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REVIEW: Jessica Jones 1X08 “AKA WWJD”

This, despite everything we’ve seen thus far, was without question the most unsettling episode of Jessica Jones to watch for me.

Not because of any horrific displays of violence, gruesome murders, or sadistic killings but because of the fact that we got a genuine look at how absolutely psychotic and twisted Kilgrave truly is. Thought you’d seen him at his creepiest? You were absolutely, 100%, incorrect. “AKA WWJD,” provided Kilgrave’s reasoning for his actions and it’s just as warped and mental as you might have anticipated.

Spoilers ahead!

We pick up where 1X07 left off, with Jessica being welcomed into her old/new home by Kilgrave. It’s exactly how it looked when she left it so many years ago after the car accident that killed her family, due large in part to the fact that Kilgrave is an absolute creep who tracked down the realtor and used the old photos she had to replicate every thing in the home, from the couches to the photos on the wall. Why? Because when he’d asked her so long ago what her favorite memories were, Jessica’s response was, “Home.”

The house tour gets progressively more unsettling as Kilgrave leads Jessica from room to room, ending at her room, which is exactly how she left it as an angsty teen. Nirvanna posters on the wall, twin bed tucked in a corner, and a stack of CDs that Kilgrave, “Used a magnifying glass,” on the realtor’s pictures to ID.

Because that’s information that’ll sweep a girl off her feet.

Jessica is just as perturbed by this whole situation as I was watching it, visibly grimacing at the sight before her and the sounds coming out of Kilgrave’s mouth.

Trish calls and Kilgrave gives Jessica the go ahead to answer, silently telling her to keep certain details to herself and earning a slew of eye rolls in the process. Understandably, Trish is a bit upset that Jessica didn’t tell her she was taking off, and confesses that she’s worried this might just be another instance in which Kilgrave is controlling her. Jessica assures her friend that, “Kilgrave is a psychotic, repulsive, waste of a human being, and if I was under his control, he would never let me say that,” which, yeah, is pretty convincing. Trish seems to think so as well, and proceeds to reveal that Simpson is missing and that she’s worried that Kilgrave might have something to do with it. Kilgrave’s response to Jessica’s questioning look?

JJ108Killgraveshrug

The episode proceeds with some of the most uncomfortable and unsettling interactions in history. Kilgrave is so desperate to have Jessica do what he wants without making her do what he wants that he sets up a fancy dinner. Unsurprisingly, the only way Jessica manages to suffer through it is with an endless supply of wine… and a threat from Kilgrave who points out that, while he promised he wouldn’t use his powers on her, he never said he wouldn’t use them on his employees. The threat of making them do something drastic, like slit their throats or eat each other’s faces, is enough to remind Jessica that she’s essentially a sitting duck and temporarily curbs her anger and instinctual desire to lash out at Kilgrave.

JJ108Dinner

After leaving dinner, super pissed and a little tipsy, Jessica notices that a door in the house is open and promptly yanks Simpson out of he room he’d been hiding in. He’s a bit of a hulking doofus, claiming he’s there to rescue Jessica since she’s under Kilgrave’s control but really just once again getting in her way. He confesses to having put a bomb in the basement and after a unleashing a facial expression that screams, “GDI WILL!” Jessica tells him to get out and let her deal with things. She tells Kilgrave and his bodyguard about it and crazy McPurple Pants views it as Jessica saving his life.

Again, so creepy.

Will makes his way back to Trish and tells her that they should take a step back and let Jessica handle Kilgrave. He points out that they can get hurt but Jessica can fend for herself and their involvement is more of a hindrance than anything. Talking some sense Will! Trish is initially against the idea but then acquiesces to Simpson’s plea in a way that you KNOW means she doesn’t actually plan on listening to him.

Back in the Suburbs of Doom, Jessica and Kilgrave are joined for breakfast by the woman next door, whom Jessica remembers from her childhood. As it turns out, Jessica has always had really annoying and invasive neighbors and this one is kind of a Grada A b!tch. She comments on how Jessica’s parents used to fight all the time, Jessica’s brother was a delinquent, and even says that she had a feeling that something bad would happen to them. Jessica is visibly and vocally upset with her, and Kilgrave turns his powers on the neighbor to get her to admit that she’d made it up because it makes her feel important.

JJ108Breakfast

It was a particularly chilling scene for me because it’s the first instance in which a very small part of me actually appreciated Kilgrave’s powers. Nobody is deserving of having their mind invaded, but this was a situation in which we saw Kilgrave use his powers on a cruel individual who was hurting our heroine. It’s actually slightly frightening because, for the briefest of moments, I was happy that Kilgrave was making mean-neighbor confess to her wrongdoings.

Which goes to show just how truly dangerous and manipulative Kilgrave truly is. The fact that he got me to briefly support his actions left me left me feeling so, so, so gross and wanting to take a scalding shower. He’s a despicable human being whose actions I find to be completely deplorable, and yet, for about a minute I wanted him to use his powers.

Forget the shower, throw me in a tub of bleach.

What’s even worse is the following scene in which Kilgrave decides to justify all of his actions and decisions by showing Jessica the videos on the mysterious thumb drive that he’d made her dig up the night of Reeva’s death. On it is video after video of a young Kilgrave, then known as Kevin, being experimented on by his own parents. There’s hours of footage of him as a young boy being forced to do neurological exams and cerebral spinal fluid extractions. It’s a tough thing to watch, made even tougher by the realization that it’s Kilgraves excuse for his deplorable behavior.

JJ108 Kevin

Watching the videos seems to be a shifting moment for Jessica, who takes Kilgrave on a trip to a hostage situation that she’s been watching on the news. It’s her attempt at showing Kilgrave what good he could do if he used his powers differently, and the two manage to convince a father to release the family he’s spent days holding at gun point.

Kilgrave experiences a bit of a hero-high when they return home and points out that together they could help so many people. “We’d be one hell of a dynamic duo.” Jessica counters that he doesn’t need her to do all that but Kilgrave points out that his skewed moral compass means he can’t really be a hero without her.

You can almost see the light-bulb go off in Jessica’s head at this realization and her, “Oh my god, you’re right,” is a telling indicator of what path she might be headed down. Even more telling is her brief visit with Trish where she asks her best friend, “What would you do if you could harness Kilgrave’s powers for good? What if you could teach him to be more like you, show him how to use his powers in a positive way?” Trish seems to realize pretty quickly what Jessica is getting at and is not a fan of the idea of her best friend living out her days with Kilgrave in order to keep him at bay. But Jessica’s mind is made and her, “one life for many,” attitude means she’s seemingly ready to be the world’s martyr and cohabitate with the Devil forever in order to keep him from hurting anyone else.

She returns to her old/new home with Chinese food for Kilgrave and the staff and tucks into dinner, even going so far as to sample Kilgrave’s food first to assure him that it hasn’t been drugged. What she doesn’t do is test the staff’s food, meaning when they all pass out, Kilgrave is distracted long enough for Jessica to plunge a syringe in his neck and knock him out.

JJ108Kilgrave KnockOut

Yeah!!!!!! Victory!!!!!

Except…

Dang it Will, what are you doing here?

He and his, “boys,” have come to take out Kilgrave, attempting to stop Jessica and apparently forgetting that she has super powers meaning she just takes one big jump and evades them all.

But they don’t evade annoying neighbor lady, who was compelled by Kilgrave to give them a present: a paper bag with a bomb inside. Will realizes what it is just as neighbor lady pushes the detonator, leaping away and only getting mostly injured instead of straight-up killed. The same can’t be said for neighbor lady and his boys, whose limbs are scattered across the lawn and sidewalk, visible thanks to the fact that they’re all on fire.

And that’s the end of, “AKA WWJD.”

As previously stated, this one really skeeved me out. Mostly because the backstory given to Kilgrave made him even more disturbing to me.

What happened to Kilgrave while he was still known as Kevin was horrible, that is undisputable, but what is even more undisputable is the fact that he used his experiences to excuse and give reason for his own deplorable actions. Kilgrave is an example of an individual whose personal tragedy causes him to forget an incredibly important thing: Victims of abuse don’t have the right to abuse others.

This episode is perhaps the most important we’ve seen thus far, both for Jessica and for media in general.

Rape and abuse are two of the trickiest subjects to approach on television, but Jessica Jones manages to do it in a way that effectively highlights the facts that forcing an individual to do something does not mean they want to do it. Kilgrave is a master manipulator, who thinks luxury items and fine dining is a gift even when such things are forced upon people without their consent. Jessica is finally able to vocalize this fact, throwing it in Kilgrave’s face and making it clear that he is nothing more than a violator.

Kilgrave doesn’t necessarily understand Jessica’s speech, still deluded enough into thinking that, because he provided nice things, those he provided such things to wanted them, making it even more clear how skewed some people’s minds are where this topic is concerned.

It’s the hypocrisy that’s the most astonishing thing about Kilgrave. He has such double standards where his abusers and abusees are concerned that he doesn’t realize that the hatred and loathing he feels for his parents are the exact feelings he invokes in his own victims. He wants his parents to pay for what they’ve done to him and yet, is too blinded to comprehend that he has become his parents. Toying with people who are powerless to him simply because he can. Kilgrave is a hypocrite in every sense of the word, trying to play the victim of his parents without acknowledging that he’s the abuser in everyone else’s story.

“AKA WWJD,” was a pivotal episode of television because it made certain to place the blame on those who truly deserve it: the individuals who think control and power equate to love.

Episode Grade: B

Episode Highs:

  • Jessica providing Kilgrave with some much-needed truth bombs. “Saving someone doesn’t mean un-killing someone else.”
  • The flashbacks to Jessica’s childhood provided some interesting insight into her current perception of the world.
  • THIS SCENE.

Episode Lows:

  • I still don’t care at all about Hogarth’s divorce drama. Hogarth cheated on Wendy and was generally awful, now Wendy wants all her money and assets, blah blah blah. Sure, it’s a bad situation but it really pales in comparison to everything else going on.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Why is Will so dumb?
  • Are you going to be rocking a, “Team Wendy,” or, “Team Hogarth,” t-shirt? Better yet how about some, “I really don’t care for either,” paraphernalia?

What did you think of “AKA WWJD,” and, more importantly, how much did you cheer when Jessica knocked Kilgrave out at the dinner table? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen