Thursday, November 26, 2015

Jessica Jones Diminishes By A Death Of "AKA 1,000 Cuts!"

The Good: David Tennant's performance, Plot moves forward, Pam's character suddenly gets cool
The Bad: Gore factor, Terrible character choices, Pacing
The Basics: All of the characters, but Jessica Jones, suffer the consequences of Jones's decisions in "AKA 1,000 Cuts."

One of the films I have come to enjoy more and more over the years, that I never expected to, was the P.T. Anderson film Punch-Drunk Love (reviewed here!). In it, Adam Sandler takes on an uncomfortable dramatic role (one of his first) and illustrates a profound range that his comedy works did not allow him. I mention this at the outset of my review of the Jessica Jones episode "AKA 1,000 Cuts" because by this point in the first season, the "villain" Kilgrave is beginning to have a lot in common with Sandler's character from Punch-Drunk Love and David Tennant's performance as Kilgrave similarly deep. Like Sandler's character Barry Egan, Kilgrave has been screwed over by everyone in his life at this point and as "AKA 1,000 Cuts" opens, it is hard not to feel bad for him in some ways.

"AKA 1,000 Cuts" picks up at the climax of "AKA Sin Bin" (reviewed here!), revealing how Kilgrave escaped from his perspective and despite the direction the episode - and the season - is now taking Kilgrave in, those who only knew David Tennant from Doctor Who (season two is reviewed here!) have a lot to be excited by from his performance. Unfortunately, the character's peak of greatness has been corrupted and Jessica Jones has replaced the deep version of Kilgrave with an obvious, villainous character who develops now down the Dark Side in "AKA 1,000 Cuts." Kilgrave was betrayed by Jessica Jones and his own mother in "AKA Sin Bin" and that made it difficult to root for any of the supposedly "good" guys in that episode.

Opening with Kilgrave fleeing the room Jessica Jones had him captured in and asserting his power over Hogarth, Kilgrave heads to a doctor. Back in the facility, Trish tries to get a bullet into her head until Jessica Jones helps her get through the command. Jones realizes she is now immune to Kilgrave's influence and Dr. Thompson reveals that Kilgrave's power comes from a microvirus. He and Trish head off to try to make a vaccine against Kilgrave's power, while Jones hunts Kilgrave and Detective Clemons cleans up the crime scene. While Wendy is patching up Kilgrave, Kilgrave stumbles upon Hogarth's secret regarding Kilgrave's unborn child and her plans for it.

Kilgrave gives Wendy her chance to get revenge on Hogarth, while Simpson arrives at his safe room and discovers the post-Kilgrave carnage. When Pam rescues Hogarth, things go terribly wrong. Returning home, Jessica Jones finds Malcolm helping Robyn put posters around for her missing brother. Kilgrave offers Jones a trade: exonerating Hope Shlottman for Kilgrave's father. Malcolm accidentally outs himself to Robyn at the Survivor's meeting and she becomes enraged to motivate the survivors to turn their wrath on Jones. Trish encounters Simpson and realizes that all is not right with her former lover, while Robyn's move puts all of the survivors and Hope Shlottman in a precarious position that forces Jones into an untenable decision.

David Tennant is once again amazing in "AKA 1,000 Cuts." He plays Kilgrave with a delightful, hapless quality that moves the plot forward brilliantly. It is Kilgrave's frustrated utterance that leads him to the knowledge that he impregnated Shlottman and Hogarth has the embryonic tissue and Tennant plays the key moment effortlessly. He makes it seem like it is the first take! Tennant plays Kilgrave as confused and authoritative and full of vengeance, alternately. The flashback scene with Jessica Jones and Kilgrave is good for revisiting the matter of perspective that is otherwise dulled in "AKA 1,000 Cuts."

The enemies multiply in "AKA 1,000 Cuts" as Simpson takes a leap down the rabbit hole and becomes his supersoldier alter-ego Nuke. Nuke has serious crossover potential with Daredevil or the forthcoming Netflix series The Defenders, but in "AKA 1,000 Cuts," Simpson still has a somewhat reasonable motivation. Simpson wants to kill Kilgrave to stop the threat he represents and to that end, Simpson will take any means necessary. In the process, he becomes a monster on par with the one he wants to stop.

"AKA 1,000 Cuts" marks the final appearance in the first season of Pam, Hogarth's legal secretary and lover. In saving Hogarth, Pam is able to become her equal and she squares off against her partner perfectly. Unfortunately, it is in the quick conflict during which Pam saves Jeri that the viewer realizes for the first time that Susie Abromeit and Rachael Taylor were cast way too closely. Given that Hellcat usually appears in the comics as the redhead she is alluded to in Jessica Jones from when she was a child actor, it seems odd that two skinny blondes were cast. In "AKA 1,000 Cuts," there's a double-take the viewer has to do to realize that it is Pam, not Trish, saving Hogarth. Abromeit is good in her character's final moments.

As the name of the episode might suggest, "AKA 1,000 Cuts" is a bloodbath and the climax of the episode forces Jones in a different direction and moves Jessica Jones down a much darker, far less heroic, path. It's hard not to watch "AKA 1,000 Cuts" and just think "if Jones had just worked for more than one day to rehabilitate Kilgrave none of this would be happening!" Given the graphic natures of the multiple deaths in "AKA 1,000 Cuts," it makes it very hard to like Jessica Jones at this point, much less the season.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Jessica Jones - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!

For other works with Clarke Peters, please visit my reviews of:
The Best Of Me
John Wick


For other Marvel movie, television season and episode reviews, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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