...well, that got out of hand quickly.
Nobody would ever mistake Jessica Jones for a planner. That’s not to say she is incapable of planning; for reference, see her nearly successful joint bid at capturing Kilgrave with Simpson in Trish back in “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me.” Jessica is smart enough to put together a good blueprint, and she’s absolutely amazing at tracking people and information in equal measure, but when she plans, she doesn’t plan for contingencies. She doesn’t think to check Kilgrave’s person in “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me,” for example, and thus all of her team’s efforts at bagging the bad guy wind up going down the tubes. (In fairness to Jessica, nobody else bothers frisking the prone Kilgrave, either, because who would?)
Foresight. That’s Jessica’s real weakness. Her compassion isn’t a weakness so much as a vulnerability, an open sore that Kilgrave pokes whenever he has half a chance, because he knows that setting her off-kilter is the most effective way to manipulate her. So when Jessica finally drags Kilgrave’s sorry, unconscious ass to Simpson’s soundproof containment cell with the intention of beating a demonstration of his powers out of him, you just know that her best laid plans will go wobbly in the end. He’s sporting enough to forego using his mind control powers on her, and those powers also don’t work through speakers or microphones, so “AKA Sin Bin” does deft enough footwork to fool the audience into thinking that Jessica has everything under control.
But she doesn’t, because Jessica isn’t the problem here. Simpson is. Or maybe Trish. Scratch that, it’s Jeri. Or could it be Clemons? Kilgrave seems hellbent on honoring his sworn oath to Jessica, so no one need fear her falling under his spell again, but as she lets more and more people in on Kilgrave’s captivity, she naturally creates openings for him to escape, or for her scheme to go awry. Yet calling on all of her friends as part of her last-ditch effort to put Kilgrave away is only the second biggest mistake she makes in “AKA Sin Bin.” Tracking down his long-lost parents and persuading them to help her kind of takes the cake.
Credit where it’s due: the reveal that Mama Kilgrave (Thompson, actually) has been hiding in plain sight at the rejuvenated Malcolm’s survivor group is pretty slick. And yes, if you want to goad a psycho like Kilgrave into incriminating himself on camera, using his mother and father (Lisa Emery and Michael Siberry) as bargaining chips to push him over the edge sounds like a great idea on paper. But neither Jessica, nor Trish, nor Jeri, nor anybody devoted much thought to the “after” part of their involvement. Great, the Thompsons are stuck in a sealed, partly flooded room together, enjoying an impromptu, wrenching family reunion. Now what? This isn’t The Jerry Springer Show; it isn’t even Maury. Where do we go from here?
This, clearly, is what Clemons is getting at when he chides Jessica early on in the episode: she isn’t really much of a detective. Put more gently, she’s a detective in the same way that she’s a fighter—blunt force is her specialty more than subtlety. But she also has an edge on Clemons in that she understands Kilgrave better than he, or anyone else for that matter, possibly could. If Clemons knew what she knew, if he had the proof that he needs to fully accept what he saw in the police station back in “AKA Top Shelf Perverts,” then he might be willing to offer her more assistance, beyond gruffly advising her to gather more evidence. (Not that he’s wrong to do so, mind, but you’d think that after seeing a precinct full of experienced cops pulling their guns on each other, he’d be a little more pliable.)
So she takes Clemon’s suggestion too much to heart and, in the end, all hell breaks loose in the most rapid-fire demonstration of Kilgrave’s powers we’ve ever seen. In the span of a few seconds, Mom is dead from self-inflicted scissor wounds, Dad is busy trying to cut out his own heart, Trish is trying to literally stick a bullet into her head, Clemons has painfully escaped from a pair of handcuffs, and Jeri is serving as Kilgrave’s unwilling getaway driver. (Simpson, mercifully, is nowhere to be seen during this utter crapstorm.) If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the outcome to Jessica’s Hail Mary pass isn’t quite as horrific as it could have been; there are more outré scenarios where the interrogation room looks like something from the set of a Takashi Miike movie instead of a Marvel series (though of course, as Marvel goes, Jessica Jones is pretty bleak).
If there are two silver linings, it’s that Kilgrave’s powers don’t work on Jessica anymore. He has no direct control over her. Maybe he can influence her by threatening the safety of people she cares about, but he can’t make her do his bidding anymore, which raises a question about Jessica Jones’ rape/abuse survivor narrative: at what point in that kind of relationship does the victim break free of their abuser? In the case of this series, look back no further than “AKA WWJD?” where Jessica is finally able to confront Kilgrave’s crimes and transgressions to his face. His response—to deny his accountability—has only galvanized her in both her recovery from her personal trauma as well as her mission to bring Kilgrave to justice. That’s good for Jessica. It might, however, be less good for her friends and allies, who are still very much susceptible to Kilgrave’s vicious talent for inflicting suffering. We’ll see where that goes in “AKA 1,000 Cuts.” In the meantime, we can peg “AKA Sin Bin” as one of Jessica Jones’ most riveting and impactful chapters thus far.
Boston-based critic Andy Crump has been writing online about film since 2009, and has contributed to Paste Magazine since 2013. He also writes for Screen Rant, Movie Mezzanine, and Birth.Movies.Death. You can follow him on Twitter. He is composed of roughly 65% craft beer.