Jessica Jones Recap: Stage Fright

By
David Tennant as Kilgrave. Photo: Netflix
Marvel's Jessica Jones
Episode Title
AKA Take a Bloody Number
Season
1
Episode
12
Editor’s Rating
4/5

Kilgrave is such a theatrical and creative villain. He's not terribly concerned with the end goal of killing, but he's obsessed with how he stages a death and what message a death is meant to send. And, of course, he loves a twist.

After Luke and his unbreakable skin walk away from the exploding bar, Jessica is happy to see him alive, but she doesn't trust it for a moment. She grills Luke on his conversations with Kilgrave. Luke says he had followed Jessica to the restaurant where she took Albert. In a flashback, we see Kilgrave as he leaves the restaurant — moments after Hope stabbed herself in the neck. Luke confronts Kilgrave, who has no idea who he is, but compels him to get into the car anyway. Once again, an exasperated Kilgrave denies responsibility for Reva's death. When Luke tells him that he and Jessica were lovers, his mood pivots: "Tell me the truth. Did you bugger my chances with her?" Luke responds: "No, you screwed that up yourself."

Jessica asks Luke if Kilgrave knows about his unbreakable skin, but Luke says he doesn't. (It doesn't tend to come up in conversation.) Jessica is nearly satisfied by Luke's answers — except it's only been six hours since his last contact with Kilgrave, which, according to Jessica's 12-hour rule, still leaves him vulnerable. She tells him to crash at her place, while she keeps watch for any surprises.

The next morning, Luke insists on joining Jessica's crusade to kill Kilgrave. She speculates that Kilgrave wants to increase his power to reassert his control over her, and Luke suggests that he might be putting Albert's scientific expertise to use. The two set off for Albert's hotel room, where they find a chemical used for brain degenerative disorders. It's made by a lab in the city, so they head there next.

Meanwhile, Trish has been doing her own investigation — only not into Kilgrave, but into the mysterious Dr. Kozlov, who ran Simpson's combat program. Still in the hospital after her red-pill incident, she asks around and discovers that Dr. K was employed by a private research corporation called IGH. (First Kilgrave's security team, now Dr. Kozlov's employer? The power of Trish "talk" is no joke.) As Trish tells Jessica about IGH on the phone, her mom, Dorothy, walks in with flowers. Dorothy was worried when her daughter missed a show, and Trish is momentarily touched. But there's still bad blood between them, and Trish asks her to leave.

Jessica and Luke's theories about Kilgrave are spot-on. After a visit to the lab that makes the special brain chemical, Jessica discovers that Kilgrave has been there twice. He's compelled the lab employees to work "non-stop," bladder and bowel needs be damned. The good news? He's coming back later for more. While Jessica and Luke stake out the lab, Luke begins to open up about the trauma of his mind-control experience. He tells Jessica that it was wrong to blame her for Reva's murder, but Jessica declines his apology. "How about I forgive you?" Luke asks. "For everything. I'll say it every day for as long as you need to hear it." Then, they exchange a look that's almost as steamy and intimate as their sex scenes. Almost.

But for now, it's just a look; the two are still on the Kilgrave hunt. They spy a courier at the lab and tail him. When the courier heads into Central Park, Jessica asks Luke to stay back, so he doesn't get close enough for Kilgrave to work is mind magic on him. The courier heads deep into the park, and Jessica has trouble tracking him among all the park vendors and visitors. She briefly loses sight of him, then spots him again near a park gardener. He grabs the gardener's pruning shears, puts them in his mouth and falls forward. It's very gruesome. There's nothing Kilgrave won't turn into a weapon.

Turns out, Kilgrave was at the park and barely missed being spotted by Jessica. He returns to the apartment he "borrowed" from a young, rich couple. Albert is alive and working with stem cells from Hope's fetus to increase Kilgrave's power. They've even taken the new formula for a test drive: Earlier in the episode, they visited a concert hall, where Kilgrave stood onstage to see how far back in the audience, distance-wise, his commands would be obeyed. Despite his amplified powers, Kilgrave is impatient with Albert's progress; Jessica may find him at any moment. When Albert suggests that rest may help him focus, Kilgrave compels him to put his hand in a blender, millimeters above the spinning blade.

Kilgrave uses threats to get what they want, but others try to sweet talk. Trish's mom, Dorothy, arrives unannounced at Trish's door with information on the mysterious IGH. (She overheard Trish's call with Jessica at the hospital.) Dorothy reveals that IGH paid for Jessica's medical bills after her family's car accident. She hands Trish some paperwork and suggests that she come home to see if there's more information in Dorothy's files. Then, she not-so-subtly drops a hint that a friend is looking for a new "face" to sponsor a water-bottle company. But Trish isn't interested in scratching Dorothy's back.

After the Central Park dead-end, Jessica and Luke return to Jessica's apartment. Jessica gives Luke the yellow flash drive, so he can see what Riva left for him. Luke takes a shower, and — to be honest, I missed most of the dialogue because Mike Colter was standing around, dripping wet, in a towel. Here's the takeaway: Kilgrave needs to test his powers, so they should search the internet for "hoax" or "performance art" stunts that might be Kilgrave-related. I'm not certain which exact search terms you could use to pull that information up, but did I mention Luke is standing there in a towel? They find a video of a woman recounting the story of a strange man who silenced a crowded concert.

Jessica and Luke arrive at the empty venue, claiming to be inspectors with the state liquor authority. They ask the manager for security video from the night they believe Kilgrave was there, but of course, the footage has been erased. (I'm surprised Jessica would think that Kilgrave was sloppy enough to not cover his tracks.) While they're in the manager's office and watching a live shot of the monitors, Kilgrave appears onscreen, starting a microphone check from the stage. "Hellooooooo, New York City," he yells. Kilgrave's in the house. Jessica tells Luke to run as far away as he can.

Jessica super-jumps down to the empty, dark concert floor. No one else is around; it's just her and Kilgrave. As she approaches him, Kilgrave commands her to stop, but his powers are still useless against her. Kilgrave softens his tone: "I want you to know I forgive you for everything. I'll say it every day for as long as you need to hear it." That's what Luke said from earlier! A confused Jessica asks if he had heard their conversation. "I wrote it!" he responds with pride. Suddenly, Luke flies in from out of nowhere and goes after Jessica. As Jessica reluctantly fights Luke, she tries to break Kilgrave's control, but he won't listen. Kilgrave explains — as all supervillains must do! — that Kilgrave 2.0's power lasts at least 24 hours and extends 100 yards. There's a strong Buffy/Angelus vibe to this sequence, as Jessica struggles to survive without severely hurting Luke.

Not that the unbreakable Luke needs to be worried about injuries. As Jessica tries to jump away, Luke grabs her legs and throws her to the ground. (Adding insult to injury, Kilgrave takes credit for the recent sexual tension between her and Luke.) Moments later, after Jessica hides in a storage room, Luke simply punches through the drywall and pulls her through the wall. Despite his unrelenting violence, Jessica tells him she still believes he can fight off Kilgrave's commands. For a moment, Luke pauses, but then he starts swinging again.

Jessica escapes out the back door, coming face-to-face with two police officers who responded to a noise complaint. She tries to tell the officers to run, but before they can, Luke picks one of them up and throws him at the other, knocking them both out. When Luke turns his attention back to Jessica, she quickly tears the door from a police car, then uses it to block Luke's blows. When that shield begins to fail, she grabs an officer's gun and points it directly under Luke's chin. "Please stop it," she barely whispers. "Do what you gotta do," he responds, as he gears up for another punch. Jessica fires the gun. Luke goes down. She crawls on top of him, weeping.

Another Thought:

  • "I can only fight one big bad at a time," Jessica to Trish, who's trying to tell her about IGH. Is the show setting up IGH as next season's villain?