[Review] Jessica Jones Episode 1×10: “1,000 Cuts”

written by Jamus

So apparently the creators of Jessica Jones anticipated there being some complaints about the series by this point. Namely, the fact that there just wasn’t enough character death featured in the show. Well, the creators decided to proactively write in a solution to this anticipated problem and packed it all into this episode. So now all of your murder cravings get addressed in a neat little package. Let’s see how they pulled off this creation of flawless logic in Jessica Jones, Episode 10: “1,000 Cuts”.

Three more heavy spoilers here. Read at your own risk.

Right off the bat I struggled with not making the obvious “Get the Doctor to the TARDIS! He’s bleeding!” joke. Thankfully I am far too disciplined to let that slip out into a published article, and I shall maintain my level of utmost professionalism. Mmm-hmm.

The story picks up moments after Episode 9’s conclusion: the chaos and panic ensuing from Kilgrave’s desperate escape from Jessica’s prison, Kilgrave’s mother falling to the ground from her self-inflicted wounds, and Jeri providing the wheels our villain needs to speed off to safety. (I think I called that one.) Meanwhile, Kilgrave’s father and Trish continue to follow the last commands they were given – namely “cut your heart out” and “put a bullet in your head”, respectively. I suppose this confirms that the “last given command” concept lasts a few hours at the most.

Now unfortunately, this introduces the first warning sign. The idea of “Kilgrave’s influential powers stem from the effects of a virus” can go shut up, sit in the corner with a colouring book and think about what it’s done until I’m done ranting about this. I get it. It’s a superhero/supervillain show; there are things that are impossible which will just occur and we should suspend our disbelief. Viruses still don’t work that way. Not even believable for an instant, I’m sorry. I’ll move on now, just as soon as they’re done taking a…blood sample…from Jessica…with a dodgy piece of gauze cloth that is magically sterile enough to use despite the absolute mess the room is in.

It’s going to be one of those episodes.

But wait! Let’s come back to Kilgrave and Jeri’s getaway. Thanks to a twisted interpretation of “take me to a doctor; someone you trust”, we wind up at Wendy’s house. Well, did we meet any other appropriate doctors in this series? Of course not. Wendy it is. So while Wendy is happily patching up the man who’s throwing his psychic influence around, we learn that Hope’s aborted fetus is in cold storage…somewhere…and that Jeri apparently had the scientific connections to try and discern Kilgrave’s powers from his aborted child. Yes, because viruses are transmittable via DNA and you’ll be born with a rhinovirus if your mom was ever sick with it. Because science. Becoming just as sick of the conversation as I was, Kilgrave suggests that Wendy should take some justified revenge on Jeri and “kill her with 1,000 cuts”, resulting in a sequence of Wendy chasing a bloodied and terrified Jeri around the house with a steak knife, keeping accurate count of all of the wounds she’s inflicted. Brutal, but appropriate as all hell.

Meanwhile, Will joins the party and makes it back to the safe house to chit-chat with the bewildered-but-enlightened Detective Clemens. It’s clear right off the bat that the drugs Koslov has been feeding Will have had some profound effects on him. One of the side effects apparently is the sudden development of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” syndrome, complete with a lighter painted with the star-spangled banner. Another side effect is Will’s sudden character shift to acting like a jerk towards someone on the same team and then…

…well, Will shoots Detective Oscar Clemens in the face. He be dead.

I literally started shaking my head and just shrugged my shoulders in reaction to that. He could have easily beat him to a pulp and left him in the dust. But no, it had to be that extreme? Really? I’m losing faith pretty fast in this episode and we’re still not seeing much sign of improveme– oh wait, we’re back in Wendy’s house. Pam rushes in to the rescue with Jessica not far behind. Seeing Jeri already a bloodied mess after only thirty of her impending 1,000 cuts, Pam grabs a heavy vase and clocks Wendy, and…huh.

Pam kills Wendy. She smashes her head into the thin edge of the solid glass coffee table. She be dead.

Cripes. Is that what this episode is all about, then? Killing off loose ends? What, did Stephen Moffat write this episode? I’ll admit that I didn’t like any of the characters involved in the Pam-Wendy-Jeri love triangle, and I don’t feel a single bit of remorse for Wendy’s fate. But come on! That’s the best we can come up with is just “ah, these characters are minor; just kill ’em quickly”?

Okay, trying to get back on track. Jessica dispatches Trish to stay close to Kilgrave’s father, offering him as much time as possible to develop this…”vaccine” to counteract Kilgrave’s powers with this really handy set of lab equipment that he happened to have been keeping in his motel room this whole time. Not a single trace of a pair of goggles, gloves, or maybe a protective mask against all those chemicals, either. Has Breaking Bad taught us nothing?

Maybe we can see what Jessica is up to and try to get some bloody stability back into this episode. Oh hey, Kilgrave remembered how to find her apartment. We’re treated to a bargaining scene: Jessica may be fully aware of Kilgrave’s lack of mental potency, but that certainly doesn’t stop him from influencing other minds which might haunt Jessica’s conscience or give her pause. There’s a trace of what looks like genuine desperation in Kilgrave’s eyes as he lays down his ultimatum: hand over his father, and Hope will go free by the next morning.

With her back against the wall, Jessica has no choice but to play along with Kilgrave’s demands. We have another flashback sequence here that describes what Kilgrave says is the precious “eighteen seconds” where Jessica remained in his care without the slightest need for psychic suggestion. Jessica, naturally, disputes this and says those eighteen seconds were the time she needed to crawl out of that mental prison and regain control of her actions. Getting a little turned off by this “I’m in control! Wait, maybe I’m not and I was happy! No, I’m in control for real! Argh, but now I’m not!” flip-flopping. Maybe it is the point to sow confusion in the heads of your viewers? Not sure if I can dig this. And then of course, Jessica has enough of the boring conversation and decides to lay Kilgrave out on the hardwood floor with one punch. Funny how she figured the MacGuffin drug was the only way to “shut him off” for a few hours when she had access to her own fists the entire time.

Finally, there’s Robyn. Remember her? She was the older sister to Ruben, who tragically took his own life at Kilgrave’s suggestion. Robyn got the bright idea to sneak into one of Malcolm’s “Kilgrave Survivors” support group meetings, and eavesdropped at just the right time when Malcolm confesses to stashing Ruben’s body in the river in order to protect Jessica. Inconvenient timing – and what I can only describe as absolutely stupid logic – starts to whip Robyn and two of the bigger members of the support group into a frenzy. I understand the passions of a character leading them to awful conclusions, and this is a good example of that, but this feels like reaching at this point. The impromptu lynch mob then descends upon Jessica’s apartment and knocks her into unconsciousness. Lovely. And of course Robyn, being the only person who doesn’t recognize Kilgrave, decides to free him out of the goodness of her own heart.

So yes, we’re in for a showdown. Kilgrave now not only has Malcolm, Robyn, and the two dumbass support group members who thought this was a grand idea, but also the recently-released Hope, whom he snagged from prison. Jessica, forced to play the only card she has left, takes Kilgrave’s father to the appointed meeting place and initiates the trade.

That is, until we lose hope. No, literally.

Okay, this took a moment for me to wrap my head around. Hope, firmly believing that Jessica needs to kill Kilgrave, realizes she is an obstacle to that murderous goal. Inside Hope’s addled head, she’s figured out that if she no longer needs to be saved, then Jessica is free to kill the villain and call it a day. Following this flawless chain of logic, she breaks a wine glass and jabs the sharpened stem of glass into her own neck – later dying in Jessica’s arms.

I’m done with this episode. Let’s just get to the Bigs and Littles.

The 3 Big Good Things

  • Pam finally sees the light, realizing that marrying Jeri isn’t the most healthy of relationship choices. Good for her.
  • Clever, clever, Kilgrave. Can’t beat her face-to-face, but it’s simple enough to manipulate her with something she wants and needs.
  • Bonus points for Jessica’s “I’m all ears” after showing off the scars behind her ears. Quips are ways for an author to express their love.

The 3 Little Bad Things

  • A virus. Really. No, I’ll allow myself suspension of disbelief because this is Marvel, after all. But there is no way that a common virus would have those specific and controlled effects. A proper answer might have been “a pheromone blocker” or maybe a “mental shield” or something. Furthermore, there is no plausible way to refine the abilities out of a dead fetus when we’ve already established that his powers are due to an infection he got after he was born.
  • Will didn’t need to do that. Seriously. That wass just unnecessary when he could have just roughed up the detective for not spilling his guts and then left. What the hell is his deal now? Does he suddenly fly into a rage whenever he encounters a non-American accent?
  • Hope ends herself because…reasons. You can play the insanity card all you want, but I’m not going to buy that one for an instant. If the entire point was for the character to pass on needlessly so Jessica could lose that “last barrier” before hunting Kilgrave down to murder him…then Hope could have easily died in the prison weeks ago.

Three deaths, a failed revolution, and more stilted pseudo-science. This isn’t what I call a masterpiece, Marvel. I don’t have too much more to say to this one other than to complain about the inconsistency of the series. If it’s not a roller coaster, it’s got some awful habits of coming up with fluff and filler. Three episodes left, and we can finally put this one to bed. See you next week.

Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.

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