Jessica Jones Binge-Watch: "AKA Sin Bin"

Monday, 07 December 2015 - 1:43PM
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Jessica Jones
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Monday, 07 December 2015 - 1:43PM
Jessica Jones Binge-Watch: "AKA Sin Bin"
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Like many of you, I binge-watched the entirety of Jessica Jones last weekend, and it was amazing. It boasts a compelling central character, played perfectly by Krysten Ritter, the scariest villain Marvel has to offer, strong supporting characters, and sharp writing all the way through. Now that the binge-watch is over (boo-hoo), I'll be reviewing one episode per day, but for those of you who are better at this whole self-control thing, I'll be staying away from significant spoilers for future episodes (but obviously, spoiler alert for this one).

The mouse gets the upper hand


It was immensely satisfying, and often disturbing, to watch Jessica finally get the upper hand in her cat-and-mouse game with Kilgrave. Although it's a nice touch that Trish can tell Jessica is holding back, the viewer can still see that Jessica enjoys torturing Kilgrave a little too much. It's not just a means to an end, it's not just for Hope, it's revenge, and a little bit of a power high. It's obviously understandable after everything Kilgrave has done, and I don't think we're supposed to judge Jessica for it, but it does illuminate the Stanford Prison Experiment's insight into human nature: even seemingly upstanding citizens enjoy having power over other human beings in a potentially dangerous way. ("Even I feel sorry for him," Jessica admits, and we do a tiny bit as well.)

Standout moment of the episode




The entire ending of this episode was harrowing to watch (although not nearly as harrowing as the next episode, to be fair), between Kilgrave's mother brutally stabbing herself to Trish unsuccessfully trying to shoot herself in the head to poor Clemons breaking his hand as he pulls it through his handcuffs. But well-done violence aside, the best moments of the episode were the verbal confrontations with Kilgrave's parents, first with Jessica and then Kilgrave himself. Jessica wants to blame them, because deep down, she wants the explanation for Kilgrave to be as simple as "You're evil because no one ever taught you how to be good." But the show doesn't settle for such a neat explanation, instead portraying Kilgrave as the product of both bad parenting and his own disposition towards evil. His parents did torture and abandon him, but as it turns out, they weren't exactly evil, they just handled a terrible situation rather badly. And Kilgrave was a victim to some extent; it's especially sad when he tells his parents that they "never taught him" how to control his powers. But then again, most children wouldn't have to be told not to tell their mother to burn themselves, especially if they had already been using their powers to tell their parents "when to piss" for several years at that point. It seems that narcissism and a need to control others were always a part of him, but his parents' abandonment was the final nail in the coffin.

Everyone makes really bad decisions


Unfortunately, all of these amazing scenes only took place because all of the characters made terribly stupid decisions, mostly involving the underestimation of Kilgrave's powers. Jessica's entire plan to capture Kilgrave and force him to perform on camera is incredibly risky; he's essentially uncontrollable, and the mechanism to incapacitate him wouldn't have been all that reliable even if it were tampered with. As I said in my review of "Top Shelf Perverts," the justification for not killing Kilgrave wears very, very thin in certain episodes, and this is one of them. I hate to agree with Simpson, but Kilgrave is uncontrollable and impossible to contain, because he's just too powerful. Jessica would need to have a hermetically sealed cell in SuperMax waiting for him to rot in forever in order for not killing him to be a nominally safe option. 

When everything goes to hell in the end, it just emphasizes how terrible this whole plan was. If not for dumb luck, Trish would have blown her brains out, and really, they're all lucky they didn't wind up dead. It's dangerous enough that they have him there, but for Jessica to enter the room when she doesn't know she's immune yet (which is also sort of dumb, but more on that later), for her to send his parents in, for her to leave Jeri alone with him when she trusts Jeri as far as she can throw her, these are all dumb decisions, dumber than we would expect from someone so demonstrably intelligent.

It makes sense, though, for Jessica to make questionable decisions, because she identifies with Hope and wants to save her. I find it odd that she doesn't seem to seriously consider the fact that Simpson's friends, Ruben, etc. wouldn't have died if she had just killed Kilgrave to begin with, but I can buy that her emotions about Hope and her own experiences are clouding her judgment. The plea bargain plotline does raise the stakes for Hope quite a bit, although bringing that in just underscores the fact that Hope hasn't been as well-developed as the emotional center of the show as I would like. She's obviously a tragic character, but other than feeling sorry for her, we don't know her very well and we're not particularly attached to her, which makes it more difficult to justify Jessica's actions.

Possible spoilers ahead! (Click to reveal)


It does not, however, make sense for Jeri to let him out. I know she's desperate for him to fix her problems, but she's not an idiot. The only reason to let him out would be if she believed in his powers, and if she does believe in them, then she knows Kilgrave could order her to kill herself at any moment on a whim. Not only is she too smart for that, but she's established to be a control freak, and would never stand for that.


Pet peeve


There's the questionable decision-making, and the tiny quibble that if Jessica could find Kilgrave's parents within one episode, then Kilgrave, who can compel anyone in the world to tell him the truth, definitely would have found them by now. Aside from that, I don't know how I feel about the dynamic between Pam, Wendy, and Jeri in this episode. I'm glad that they finally gave a little bit of insight into what makes all of these relationships tick, and it's great that they're turning the "CEO banging his secretary" trope on its head by gender-swapping Jeri. But at the same time, is this a slightly reductive portrayal of LGBT relationships? I'm not entirely sure how productive it is to just take stereotypes from heterosexual relationships (the receptionist who's attracted to the CEO's power, the ex-wife who technically lived off of the CEO's money, but is entitled to half of the assets because she supported him when he was just starting out), and plaster them onto an LGBT relationship. Jessica Jones should be commended for its portrayal of women and female relationships overall, but I felt slightly conflicted about this.

Best one-liners


"Was Murdercorpse already taken?"

"Dude, you lost a jacket, move on."


"I wish I had a mother-of-the-year award so I could bludgeon you with it."
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