[Review] Jessica Jones Episode 1×13: “Smile”

Season Finale, of course there will be spoilers. Durr.

The illusions are dispelled, truths are revealed, and…oh, who am I kidding? Even the season finale didn’t answer a damn thing when the dust finally settled. Suffice to say we’ve finally reached a conclusion in the Jessica vs. Kilgrave battle, but we’ve certainly come across more questions than what we started with. Enjoy your Boxing Day as we put this season down for a winter’s nap – Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Episode 13.

Following the clash between Jessica and Luke in the last episode, Luke is rushed to the hospital in a sequence reminiscent of the Superman Returns situation – namely, you wouldn’t be able to use a regular needle on Luke’s iron skin even if his life depended on it. It’s here we meet up with a familiar face and an old friend from the Daredevil series: Claire Temple. Those unfamiliar with Daredevil (released earlier in 2015) can look up her full list of encounters with Matt Murdock and his escapades, but for now it’s a great help to have…well, I would suppose an “experienced” caretaker of superheroes in Jessica’s corner.

Forced to smuggle Luke out of the hospital for fear of being tracked down by the police or worse, Jessica diverts attention away from Claire when she receives a rather abrupt phone call from…well, who else would it be at this point? What is most alarming about Kilgrave’s sudden intervention is the clear display of his power upgrade – with the assistance of an audio broadcast system, he can now control the inhabitants of an entire building. With the power of a flash mob at his command, the entire hospital staff and even the patients begin roaming the hallways for Jessica like an undead army with drive and purpose. Damned unsettling. It’s too bad we didn’t see this used before!

Narrowly escaping the hospital, Jessica meets up with Claire back at her still-broken apartment as Luke starts to convulse in his comatose state, prompting the need to…drain cerebral fluid from his body. Look, again, I don’t pretend to be a medical expert in this case, and I have NO idea what manner of problems a body like Luke’s undergoes when he’s in a near-death state. So I suppose we’ll just have to run with this. All that I do know is that needles aren’t usually supposed to go in there – that’s his eyeball, ladies. I don’t think that…ow. Ow. OW. OW. Son of a OW.

Speaking of needles that are invasive and awful and painful, we’re back at Kilgrave’s annexed apartment. Finally consumed by his hatred for Jessica’s stubborn refusal of his affection, or maybe just endlessly frustrated to have found a human mind he just can’t bend, he demands to have the “last batch” injected into his body by Albert. Ignoring the risks, Kilgrave is watched by his final three servants – fear completely visible in their eyes now – as his veins run purple with the last injection. Desperation provides fertile ground for extremism. I feel like there’s this sort of “pep talk with the coach in their respective corners” with this episode. This sort of last chat before the bell rings for the final round, if you get what I’m saying. Very appropriate tension-building measure as we all know this is coming to a final showdown.

For Jessica, the final sort of pep talk comes from Trish, who teams up with her once more before the attempt to get into Kilgrave’s penthouse apartment – appropriately at the apex of a massive skyscraper overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. We push the door open to something that could have been pulled right out of a horror movie: that odd and low buzzing and grinding noise as Jessica cautiously stalks into the room, finding one body laid out on the floor, syringe full of chemicals in his cold hand. Albert is found on the floor – dismembered, and finally dead, it seems – and…what IS that noise? The final man, still alive, is trying to grind the severed limbs of Albert in the sink’s garbage disposal. Now that is just ridiculously morbid. Love it.

The trail leads our two heroines to the docks, where the yacht Kilgrave commandeered is making ready to depart. Through clever use of headphones and alarm bells (to block out the sound of Kilgrave’s voice) and misdirection to get the drop on the villain, Jessica is finally staring her nemesis in the face – while a veritable legion of Kilgrave puppets are at each other’s throats in an attempt to bar Jessica’s way. I found all of this a case of delays: Kilgrave knows for certain now that he has NOTHING left; only a few means of delaying Jessica’s wrath enough for him to escape into the night. Even his face is tinged in that awful strain of purple to show just how far he’s gone to push his abilities to the limit.

There’s another tense moment where we as the audience start to wonder: with all that greater influence in his head now, even Jessica looked to come to a complete halt amongst all the chaos when Kilgrave gave the bellowing command of “STOP!!” Has he finally cracked it? Does he finally have enough to overcome her barriers and get inside of her head?

…nah, of course not. Jessica grabs him and breaks his neck. Spoilers.

It’s all over. The crowd of the controlled, bewildered and confused, finally come to their senses and start rising to their feet – their master is finally slain and broken.

The epilogue briefly visits a small handful of our major characters before the screen finally flashes to the credits. Jeri, in an oddly heroic stroke, offers to serve as defense for Jessica in the event of a trial against her act of murder and to organize the dozens of witnesses that would testify for her. Luke has woken up, relieved the battle is over, but is gone – escaped again to parts unknown. Trish returns to her apartment, and begins poring over two boxes of files marked I.G.H.; a gift from her mother with whom she has reluctantly decided to speak again. Malcolm has returned to Jessica’s apartment, and is quietly cleaning up the pieces of glass when Jessica finally returns home exhausted.

The final scene involves Jessica hastily deleting the voice mail on her phone – dozens of people crying out for help, because they KNOW who she is, and whom she defended from Kilgrave. The word is starting to spread, and a weary Malcolm answers her phone: “Alias Investigations. How can we help you?”

Well, that’s it then.

Bigs and Littles for Episode 13, and my final thoughts.

==3 Big Good Things==

1. A nice touch to see some crossover action with the re-introduction of Claire Temple: this sort of eternal caretaker for the hidden superpowered, and a confidante for their secrets. I do wonder if we’ll see some mention of Jessica or Luke in the upcoming second season of Daredevil.

2. The scene with the sink disposal: that grinding, whirring noise. Now that is proper atmosphere – I can’t quite recall another time in the series that had that sort of brief potency.

3. Well, at least Jessica will have no shortage of work after the Kilgrave incident on the docks. I suppose one does have to go back to work sometime.

==3 Little Meh Things==

1. I was increasingly feeling “meh” about the conundrums of Kilgrave’s attempts to control Jessica. Ever since we learned she was immune to the effects, the show has been awfully coy about “Is she controlled? Will be be? CAN she be?” When the answer was bluntly “nah” this whole time. Not classy, and the mystery wasn’t all that compelling after the first time.

2. Simple death was…simple. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly thought it would be a bit more elaborate or rage-fuelled than that, considering all she went through on the road to this point.

3. Why the hell didn’t we see this “control a crowd” tactic more often in the past? We already saw Kilgrave bend the minds of an entire room – a good twenty people with guns in their hands. Even that would have been enough to turn the tide in your favor in a second. Seems like wasted potential.

==Last Thoughts==
Well I’ll be damned if this was nothing but anticlimactic. This is something Jessica could have accomplished with her bare hands AGES ago, and she certainly had the opportunities to do so. I suppose this is the “folly of the hero” or something literary that you would care to mention, but I didn’t feel much when this finally happened. It felt like “oh, well, it’s over. Finally.” Maybe I expected too much? Maybe I had hoped for something more dramatic for all of that strength in that body of hers? She could have buried him in that yacht with so much force that it would have capsized on top of him – make him join Ruben in the river, if you wanted.

Oh, well. I can continue to dream of what could have been.

I will certainly say I have enjoyed this challenge of reviewing a series, but a little sad that the series wasn’t as gripping as it could have been. I came into this hoping for more of a gritty detective sort of story, and what I got was a brooding character’s struggle against a villain. (Not that there’s much wrong with that, sure.) It just didn’t quite live up to what I had hoped. I suppose there’s always Season 2 if it comes to pass – there are at least enough loose ends and unresolved threads that a writer might be able to jump on.

Again, please enjoy the rest of your holidays – I thank you kindly for reading.

This is Super Jamoose, signing off.

Smile.

Leave a Reply