Saturday, March 5, 2016

Jessica Jones 1x10 Review: "AKA 1,000 Cuts" (Losing it All) [Contributor: Lynnie Purcell]

"AKA 1,000 Cuts"
Original Airdate: November 20, 2015

A slow death by a thousand cuts is a death of torture, of living through pain, suffering, and knowing at the end that death is an inevitability that cannot be beaten through strength, planning, or even cunning. A quick death is the most merciful, but it is the death of days, months, and even years that bind the ordinary into heroes and the weak into villains. Though the title of the episode is in reference to a lover slowly fading away, it is also a reflection of what Jessica and many others in the episode have been through. The trauma, the pain, the fear eats away at them, leaving them with hard decisions and decisions based in fear and anger rather than common sense and decency.

"AKA 1,000 Cuts" is one heck of an episode.

It is a ride from beginning to end, moving fast, moving with respect to the growing urgency everyone involved feels. The unexpected is met with the frustrating. The frustrating blossoms into the heartbreaking. Self-sacrifice meets selfishness. It may not be a thousand cuts on their viewers, but it comes pretty darn close.

The simple summary is that Kilgrave wants his father; Jessica’s neighbor, Robyn, wants her brother back; Jessica wants Hope free; Hogarth wants a divorce so badly she helps Kilgrave escape; and Malcolm wants to absolve himself from the guilt of hiding Rueben’s body in the aftermath of Kilgrave’s attack.

Hogarth and Hope are interesting, heartbreaking parallels in this episode. Hogarth helps the devil. She willingly sabotages the only thing that could keep him from escaping and is consequently forced to endure Kilgrave’s ability. Every truth she is forced to reveal, every moment under his spell, is agony for her. The cold, in-charge lawyer has been replaced by someone who has no say in what she does next. She has given control over to a sociopath, nearly willingly.

Hogarth gets a taste of what Jessica, Hope, and all the people around her experienced when she takes Kilgrave to her estranged wife’s house. She quickly learns that even she is not cold enough or practical enough to predict Kilgrave, who promptly turns on her once stitched up and orders Wendy to kill her via a thousand cuts. Wendy attacks her at his command and Hogarth fights for her life in a wonderfully well-shot, horrifically creepy scene.

The fight shows Hogarth’s panic, her pain, and her desperation to survive as she takes cut after cut. Wendy keeps cutting, counting diligently — a countdown to how long Hogarth has to live. Hogarth does not deserve this treatment, no one does, but her selfishness, her inability to think of the greater good and the innocent lives at stake, lives more important than her divorce, had put her under Wendy’s knife. Her choices brought her to the pain, in a way none of the other characters experienced before her. Kilgrave took them without them knowing what he could do. She went willingly along with him until it spiraled out of control. It is proof that for all her intelligence, her greediness opens her up to manipulation.

She is rescued by her fiancee, Pam, who kills Wendy to protect Hogarth. In that moment, Pam is appalled, shocked, disturbed, but not nearly as much as she is when she puts together the pieces that Hogarth helped Kilgrave, that she killed Wendy ultimately because Hogarth’s decisions led her to that moment. Pam can’t be faulted for falling in love, for believing in the woman she wants to marry, and her words to Hogarth sum up everything that led to Hogarth’s attack. Hogarth is selfish, conniving, and willing to do whatever it takes to secure a victory. She is more obsessed with winning than she is in doing what is right. This makes her a good lawyer and a terrible person. Pam sees her clearly for the first time, her heart breaking as she looks at the stranger that is Hogarth. This is Hogarth’s penance for her selfishness.

In contrast, Hope does the unthinkable.

She began as nothing more than a pawn of Kilgrave — an innocent marked by the evil of a man willing to take whatever he wants without burden of consequence. She was Jessica’s catalyst in deciding to fight Kilgrave. She launched Jessica’s second attempt at being a hero. It is fitting, perhaps, that she is the one who launches Jessica’s last attempt to rid the world of him.

Burdened by the truth that everything Jessica has done up until that point has been done in an attempt to save Hope — not in absolution as Kilgrave states, but for the simple hope that goodness can live on and second chances are possible — Hope realizes that in order for Jessica to kill the man who haunts them all, she must die. She sees the truth clearly as she sits beside the man she fears and loathes more than any other. She firmly believes that her life lost is nothing in the need to rid the world of Kilgrave. She is unwavering in the truth she sees. She is willing to die to ensure that her story is not repeated by any other.

Some could argue that her suicide is selfish, an attempt at ridding herself of the burdens of the past, but I see it as the marker of a hero. Hope knows that she must be Jessica’s catalyst once more. She knows how she can save lives — by freeing Jessica from the responsibility of hers. She begs Jessica to kill him, her pleas as she bleeds out in Jessica arms desperate, full of anguish, and, simplest of all, full of determination. Unlike Hogarth, she is not afraid of losing everything. She sees the evil in the world and is willing to die for the light. Hope has always been an on-the-nose representation of the literal hope Jessica harbors, but now she gives others hope in a way that transcends her. She gives the world the chance to live without Kilgrave should Jessica fulfill her promise.

On a lighter note, I now have validation for hating Officer Whatever. He may agree with Hope, in that he thinks Kilgrave must die, but his choices in attempting to get to Kilgrave are to kill innocent people, bully others, and be a complete and utter... well, not nice person. He is a total contrast to Hope’s sacrifice. He shoots Detective Clemons to keep him from calling the cops. He hits Trish once he figures out that the scientist working on a cure is Kilgrave’s father. Yeah, he actually hits a survivor of abuse. And it turns out that he’s on some kind of soldier enhancement drug that allows him to be a super tough and super white male alpha.

He, like the support group, only serves to complicate things for Jessica. The support group attacking Jessica felt a little off-kilter and out of nowhere considering how little we saw of their interactions in previous episodes, but the show was aiming to stick a rut in the wheel of Jessica’s capture of Kilgrave and explore how the people who thought they knew more than Jessica were very wrong and very misguided. They are taken captive by Kilgrave as Jessica is knocked unconscious by an angry Robyn.

Malcolm’s thousand cuts are shown through his guilt in trying to help Robyn put up fliers to search for her brother, and via his confession to the support group, which Robyn followed him to - because she follows people who help her, apparently. The group directs their anger at Jessica, not able to direct it at Kilgrave because of his abilities, the cuts eating them up as they feel the frustration of their lives continuing to spiral out of control in the wake of Kilgrave’s manipulation and abuse of them all. They make the wrong call and another cut is added to the wounds they have already endured, proof that once again, Jessica is the only one who can face him.

Anger can eat up a person as much as love. It creates enemies out of friends, and hotheaded people out of the rational. It chips away, forming little scars that never quite heal, even with time. It is nothing compared to the burden of guilt — a burden that Hope, Malcolm, and Jessica all share in equal parts this episode. One that is absolved by suicide, another that is absolved by the truth, and another that is not gifted with a respite. It is a burden that will inevitably stay with Hogarth, the support group, and Robyn for years to come.

It is a burden that Jessica will continue to bear until her promise to Hope is made a reality.

Stray Thoughts:
  • As much as I hate Officer Whatever, Wil Traval did a really good job showing how on edge and amped up his character was throughout the episode.
  • All white boys must go to a school where they learn how to walk away from fires dramatically. Please inform of the name of this school immediately. I have questions.
  • This episode probably had the greatest amount of deaths in one episode to date. They pulled out all the stops. Rest in peace, Hope, Detective Clemons, and Wendy.
  • I loved the scene with Pam. It was gloriously shot and beautifully acted.
  • Hope dying in Jessica’s arms was some heavy symbolism and I’m not even mad.


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