor creative missteps like its pacing problems, to me it remains a tremendous achievement for the relevance and power of its message. I wish that everybody would see it and sit with their discomfort and ruminate on it. (8/10)

AKA 99 Friends: This is solid but unremarkable. Other than the Eastmans and the pent-up rage that they finally motivate Jessica to express, everything in the episode is just a small step forward in a larger story. But much of it is done well, like Kilgrave's creepy little spokesperson, the endless banter ("You're coming across as paranoid." "Everyone keeps saying that. It must be a conspiracy."), and the twist at the end that promises to give Malcolm something more to contribute to the series. Did that twist, underlining that truly anyone can be used against Jessica, feel as effective to you as it did to me? What did you think of the softening and redeeming of Officer Will Simpson? What do you think of the furniture-smashing scene and how rarely women get to express rage on-screen without it being seen through the eyes of men? (7/10)

Scott Hardie | January 6, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Jessica Jones. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | January 6, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Luke Cage. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | January 9, 2023

I've been thinking further about this conversation as they observe the "Kilgrave support group":

Jeri: Kilgrave wanted a leather jacket, live cello music, and the flattering smile of a pretty girl. What a waste. He could solve so many problems with his gift.

Jessica: Gift?

Jeri: I just meant if... If he was on our side.

Jessica: What side would that be? The side that uses people? Treats them like animals? Just to throw them away like they're garbage? The side that rips your life apart and destroys you from the inside out? Whose side exactly would that be?
For a long time, I agreed with Jeri that Kilgrave's callous self-interest makes a waste of otherwise useful abilities. He could bring warring leaders together to negotiate peace, or he could compel elected officials to pass laws limiting their own corruption, or he could walk into any murder trial and compel the defendant to tell the truth and then tell all parties to believe that statement.

Jessica reacts too harshly to Jeri's statement because she's stressed out, but she's right. Jeri is using people too, and so is Jessica. And the very act of being compelled against your will, regardless of the purpose to which it is applied, is a violation that can have lasting effects on the victim, making it impossible to use ethically. Besides, powers like Kilgrave's are not safe with anyone; "absolute power" and all that.

If you want to see a good movie on this subject, check out the moody and challenging Upstream Color, which is about survivors of long-term mind control similar to Kilgrave's who struggle to rebuild their shattered lives afterwards. I've been haunted by the questions it poses for years now.

Erik Bates | March 19, 2023

AKA It's Called Whiskey: Is this the one where we finally see who Kilgrave is? I mean, the voice gave it away, but I recall it being such a fun reveal the first time I watched this, and then I completely forgot about it on the second watch, so it was a fun surprise all over again.

AKA 99 Friends: Yeah, the idea that Malcolm was being used by Kilgrave was quite a shock. It makes you re-think just about every relationship in the show. He could have been controlling Trish this whole time and nobody would have known.

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