Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Rebirth Of Nuke, The Downfall Of Jessica Jones: "AKA Sin Bin"

The Good: David Tennant's performance, Simpson's plotline, Plot climax
The Bad: Meanders, Jessica Jones's character, Inorganic character and plot development
The Basics: Jessica Jones beats the crap out of Kilgrave for no particular reason, which undermines all that the season has accomplished up until "AKA Sin Bin."

After Jessica Jones hit a season one (and Marvel Cinematic Universe!) high with "AKA WWJD?" (reviewed here!), there was a somewhat inevitable quality to the fall the season would take with its subsequent episode. Unfortunately, the fall is farther than it otherwise might have been because the season takes a turn for the utterly baffling when the protagonist makes a decision out of pain and ends up creating the villain. Like The Flash episode "Gorilla Warfare" (reviewed here!), "AKA Sin Bin" takes a character who is at a malleable position and can be turned to good and generically pushes that character into being a villain for no organic reason. Fidelity to the source material is placed above the organic development of the characters in the television incarnation.

And that is disappointing.

"AKA Sin Bin" is disappointing because it makes Jessica Jones almost unwatchable for the episode. A significant aspect of the episode's unwatchability comes from David Tennant's performance and Jessica Jones's severe character defect. In "AKA WWJD?" Jessica Jones saw the potential to harness Kilgrave and his power for the side of good; in "AKA Sin Bin" Jones tries to antagonize Kilgrave into being the villain she initially saw him as, completely neglecting the perspective she was opened to in the prior episode. And Tennant's performance as Kilgrave is heartbreaking to watch.

Kilgrave awakens in the hermitically-sealed room that Jessica set up and immediately begins getting tortured by Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones begins taunting Kilgrave with footage of the experiments that were performed upon him as a child. While recording Kilgrave, Jessica Jones tries to extract a confession through taunting Kilgrave and electrocuting him. Elsewhere, Simpson is mortally wounded and Trish drives him to Metro General Hospital as he cries out for Dr. Koslov. When Hogarth arrives, she advises Jones to release Kilgrave. Hogarth lets Jones know that Hope Shlottman is being offered a deal and Jones leaves Hogarth with Kilgrave while she gets a detective who can authenticate Kilgrave's statement.

Enlisting the aid of Detective Clemons and Trish, Jessica Jones returns to Kilgrave's cell where she tries to goad Kilgrave into using his powers on her so that she can exonerate Hope Shlottman. While Simpson gets healed back into a mysterious medical program to recover from almost being blown up, Trish returns to Jessica's side. Trish and Jones begin the search for Kilgrave's parents with the hope that they can antagonize Kilgrave into revealing his powers on camera.

"AKA Sin Bin" is packed with information, but is tainted by Jones acting more villainous than Kilgrave. Jones notices that the footage with the experiments done on Kilgrave when he was Kevin Thompson includes multiple other children who were experimented upon, potentially setting up future seasons of Jessica Jones.

The character of Jeri Hogarth is given more depth in "AKA Sin Bin" and actress Carrie-Anne Moss has the chance to illustrate just how cold and calculating she can make Hogarth. Hogarth squares off against Kilgrave and her moral ambiguity reaches a new low when she expresses a willingness to use Kilgrave's powers for her own means. Given that Hogarth's big conflict now is with her acrimonious divorce with Wendy, Hogarth's willingness to use Kilgrave seems particularly petty.

The Simpson subplot is interesting and gives rise to a secondary villain for the first season of Jessica Jones. Simpson, as it turns out, was once part of some form of super soldier program and in "AKA Sin Bin" he re-enters it. Simpson is motivated by guilt over his friends getting killed at the climax of the prior episode and his attempt to take power back in his own life is the mirror image of Kilgrave being robbed of his power until the end of the episode.

Ultimately, "AKA Sin Bin" is unpleasant to watch; there is nothing entertaining about watching one person torture another. The episode's climax goes a long way to saving the episode that otherwise meanders and includes some truly melodramatic scenes between Hogarth and Pam, but it is not enough. Sadly, it's almost like the writers and director John Dahl knew how far gone the episode was when Jessica Jones comments on how watching the footage even she feels sorry for Kilgrave, but she does not stop tormenting Kilgrave, so it's kind of a wash. In fact, as Trish and Jones hunt for Kilgrave's parents, Kilgrave very simply writes out "Help Me" in sauce on the glass of the tank and Jessica's response only adds to her cruelty.

The result is that "AKA Sin Bin" becomes the low point of the first season of Jessica Jones, despite the fact that David Tennant's performance is absolutely amazing.

[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 Thomas Kopache, please visit my reviews of:
No Country For Old Men
The West Wing
"Harbinger" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Broken Bow" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"Ties Of Blood And Water" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"The Thaw" - Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Generations
"Emergence" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
"The Next Phase" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
"The Parliament Of Dreams" - Babylon 5


For other film and television reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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