[Review] Jessica Jones Episode 1×09: “Sin Bin”

written by Jamus

“For what will it profit a woman if she gains the whole world and forfeits her soul? Or what shall a man give in return for her soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Modified from its original context and choice of gender…but I find it wildly appropriate for this review. The ninth episode of Jessica Jones shows that the series is starting to speed up. Desperation, extreme measures, and a major secret reveal some surprising truths about Jessica’s past actions. Have a look at this one; the devil’s in the details.

A fairly heavy spoiler is revealed. Ye be warned, faint of heart.

So we join Kilgrave after his eventful evening, and find him inside of the place he was supposed to end up in Episode 5. Jessica and her crew have managed to smuggle the unconscious and heavily-drugged antagonist back to the conveniently-placed safehouse with the airtight room. I was initially curious as to why they bothered to remove his shoes…until I saw that he was sloshing about in ankle-deep water. Combining this revelation with a nice bunch of colourful wires on the floor, and you have a lovely control mechanism which I’m sure even the Avengers themselves would have considered a little bit much. I guess Jessica doesn’t have their contact details on her phone.

Still, it’s not like we need to question just “how far” Jessica will go to get results at this point in the game, right? She is in total control of who or what interacts with Kilgrave, and she can keep the whole thing recorded and monitored as she pleases – including playing a few awkward home movies for Kilgrave’s torment, all pulled from the mysterious yellow flash drive. A few others eventually become privy to this little “show” our heroine has set up, most notably Jeri, who sees this as not only morally questionable (she’s one to talk) but also a dead end for trying to extract a confession. The trick is to get Kilgrave on film mind-controlling a victim, but the man is smart enough to know how to play dumb and give Jessica nothing. Jeri, for once, is probably right in saying this won’t be enough.

Now, regular readers will understand my irritation towards Jeri and everything she stands for. Those same readers may also find it just as strange as I do to find that Jeri actually interested me in this episode, because she’s started down a path I had called some time ago. Faced with continuous pressure from her ex-wife Wendy, and the refusal of Pam to give in until the divorce is cleared, and with Jessica’s reluctance to assist her, Jeri is becoming increasingly desperate. There was no surprise when she started speaking with Kilgrave in private – but there was some definite fascination. There’s some potential for some truly awful events now, and that makes for a good show.

Meanwhile, we have Will and Trish. We remember these two, right? The guy who apparently didn’t get himself reduced to meat in an explosion, and the girlfriend who was continuously confounded by and disappointed in him? Will’s been rushed to the hospital – a specific one, in fact, and he continuously mentions wanting to see a certain and specific doctor whom apparently even the hospital doesn’t know all that much about: a Doctor Koslov. (I’m certain there’s a Marvel reference here I have missed like a champ, but those who are better informed can bite me and refer to my introduction in Episode 1 – I know nothing, and I have refrained from learning more at this time. So there.) What, is he too good for Doctor House? Pffft.

Let’s get back to the main attraction of the episode. Jessica is trying to rope in potential witnesses for her little adventure in amateur filmography, and eventually this prompts her to make her first big move – getting into the sealed chamber with Kilgrave herself. This results in a rather tense sequence which really throws into question who was really in control here. Kilgrave, acting wisely, decides to stifle any hint of control, while Jessica starts laying into him and dispensing some serious hurt. All of which is caught on camera and simply screams “I’ll bet someone else whose name starts with a J will take this film and spin it really good for their own goals.”

Confounded by their lack of progress, Jessica and Trish continue to research the contents of the yellow flash drive for more clues, this time looking for just the right trigger for Kilgrave to unleash his powers and catch him in the act. After reviewing the Kilgrave videos again, we stumble upon the mentioning of “Eric in the Sin Bin” – a comment spoken by Kilgrave’s father to try and instill courage in the terrified young Kevin. Now, the show reveals a “sin bin” to be a rugby term (it’s also an ice hockey term) that I’m sure became one of the highest-searched terms on Google in the last few weeks. Using some…well, oddly convenient fast-tracking, Jessica manages to locate the whereabouts of Kilgrave’s mother. Strangely enough, mum has been frequenting Malcolm’s “Kilgrave survivor group” right under Jessica’s nose this whole time.

We then cut to Jessica’s confrontation with Kilgrave’s folks, who proclaim that the experiments were part of preventative (if extremely painful) measures and procedures to try and save Kevin from an early death. Something about injecting him with a virus to offset his disease, but the side effects resulted in something terrible. Typical superhero/supervillain origin affair, for certain. I found a neat sort of a nature vs. nurture duality here: if given the right guidance, that gift could have become something wonderful. Makes me wonder how exactly Kilgrave suddenly got it in his head to travel down the path of cruelty if his parents truly did love him. Maybe he developed it out of a sense of self-preservation and self-defense against the barrages of pain and experimentation. There’s something here that’s not fully explained, I’m sure.

At last, Jessica’s stage is set and we have a proper audience for another round with Kilgrave. This time, Jessica sends mum and dad in and flips the camera back on. There is a moment of true emotion in Kilgrave’s eyes as he confronts his parents: they may have been the ones who brought him into the world, but I can imagine he sees something entirely different. The two who abandoned him, betrayed him, even tortured him in his younger days. Forgiveness is something that wouldn’t come easily, even in the best possible situation…but before any of that is considered, Kilgrave’s mother pulls out a pair of scissors and plunges the blades into her son’s back. I was honestly surprised to see the parents making the first move this time around, but this leads to what we all feared would happen. Kilgrave controls his own mother and commands her to use the blades on a closer target – herself.

In the confusion and chaos of this scene, Kilgrave’s parents are mortally wounded, Trish and Detective Clemens are overwhelmed by Kilgrave’s psychic influence, and Jeri escapes with a gun in her hands. Most interesting, however, is the interaction between Jessica and Kilgrave – for the first time, we see Kilgrave turn to stare Jessica right in the eyes, and tell her to “let him go”. But there isn’t a single hint that she followed the command. Not even a budge. In desperation, Kilgrave orders Detective Clemens to subdue Jessica while Kilgrave escapes into the streets. So while I’m scratching my head and trying to wrap my head around what just transpired, it becomes clear. Jessica, in truth, is not affected by Kilgrave’s influence – not at all. She smiles in this realization as the screen fades to black.

A compelling twist, but it brought about another big question. Exactly how long has this been the case? Have there been other times when this has gone down? Maybe she’s actually been in control, or maybe she’s been able to have more free will from the very beginning? This realization might throw her level of innocence into question if this might be the case…

Heavy.

Bigs and Littles, here they are.

The 3 Big Good Things

  • My days of hating Jeri’s story arc are definitely coming to a middle. It’s a very Faustian sort of bargain she’s set to make, and those are always my most favorite deals.
  • David Tennant was just brilliant in this episode. That confident, jeering sort of grin said it all.
  • Just like in Episode 5, the show displays its best moments in the middle of a complex and desperate situation. The audience is left thinking “Something is about to go terribly wrong…right…now. Or maybe now. Now? Probably soon.”

The 3 Little Bad Things

  • It seems very convenient that Kilgrave’s mother was just available this entire time, simply overlooked. I’ll forgive the fast-tracking on this one if only because I understand we can’t go spending multiple episodes to track them down.
  • Don’t accept drugs from random strangers, kids. Even worse to take more than your doctor tells you. I don’t care how patriotic those colours are, Will.
  • So, wait. She was never controlled from the beginning? Or is it just now that she’s built up some resistance to this? Out of the blue? Finding that a little hard to swallow for the sheer amount of things that would imply if it were the former. That is a lot of history to suddenly rewrite – and why wouldn’t she have figured that out from the very beginning? I call it flimsy until it explains itself.

I’m feeling like this is the final “whoosh” towards the end of the season. Things are accelerating, secrets are revealed, desperation is starting to shine through in the actions of the heroes and the villains. Love it, want to see this to the end. We’ll see you fine people again this Saturday.

Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.

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