Winter Sunlight

Further Jessica Jones thoughts

.... now up to 1x11.

Well, over the last few episodes, I kinda feel like we've gone flying past the moral event horizon AND JUST KEPT GOING. I think we have now achieved grimdarkness.

I am so conflicted on this show right now. The Jessica-Trish relationship is so wonderfully developed and full of all the things we usually only get in guy-guy friendships (if this show does not spawn massive amounts of femslash, there is no justice). And the writing is still marvelous. But I've really found myself pulling back emotionally from it. I really did not want to see my protagonists torturing a guy extensively, or jerking people around and using them as bad guy bait. It's only the fact that Killgrave is so massively evil that Team Protagonist looks comparatively sympathetic. I get that Jessica wanted to save Hope, and I appreciate that she's in a very difficult situation with no good solution, but so many people would still be alive if she'd just shot him the very first time she got her hands on him, including Hope herself.

.... I should note that I haven't actually read Alias, so I don't know how much of this is being translated directly from the comics. Having read Bendis's incredibly dark indy stuff, I can totally believe that the show is staying true to the tone of the original.

But this doesn't look like it's going down as one of my favorite Marvel series. It's had some absolutely great moments, but overall, I'm increasingly finding myself saturated with darkness and violence, to the point where I just don't care what happens to anybody.


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[squee harshing warning ahead! ...you may choose not to read this comment because I basically agree and I'm even less squee-ful than you are at this point, unfortunately]

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Yeah, this. I kind of lost interest in the show when I saw they were going to torture Kilgrave. Like, I hate the guy, okay, but no. (I actually stopped watching SGA for a year when they threatened to torture Kavanaugh in S2, so that's that.) I was already on the fence given how badly Jess treated her "addict neighbour". I felt like tere was little consequence for her for that as well except self-recrimination, which got old fast. It was also too bad that Luke reacted in a predictable fashion to finding out about Riva. I knew that was the obvious thing to amp up the angst but it was not original. I kind of didn't like that Jess had slept with the guy in the first place given her history, but that whole scene made me fall out of love with them a little bit more, and then the torture bits sealed it.

There was also a bit of the "stupid for the sake of plot" factor wherein the heroes create overly complicated solutions to their problems (e.g. "I must do it alone!", let's not tie the guy up! etc) whereas a simpler solution is obvious to me. I almost feel like with a bit of brain usage Jess might have gotten Kilgrave to "save" Hope just for her and THEN shot him. I still like certain elements of the show but I don't want to feel like I actually have a better solution that what they're doing.

While I might keep watching, I do have this feeling like I'm more watching to see how they end up screwing things up, rather than out of any real love for these characters, which is too bad.


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YES. We still haven't watched the last two eps, and while I haven't fallen out of love with it quite as hard as you have, right now there is a REALLY big element of "I still want to like these characters, but they are making it so hard for me". Especially with the torture coming right on the heels of Jessica obtaining a pretty strong "in" with Kilgrave. Wasn't it at least worth trying to play along for another couple of days and try to get him to release Hope? She actually had him on the hook! Under other circumstances I actually would have sympathy with Jessica, say, beating the shit out of Kilgrave (what he did to her was pretty awful, and the couple of times she's snapped and punched him, I've pretty much been all for it) but the locking up and torturing him was just dumb, and was compounded by all the other terrible decisions in that general area. Jessica is definitely not responsible for the people Kilgrave ordered her to kill, or for Hope's original actions, but I kinda think she is responsible, to a point, for all the people who have now died because of her terrible decision-making (Kilgrave's mom, the cop guy, Hope herself).

Really, the point at which she decided to keep Kilgrave alive, despite all her MANY chances to kill him, is the point at which she has to start taking some responsibility for all the people he subsequently kills. Which was a lot of people.

And yeah, I felt Luke's reaction was over-the-top, too. Actually, both of his reactions -- deciding to kill the drunk driver who killed his wife (.... good plan, Luke) and then flying off the handle to the extent that he did when he found out about Jessica's involvement. Although, in the latter case, I do think a big part of his extreme reaction was not that she'd killed Reva, but that she knew all along and lied about it. (Which ... okay, that's pretty fair. I can see his point. Still, it felt like melodrama for melodrama's sake.)
Yeah pretty much! I get turned on by competent characters and these guys just don't feel competent to me, none of them. And I'm with you on being responsible for consequences of keeping him alive AND tortured [*]. Like if she's willing to sacrifice the addict guy (whose name I cannot recall at this moment) to get to Kilgrave, why isn't she willing to sacrifice Hope? It's not really explained, which just makes me feel she's biased by something and that makes me like her a tiny bit less.

[*] - I will also admit I had a brief spark of hope that they will turn him into one of those anti-hero types, where he never quite regrets what he'd done but ends up helping the good guys fight a greater evil. I love redemption storylines (even if this would have been more of a "we tolerate you because you're useful" storyline, with always the threat of him going dark-side again hanging over them) After the torture that potential went right out the window. I feel like the show started in this really promising place and with each episode it's closing doors to interesting possibilities, rather than opening them, unfortunately.
Like if she's willing to sacrifice the addict guy (whose name I cannot recall at this moment) to get to Kilgrave, why isn't she willing to sacrifice Hope? It's not really explained, which just makes me feel she's biased by something and that makes me like her a tiny bit less.

My take on the Hope situation is that she wants to save Hope because Hope reminds her of herself. Which IS a sympathetic motivation ... except for the fact that lots of other people are getting hurt or killed in the meantime. I really do think that she is TRYING to save all the victims (I mean, she's not deliberately throwing them under the bus, or prioritizing Hope's welfare over their welfare) but the end result is that she's increasingly fixated on Hope and willing to sacrifice whatever/whoever she has to in order to do that. And, again, I think it's because she's come to think of saving Hope as a stand-in for saving herself -- or maybe is just fixated on Hope as the one person she can save, to make up for all of it. Which would be fine if not for all the collateral damage along the way ...

And yeah ... the competence thing. I am fine with handwaving it to a large degree because, well first of all she's supposed to be a mess, and was impulsive even before that, so her judgment isn't all that great. Plus, you know ... television. Nobody makes great decisions all the time. And I've excused much worse in other characters. But the total storm of bad judgment surrounding the torture and handing over Kilgrave's parents and Hope's death just kind of pushed it over the line for me.
Yeah, I handwaved the competence thing all the way through her drunken binges (I posted on my journal how I felt there was not quite enough consequence for that) but I am just (so far) not getting -any- flashes of competence. I'm -all- for messed up characters. I love them. I brought up Dean Winchester as another alcoholic who tends to be a mess and not make great decisions, but such characters need to have flashes of something to make us love them. Dean is good at his job. And with Jess, it's one mess on top of another. I get that this is the premise of her character, that she's awful at super-heroing, but at some point you ask yourself what IS she good at. And the only thing I truly like about her character is her relationship with Trish.
All of this to say: OMG when is Agent Carter back?!?!??!?! These thoughts really make you appreciate Peggy!
Ohhh man, I am SO looking forward to that show coming back! \o/ PEGGY! EVERYBODY!
I will also admit I had a brief spark of hope that they will turn him into one of those anti-hero types, where he never quite regrets what he'd done but ends up helping the good guys fight a greater evil. I love redemption storylines (even if this would have been more of a "we tolerate you because you're useful" storyline, with always the threat of him going dark-side again hanging over them) After the torture that potential went right out the window. I feel like the show started in this really promising place and with each episode it's closing doors to interesting possibilities, rather than opening them, unfortunately.

Hmmm. This is an area where I have many and conflicted thoughts.

On the one hand, I like that the show has been sticking to its guns on keeping Kilgrave genuinely terrible. Even when Jessica got him to cooperate in saving people, he was STILL awful, still gratuitously torturing people and clearly not actually feeling it, but just going along with it because she wanted to. Husband and I ended up talking about this, because he thought the show was going for a Kilgrave redemption arc and I felt that it was stronger writing that they didn't. He was still basically a murderous sociopath, and in order to use him as an asset, she would've basically had to give up her life and ride herd on him 24/7. And TV shows (and fandom) have a tendency to let villains off the hook easily under certain circumstances, because of terrible childhoods and whatnot, so in one sense I really like that the show is basically subverting the trope.

But on the flip side, yeah ... I feel like they're closing out potentially interesting story options (Kilgrave as a necessary monster working with the heroes, say, or Kilgrave being anything less than one-dimensionally evil), and I feel like they're doing it for a very specific reason: because Kilgrave is being used as a stand-in for RL rapists, and therefore the only things the show can do with him, narratively, is cathartically torture and kill him. I really think that's why the show is completely unwilling to even flirt with the idea of Kilgrave being sympathetic in any way (as opposed to, say, Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, or Dottie in Agent Carter, who are allowed to be much more nuanced characters with more nuanced relationships with the protagonist, because they aren't being used as stand-ins for RL evil in such a specific way -- with Kilgrave the situation is more akin to Red Skull in Captain America, who can only be one-dimensionally evil because he's representing Nazis as opposed to being an actual character).
Yeah, for the most part I was happy not to have the "tortured childhood therefore redemption" storyline originally, but when I thought more about it I couldn't help but think of the way the show gave us this glimpse of potential rehabilitation. And I feel like the "heroic" thing to do would have been to go down that road, get burned, and end up with collateral damage because Jess was "too good". (Thor & Loki dynamic). But instead the show went the grimdark route of "yeah I'm going to torture the guy"....while at the same time still keeping the collateral damage and nothing suggesting that trying out the rehabilitation route might not have been better! So as a viewer I'm left just feeling dirty from the torture aspect with no reward? Which is kind of an odd thing for me to subject myself to further, if that makes sense.

And yes, I'm definitely with you on why they couldn't redeem the guy completely, which wouldn't be palatable to me either! He's shown absolutely zero remorse, he's just shown fascination with how people react to him when he helps him. It's completely selfish, which is fine because it's in character. Which is why I wouldn't like a redemption storyline, more of a "necessary evil" story line even if he eventually betrayed Jess. (Because, like I said, given the way she handles it in canon, pretty much any other solution would have been better imho. >.> )
Yeah, it's not that I want to see him redeemed (I really don't) but I feel like the show has written itself into a corner where literally the only things they are willing to do with Kilgrave (because of the way they've framed his character, and the RL implications of it) is have him be maniacally evil and/or get beaten up by the good guys. I enjoy a one-note villain as much as the next superhero-loving fangirl, but when the hero-villain relationship is the entire lynchpin of the show -- as it also is with Daredevil + Fisk -- you need nuance there; you need reasons why one of them doesn't just kill the other and have done with it.

Even though I spent a lot of the early episodes going "Just kill him already, omfg!" I feel like the show has gotten a lot weaker now that they ARE simply trying to kill him -- because, seriously, they can't get their hands on a sniper rifle? Is killing one guy (who can't control Jessica, and has no weapons of his own) really that hard? At least when Hope was the pretext for capturing him while keeping him alive, it posed an interesting challenge, but now their ongoing inability to kill him even when getting close to him is just pointing out both the heroes AND the villain's chronic lack of strategic thinking.
This. Exactly!!! Especially since they had this soldier-type guy with them (Trish's romantic interest whose name I forget) who would know how to do it! And Jess jumps tall buildings so it's not like finding a good angle would be an issue...