Episode Title: AKA Smile
Original Air Date: 11/20/2015
Jessica and Luke get help from someone else in the neighbourhood. Kilgrave gears up for a major test of his powers against Jessica.
So here we are, the final episode of Jessica Jones. Have to say it’s been a great series so far but if they didn’t stick the landing, the work of the rest of the show would have been for naught and I’m pleased to say this is another incredibly strong episode of the show.
This episode plays more on the friendship between Jessica and Trish, showing that Trish is one of the few people in the world that Jessica does care about. But this is also shown to be a weakness for Jessica, Kilgrave finding out about it and using it to torture Jessica, threatening to have Trish kill herself if she sees Jessica, showing a great deal of depravity for Kilgrave and how willing he is to mess with Jessica. This also plays into the intelligence that Jessica presents along with the teamwork. Throughout the episode, despite the danger, Trish is more than willing to help Jessica and Jessica is willing to accept this, leading into the plan to defeat Kilgrave at the end, making Kilgrave think Jessica is under his control through not protesting when Kilgrave threatens to do to Trish what he did to Hope and Jessica. David Tennant is at his creepiest in this scene and the subtle acting style of Ritter lets you know that Jessica isn’t really under Kilgrave’s control if you’ve been paying attention to how she smiles throughout the show.
Speaking of Kilgrave, once again Tennant is excellent, showing the increased threat Kilgrave has become. We see that Kilgrave can now control people through electronics and that his reach can extend to entire hospitals, something that wasn’t seen before. The battle of wills between Jessica and Kilgrave is presented brilliantly and the scenes where Kilgrave talks about his true motivation show just how depraved the character is and Tennant plays this brilliantly. We also see how Kilgrave is boosting his powers, bringing Jeri Hogarth back into play. We find out that Kilgrave is using the genetic material from the foetus Hope aborted to boost his powers and the scene where Jessica finds out and confronts Jeri about it is brilliantly handled, along with the scene at the end where we see the respect that Hogarth now has for Jessica.
This respect also ties into the overall theme of Jessica being a hero. We see that Jessica wants to do and wants to save people but has been pushed to the brink by Kilgrave. When Kilgrave orders a bunch of people on a dock to kill themselves, Jessica could very easily have ignored them to go after Kilgrave but she does try to save them, knocking them out so they don’t kill each other. At the same time, she realises that it is fruitless as long as Kilgrave is alive so the decision for Jessica to kill Kilgrave at the end of the show comes across really naturally. This also brings in Malcolm and his desire to help people, going back to being a social worker and helping Jessica at the end of the episode when she gets a large number of calls for her services, Malcolm’s desire to believe in the good of people coming across brilliantly.
In terms of tie-ins to the rest of the MCU, we get the most prominent one yet here with Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Claire Temple from Daredevil. We find out more about what happened to the character after Daredevil, including that she got kicked out of her flat due to the blood that accumulated when she treated Murdoch. Dawson is probably better here than she was in Daredevil, her wit matching up really well with Jessica’s, aided by the chemistry shared by Dawson and Krysten Ritter. Plus, her desire to help people even if she’s not skilled enough to do so is presented brilliantly, mainly in her scene with Malcolm. Her inclusion also brings up an interesting idea regarding Luke Cage, mainly how to treat someone with unbreakable skin if they’ve got internal injuries and the way she treats Cage both shows the intelligence of the character and is one of the hardest scenes to watch in the show for me (I’m incredibly squeamish when it comes to anything medical) and I’m thankful it wasn’t shown in full detail. Temple’s inclusion also sets up the prospect of Daredevil teaming up with Jessica and Luke in the future. He doesn’t make an appearance here for entirely logical reasons, Jessica not wanting another person with powers to be controlled by Kilgrave which was definitely the right call considering what we saw in Daredevil regarding his fighting skills. Still this raises the possibility for the future and I’m really interested to see it.
Speaking of the future, we get more hints about future developments for the characters. We see Trish is going to investigate how Jessica got her powers, which will probably lead to Simpson coming back into play soon, but the most interesting stuff comes with Luke Cage. In this and the previous episode we see that Luke is in hiding, wanted by the police for some undisclosed reason and this’ll be very interesting to explore in the upcoming Luke Cage series.
AKA Smile is a great end to the show, indicating the strength for Jessica Jones is less to do with the action and more to do with the characters and the writing. Every development regarding Jessica, Trish and Kilgrave is excellently done, along with the scenes for Luke, Malcolm and Jeri. The stakes are suitably high due to the increased threat that Kilgrave represents and the desire to see Jessica defeat Kilgrave is strong throughout. Everything the show has done has made it one of the best products to come out of the MCU and this final episode is the cherry on top of an incredible series.