Week of January 1, 2023:

AKA Top Shelf Perverts (Jessica Jones s1 e7) released November 20, 2015 (where to watch)
AKA WWJD? (Jessica Jones s1 e8) released November 20, 2015
Scott Hardie | January 24, 2023

AKA Top Shelf Perverts: This is not the show's best hour. The main problem is the unbelievability of Jessica's plan, not helped by how quickly she jumps into it after a brief moment of despair at Ruben's murder. Of all of Jessica's dumb, desperate schemes to stop Kilgrave, this is the worst. It wastes a lot of time, such as in the climb to the top of the bridge that must have been expensive to produce but adds almost nothing to the hour. At least the other characters recognize the pointlessness of Jessica's plan and try to stop her.

It's noble of Malcolm to try so hard to make up for his actions while controlled, but dead body disposal is a very tall order, and the show's lucky that Jessica's actions are so wildly unrealistic here that it covers up how much Malcolm's actions are too. I liked seeing Dorothy Walker and the show establishing her testy relationship with Jessica, though I suppose that describes everyone's relationship with Jessica.

The hour is partially redeemed by its long scene in the police station, which strikes the right balance of creepiness and tension for Jessica and Kilgrave's first face-to-face scene, now halfway through the series. Kilgrave is all smiles and denials of evil even while he is prone to scary bursts of rage ("the next person whose phone goes off eats it!"). That personality dynamic is so interesting; tantrums of rage are for people who are frustrated that they can't get what they want, but Kilgrave can get virtually anything he wants except a genuinely clean conscience and the absolving true love of the one who literally got away, and he lets it consume him instead of getting on with his awful life.

I find it quite hard to believe that Jessica would accept Kilgrave's invitation at the end, but at least it means the two main characters of the series are finally spending time together. (original opinion 5/10, today's opinion 5/10)

AKA WWJD?: The primary conceit of this episode, that Kilgrave would be capable of reassembling Jessica's childhood home to such an accurate degree, is the sort of thing that happens in Hollywood productions despite being virtually impossible. It's an odd choice because it's unnecessary: What really matters here is that the two characters finally talk at length and that Jessica makes a choice to stay, not where it happens. This could have been set in an Orange Julius with some tweaks to the screenplay, and it would have played more or less the same way. I guess the show is trying to dramatize a bit of Jessica's childhood, finally revealing why she blames herself for her family's death (and that she suffers from terrifying clich├ęs in her dreams), but that material could have happened anywhere else in the season.

Anyway, I'm complaining too much about the setting, because once you get past that, this is a very effective episode. At last, Kilgrave is confronted about what he did to Jessica and to so many other people, and it's fascinating to see him rationalize it all: They wanted to do what I forced them to do or they wouldn't have done it, I didn't kill anyone because someone else did it at my command, it wasn't rape or torture because it happened at five-star hotels and fine restaurants, what happened wasn't suffering because my suffering was so much worse, and so on. It's completely illogical and would be hard to believe if so many people didn't think this way in real life; I've known some. Narcissism and psychopathy don't fully explain it but they're certainly big pieces of the puzzle. It's fascinating to watch the dissection of this character and his monstrous self-absorption and moral rationalizations.

Other thoughts: Jessica mostly plays it smart (the moment where she gets Kilgrave with the Chinese food is thrilling), and I like the scene where she asks Trish if it would worth trying to achieve good things with his powers; their criticism of Kilgrave talks around the problem that compelling someone to do anything is inherently unethical, but they arrive at basically that same conclusion. Simpson and his "boys" continue to get in the way, but now his reckless actions are getting innocent people killed. I don't know why Jeri keeps demanding that Jessica merely dig up dirt on Wendy when it would be far more effective for Jessica to steal or destroy Wendy's proof of jury tampering, but perhaps that proof is digital and impossible to eliminate for certain. Nice callback to WHIH World News on the TV. (original opinion 6/10, today's opinion 8/10)


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