After watching Jessica track down Kilgrave for the large part of the season, episodes 10-12 see the game of cat and mouse take a large shift, as Jessica, armed with the knowledge that Kilgrave cannot control her gives chase and Kilgrave – once the relentless pursuer – runs for his life. The result is a trail of bodies and sorrow.
Episode 10, AKA 1000 Cuts, opens immediately following the events of episode 9, with Kilgrave escaping the CDC with Jerry in toe to find a doctor. Meanwhile, Jessica deals with the aftermath at the CDC. She sends Trish and Kilgrave’s father back to his apartment in hopes of using the new knowledge that Jessica is immune, to find an “anti-Kilgrave vaccine”. Jerry takes Kilgrave to Wendy’s house where he and Wendy bond (somewhat) over feelings of betrayal and how to avenge “death by 1000 cuts”. During this time, he forces Jerry to talk about what Jessica wants from him and discovers that Jessica’s newfound determination centers around Hope. He also learns Hope aborted his unborn child and that Jerry still has the fetus. The body count continues to rise when Simpson shows up at the CDC and kills Detective Clemmons and sets all the evidence on fire. Then, after Kilgrave gets patched up he flees, telling Wendy to avenge her ‘death by 1000 cuts’. She attacks Jerry, cutting her with a kitchen knife repeatedly until Pam shows up and knocks her over the head with a statue, killing her. Jessica arrives just in time to see the aftermath and refuses to help in any way.
Jessica’s sole focus is on finding and capturing Kilgrave once again, but as luck would have it, when she returns to her apartment, he is there. He alerts her that he has secured Hope’s lawful release from prison and will guarantee her safety but only if he trades her for his father. Jessica is forced to lie and stall for time while Kilgrave’s father and Trish attempt to come up with an antidote. Eventually, the two end up arguing about whether an 18 second window where Jessica was not under his control was a sign that she wanted to stay or a missed opportunity to escape. Jessica ends up knocking out Kilgrave and holding him captive in her apartment. But all is not well. Robin, picking up on the fact that Jessica is hiding things, convinces members of the Kilgrave Support Group to confront her. They rush her in her apartment and knock her unconscious, releasing Kilgrave. With no other options available anymore, Jessica is forced to meet Kilgrave to trade his father for Hope. Upon arrival she realizes that Hope and the members of the Kilgrave Support Group and Robin are all being held hostage. When the vaccine doesn’t work, Kilgrave preps his escape but Hope decides to force Jessica’s hand by killing herself. The episode ends with Kilgrave escaping with his father, Jessica saving the support group members and promising Hope that she will kill Kilgrave.
Episode 11, AKA I’ve Got the Blues, centers on Jessica’s relentless pursuit of Kilgrave following Hope’s death. With Hope gone, Jessica is determined to do away with Kilgrave once and for all and curb the growing death toll left in his wake. She forgoes sleep, choosing instead to follow leads for John Does in hospital morgues. But Jessica isn’t the only person hunting down Kilgrave. Simpson is unhinged and repeatedly attempts to manipulate Trish in order to find Jessica, whom he views as an obstacle to killing Kilgrave. Trish never takes the bait, however, and treats Simpson with caution and distance. Meanwhile, Jessica investigates another John Doe which leads to the discovery of Detective Clemmons death. The detective and all of the video evidence they procured are gone.
At Trish’s apartment, Simpson tries again to find Jessica’s whereabouts under the guise of apologizing to Trish but he is interrupted when two of Dr. Koslov’s men come to retrieve him. Instead, he takes a red pill, shoots the two men and locks Trish in the closet of her apartment. He uses her phone to call Jessica and set up a meeting. When Simpson arrives at her apartment Jessica is immediately suspicious and questions him about Clemmon’s death. With suspicions confirmed and pretenses gone, a huge brawl between the two ensues. Jessica is unable to fend off the drug enhanced Simpson due to her sever injuries and is saved when Trish arrives. Despite his protest that she will die without the corresponding blue pills, Trish takes one of Simpsons battle enhancing red pills and commences to kicking butt! With Jessica’s help, they take down Simpson but the pill takes it’s toll on Trish, and she is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. While at her bedside, Jessica receives a text from Kilgrave telling her to say goodbye to her boyfriend. Jessica rushes to Luke’s bar just in time to see him blow it up with him inside.
The pursuit of Kilgrave continues into episode 12, AKA Take a Bloody Number. Luke recounts how he was caught and manipulated by Kilgrave immediately after Hope’s death. Knowing about the 12 hour window of Kilgrave’s effectiveness, Jessica insists on Luke staying put and where she can keep an eye on him until she is sure he’s no longer ‘Kilgraved’. When sufficient time has passed she allows Luke to join her in her search. Kilgraave, on the other hand, is using his time to force his father to help him grow stronger. He realizes that unless he’s able to control Jessica again, she will kill him and utilizes any resource he can get his hands on. This includes the fetal tissue from his and Hope’s unborn baby and a slave force of bio-engineers.
Kilgrave experiments with the limitations of his enhanced capabilities at a nightclub. The resulting exposure eventually leads Jessica and Luke to that location. However, when they arrive, there is no audio or video footage. It has all been erased, and Kilgrave is there waiting for them. Kilgrave attempts to use his ability on Jessica but it still doesn’t work. It is then that Kilgrave reveals his ace; Luke Cage is still under his control and has been for the entire time. Everything that Luke has said and done, from asking to join her in the search to forgiving her for his wife’s death, has been under Kilgrave’s direction. He tells Luke to kill her and a vicious fight breaks out. Jessica is forced to fight and eventually try to hide from Luke as he pursues her through the nightclub. Their fight eventually ends on the ground outside a police vehicle where Jessica grabs a shotgun. She doesn’t want to hurt Luke, but he tells her to do what she has to do before going in for the finishing punch. Jessica shoots Luke in the head with the shotgun and Luke goes down.
I’d like to start off by saying, I KNEW Jerry sabotaged that room. I’ll admit that when you see her at the door of Kilgrave’s prison and she is interrupted before she can open it, I initially thought that would be the end of it. However, when Jessica hit that buzzer and nothing happened I immediately put two and two together. I was livid. I’d been waiting to see what purpose this side story with Jerry and Wendy and Pam would serve and hoped it might pay off in some meaningful way. Although their drama adds to a list of the lives that are ruined by Jessica and Kilgrave’s game of cat and mouse, I saw little else of importance. As far as the two episodes that follow, Jerry serves no more purpose in the story. She was a hard snake at the beginning and a hard manipulative snake in the end. I felt that the “1,000 Cuts” scene was intense and graphic but there was little payoff.
The Simpson story line is something that I felt was out of place upon first viewing but after sitting with it, and analyzing it, and watching again, now feels important but rushed. The same goes for all the revelations between Simpson, the government program he’s linked to, IGH, and Jessica’s accident. It became evident that this was setting up another series or a possible second season and was doing little more than filling up time before Kilgrave and Jessica’s final confrontation. These setups for future installments are what killed the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie for me and made episodes 11 and 12 much less memorable. In order for all of the connections between the Simpson/IGH side story and the experiments on children and Jessica to be relevant, there needed to be much more time dedicated to that, starting long before Simpson’s accident. If they simply wanted to draw a parallel between Simpson’s methods of dealing with Kilgrave and Jessica’s, then the extra bits needed to stay easter eggs, not plot lines.
I also initially really disliked the side plots of Robin and Malcolm. Simply wanting to see the Jessica vs. Kilgrave story progress, their constant back and forth seemed pointless and annoying. But much like the Simpson story line, I felt different about it upon a second viewing. However, unlike the Simpson red pill/blue pill story, the interactions between Malcolm and Robin actually play in to the central theme of this show. As the audience, we may find Robin’s actions annoying, even infuriating but she is a character that is grieving. She has experienced a major loss, her twin brother. Compare Robin’s actions after finding out about Rubin’s death to that of Jessica’s. Robin’s grief when he goes missing turns into suspicion which leads to anger when she learns the truth. She jumps into action without fully formed ideas, lashes out at the one person who she knows is responsible (Jessica) and inadvertently leads other people into harms way (Malcolm and the support group members) all in search of retribution. Later, after she experiences Kilgrave’s power firsthand, shebecomes paranoid, seeing her attacker everywhere and trampling on Malcolm’s attempts to see good in the world. In the end, though, she is able to say goodbye to her brother and gain a sense of closure. By comparison, Jessica, becomes is equally destructive – just in a different way. Her grief over losing Hope leads Jessica to forgo sleep and any rational advice her friends may give her. Her need to save Hope already caused Jessica to make decisions that led people to their deaths or put them in the line of fire; including Kilgrave’s mother, father, Detective Clemmons, Jerry and Wendy. But after Hope died, Jessica’s guilt ridden sleep deprived pursuit caused her to hallucinate and put her physical body through damage. By the end of the 11th episode, it is because of her weakened state that Trish must come to her aid and nearly dies in the process. Because Jessica is the hero of our story, it is easier for us to understand her decisions or actions even if we are aware that they’re not very good ones. However, it is important to see that Robin is the other half of the same coin, whereas Robin is coping with loss in a destructive way, and Jessica copes in a self destructive way.
Finally, the reveal that Luke Cage was still under Kilgrave’s control was one that I did not see coming. Upon second viewing I picked up on a few hints all throughout the episode. For example, there is a line that Jessica says when she brings Luke back to her apartment, where she admits that she wants to keep an eye on him until 12 hours have passed. She says she needs to watch him just in case Kilgrave told him to do something she didn’t think to ask. There is also the fact that every scene featuring Kilgrave in this episode revolves around him trying to increase the range of his power. Finally, one of the last clues they give is the man Kilgrave told to stand in the corner forever, the previous night. When Jessica and Luke enter the nightclub the man is still there, suffering after nearly 24 hours. Although on my first viewing of this episode I only saw the man’s presence as amusing, the second viewing made it clear that this was one of the biggest giveaways that Luke may still be influenced.
Also, I’m calling bullshit right now, with the Luke being nearly dead from the gunshot. Not that I don’t believe it, but because it’s the only thing that makes sense. He has unbreakable skin but that doesn’t mean that a powerful enough force wouldn’t cause internal damage, so the gunshot to the face taking him down makes sense. However, Luke has been punching holes through walls and denting metal with his fists. Shouldn’t his hands be suffering some internal damage? I don’t know how they explain Luke Cage’s powers in the comics but the show has never revealed him to have super strength.
I still don’t buy the superpowers. Even Kilgrave’s powers seem to be changing. They were initially explained as subverting a persons will with him. They did what he wanted because suddenl, that’s what they wanted to do; even if it was destructive, even if it caused their death. However, these past few episodes, his abilities simply seem to be controling another person’s body. The Chefs at Jessica’s childhood home didn’t want to keep their eyes open they were being forced to. Kilgrave’s father didn’t want to put his hand in a blender, it looed like there was an invisible force pushing his hand down. Luke, tells her to ‘do what [she has] to do just before attempting to kill her, as though his body was moving on puppet strings, not that Kilgrave said so and now he WANTS to kill her.
I like a lot of what this show has to offer story wise and character wise, but I’m less and less convinced by the actual super human abilities.