Jessica Jones “Aka You’re a winner” is about the dangers of winning, losing, and running from your past, the same way that people might run from responsibility during the holidays, times of stress, or news articles. Really.
Okay not really but it is about running from your past, making peace with it and accepting the world the way it actually is. It’s a powerful episode, one that introduces Luke Cage and also theoretically gives us a potential look at what a Luke Cage series might look like which makes it doubly excellent. In addition to introducing us to Luke Cage it introduces us to Luke and Jessica’s relationship, which is a major relationship in the marvel universe, and probably one of the healthiest seen on screen so far. While “The Sandwich saved me” is cute and addresses some serious far reaching deep issues. ‘You’re a winner’ takes us back to reality and the grit of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s like sand in your teeth, in a good way.
David Tennant’s Kilgrave opens the show with a poker game that demonstrates the mastery over his abilities. He’s playing with people who look like they could be personal friends of Wilson Fisk which might be dangerous. Not for Kilgrave who takes these men who might be guilty of doing what they do to others physically and does it to them mentally. Which leaves you with the moral dilemma of who’s right and who’s wrong in that particular scenario? Hell’s Kitchen continuously pushes the envelope and offers you more sides then Civil War.
Jessica’s got a pretty good handle on which side she’s on however, her own – and it’s nowhere more clear then in her PI business. While Kilgrave messes with the mafia (What would Fisk say?) Jessica is recruited by Luke Cage to find someone – a third party figure. Jessica’s growing closer to Luke pretty gradually, he seems like a potential positive influence in her life. She discovers rather abruptly that they’re more connected then she ever knew. Throughout the series we’re treated to a series of flashbacks about life under Kilgrave’s control in particular for Jessica. Jessica is a fundamentally good person who wants to help and save people, but under kilgrave’s control she’s forced to do the unthinkable – kill someone.
Specifically Luke Cage’s wife.
There’s more to the story, a lot more. Marvel’s universe takes “It’s all connected” to new heights but what matters here and now is that Luke Cage’s presence in Jessica’s life, while soothing reminds her of the lengths that Kilgrave is willing to go to to achieve his ends. To her credit she tries to keep things professional, something which our heroes in the films even fail at – and we get to see Jessica be a PI. As a fan of realistic heroes this was important to your humble reviewer personally. Jessica isn’t just a person who punches things or a person who’s broken, nor is she invincible. She’s just a person who happens to be extraordinary doing ordinary things.
It’s worth noting that Kilgrave demonstrates some very uncomfortable classic stalker behavior in an effort to control Jessica. She’s proven she’s a hero to him and he’s more then willing to take advantage. As Jessica says “She’s not going to talk about her story because there’s always someone who’s had it worse.” there’s the realism that Marvel’s been after.
Luke and Jessica head to a showdown worthy of Breaking Bad (in more ways then one) while the other characters who serve as both foil and friend to Jessica Jones undergo their own small tests and transformations. You’re a winner is about Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and the way they themselves affect the world. Malcom says it best, “He turned me into an addict, but I’ll never know if it was in me to begin with or if it’s a part of me now.”
The way we impact others is something only discussed in the broadest strokes. Jessica Jones asks you to examine how you impact others. Jessica’s interactions with Malcom show what positive impact creates, while Kilgrave’s interactions show how negative interactions can affect people and change them.
Jessica Jones continues to deliver quality writing as well as entertainment by forcing people to think – sometimes it’s not about who wins or who loses, and the things that we do to survive can have lasting impacts on everyone that we meet. It holds up a mirror to day to day activities and asks you to think about what each one means. It defines the limits of true evil which seems to be complete uncaring concern about what happens. See Kilgrave who seems to be the top of the heap, the pinnacle predator of the food chain.
He is weak however, and shown to be human. Case in point, at the end of the episode he’s purchasing a house from a family. He offers the family several times the house’s asking price in order to get them out today. For a man who could walk in and ask them to become homeless he ends up paying them – because he can’t always use his abilities. He’s still a major league creep, beyond major league however – as evidenced by the house he buys.
Delivering one of the most dramatic and shocking ends to the episodes (so far!) Kilgrave has purchased the same house that Jessica Jones associates with safety. He seems hellbent on destroying every aspect of who she is and it’s terrifying to see where he might go next – or just what he’s capable of.