Monday, February 8, 2016

Jessica Jones 1x07 "AKA Top Shelf Perverts" (White Knight Heroes) [Contributor: Lynnie Purcell]

"AKA Top Shelf Perverts" 
Original Airdate: November 20, 2015

“I have to pay.”

This is line that sums up "AKA Top Shelf Perverts." It is the reflection of Jessica’s mental state and where her determination is focused for the entirety of the episode.

Jessica is still reeling from Luke’s words. She told him the truth about his wife. He told her that she was crap and she wants to punish herself. Jessica Jones wants to feel nothing and everything all at once. Kilgrave doesn’t mind helping with the punishment part. He never does.

The episode opens with Kilgrave in Jessica’s apartment, in her space, violating her again as he attempts to invade not only her home but her mind — to be close to her in a way that she does not want and will not allow in person. He rummages around, pees in her toilet, and opens her door when a knock resounds. Creepy neighbor Ruben is on the other side, and we all know in an instant that he is not going to have a good day.

Jessica is spiraling — through getting thrown out of a bar drunk, getting called stinky by a homeless man, and then threatening and almost killing Hogarth’s soon-to-be ex-wife, it’s clear that Luke’s words have resonated. Months internally screaming at herself have culminated in Luke’s disgust for her. He has proven all her thoughts correct. She’s losing control, giving in to her demons in a louder way than her previous attempts at quietly drinking herself into oblivion.

She very nearly wants to die.

For an instant, as the train that she saves Hogarth’s wife from barrels towards her, you see that Jessica contemplates suicide. Everything is falling away from her and she does not know how to stop it. Her life is not her own to manage, after all. Kilgrave still has a stranglehold on her. She doesn’t do it, but she is still looks for a way to end her life that doesn’t include the actual act. So, when Ruben ends up dead on the bed, she panics, has a well-earned breakdown, and then creates a plan that is doomed to fail from the start.

The seventh episode is about penance and guilt, but it is also perhaps the most relationship-driven episode of the series. It highlights who matters the most to Jessica, who has her back, who is more concerned about ego than doing right, and who is trying to tear her down. The webs that have been woven around Jessica in the previous episodes are finally highlighted in this one, like a spider web after a summer storm. Jessica may be in the middle of the tempest, but her friends are desperately trying to have her back around the swirling debris of her choices. Malcolm and Trish care. They love her. They work to save her when she doesn’t want them to. Trish tells her that she’s a hero even when Jessica has never felt like more of a villain. Jessica needs to hear the words, but it doesn’t stop her from trying to complete a poorly thought-out and complex plan to capture Kilgrave.

For me, the two most important aspects of this episode were Jessica’s search for punishment, and Malcolm’s search to protect her at all costs. Their roles have done a 180 in a very short amount of time. Malcolm quietly and sincerely tries to help Jessica in a way that Jessica did when he was the addict. They even have a reversal of the elevator scene, where Jessica is the one on the floor and Malcolm is the one to help her get home. Malcolm is one of the few people who genuinely understands what she is going through. He gets it. His respect, trust, and care are not token gestures. He will do whatever he can not only to make amends, but to ensure that Jessica does not fall into the same hole he did. He will protect her from herself. This culminates with him reaching out to Trish — the smartest act of the entire show — and trying to hide the murder of Ruben by dumping him into the river.

It’s all for naught, as Jessica dives in after the body and marches into the police station, dead set on her path — and dead head in hand — proof that you can’t protect someone who has a hand on the detonator: you can only hope that they take the hand that is offered to them when the time comes.

And the one person that she loathes above all else ruins her plan. Kilgrave arrives at the police station, declaring his love even as he holds the entire station hostage. Jessica’s first thought is for the people around her. She agrees to go with him, to keep him from hurting them, but he wants her to choose him. Kilgrave has deluded himself into thinking he loves Jessica. She is the first person to defy him. She said no when everyone else said yes. His love is masked by control. And he is determined to make her love him back. Kilgrave's methods may have changed, but the manipulation has not. He’s controlling Jessica, determined to own what he has no right to own. His desire to get her to say yes has made him work for something, but all the scene does is reinforce how much an abuser he really is and will continue to be.

Kilgrave leaves everyone alive, and Jessica is faced with a choice: seek Kilgrave out or run. She had decided on prison. It was a silly plan to lure him out, but it was safe. Instead, by episode’s end, Jessica Jones chooses a prison far worse, far more dangerous, but with all the potential of bringing her closer to the mad man who changed her life forever. In confessing his love and his determination to have her pick him consciously, Kilgrave’s mitigated one of her bigger fears. He’s trying to make her love him without commands, without his gift at the forefront, and that gives Jessica the chance to study him, to find out a way stop his reign of terror in her life — to end it for good. Jessica seems so resigned, so tired, throughout the episode; but by episode’s end, she arrives at a house shining with normalcy, with bright blossoms framing the vibrant life of families at play, a sore thumb that does not fit the scene, with a strangely at peace countenance. She has made her choice, and she is more than willing to live by it.

It may not be suicide, but her sacrifice has given her some level of penance paid. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s carried throughout the rest of the season.

Stray Thoughts:
  • The entire episode is shot with respect not only to Kilgrave’s voyeuristic and controlling vibe, but with an energy and a stillness that reflects Jessica’s exhaustion and hopelessness. There are not fast shots or dramatic energy. It is languid, soft.
  • Dragon Lady Lawyer is still mean, and I cheered for Wendy for facing her so strongly and bravely. I like her more than Hogarth. I’m probably meant to.
  • Poor creepy neighbor. No more creeping.
  • Officer Whatever was in the episode. That means that irritation was in my heart. I’m all for Trish finding release, but does have to be him?
  • Trish gets some more backstory, and a mother. My heart breaks for her, and I love her all the more for her strength. (Trish’s white knight scene is the absolute best. She is the hero Jessica needs at her side.)
  • “Q-tip.”
  • Watching the “I love you” by Kilgrave was like sitting on a spiked chair.
  • “A beautiful funeral doesn’t guarantee heaven.” This was so beautiful, and so indicative of Malcolm’s guilt but determination to do what he must.
  • Officer Whatever is going to be a problem, isn’t he?
  • “We both know you don’t own a vacuum cleaner.” Trish remains queen of everything.


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