Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones’ Episodes 5-7 review: Bleak and bravely twisted

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Episodes 2-4 of Jessica Jones indicated that this was a show that’s confident to move at its own pace, evenly doling out plot twists across the season in a strategy of delayed gratification.

The next batch of three episodes sees more groundwork laid for the inevitable explosion, before delving into some thrilling pay-off on all the set-up.

That’s not to say that the set-up is dull, but parts of Episode 5 and Episode 6 certainly feel like transition episodes, carefully putting chess pieces into place without really delivering a great deal of pay-off.

That’s not to say these three episodes are weak, however, with even Episode 5, the weakest of the three, delivering a surprisingly touching and layered back-story for Malcolm, a drug addict who seemed to mainly be a source of comic relief beforehand.

Kilgrave’s casual destruction of Malcolm’s life by getting him hooked on drugs is a thoroughly chilling indicator of his casually ruthless, disconnected attitude towards people, effectively adding a lot of pathos to Malcolm’s character by re-contextualising him as a tragic, ultimately good character who has simply been a victim of circumstance.

Jessica Jones David Tennant

Episode 6, ‘AKA You’re a Winner!’ is also a slow burner, beginning with a seemingly random and disconnected case that initially threatens to derail the momentum of the serialised story – but it all comes together, much like episode five, in a thrilling emotional conclusion.

What’s particularly interesting about Jessica’s falling out with Luke Cage over her covering up of the fact that she murdered his wife puts Jessica squarely in the wrong – aided by Mike Colter’s consistently excellent portrayal of Luke’s basic decency, it’s hard not to take Luke’s side in the argument.

It’s a sign of how Jessica Jones is willing to play with audience sympathies in unexpected ways, with a flawed central hero who makes a whole host of completely misinformed decisions, and doesn’t shy away from exploring the consequences of those mistakes.

Daredevil did this to an extent, but Jessica Jones presents a richer, more realistic flawed hero who genuinely isn’t the moral centre of the show – a refreshing creative decision that pays dividends here.

And then there’s Episode 7, ‘AKA Top Shelf Perverts’ (an interesting title). This is undoubtedly the best of the three, and the start of an unbroken run of terrific episodes, and it achieves this mostly by finally showing a substantial amount of David Tennant’s Kilgrave.

Jessica Jones David Tennant

This is a live-wire, thrilling hour of television that starts strongly with the shock death of Jessica’s neighbour and barely lets up from there, even if it does lean a little too much on Jessica’s self-loathing to the detriment of other characters.

It’s the extended confrontation in the police station, however, that really makes this episode. After establishing Kilgrave as a sinister, shadowy threat in the first six episodes, Jessica Jones finally zooms in for a clever, yet wholly unexpected revelation of Kilgrave’s real motivations.

What’s so disturbing about Kilgrave is that he’s utterly deluded, stuck in a childish world in which he’s deceived himself into thinking Jessica loves him. Kilgrave has cooked up an entirely new reality to justify his unerring beliefs – a fantastic, satisfying resolution that differentiates him hugely from any other MCU villain by giving him a petty, personal motivation for his actions.

There’s no world-threatening megalomania here – just delusion.

‘AKA Top Shelf Perverts’ ends on a note that gets more chilling the more it’s thought about, as Jessica is forced to move back to her old childhood home with her abuser. It’s a bleak, bravely twisted ending, and a fantastic spring-board from which the next three episodes are launched.

And oh boy, these next three episodes…


All 13 episodes are available to watch on Netflix now.

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