TV Review: Marvel's Jessica Jones - Season 1 Episode 8 "AKA WWJD?"
EPISODE 8: "AKA WWJD?"
SYNOPSIS: Jessica experiences a strange homecoming courtesy of Kilgrave. Hograth's conflict with her estranged wife reaches a tipping point.
BREAKDOWN: During Daredevil's first series, we were given a flashback that showed the origin for how Wilson Fisk became the villain he would grow up to be. Jessica Jones begins laying the same groundwork in this episode, both for Kilgrave as well as Jessica herself. Last hour, Jessica joined her former captor at her childhood home. As she entered, we were left to wonder just what would befall our heroine as she entered the clutches of the man who can control minds. The results are much different than I expected and a lot more satisfying as the stakes are changed by the conclusion of this hour.
Jessica, wary of Kilgrave's true motivations, enters her childhood home with a cellphone recording a potential confession regarding Hope Schlottman murdering her parents. Kilgrave, of course, has a security detail, a private chef, and a housekeeper all under his control to do his bidding for Jessica but insists he will not force her to do anything she doesn't want to do. Jessica doesn't believe him for a second, but over the next few days, she will realize that maybe there is something she can do with his gift. Kilgrave switches seamlessly between threatening his chef and maid with their own deaths and swearing to Jessica that he wants her to honestly love him.
Kilgrave is a very intriguing character. This episode introduces us to how he became the man he is today. The yellow USB drive that led to the death of Luke Cage's wife at Jessica's hand comes back here. Jessica accuses Kilgrave of raping her in every definition of the word and he countered that he has a burden with his power as he never knows if someone is doing something because he commanded them or because they want to. Jessica's skepticism leads Kilgrave to produce the yellow USB and shows her what it contains: footage of him as a child as his parents experimented on him. We see a young boy with a bald head covered in surgical scars and probes as he is forced to perform neurological tests. As he is injected by his parents, the boy (named Kevin, different than Marvel Comics' Zebediah Kilgrave) first uses his powers to send his parents away.
Jessica similarly is given more background. Through the episode, we see her brother and parents moving through the house. They are physical reminders of Jessica's childhood. During a meal with Kilgrave, a nosy neighbor comes and tells them how her parents used to fight and her brother was a delinquent. Jessica is physically upset and Kilgrave sends her off, but not before asking if Jessica wants him to make her hurt herself. She doesn't, but she does decide to take Kilgrave to the site of a hostage situation. She has Kilgrave use his powers to save the hostage taker's wife and kids. He wants to make the man kill himself, but instead turns himself in to the authorities. Kilgrave feels a rush at using his powers for good and thinks about teaming with Jessica, which sends her off to ask Trish what she would do if she could stop Kilgrave from being evil, even at the cost of giving up her own freedom to be with him?
Jessica's pain over her family seems to stem from the car accident that killed her family, due to her father losing focus on the road after Jessica breaks her brother's Gameboy. While this is not exactly the shattering reveal I was expecting, but the ghosts of her family do help Jessica decide what to do next. Despite Jeri's divorce getting more contentious and the attorney asking Jessica for more help in finding dirt on Wendy (a message responded to by Kilgrave on Jessica's cell phone), Jessica returns to Kilgrave with Chinese take-out in hand and tells him she wants to try and make a go of it. With his head turned, Jessica injects him to knock him out and takes him away. As she tries to leave, she is confronted by Wll Simpson. Simpson has a pair of mercenary buddies armed to take and kill Kilgrave but Jessica says she will not let him and uses her powers to leap away. When it seems like the episode is over, Jessica's nosy neighbor arrives with a gift from Kilgrave: the bomb Simpson planted in the house. After it explodes, we see the woman's limbs scattered around and what appears to be Simpson with a large shard protruding from his torso.
Overall, this episode relies heavily on the second half of the hour with the first thirty minutes taking it very slow and steady with exposing us more to Kilgrave than we have in the entire previous seven episodes. There is clearly a disconnect between his understanding of what his actions have done to those around him but there seems to be a glimmer of hope that he can change. It is very different compared to any other villain in the MCU since we have not seen anyone even consider changing their ways. I have no doubt that Kilgrave has no true motivations to become a hero and simply wants to appease Jessica. But, this episode further cements that Jessica is not a pure hero like any of The Avengers. Jessica is tormented by her past and her actions towards Wendy Hogarth shows that while she strives to be a good person and do the right thing, she is aware of the repercussions of her actions and what they may do. I cannot wait to see what comes next.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Nothing overt this episode.
NEXT ON JESSICA JONES: Episode 9 "AKA Sin Bin" - Just when Jessica has Kilgrave right where she want’s him. Hogarth’s involvement complicates the situation. Details of Kilgrave’s past emerge.