‘Jessica Jones’ Finale Recap: “AKA Smile”

     December 14, 2015

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Miss out on our past Jessica Jones recaps? You can read them all here

Jessica Jones is a testament to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. It’s hard to believe that so many years ago, we first witnessed to Robert Downey Jr slapping on the Iron Man suit, spouting off one-liners, and merely hinting at the idea of the Avengers finally assembling, only to now be exploring the gritty underbelly of the Marvel Universe in a completely new way of storytelling. Jessica Jones is a deeply personal story set in the Marvel Universe that just offers something we hadn’t seen up until this point. For a company that relies on gods, playboy billionaire philanthropists, and out-of-time super soldiers, it was an amazing feat to bring about the story of a woman who is attempting to put her painful past behind her, while also fighting a superpowered stalker. Jessica Jones doesn’t feel like a Marvel Cinematic Universe production, and that’s a good thing, not because the MCU is a lackluster environment, but because the studio has managed to break away from its comfort zone and create such an excellent series in the process.

So let’s dig into our final episode of this first season. It’s been a long road for Jessica and the cast, and the finale manages to put a nice big bow on the proceedings. To start, the inclusion of Rosario Dawson’s Claire, the nurse who took care of Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, in the prior Marvel Netflix season, was a perfect choice here. Bringing these characters together through an organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. would feel really off-kilter with what’s been currently established as its own world within the universe. Even having Daredevil appear in this final episode to combat Kilgrave would feel unearned, and more importantly, do damage to the idea that this is ultimately a fight that Jessica has to take head-on. I think that would almost come across as “Jessica needing a man to finally put a stop to Kilgrave” so I’m glad they decided not to take this route. Simply having Claire reference her relationship with Matt and sew the seeds for a potential time in the future when all the Marvel Netflix heroes join force to become the Defenders is good enough.


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Image via Netflix

Claire enters the picture as the nurse who’s assigned to Luke Cage after he’s dragged into the hospital to deal with his wounds from the brainwashed fight he had with Jessica in the last episode. This makes for a humorous scene wherein a nurse attempts to inject Luke with a syringe to save his life, unable to do so because of his unbreakable skin. After realizing what the issue actually is, Claire shares the skin-crawling idea that the only way to actually save Luke is to go through one of the areas of his body that would actually allow for the treatment to work: his eye. During this time, Claire manages to fit in quite well with the cast, almost making you wish she had been a player herself within the series, but the time she gets here is fine and works well in creating a connected world. “The Night Nurse” acting as the Defenders’ “Nick Fury” is a fine choice for the Marvel Netflix world moving forward.

From here, Jessica begins her “one man stand” against Kilgrave, unravelling a plot to finally kill Kevin once and for all. Throughout the series, David Tennant’s character escaped one too many times for my liking, so it’s nice to see a worthy conclusion wrap things up. The idea of incorporating Trish/Patsy into the mix was a worthwhile one, having Jessica finally reach out, and rely on her friend rather than bare all the responsibility, and pain, herself. Again, it’s a fantastic metaphor for Jessica’s survivor’s guilt and how the isolation of attempting to struggle with her one-time captor portrays itself both emotionally and physically. As has been the case of course with every plan to capture Kilgrave, things don’t go as expected. Though the twist of having Jessica send in Trish (“It’s Patsy!”) to distract Kilgrave was a good one, it ultimately leads to Kilgrave getting a hold of Trish himself.

Kilgrave’s new boost to his powers is a terrifying one, but the added bonus of revealing that he’s still the same old slimy character he’s always been was certainly welcome. As you know, Kilgrave was able to work with his father, mind-controlled of course, to boost his strength, able to take control of a large amount of people at any given time, even revealing a slight nod to his “Purple Man” origins with a hint of his veins turning purple when he really turned up the juice. After taking control of Trish in front of Jessica, he boasts and brags about how he’ll keep her in Jessica’s place, doing to her what he had done to the protagonist of the series for so long. After playing possum and pretending to be totally under Kilgrave’s control, Jessica manages to get close enough to the villain of the story — now assured that he is once again united with the “love of his life” — in order to snap his neck and permanently put an end to Kilgrave.


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Image via Netflix

And so, we say goodbye to the best villain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen to date. Ultimately, when looking at the series, it’s probably the only way the relationship could have ended between Jessica and Kilgrave, as placing him under lock and key just wouldn’t seem realistic after having been trapped about three times by Jessica throughout the series. David Tennant gave this performance his all and hopefully, the MCU has taken the hint from all the reviews and recaps of the series that Kevin Kilgrave needs to be the example for all of their villains moving forward. There will always be a place for wit and dry humor in the Marvel universe, but if you go too far in that direction, you come up with a lackluster villain such as Ultron, or if you go too far in the direction of menace, you have villains like Ronan the Accuser and the Red Skull, who aren’t able to really compare with the hero. With Kilgrave, and to a lesser extent with Loki, you have a pound-for-pound threat to the hero, albeit in a different way.

After wrapping things up here, Jessica returns back to her office and realizes that her phone is now ringing off the hook with those affected by Kilgrave (and others still) who want her to help them. As the camera pans out from Jessica, still clearly damaged though grasping at the strands of conclusion to her relationship with Kilgrave, we’re given perhaps a brighter future for her. Maybe she’ll manage to find hope and redemption for her self-brutalization through the assistance of others, but we know that she’s managed to take a big step forward into becoming a better person, and really, it’s the change we were looking for Jessica to have since the start.

If you had asked me originally which of the Marvel Netflix series I was most looking forward to, I honestly don’t think I would have placed Jessica Jones at the top of the list. While Daredevil managed to be one of the best offerings that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to offer, I feel that the story structure and characters were elements we had seen before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slighting Daredevil in the least — I love Daredevil! Strictly from the idea of venturing out into such a sensitive and new area helped to create dividends that Daredevil couldn’t quite hit, which is why I think Jessica Jones managed to surpass it in some ways. The series was a knockout, and I can’t wait to keep exploring the world of Netflix’s Marvel Universe in the future.


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Image via Netflix

Rating:

“AKA Smile” – ★★★★★ Excellent

Jessica Jones Season 1 –★★★★★  – An excellent series, and one of the best for Marvel, and Television, of 2015.

AKA Purple Notes

– Man it really stinks to lose Tennant here. I suppose it would have been a well that ran dry at some point (I just couldn’t imagine them bringing him into the movies and fighting the Avengers or something).

– Speaking of losing Tennant, it should be very interesting to see what path they take for Jessica Jones Season 2 in terms of antagonists. In the comics, the main villain was Kilgrave, though there were some other lesser villains who she came across along the way. I don’t know if they would focus on Nuke potentially as the main antagonist, though in the comics, Kilgrave did have “Purple Children” that had his same powers. Perhaps they could explore that as a way to look at the damage Kilgrave left in his wake even further.

– Jessica expressing her love for Trish was a fantastic crescendo to their relationship. It worked in terms of Jessica healing herself and cementing the bond the two had.

– I haven’t really discussed this much on here, but I can tell you right now that the biggest thing I’m most excited for coming down the Marvel / Netflix pike is Iron Fist. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to see the Punisher and Elektra burst onto the scene in Daredevil’s second season, along with Luke Cage’s own series, but neither of those have a protagonist who gained his powers by punching a dragon in the heart!


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Image via Netflix

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Image via Netflix


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