Does Kilgrave really know what he's done is wrong or is he just that blind tomorality? David Tennant has suggested in interviews that it's primarily the latter, but there seems to be a bit of the former in him, as well.
As Jessica and Trish briefly argue in-universe: was Simpson a good guy before being involved in the military program or was he violent and insane all along?
Is Malcolm just a recovering addict trying to help out or is he using Jessica to get over the interim period before he gets his life fully together? The way he so readily goes around Jessica's back time and again and the way he starts giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Jessica, complete with "after all I've done for you" the instant Jessica calls him out on it, indicates the latter.
Is Trish really helping Jessica because she cares about her, or is she helping Jessica because doing so makes her feel important? The events of the season, namely her working behind Jessica's back, her seducing Malcolm to use him as help, her kidnapping Dr. Malus to force him to give her powers and finally, the way she murders Alisa and confesses to doing it just to "be the one who saves Jessica" seems to indicate that Trish Walker does not care about Jessica other than when her life is falling apart and makes her feel special.
Is Alisa really trying to find a more stable, functional relationship with her daughter or does she only want to have Jessica so that she can calm her down and make her feel good about herself via heroics? She flat out admits to the latter, but there are traces of the former.
Was Stirling, Jessica's boyfriend from the past, a genuinely nice guy who lied about hiring her out as a muscle just to get the thugs off his back or a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who was sincere about said offer? He says the former when Alisa confronts him, but since the altercation ends with her killing him, we may never know. For that matter, did he really love and respect Jessica for who she was, or just think it was cool having a girlfriend with Super Strength who'd steal things for him?
How much of Jessica's attitude is the result of her past traumas, and how much of it is the side-effect from the procedures done on her? We see that her mother has even worse anger control issues and also mentions drinking problems; Jessica may likewise be suffering from impulses to verbally and physically attack people that she cannot control, only at a slightly more manageable level.
After Season 2, Dorothy Walker falls into this. Has she honestly been trying to do what she thinks is best for Trish, and just has a rather toxic view of what that is? Or is she using everyone around her for her own ends, only telling them what she thinks they want to hear in any given moment? Was she sincere in trying to reconcile with Jessica when Trish wound up nearly dying, or was she acting fast to replace Trish with someone else she can use up?
Kilgrave basically functions as an avatar of rape culture, including forcing women to smile for his amusement, his victims being prosecuted and punished more harshly than he is, said victims hurting themselves to abort an abuser's child, stalking a woman and ruining her life because he can't own her, hiding safely behind a society that believes he doesn't exist, and selectively interpreting past and present events so that he looks much nobler and sympathetic than he really is. Of course, this is taken Up to Eleven because his powers themselves force people to do things without their consent.
In a more sympathetic vein, Alisa, Jessica's mother, is an avatar of how society treats the mentally ill; despite her best efforts, she's a serious threat to herself and others and cannot be permitted to live free. However, even after she turns herself in, she is subjected to constant abuse, as if her illness is somehow her fault and she deserves to suffer for not being well; exemplified by Dale Holiday, a sadistic prison guard who subjects her to Electric Torture, destroys her possessions, force-feeds her food that makes her physically sick, and turns out to be a serial killer.
In-between those two examples are Malcolm and Trish; recovering addicts. Everything they do is either an attempt to reject or satisfy their addictions, and even their worst actions in pursuit thereof are never without sympathy; it's clearly shown that they are going through sheer, utter hell, and even when they fail their weakness is shown as debilitating, not purposeful. Jessica herself acknowledges that as an alcoholic who only stays functional due to her powers, she isn't in a position to really condemn.
The brief story arc dealing with Alisa's abuse in jail is itself this trope. Of course it's a male guard who's sadistic, abusive, and secretly a serial killer who lives alone with his stash of kill-trophies. After Jessica kills him, the woman who replaces him is warm, friendly, asks for nothing but respect and gives it in return, and is a mother whose daughter wants to follow in her footsteps. Subtle.
Applicability: The viewers are welcomed to explore a broad variety of issues and struggles they have in real life while watching this show, including alcoholism, drug/sexual abuse, and PTSD. Also, micro-aggressions come up as a topic; minor violations are still treated seriously, and the way Kilgrave orders women to smile for his own gratification also struck a chord with some people.
Arc Fatigue: The number of times that Kilgrave is captured, only to escape again (usually thanks to the help of a character gripping the Idiot Ball) and claim more victims during the second half of the first season, can at times feel repetitive. For some viewers, the show doesn't really have enough plot for more than 8-9 episodes for this reason, which makes sense when one knows that the Alias comic book the show is based on didn't feature Kilgrave until the very last arc. One has to wonder if the season would've been stronger had they included another arc prior to the Kilgrave arc. It's also been suggested (much like Daredevil also faced) that the show should have featured a few episodic procedural stories about Jessica's day job (we only really get one).
Pre-release. The flak that the series got for the "A.K.A." in the name when there was nothing for it to be "Also Known As" in the first place resulted in the series name dropping that part of the name, being instead just Jessica Jones. The titles of the episodes have been released on Netflix and it appears that "AKA" at the beginning of each title has become the Idiosyncratic Episode Naming convention for this show.
Jessica and Luke's first rather graphic sex scene was a Fetish Retardant in the comic. Here, the show made it clear that both of them are just lonely and sleazy people and intentionally plays up with the discomfort of the situation.
Season 1 got some Narm from its awkward refusal to refer to the Avengers by name. In Season 2, Oscar's son straight up asks Jessica if she knows Captain America.
Season 2 essentially just pretends Robyn never existed after her intensely negative reception.
Some viewers believed Jessica was too hostile to sympathize with, even when taking her traumatic experiences into account. The second season mitigates this by expanding on the traumas she suffered and putting her through some severe Break the Haughty treatment so that it becomes even more difficult to blame her for her attitude issues, combined with also giving her a relatively toxic-free romance with Oscar and some Pet the Dog moments with his son Vido.
Likewise, Jeri was something of a scrappy in the first season because of her selfish and manipulative actions, but the second season put her through a similar Break the Haughty storyline to make viewers at least empathize with her.
Jessica herself. Is she one of the strongest female protagonists seen in years, a pointlessly hostile asshole who arguably does more damage to her life of her own free will than she ever did under Kilgrave's control, or a damaged wreck of a person who keeps ruining her own life in a way that's uncomfortable to watch because of her trauma from Kilgrave's control?
Trish becomes one in Season 2, with her either being seen as incredibly selfish and manipulative, or a realistic depiction of an addict having a relapse. This also led to a Broken Baserivalry between fans who sympathized with Jessica in the conflict and those who sympathized with Trish, which only got worse in Season 3.
After most of Season 3 showing us Sallinger gruesomely murdering people (including Dorothy) and constantly not only getting away with it, but turning public opinion against Jessica, it's deeply satisfying to see Jessica cracking his facade with a "Reason You Suck" Speech, successfully tricking him into a confession by using his own trick against him, and delivering him to the authorities.
Kevin "Kilgrave" Thompson, the season 1 Big Bad, is an amoral, mind-controlling sociopath responsible for the ruination and deaths of countless lives. After gaining his powers due to his parents' painful, though well-intentioned, experiments on him, Kilgrave turned them into his slaves and grew up getting everything he wanted, notably raping women, ordering those who annoyed him to maim or kill themselves, and tormenting children, simply because he felt like it. Kilgrave becomes obsessed with heroine Jessica Jones when she breaks free of his control after he forced her to kill an innocent, and begins ruining her life by addicting her neighbors to drugs and having them kill themselves in her house, ordering one of her clients to murder her own parents in front of Jessica, and tries to manipulate her into becoming his slave again by holding people hostage by the dozen. Though seemingly caring for his parents, Kilgrave reveals his true colors as he forces his mother to stab herself to death and has his father taken apart limb by limb until he is dead. When seemingly beaten, Kilgrave orders dozens of innocents to kill each other just to distract Jessica, and uses his final act to proclaim his intent to make Jessica's sister Trish his new slave to be raped and tortured at his leisure. A petty, childish bully who wanted everyone to be his playthings while never admitting true guilt to anything he did, Kilgrave is one of the most despicable villains the MCU has to offer.
Gregory Sallinger, the season 3 Big Bad, is a man defined by envy and spite towards anyone he feels has more than him. A vicious sociopath from a young age who hated his "talentless hack" of a brother, Sallinger murdered a child and taunted his parents with photos. Growing up, Sallinger fixated on those he felt were mediocrities, torturing and murdering seven people while mocking them with the moment of their despair. Later torturing Jessica and her lover Erik with intent to murder them, Sallinger kidnaps Dorothy, Trish's mother and Jessica's adoptive mother, and tortures her to death. A devious sadist out to hurt others to embiggen himself, Sallinger shows the darkest side of humanity.
A man and his son both being forced to fight Jessica so Kilgrave can escape, scary. Then the wife also comes out and Jessica's face turns to "Oh for god's sake," and after knocking the woman out she says "I really hope this is just a three-person family."
Kilgrave forcing an entire police station to point their guns at each other: horrific. Kilgrave ordering them to think that it was a big prank, at which point they burst out laughing: kinda/sorta Black Comedy.
In between that, ordering the next person whose phone rings has to eat their phone.
Kilgrave also tells two of his servants to cut off each other's faces if he's not back by a certain time. The sheer casualness of it makes it kind of funny.
Any time Kilgrave adds "please" to any of his commands kind of makes it this by default. He's politely crumpling up your free will and throwing it in the wastepaper bin.
Besides the questionable likeability of the cast, with Luke Cage as really the only one of the main heroic characters who isn't habitually rude, an opportunist or a downright Jerkass, this show might get hit with this even worse than Daredevil (2015). While in Daredevil, it was understandable Fisk took so long to topple thanks to all his supporting pillars, Kilgrave is essentially one man, yet so many people die or have their lives shattered to catch him that it's easy to scream Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, which some characters even bring up In-Universe. Even worse is the fact that the reason they can't kill him turns out to be All for Nothing at the end. It's possible for the audience to feel numb to Kilgrave's atrocities after a while because there's just so many victims and he screws them all over in so many over-the-top ways that some viewers plateau in their disgust. For example, Hope goes through such a Trauma Conga Line that some people flat out checked-out halfway through it all and those that didn't felt that her suicide was a blessing.
Comes full circle in Season 2, where Trish—the most unambigously good character in Season 1—Took a Level in Jerkass and became as broken and fallible as the rest of the cast. Some viewers did not enjoy having the last character they could root for and identify with taken from them. With the series now a completeWorld of Jerkass, it becomes a little bit harder to care.
In the second episode of Season 3, it's revealed that Jessica has broken up with Oscar, the main love interest from the previous season, all because she couldn't let him inside her life. In other words she has had absolutely zero Character Development since the show began, which made it a little hard to be invested in her since no matter what good things happen to her, she's always going to be an antisocial alcoholic.
Kilgrave, depending on how you feel about him, can certainly be this. This article explores how his fandom is actually one of the most self-aware and self-loathing examples of this trope you'll find.
Simpson gets this too partly because fans debate on how right his actions are and how in control of himself he is.
Ear Worm: The theme song to Trish's old show. All together now: "It's Patsyyyyyyy, it's Patsyyyyyy/ I really wanna be your friend/ Hope this day will never end/ It's Patsyyyyyyy...."
Trish's "I Want Your Cray Cray" somehow manages to surpass "It's Patsy" in catchiness. Listen to it once and it will be stuck in your head for days. Netflix even released the full music video on Youtube.
It gets "It's Patsy" out of your head, so there's that...
Ending Fatigue: The first season almost wraps itself up at episode nine, then fails to, which makes the last four episodes really drag.
Evil Is Sexy: Averted for the most part. While it is the handsome David Tennant playing Kilgrave, so some of this reaction is to be expected, the fact that he's canonized as an unrepentant serial rapist is a deal breaker for most viewers.
While investigating Antoine's disappearance in episode six, Jessica and Luke run into a group of thugs outside Antoine's house. After a short negotiation with their leader, Jessica refers to him as "Carl Icahn". Carl Icahn, in real life, is a Wall Street businessman who unsuccessfully tried to gain control over Marvel in 1997, when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Kilgrave gloats after using his powers to win a round of Texas Hold'em with only a 7-2 off-suit. While it's made clear that this is a lousy hand, it is in fact the worst possible hole card combination in the game.
Rewatching the series will really make you wince at all the perfect opportunities Jessica passes up due to not knowing Kilgrave can't control her anymore.
Knowing about Stirling's death and the influence he was in Jessica's life adds another layer of discomfort considering that Jessica's trademark leather jacket is a Tragic Keepsake to remind herself of her time with him, and she honors Stirling's legacy by naming her firm Alias Investigations, after the name Stirling proposed for his club.
In Season 2, Jeri Hogarth is diagnosed with ALS and told she has less than a decade to live. Less than a week after the season debuted, Stephen Hawking, the most renowned case of ALS, passed away after living his entire adult life with the disease.
Krysten Ritter previously starred as Jane Margolis in Breaking Bad. In one episode, Jesse discusses superheroes he has drawn, and asks Jane if she would ever want superpowers. Now Ritter is headlining a superhero show.
In a 2004 "What If" issue about Jessica Jones joining the Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis joked in the forward that Jessica's exploits would never be made into a movie, even one on TV.
On the merchandise side, the Marvel Legends figures releases a wave with the apparently random pick of Jessica Drew Spider-Woman and Hellcat side by side. Not so random if you know who Jessica Jones is a Watchmen-styleExpy of.
In the final episode of the first season, a blonde hero uses headphones playing loud punk music to avoid being affected by the mind-controlling audio that's causing a group of people to try to kill each other. Soon after, the headphones are knocked off and the dazed protagonist starts getting into the violence.Constantine did this exact same thing, beat for beat, almost exactly a year earlier in its first episode, "The Devil's Vinyl."
In the Season 2 premiere one of Jessica's prospective clients insists that Earth is in danger from lizard-like aliens hiding in human form. One wonders if she was around for the Skrull invasion.
Robyn causes Hope's death. Come The Boys (2019) and she's vindicated, as Erin Moriarty's character causes the dismissal of her "agent" played by Colby Minifie.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the tenth episode of season one, Jessica is asked by Kilgrave's father to give a bio sample, and she says in a sarcastic tone, "Take my spleen if you think it'll help." In season 3 she has to have her spleen removed after being stabbed by Sallinger
Idiot Plot: The entire second half of Season 3 only happens because Jessica inexplicably forgets she has Sallinger's voice on tape admitting to everything, with the recording never once being referenced again.
Iron Woobie: As noted below, Jessica might be an abrasive person, but that's mostly a consequence of suffering over and over again. She lost her family in a car crash, was adopted by an abusive household that led her surrogate sister into drug addiction, had her boyfriend suffer an Accidental Murder, was enthralled and regularly abused by Kilgrave, who upon his return made her life even worse, discovered her mother was still alive as a borderline psycho and eventually saw her die in front of her eyes, and has her beloved ones driven away for various reasons to make Jessica feel even more isolated from the world.
Jessica herself partly counts at the start of the show, where her traumatic experiences have left her bitter, needlessly mean, and slightly morally dodgy.
Subverted with Kilgrave. While the series makes it very clear that he's a loathsome man, he suffered an extreme trauma as a child, and it's pretty obvious that this persecutes him to adulthood. The moment he reunites with his parents and genuinely apologizes to his mother seems to suggest that there was still some humanity in him, until his mother stabs him and ends up losing all his humanity, eventually becoming a Complete Monster.
Robyn becomes this after Kilgrave kills Ruben. Under all her vengeful behavior in the latter half of the season, she's completely heartbroken and lost without her brother.
Jeri Hogarth in Season 2, as she learns she has ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease, and faces ten more years of life at the most which will be full of suffering as she slowly loses control of her body. She also seems on the verge of crying when telling Jessica the bad news. And then she's the victim of a cruel con that convinces her she's cured while at her most vulnerable, and is left to wander through her ransacked apartment in tears.
Jessica and Trish's relationship crossed this line a few times, especially in the first episode. This is especially notable as Jeri is the one that received the Adaptational Sexuality treatment and the fact that they are adoptive sisters. Although it can probably be justified due to the fact that the show is staying true to the comic, where Trish's equivalent Carol Danvers also has massive amounts of Les Yay with Jessica. It's mentioned a few times that Trish is the only person Jessica loves. In season 2 Jessica flat out says that Trish is the most important person in her life to her mother Alisa. To top it off in season 3 Dorothy, Trish's mom, mistakes their attemptto explain that Trish now has superpowers as them admitting to be in a relationship and her only quibble seems to be that she thinks Trish can do better.
Jessica also has a bit with Claire after the two bond rather quickly.
Claire: ... Take off your pants. Jessica: I usually like a little more romancing. Claire: Don't we all?
Jessica even has a little bit with Jeri.
Jessica:[over the phone] If this is a booty call, I'm liking your chances. Jeri: It's Hogarth. Jessica: I know.
Kilgrave is an utterly vile and sadistic human being, but David Tennant's Creepy Awesome and charismatic performance makes him a very compelling villain to watch even as the audience is rooting for Jessica to give him his well-deserved comeuppance.
Sallinger combines a bizarre personal philosophy, an air of snotty intellectual superiority and a constant undertone of juvenile self-pity with a genuine hyper-competence that lets him believably go toe to toe with superhumans. All of which makes him darkly fascinating to watch, even as he makes every last inch of your skin crawl.
If Simpson murdering Clemmons didn't cross this line, then him trying to kill Jessica simply because she didn't kill Kilgrave earlier should.
If Kilgrave's actions before the start of the series don't count, then he definitely crossed it when, to spite Jess, he takes Trish and threatens to make her into his slave, just like he did to Jess. He even acknowledges that he'll be raping her again-and-again, and would have Trish kill herself if she ever saw Jess again.
He crossed it in the very first episode when he orders Hope to shoot her parents in cold blood, and that's discounting the supposition that the only reason he did anything at all to Hope was to advertise to Jessica that he was back. And, of course, that's completely discounting everything he did before the series started, which was pretty vile.
Sallinger torturing and murdering Dorothy certainly qualifies, with even haters of that character agreeing that she didn't deserve that.
Trish has many possible moments during Season 3, but when she tries to kill her own sister in the finale that is the point where even she herself realizes that she is the bad guy.
Claire Temple's appearance in the season finale, getting plenty of great lines about her role as a regular person surrounded by superheroes, and giving us the first real hints toward The Defenders.
Foggy Nelson gets a one-scene appearance in the third episode of season 2, with him offering to help Jeri in her legal struggle with Chao and Benowitz, but she angrily rejects him.
Turk Barrett also appears near the end of season 2 to sell Jeri a gun.
Jessica's doctor when she's hospitalized in Season 3, who's basically the medical equivalent of a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher and is oddly upbeat while informing her about the lifestyle changes that will have to come with losing her spleen. He also loves to make Incredibly Lame Puns regarding spleens.
Paranoia Fuel: There are quite a few scenes of Jessica looking at everyone around her, knowing that any of them could be a puppet for Kilgrave. And anyone she lets herself get close to will inevitably be used against her.
Robyn, for being a Jerkass, shrill, rude, selfish and stupid character who is waymore protective of her brother than should be allowed, as well as demonstrating very abusive tendencies towards him. Her unreasonable hatred of Jessica doesn't help matters, especially since it leads her to idiotically rally the Kilgrave victims support group into attacking Jessica, allowing Kilgrave to escape and causing Hope's suicide. The crew clearly learned their lesson from this, as she's completely absent from Season 2 with zero explanation.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The show goes to great lengths to show the struggle of rape victims, including the way society often ignores them. It's done with about as much subtlety as a nuclear explosion, and many agree it wouldn't be as effective if it wasn't.
Luke's supposed death at the end of Episode 12 doesn't hold much weight, seeing as he was already confirmed to be getting his own show. It also doesn't help that episode 13's synopsis mentions him and Jessica finding an ally.
When Jessica finally manages to capture Kilgrave in episode 8, you know he'll eventually escape, because there are still a few episodes left, and there's only one bad guy established for this season.
Starboarding: Shipping Kilgrave, since he, by definition, cannot have a truly non-abusive relationship with anyone.
Tainted by the Preview: The "Her Way" trailer for Season 2 left a lot of fans just plain confused at how it's mostly just clips from Season 1. The trailers' odd refusal to show who the season's Big Bad is also raised a lot of worries that even the show's crew don't have any confidence they'll be able to live up to Kilgrave. The latter turns out to be deliberate as it would completely spoil the plot twist of Season 2.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Season 1 was clearly setting Simpson up to become the supervillain Nuke, and while it would have been interesting to see him as a fully-realized Evil Counterpart of Captain America, the crew apparently couldn't figure out a place to put him in when they were putting Season 2's story together, so he just gets a quick Redemption Equals Death early on.
After Marvel and Netflix's first joint outing Daredevil (2015) got near-universal popular and critical approval, this was always going to be the case. For the most part (though it did get more mixed reviews than Daredevil,), reviews of Jessica Jones have called it a worthy successor. Coupled with Daredevil, the series served as this for Luke Cage (2016) and Iron Fist (2017).
Many fans feel this way about Kilgrave, expressing the view that no villain that came afterward were able to top David Tennant's performance.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: Jeri Hogarth's storyline in season 2, while still highly praised, doesn't contribute much of anything to the main story arc, and much of it goes on longer than it possibly should have.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The ending of Season 3 has resulted in a fan backlash regarding the treatment of Trish. Basically arguing that her character has done nothing that other Netflix heroes haven't done (especiallyFrank Castle), that Jessica Jones hasn't done, and that Jessica Jones wasn't willing to give her mother a pass on. As such, many people have given her the role of Designated Villain.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: As pointed out above in Base-Breaking Character, Jessica herself comes off as this to a number of viewers. While she's clearly and understandably a damaged wreck of a person thanks to the traumatic experiences she endured while under Kilgrave's control, she often acts like a needlessly hostile Jerkass to everyone around her and her refusal to get any therapy for her trauma makes it feel like she's doing way more damage to herself than Kilgrave has. Not helping matters was that the Arc Fatigue of the first season dragged out Jessica's character development, and it really didn't help that flashbacks showed she was almost exactly the same before she met Kilgrave. In season 2, Jessica's mom reveals that in fact, Jessica was ALWAYS like this even before the car accident, despite Jessica's persistence that her closed off personality is the result of traumas like Stirling's death and Kilgrave.
Alisa Jones: Jesus, you're good at shutting yourself down.
Alisa Jones: Oh, really? Didn't that guy* Kurt Cobain commit suicide?
Jessica Jones: So what other memories of mine do you want to crush?
Many people also have professed to feel little to no sympathy for Jeri Hogarth in Season 2. Her ALS storyline is supposed to make her more sympathetic, but it doesn't change the fact that she is a supremely horrible person who did many cruel things without remorse in the previous season, and even in this one. Some even accuse it of being a Double Standard, since they doubt the narrative would have framed her as sympathetically if she was a man like in the comics. Thankfully, the show's crew seem to have realized this and Season 3 re-affirmed her as intentionally unsympathetic, ending her on the note that her dying alone and miserable from her ALS will be entirely her own fault.
Values Resonance: The crew themselves couldn't believe it when the "Me too" movement started shortly after Season 2 finished filming, and it suddenly fit perfectly in the new atmosphere. This is best seen in an early subplot where Trish blackmails Max Tatum, a producer who molested her when she was a teen.
In Season 2, Jessica has finally decided to turn her mother in to the police. She has the contact of a detective who trusts her, and her mother is currently in her apartment. You'd Expect: Jessica texting the police detective, emailing him... anything but what she does. Instead: Jessica calls the detective and tells him out loud where her mother is, while knowing that Alisa is in the next room and probably listening. She even leans on the door, for God's sake!
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The networks weren't enthused by a superhero show (let alone a superhero show set in the MCU) that dealt with topics like rape and alcohol addiction, which is part of the reason why it ended up going to Netflix. To drive the point home, the Jessica Jones show was one of the few MCU installments absolutely forbidden to appear as a level in the Lego Marvel's Avengers video game, as Marvel did not want little kids associating the show with stuff like The Avengers. However, they will appear as playable characters in spite of this.note Jessica will be shown in her Jewel form, pre-Kilgrave; Luke Cage will also be shown in his Power Man outfit