The final episode, AKA Smile, opens with Jessica bringing Luke to the hospital. His life is in danger because his impenetrable skin makes it impossible for the doctors to treat him. She receives help from a nurse who is familiar with super powered vigilantes. Together, they attempt to escape the hospital but when she realizes that Kilgrave has found her in the hospital she has the nurse take Luke back to her place while she tracks him down. Before she can locate him, Kilgrave uses the PA system to control the entire hospital and sends them after Jessica. She manages to escape and return to her apartment where the nurse is treating Luke.
Back at his new hideout, Kilgrave makes his father give him all of the experimental treatment. He is told he has a 40:60 chance that it will make him stronger. He is willing to take the chance if it means controlling Jessica again.
Jessica uses Luke’s phone to track down Kilgrave. She has Trish drive her to the apartment where he has been hiding. Before she goes in, Trish wants to establish a safe word; a word Jessica can say to show Trish that she isn’t under Kilgrave’s control, something that she never says. Jessica says, ‘how about, I love you’, and heads inside where she finds Kilgrave’s father brutally murdered and the residents ordered to kill themselves after. Before he succumbs to his injuries, Kilgrave’s father gives her a warning, ‘he’s stronger now, don’t listen, don’t look at him. He’ll make you kill.’
Jessica and Trish track Kilgrave down to the marina. Trish, fitted with headphones, serves as a distraction by pretending to be Jessica. They pursue Kilgrave outside where he has controlled a large group of people to kill each other. As Jessica continues through the crowd to Kilgrave he screams “STOP” controlling everyone, including (apparently) Jessica. Kilgrave decides that the best way to make Jessica suffer is to take hold of Trish and force her to stay by his side. Seeing how he is able to control Jessica through Trish, Kilgrave is ecstatic. He tells her to smile and tell him she loves him. Jessica smiles but turns to Trish and tells her that she loves her. This is the safe word. Jessica is not under Kilgrave’s control. She grabs him by the face, tells him to smile, and snaps his neck.
Kilgrave is dead.
The episode wraps with Luke waking in Jessica’s apartment, learning of Kilgrave’s death and Jessica’s subsequent arrest, and leaving. Jerry is acting as Jessica’s lawyer and gives the defense that she was being controlled by Kilgrave when she snapped his neck and has plenty of witness testimony to back up that claim as well. Trish receives the files from her mother and begins her investigation into the company behind Jessica’s powers. The series ends with Jessica in her office, her phone filled with messages from people asking for her help. They see her as a hero even though she doesn’t see herself as one.
I have to admit, I enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would. Until Jessica Jones, I avoided most of the Marvel television properties. I haven’t watched Agents of Shield and have failed on at least two occasions to watch Daredevil. Jessica Jones piqued my interest because I am a sucker for Noir, and a Noir P.I story with a supernatural bent is right up my alley.
That being said, I had my issues with the finale. It didn’t have the climax that I felt this slow burn was leading to. Kilgrave spent at least two or three episodes avoiding Jessica and growing stronger, but the most impressive display of his new stronger abilities wasn’t even in the climax. It was midway through the episode where he had a group of untrained doctors and sick people looking for her. There was so much potential there, yet the finale wasn’t even as impressive as the police station scene 7 episodes back. There was the ominous dying words of Kilgrave’s father. There was the connection between the company responsible for Jessica’s powers, Kilgrave’s powers, and Simpson’s pills. They built up a lot… and none of it mattered because at the end of the day, Kilgrave couldn’t control Jessica and she snapped his neck. The End.
At least, until next season, or the next series I suppose.
I also wasn’t a fan of the nurse from Daredevil’s cameo. I felt like it lasted longer than it needed to and she didn’t serve much of a purpose after leaving the hospital. The Marvel cinematic and television universes aside, I’ve never been a fan of crossovers. They tend to make whoever is coming in from the new show have all the answers and serve as a convenient plot device.
I may have been a little disappointed in the ending but on the whole, I really enjoyed analyzing this show. I loved the different portrayals of grief, loss and trauma as well as the different types of relationships between the characters. Kilgrave is the most genuinely terrifying villain I’ve seen out of Marvel, mainly because his scope is narrow and personal but the amount of damage he is capable of is massive. He doesn’t destroy universes or send buildings toppling over but he can make someone’s life come crashing down around them. By the end of the series, Jessica wins the fight against Kilgrave, and potentially, clears Hope’s name and avenges her death, but at what cost? She has killed a man on purpose, something she has been avoiding the entire series and although others see her as a hero for her actions, she is no happier. Quite the opposite. Luke has left without a word and she is overwhelmed and miserable. She cannot handle even picking up her office phone. Malcolm, the shows poster child for overcoming trauma in a productive way and never giving up on people, answers the phone for her. By the end, Jessica is only strong because of the people around her. People like Trish and Malcolm who do not have powers but believe in justice (Trish) and believe in people (Malcolm).
The show has it’s flaws but I was thoroughly entranced by it’s visual storytelling, it’s complex characters, it’s morally grey conclusions, and it’s potential for more stories in future seasons. Jessica Jones is, by far, one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.