Jessica Jones Recap: Hero to Zero

By
Krysten Ritter as Jessica, Rachael Taylor as Trish. Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix
Marvel's Jessica Jones
Episode Title
AKA WWJD
Season
1
Episode
8
Editor’s Rating
5/5

Until "AKA WWJD," Jessica was stuck in a cat-and-mouse game with Kilgrave. Even when she located him, he would slip away after a short encounter. Aside from a few flashbacks and Kilgrave's sick declaration of love at the police station, the characters haven't even shared much screen time. This episode finally brings them together, and their clash does not disappoint.

Picking up from the end of the last installment, Jessica enters her childhood home to discover that Kilgrave has painstakingly recreated it as it was when she lived there, right down to the family photos and her CD collection. Before she tours Casa Jones, though, Kilgrave wants his new security guard, Hank, to search her. Hank finds Jessica's phone and Kilgrave quickly confiscates it. She admits she planned to record his confession to the murder of Hope's parents. He promises not to touch her without her "genuine consent." To further prove he's a changed man, he even tells Jessica he's paying his staff, including Hank, a chef, and a housekeeper.

In her bedroom, the ghost of teenage "Jessie" is present. A Nirvana poster hangs above her bed. Even her old binoculars are sitting on the window sill. ("The P.I. bug got you early," Kilgrave notes.). Trish then calls Jessica's phone, and Kilgrave gives it to Jessica to answer. When Jessica tells Trish she's with Kilgrave, she calms Trish's fears by stating that, "Kilgrave is a psychotic, repulsive waste of a human being and if I were under his control, he could never let me say that." Kilgrave points at her in agreement. After the call, Kilgrave brings her a purple formal dress to wear to dinner. A note is attached: "To New Beginnings." Jessica promptly rips the dress apart.

Later, she leaves her room to join Kilgrave at dinner. (While he waits, he asks his staff, "How do you live like this, hoping people do what you want? It's unbearable."). She downs a bottle of red wine and asks him what he wants from her. He wants to try for a real relationship. She scoffs and reminds him that he compelled her to murder Reva. Kilgrave balks at this suggestion. "I said to 'take care of her.' You chose to punch her." At this, Jessica throws a wine bottle at the wall, which immediately triggers the chef and housekeeper to put razors to their own throats. That's Kilgrave's newest safeguard. "They're in place," he says. "Until we've built some trust."

Jessica does convince Kilgrave to trust her, if only a little bit. When she goes upstairs, she finds Simpson waiting in a dark room. He thinks she's been Kilgraved, so he's there to rescue her. He tells her that he put a bomb in the basement. She points out the shortsighted nature of his plan — when the bomb explodes, it'll kill innocent people, too. She grabs Simpson's cell phone, tells him to leave, and then informs Kilgrave about the bomb. Hank removes the explosive device. Kilgrave, in his own sick way, is touched that she saved him.

The next morning, Jessica joins Kilgrave on the patio for breakfast. A nosy neighbor, Mrs. Deluca, spots Jessica from the backyard. Kilgrave invites her to breakfast, asking to hear Mrs. Deluca's stories about Jessica's childhood. But the stories are not pleasant. Mrs. Deluca claims that Jessica's parents had terrible fights, and that Jessica once duct-taped her brother, Phil, to a tree. She takes it a step further, insisting that she had a premonition "something terrible was going to happen" the day of the family's accident. Jessica is visibly upset by Mrs. Deluca's claim, and Kilgrave compels her to tell the truth about her supposed premonition. Turns out, Mrs. Deluca made it up because it makes her "feel important." Kilgrave offers to force Mrs. Deluca to hurt herself, but Jessica declines.

David Tennant plays Kilgrave as an eerily charming suitor in this episode, which can be difficult to watch in light of the rapes, assaults, and other traumatic crimes Kilgrave committed against his many victims. Nevertheless, Tennant's performance is consistent with the character's behavior. Kilgrave is the king of psychological abuse; his attempts to woo Jessica highlight his twisted nature. Even when he's on his best behavior, he's still trying to control her. It's a disorienting experience for both Jessica and the audience.

She's not disoriented for long, though. After breakfast, Jessica denounces Kilgrave for raping her and invading her life. He tries to justify the unjustifiable by claiming he couldn't possibly know whether someone does what they want or what he compels them to do. He shifts the blame to his upbringing. He pulls out a yellow flash drive — the same one Jessica dug up the night of Reva's murder — and plugs it into a computer. It holds video files, which show a child wired to a machine as part of some science experiment. Kilgrave's parents, he claims, turned him into their guinea pig. He wanted the flash drive because it's the only evidence of how he got his powers. As he describes the trauma of his childhood, Jessica records his statements on Simpson's phone.

After this conversation, Jessica seems to see Kilgrave with a different perspective. "All this shit you do is because nobody ever taught you how to be good?" she asks. When Kilgrave turns on the television, which shows a report about a family held hostage, Jessica gets an idea. She wants Kilgrave to try using his mind control to save the hostages. Reluctantly, Kilgrave goes with her to the scene. They walk inside, where the husband has a shotgun pointed at his wife and kids. Kilgrave compels him to put the gun down and tells the family to leave. Kilgrave then orders the man to put the gun in his mouth, until Jessica suggests that he tell the husband to surrender to the police.

After returning home, Kilgrave is excited by his heroic act. He admits that it feels good to help, and that maybe, good deeds could adjust the "moral maths" and get him "back to zero." Of course, he can't imagine doing this without Jessica, which immediately gives her a panic attack. She wants to go for a walk. The show then flashes back to her family's fatal car trip. Teen Jessie swipes her brother's Game Boy. The kids bicker, and their dad, who's driving, turns back around to resolve the dispute. He doesn't see that he's about to ram their car into the back of a truck.

So, maybe Jessica is saving others as a way to get back to zero herself. Her "walk" is really a trip back into the city. She visits Trish and tells her about Kilgrave's "nightmare Barbie's dream house." She wants to know what Trish would do. Would she try to harness Kilgrave's powers for good? "I don't know," she admits. "Yes, you do," Jessica responds. "You just don't want me to do it."

While Jessica sorts through her options, Kilgrave waits impatiently for her return, while the chef and housekeeper keep watch out the window. (Kilgrave won't let them blink their eyes until she comes home.). Eventually a cab pulls up; Jessica brought Chinese takeout for dinner. She sets the table and even invites the chef and housekeeper to join them. Kilgrave can't believe she's back. "If this hero thing doesn't pan out," she warns. "I am out of here." When Kilgrave hesitates to eat his dinner, she takes a bite of his noodles and a swig from a beer to show they're not drugged. He relaxes and digs in. Suddenly, the chef and housekeeper pass out, and Jessica stabs Kilgrave in the neck with a syringe of anesthesia. "This is what Jessica would do."

She grabs the computer and flash drive, throws Kilgrave over his shoulder, and heads out the door. In the driveway, she's cut off by Simpson and his soldiers. They want to kill Kilgrave, but Jessica won't let them. She super-jumps out of sight. As Simpson and his men leave the driveway, they run into the nosy neighbor, Mrs. Deluca. "Are you Officer Simpson?" she asks. "Kilgrave asked me to give you this." It's a bag with the basement bomb inside. Mrs. Deluca hits a remote trigger on her phone. Kaboom.

Other Thoughts:

  • "I'm sorry," Jeri says to Wendy in mediation. Wendy responds, "I'm going to have to ask you to say that in cash." Looks like Wendy learned a little something by living with Jeri.
  • Apparently, Wendy also has a penchant for sending email threats with a VERY LARGE AND RED FONT.
  • Why did the housekeeper and chef pass out? Was something slipped into their food? Was Jessica trying to save them from Kilgrave's "safeguard" razor trick? I was a bit confused about this.