Episode Title: AKA It’s Called Whiskey
Original Air Date: 11/20/2015
It won’t be easy to acquire or deploy, but Jessica thinks she’s found a weapon to use against Kilgrave. Luke and Jessica bond over their similarities.
This episode does a great job showing us the past of the main characters. Following on from the reveal of Luke Cage’s bulletproof skin we learn more about the history of Cage and Jessica. We find out that Jessica once was a proper superhero before something happened to make her become a PI, with it being most likely that Kilgrave is responsible for it. We also find out that the picture Cage has in his bathroom cupboard is of his wife, and that this ties into Jessica as she was the one who killed her, on Kilgrave’s orders, and this is the reason why she has been following Cage and why she is reluctant to set up a relationship with him. I have to say that all the scenes between Jessica and Cage in the episode are brilliantly handled, mainly due to the wonderful chemistry that Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter have with each other, along with the very natural dialogue that the two share.
Also in this episode, the rape metaphor for what Kilgrave does comes more prominently into view, mainly in relation to the media coverage of Hope. It feels less like discussion over murder and more like discussion over rape, with victim blaming being commonplace, along with the denial of people that Kilgrave even exists and that Hope made him up. Of course we, along with Jessica and Trish, know that Hope isn’t making it up but it’s clear that this is what Kilgrave wants, to discredit Hope so that the trail on him goes cold. The rape analogy also comes through when Kilgrave calls Trish’s show through the reaction that Hope and Jessica have over hearing his voice again, with Ritter and Erin Moriarty selling the hell out of this scene.
Speaking of Ritter, she once again does great work here. I’ve already mentioned the brilliant chemistry she has with Mike Colter, but what works better for this episode is the chemistry with Rachel Taylor who plays Trish. There is a strong friendship between the two and we see how the two rub off on each other, Trish making Jessica more caring and Jessica making Trish more paranoid (with good reason). Ritter also does a great job showing the detached nature of the character, willing to hurt others to get her way, but also showing a lot of remorse over what she does, particularly in relation to Eka Darville’s Malcolm.
And once again, it’s time for me to spend a paragraph gushing over how good a villain Zedediah Kilgrave is shaping up to be. Here we get the first proper look at Kilgrave, the first full shot of David Tennant and here we also see the obsession he has over Jessica, having a room in the flat he’s occupying covered in photos of her and having her followed for a good few weeks, which explains how he knew to send Hope’s parents to her and this obsession makes him the creepiest villain in the MCU so far. We also see how much of a threat he is and the extent of his powers both when he orders a police officer to kill Trish for insulting him on the radio and when he orders that same officer to kill himself afterwards. It’s with the latter that the true sadistic nature of the character is seen as he says the order very casually with him watching and complaining about a rugby match at the same time. He doesn’t care about anyone except Jessica and this creates the true fear that any person we see in the show, be they background extra or main character, can be controlled by Kilgrave, making him the most terrifying figure in the MCU so far.
Speaking of which, this is the episode where we hear the wider connections to the MCU for the first time, with references to the Hulk and the Battle of New York at the end of The Avengers. The reference to the Hulk helps add up to the possibility of more people like Jessica and Cage, which I know is being explored in Agents of SHIELD and the reference to the Battle of New York shows how the world is both accepting of the weird and unwilling to accept certain parts of it, mainly that someone like Kilgrave could exist.
Overall, AKA It’s Called Whiskey is a great episode to set up the themes to explored in the series, mainly the metaphors for rape, along with providing a great show for the characters and sets up just how much of a threat Kilgrave is, making it incredibly compelling as you wonder just how Jessica can defeat him.