Jessica Jones may be the most terrifying thing I’ve ever watched. It’s definitely the scariest thing to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Largely because, if mind control really was a thing that existed, Zebediah Kilgrave is the exact kind of monster who absolutely would exist too.
We’ve had mind control in the MCU already, of course, done by Asgardians and the occasional robot. But in all those cases, the entity doing the controlling was a typical comic book villain bent on world dominance/destruction, and it’s hard to take those seriously. Had the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Yes Man” had writers who’d known what they were doing, it could have highlighted the true horrors of mind control, but instead it had ones who raped a main character without even realizing it. Kilgrave, on the other hand, has no grandiose world-related schemes, no aliens to sic on New York, not even an Infinity Stone to help us detach.
Instead he is the very epitome of the privileged white male, wrapped up in the epitome of the abusive boyfriend, with a good dose of sociopathy and unchecked craziness thrown in. He could be any man you walk past on the street; hell, we’ve probably all walked past plenty who would do what he does if they could. Throw in also a brilliant performance by David Tennant, and a good look at exactly how much damage he has done to his victims before we see he himself, and even hearing his voice over the phone scares you.
This series feels a lot like a feminist fantasy sometimes, but really, we need the relief of that to get through it. We need a heroine who after being forced to spend all her time pleasing her abuser and rapist, ain’t gonna be doing anything to please anyone anymore. We need her struggling, facing down a man who is willing to murder innocent people to bully her, and her in the end doing what she has to do, refusing to give in even when the world would argue with her she ought to for the sake of others. We need her helping a fellow victim out, her heartbreak when she loses her. We especially need her unbreakable bond with another woman, and that it such a driving force in the climax, and that the moment we know she’s won is the one where she tells that woman she loves her, makes her snapping the neck of the man who’s hurt her so badly right after as satisfying as it can be.
The rest of the diversity of the cast is a wonderful thing too(the black dude getting killed was annoying, but in a series this dark with such a diverse cast that sort of thing was probably inevitable anyway). Especially when we consider that the female characters get a lot more done than the men do. Although I must admit, after watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Will Simpson kind of came off as a poor man’s version of Grant Ward, but at least the writers knew just what to do with such a character, and we’ll see how he does if he shows up again.
Of course, that raises the question if there’ll be a second season, and what they’d do in it, now that the main villain’s dead. Netflix is already booked for next year, so we might have to wait until 2017. But hey, at least we’ll have Jessica in the Defenders.