‘AKA Sin Bin’ is one of the tensest episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, which serves to highlight the deficiencies in ‘AKA 1000 Cuts’. Let’s bitch it out…
1×09 ‘AKA Sin Bin’
Marvel’s Jessica Jones has succeeded best when it keeps a tight focus on its characters and their situations. I crowned ‘AKA WWJD?’ the best episode of the series because it centered around Jessica (Krysten Ritter) and Kilgrave (David Tennant), eschewing narrative twists and violence in order to drill into the heart of their conflict. ‘AKA Sin Bin’ follows a similar pattern, but it flips the locus of control from Kilgrave to Jessica. Instead of being shuttered in the terrible facade of suburban bliss, this episode locks Kilgrave inside the sound deafening chamber we saw in ‘AKA Top Shelf Perverts’ and allows Jessica to pull the strings. I love how Jessica looks like a radio DJ as she taunts Kilgrave to confess his crimes on tape; it’s like she the one in charge of the playlist. In between conversations she, Trish (Rachael Taylor) and Jeri (Carrie-Anne Moss) attempt to uncover clues to his mysterious past.
Reduced to a hostage, Kilgrave goes into self-defense mode, playing the wounded victim and doing everything he can to appear weak. Initially it seems as though the plan will go to hell when Jessica succumbs to her anger and nearly beats him to a pulp on camera. As the episode progresses, the tension rises. It’s obvious that something will go wrong: Jeri nearly opens the door when she’s left alone with him and Detective Clemons (Clarke Peters) almost forces them to release the hostage. Then Jessica drags Kilgrave’s unwilling parents to face their monstruous child and it’s clear that this is the moment that the shit will hit the fan. It is inevitable that Kilgrave will unleash his poisonous gift on the depraved scientists who abused him as a child and he does, but not before his mother manages to attack him with a pair of scissors. It’s unclear whether Kilgrave would have succumbed to using his powers on camera had he not been injured, though. His mother’s attack provides Jessica with the evidence that she needs but at a terrible cost: Kilgrave commands his parents to commit suicide and the electrical cord that had been keeping him in check is discovered to have been disabled.
The final moments of ‘AKA Sin Bin’ are magnificently awful. As Jeri flees the glorious cacophony of violence, Jessica rushes into the room and Trish shoots out the window. With the sound barrier removed, Kilgrave regains control, nearly eliminating Trish, tearing Clemons’ wrist to shreds and evading Jessica despite realizing that he no longer holds any power over her. It’s a hugely significant moment between them, the insinuation being that Reva’s (Parisa Fitz-Henley) blood has rendered Jessica immune to Kilgrave’s charms. Even as he escapes into the open, Jessica now has the capacity to fight him. Unfortunately the discovery has come at a huge cost…
- Before joining Jessica at the compound, Trish rescues Will (Wil Traval) who demands to be taken to a very specific doctor. There is clearly something unusual going on judging by Will’s secrecy and his interactions with Doctor Kozlov (Thomas Kopache). More on that next episode.
- While I enjoy Kilgrave and Jessica’s interactions through the glass prison, I couldn’t help but lament the eloquent beauty of another series that pitted adversaries / lovers against each other. As much as I’ve been enjoying Jessica Jones, there’s no contest when it comes to mining emotional and psychological trauma under these circumstances. RIP Hannibal.
- Malcolm’s (Eka Darville) survivor meeting proves fruitful as it not only has therapeutic value, but also manages to shake loose Kilgrave’s mom. Yay survivor group!
- Throughout the early parts of the episode it’s pretty obvious that Jeri is wondering whether Kilgrave can help her with her Wendy (Robin Weigert) problems, which makes me think that Jeri literally hasn’t listened to a single thing Jessica has said about Kilgrave’s abilities in the last nine episodes.
- Jessica (to Kilgrave, critiquing his choice of name): “Was Murdercorpse already taken?”
- Kilgrave (to Jessica): “I’m impressed. I never realized that you were such a bitch.”
- Kilgrave (when Jessica confirms the takeout she’s carrying is food): “Smells fast”
- Jessica (kicking in the door on Kilgrave’s parents): “You may have named him Kevin, but you made him Kilgrave.”
1×10 ‘AKA 1000 Cuts’
Ugh Robyn (Colby Minifie), you are the worst.
I’d been reading various online forums lamenting how the final stretch of Jessica Jones episodes lose their momentum / focus and when I watched Robyn torpedo all of Jessica’s carefully laid plans, I couldn’t help but wonder if people were directly referencing her antics in this episode.
No offense to Minifie, whose portrayal does exactly what it is meant to do, but holy eff did I want Jessica to wake up and discover Robyn dead on the bed just like her brother. It’s been obvious that Robyn has a role to play in the series since the beginning (as much as Jeri and Wendy’s divorce has – more on that in a moment), but the aggressively annoying character feels more like a narrative construct than a legitimate person. Robyn doesn’t act in any kind of realistic or rational way and it’s frustrating to see the plot hinge on her actions.
Perhaps it would be a different situation if we had spent more time with Robyn (and by extension Ruben) in the earlier episodes, or if she were written in a way that didn’t make her so shrill and unlikeable. Alas it seems that Robyn exists solely to pop up and be a nuisance in anticipation of this moment when she wrests control of the plot with a hamfisted speech that should not have convinced anyone to follow her, thereby letting Kilgrave escape (once again) and set in motion the events of the final episodes.
Obviously Kilgrave wasn’t going to be apprehended and delivered to the authorities while Hope (Erin Moriarty) sauntered out of prison and back to whatever plain jane state she came from. That was never going to happen, especially when Kilgrave’s father, Albert Thompson (Michael Siberry) survived last episode’s attack. You can’t deliver a proclamation that a cure can be found that will subdue your villain and then send him to prison instead. Clearly the possibility of neutering Kilgrave is more enticing than simply giving everyone ear plugs or putting him back in a sound-dampening cell again.
But Robyn? Ugh…
‘AKA 1000 Cuts’ feels like one of those late in the season episodes that relies on a few questionable decisions by the writers in order to orchestrate the events of the finale. Robyn’s actions feel artificial because they come out of nowhere in order to facilitate the macabre final showpiece in the restaurant. There’s no denying that it is a powerful scene, up to and including the frightening visual – a parade of individuals with nooses around their necks – that greets Jessica when she walks in. Still, the loss of Hope doesn’t have the same weight as other deaths (including Ruben’s) because it doesn’t feel earned. It makes everything Jessica did to bring Kilgrave to justice over the previous eight episodes null and void in the span of a single episode. Thanks Hope!
If there’s one thing worthy of praise, it is how various story lines bring to fruition the idea of past relationships coming back to haunt you. Jessica’s past with Kilgrave and the moment that she nearly escaped off the roof when she was no longer under his control is a great, deceptively simple example that packs a great visual spectacle (I love that Jessica rescues herself and rides off on a white steed). Ditto the conclusion of Jeri’s awful divorce from Wendy, which has the mistress, Pam (Susie Abromeit) murder the poor heartbroken ex-wife before she can deliver the titular 1000 cuts. Even if the payoff doesn’t quite justify all of the time spent on this story line, it’s still a horrifying way to end things – one that we’ve been anticipating since Kilgrave innocently texted with Jeri while killing time in the burbs.
Finally there’s Trish and Will. This episode nonchalantly reveals that there is something deeply wrong with Will, something controlled by pharmaceuticals and a questionable research project, something twisted enough to make him murder poor Clemons in cold blood. No idea where this new story line is going, but it’s encouraging to see that Jessica Jones hasn’t just overlooked Will’s shadiness following his attack on Trish back in ‘AKA 99 Friends.’
- I’m 100% certain that Kilgrave’s father faked his compulsion in the restaurant. No spoilers, though!
- Love the staging of the restaurant showdown. We repeatedly cut to a perspective wherein the shoes dangling over the edge are highlighted in the foreground as Jessica, Hope and Kilgrave talk in the background. It reinforces how the fate of one group is intertwined with the discussion of the other.
- Did we know that Kilgrave’s power was a virus? That seems like a strange origin. I guess I figured it was a mutation activated by puberty or the tests his parents subjected him to. Perhaps I’ve seen too many X-Men films/comics.
- Malcolm’s survivor meeting proves disastrous as it not only houses disgruntled whiners, but also provides a forum for stupid Robyn to turn people against Jessica. Boo survivor group!
- Finally, Jeri’s reaction to Pam in the interrogation room is cold. I get that Jeri is a bitch, but refusing to take responsibility for bringing Kilgrave and Wendy together and putting Pam in a situation where she becomes a murderer? That is uber-bitch territory.
- Jessica (when Kilgrave calls her on stalling for time): “You can control minds, but you can’t read them for shit.”
- Jessica (after knocking out Kilgrave): “Speak up asshole. I’m all ears.”
Your turn: what did you think of ‘AKA Sin Bin’ and ‘AKA 1000 Cuts’? Do you prefer the more character driven episodes or are the sprawling, multiple story line episodes your thing? Is Will a bad guy? Was Kilgrave’s father cured? Did Hope needlessly kill herself? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available in its entirety on Netflix. Check back Thursday for our reviews of 1×11 and 1×12.