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SEASON FINALE REVIEW: Jessica Jones 1×13 “AKA Smile”

Written by Scott Swartz

This is the end of a long, long road. One filled with terror, mayhem, and Purple Men, we have finally reached the season finale of Jessica Jones. It is always fascinating to watch a season finale as I never quite know exactly how they will be structured. You always expect one or two shocking moments, but it truly is the little things that bring a grin to my face and there is no better example of that than “AKA Smile”. Yes, at it’s core it is your basic episode of the show, Kilgrave is super creepy, Jessica is a badass, and their game of cat and mouse works on so many different levels, but the absolute best parts of this episode are the moments that don’t necessarily focus on their face of. No matter how gratifying or powerful of an ending this show has I will always remember it as having one of the best overall ancillary casts in recent memory, possibly up there with Chuck.

First thing is first, I freaking love how this episode shifts between various genres and does not stay rooted in the noir elements of the show. If anything “AKA Smile” is more of a horror feel, playing off of the suspense of not quite knowing what Kilgrave’s next move might possibly be. The scenes where Jessica just barely missed him all played on this sense of terror and truly brought back the boogie man feel that was sorely missing from the last couple of episodes. The hospital fight and the final confrontation at the docks where Kilgrave was just barely out of reach were nearly pitch perfect. It created a growing sense of dread of just how powerful Kilgrave had truly become, even more so than when Luke was under his control. David Tennant played those moments perfectly as he made it clear he did not have to be the one to murder Jessica, sure he would get more satisfaction if he did, but he wanted to make sure she knew that no matter what there would always be another body between her and him.

It was these smaller moments the helped to make the entire episode seem way more powerful, everything from Claire popping up to help out Jessica and Luke, to Trish and Jessica being sisters. We could have easily just played cat and mouse between Kilgrave and Jessica throughout the entire episode, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. Watching Jessica use the “I Love You” as a trigger phrase for Trish was an especially cunning move and truly helped to reaffirm the relationship between the two. Even just having Claire pop up and be incredibly useful was something I wasn’t expecting as I was fairly confident Matt was going to come in and offer his services at some point. It is weird that we never even got a background not about Daredevil, but Claire managed to serve her purpose and integrate herself into two more of the Defenders worlds. I think that is what I like about her character the most, she just manages to seamlessly slide in and out of the show without disrupting the plot.

Of course this all was leading to the big showdown with Kilgrave and there were definitely pros and cons to how it all went down. I certainly wasn’t expecting the knockdown, drag out fight we got with Daredevil, but I definitely wasn’t expecting Kilgrave to go down so easily. Jessica taking control of her life and overcoming her demons was great and all, but it felt like the boogie man was taken care of in a flash. All of the pain and suffering he brought on her just up and vanished and as soon as Kilgrave’s neck was snapped everything he had done just vanished with him. It was just anticlimactic despite feeling like the natural course for his character. I desperately hope in season two we continue to see the ramifications of our antagonist rather than his memory fading into the background.

Similarly with the overall ending, everything after Kilgrave’s demise just felt like empty filler that failed to add a capstone to Jessica’s journey. I really wanted to see her deal with the fallout of Kilgrave being dead, because as of now this doesn’t feel like a complete story. I love the fact that this wasn’t truly a happy ending for everyone. Everyone has gained new scars and nightmares from their fight with Kilgrave and it will always be about just how all of them were able to battle back and actually become better people through that fight.

The great news now is that Alias Investigations is open for business, and I really am dying to see what type of cases they take on.

Final Grade B+

+Excellent overall vibe to the entire episode

+The final smile

+Claire aiding the team

+Ending on a somber note

-Man I really still want Kilgrave

-Everything after Kilgrave’s death is filler

-A lot of open ended questions

Final Season Grade B+/A-

Extra Thoughts

-Seriously, Matt had to have heard about all of the shit happening in Hell’s Kitchen, did he just decide not his problem?

-Really a missed opportunity with these series to not have a “… will appear again in The Defenders” tag.

-So, Luke just bails and goes to Harlem now? Like Jessica isn’t even going to go looking for him?

-The shot of Kilgrave going purple from overdosing was a great moment. It was just classic Doctor Who rage.

About the author

Scott Swartz