Jessica Jones season 1 finale recap: AKA Smile
I wasn’t the only one who thought Kilgrave was going to turn purple by the end of this, right? Sure, it doesn’t necessarily fit the tone of the Netflix series thus far, but his dad injected him with a purple syringe and he got purple veins. It felt like the perfect set-up for the obligatory “Let’s give the audience the wackier, fan-friendly version of the character for a few minutes before the end of the show.” Kind of like how Matt Murdock went full Daredevil at the end of season 1, even though we had all just started to really like his ninja outfit.
Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, let’s dive into “AKA Smile,” which ended up being a really solid ending to the season, on top of being just a great episode of Jessica Jones.
That shotgun blast Luke took to the head seems to have actually done some damage to the man with the unbreakable skin. When Jessica wheels him into the emergency room, the doctors there identify the damage as blunt force trauma, rather than — you know — a point blank shotgun wound. But it was quite traumatic because Luke isn’t waking up, and more concerning for the doctors, needles won’t puncture his skin. You do have to feel for the guy trying to inject Luke but who couldn’t get past the unbreakable barrier. He was just trying to do his job, and his boss has to be ragging on him. Where’s his show?
Oh, hey! Claire Temple. Jessica Jones’ biggest connection to Daredevil arrives in the season finale in the form of Rosario Dawson. Claire is as busy as ever when she runs smack-dab into a pair of superpowered individuals, but whatever. She’s seen this kind of thing before, and frankly, Matt’s powers are just as impressive. When too many questions begin flying around, Jessica and Luke have to go, and Claire is their ticket out of there.
The three are on their way out when Jessica receives a phone call, not on her cell but on one of the hospital lines. Kilgrave is watching her. Presumably from inside the hospital’s security room. After Jessica tells Claire to take Luke back to her office, she begins to track him down. This gets more complicated when the juiced-up Kilgrave uses the PA system to tell everyone in the hospital to kill Jessica Jones, which they attempt to do. It’s too bad that Jessica’s clever disguise worked for all of three seconds. She could have avoided the nasty cut she gets on her leg.
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At Jessica’s apartment, Claire is doing her best to make sure that Luke doesn’t die, but he’s making it hard for her. He starts seizing right around the time that Jessica comes back, and she and Claire have to perform an operation that is almost too gross to describe. Ugh. Here it goes. There’s fluid collecting inside Luke, but because his skin is indestructible, Claire has to bwuhhhhh. Claire has to gghhhmm. You can do this, Kevin. Breathe. ClairehastostickaneedleinLuke’seyeballandextractthefluidfromthere.
Phew, made it. Let’s move on.
NEXT: How to kill a Kilgrave
Afterward, Claire does the other thing that she does best: giving a superhero pep talk. She also does something that’s almost unprecedented in the Marvel universe. Claire offers to call up Daredevil, so that he can help Jessica take down Kilgrave. Wow! It’s like no one has ever thought of this before, but Jessica has a legitimate excuse for not initiating Operation: Premature Crossover. She doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt or, in the case of Matt, another superhero getting Kilgraved. Hmm, that actually seems reasonable.
Kilgrave isn’t happy, but what else is new? The injections have worked in increasing his powers, but he blames his father for not being able to control Jessica. He only sees one solution. He has to take every bit of the serum that Albert has been working on. Maybe then he could have control of Jessica again and reject her just like she pushed away him. More and more, Kilgrave is becoming the “nice guy” who doesn’t understand why girls don’t like him. It’s that wrongheaded thinking — that if you perform a prescribed list of kind acts, a girl will automatically like you — that when taken to an absurd extreme that you arrive at Kilgrave.
So this is his solution, but going full dram has a 60-40 shot of killing him… that’s a risk he’s willing to take. Albert injects Kilgrave. It’s painful and stuff, but he doesn’t turn purple. So don’t even entertain that notion. Stupid, non-purple Kilgrave.
All of that nastiness and super misogyny is pleasantly off-set by a bittersweet moment between Jessica and Luke as she waits for his phone to turn back on, so that she can retrieve the cell phone number that contacted him for Kilgrave. In the quiet of her bedroom, Jessica admits that she imagined a future with Luke — one that involved bowling no less — a first for her, and that for one reason or another, she won’t be around when he wakes up.
That’s because she’s able to trace the number back to a hedge fund manager who lives just off the Brooklyn Bridge. Trish drives her, but stays back to avoid being Kilgraved. She does share the connection between Jess and IGH that she found, which is another story for another season. Inside the building, the scene is gruesome. One of the dudes injected himself with Drano, while the other is busy trying to shove an arm down the garbage disposal. The appendage belongs to Albert, who is still alive but dies right after.
The apartment does hold a clue to where Kilgrave is headed next, but it’s an obvious clue. It’s clearly a plant left by Kilgrave to drive Jessica after him, so what’s to be done? She and Trish concoct a plan that — to be perfectly honest — kind of sucks. The idea is that Trish will walk into the seaport wearing Jessica’s clothes and headphones. Not a bad start. Then, when the Kilgraved cops surround her, she’ll throw back her hood for no reason, revealing her identity. Wait, what? And finally Jessica will emerge from the balcony that’s even farther away from Kilgrave than Trish is. Okay, maybe they should have workshopped that one a bit more.
Poorly planned and executed or not, the scheme kind of works once Jessica realizes that she needs to fly over the cops to pursue Kilgrave. We don’t actually see her do that. Instead, it’s mostly us watching the police being like, “Woah, look at her fly!”
Outside, it’s time for the big confrontation, and Kilgrave is prepared, as usual. A crowd of construction workers and booze cruise attendees stand between Trish, Jessica, and her rapist. They’re instructed to kill each other, and it’s up to the good guys to stop them. Trish gets her headphones knocked off, so she’s vulnerable when Kilgrave yells “Stop.” But so is Jessica, except Kilgrave is too smart to believe her. He’s leaving, and if he can’t have Jessica, he’ll take Trish. This is both a measure of revenge against Jessica and a test of his control over Jessica. How could she stand by and let Trish kill Kilgrave?
So she must be under his control, right? She smiles when he tells her to, and when he instructs her to say “I love you,” she does. Except she says it to Trish, and snaps Kilgrave’s neck.
The rest of the season is clean up. Jessica is arrested for Kilgrave’s murder, but Hogarth convinces the DA that Kilgrave committed suicide via Jessica. Trish gets some more info on IGH, and Malcolm has found a new job as Jessica’s assistant. The closing narration suggests that even though Jessica left behind the hero-ing after Kilgrave, it’s actually something in her that she can’t change.