We knew it had to happen. We knew, as soon as Jessica Jones illustrated Jessica’s role in the death of Luke’s wife, that her unwilling complicity in the tragedy would come to light sooner than later. That’s why, after all, she has been dutifully avoiding Luke for the last few episodes, and why she cut things off with him in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey.” She’s tough as hell, and she hasn’t figured out the top end of her powers yet, but for all her various and impressive strengths, even Jessica doesn’t want to have to face Luke, not because she can’t go toe to toe with him, but because of that massive reserve of guilt she’s built up over killing Reva—and because she cares. There’s that weakness shining through again.
“AKA You’re a Winner!” makes a nice team-up caper for Jessica and Luke, and provides a reprieve of sorts from the hunt for Kilgrave. That’s not to say that we’ve forgotten about him, of course; he’s off in the periphery, doing his own thing as Jessica takes a case on Luke’s behalf, which mostly adds up to silencing an entire cafe full of noisy people as he peruses Zillow for real estate. As supervillains go, Kilgrave is kind of an odd duck. He isn’t especially intimidating to look at (which, in the grand scheme of the show’s explorations of power and male dominance, makes sense), unless you’re easily daunted by a sharp-dressed man. And if you put a muzzle on him, he’s toast. He doesn’t have any grand plans, either, at least none that we can see (and which don’t directly revolve around his obsession with Jessica). So his online house hunting search is both a puzzler and totally normal for him at the same time.
We don’t quite know what he’s up to, though, even at the end, when he wanders the halls of his newly purchased home and we find out that it’s the place where Jessica grew up. As with Malcolm, Kilgrave doesn’t need to rely on his powers wholly here; money, like heroin, is a potent enough drug that he’s able to buy out the previous owner without any metahuman nonsense. His uncharacteristic civility and cordiality here nearly invites us to reconsider what we know of him, but his motives for purchasing his new domicile remind us that he is altogether creepy and insidious. The final image of “AKA You’re a Winner” is chilling. Sometimes, you run into evil while trying to make a difference on New York City’s amoral streets. Sometimes, though, evil moves in right next door to you without you even realizing it.
That’s a nice moral quandary, but it isn’t half as juicy as the ones Luke contends with in his search for Antoine Greer. Antoine has no connection to Luke, or to Jessica; he’s missing, and his sister wants Luke to find him. She also has information about Reva’s death, which Luke wants, and Jessica fears will give her away. Collaborating with Luke means more sleuthing, more skull-cracking, and yet more supercoitus; we’d all be shipping the two of them hard if not for the fact that they’ve been gravitating toward each other since “AKA Ladies Night.” New York City, as seen through the lens of Jessica Jones, is a cold, unforgiving, and frankly shitty place. It’s cheesy as hell, but the comfort Luke and Jessica both find in each other is a warming element in an otherwise pitiless universe. There’s a great, up-close shot of Jessica’s fingers clenched around Luke’s waist as he chauffeurs her around on his motorcycle that punctuates the peace and safety that their bond represents. So watching that bond shatter as easily as Luke shatters a windshield is a real bummer.
Hey, silver lining: Jessica stops Luke from killing an innocent man, the bus driver who is presumed to have accidentally caused Reva’s demise while drunkenly running his route. We all know the truth, though, and the build up to Jessica’s confession is only marginally less awful than his reaction to hearing it. “AKA You’re a Winner!” wonderfully highlights Jessica Jones’ caustic, rapidfire sense of humor. (“Yes, why be polite to a lowly secretary?” asks Pam when Jessica busts in on Jeri’s office. “I’m rude to everybody,” Jessica spits in return. The divorce subplot with Carrie-Anne Moss, Susie Abromeit, and the underrated Robin Weigert hasn’t done much for the show thus far, but this exchange is well worth it.) But it underscores the series’ propensity for wounded human cruelty with even greater efficacy. Jessica has spent much of her arc coming to terms with her transgressions (which we all know are Kilgrave’s, and not hers). For a moment, it looked like she might even get there. Luke’s awful rebuke to her, though, has set her back several steps even as it moves the story forward.
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.