Marvel’s Jessica Jones: AKA Top Shelf Perverts

AKA Top Shelf Perverts

Jessica hits a new(ish) low in “AKA Top Shelf Perverts.” The episode begins with our hero drunkenly sparring with a bartender before being thrown out to the curb into an actual pile of trash. She is a raw nerve in the aftermath of her confession to Luke. The guilt has been mounting, the fallout with Luke pushed Jessica over the edge, and then finding her neighbour’s dead body, clearly at the hands of Kilgrave, bloody and in her own bed sets her into overdrive.

“Do you know what happens when you burn a bridge? You’ve got to learn to swim – or fly.”

There are several moments in “AKA Top Shelf Pervert” where the audience — and Jessica’s friends — worry if her “at all costs” approach to taking on Kilgrave might mean suicide. But Jessica knows she has to do more than that – she’s our hero, she isn’t Simpson. Determined to get justice for Kilgrave’s victims she needs to catch him alive, and she needs proof.

I am new to love but I know what it looks like. I watch television.

We never quite understood Kilgrave’s obsession with Jessica until this moment (or maybe you did – did you? Tell me about it). She’s “special” but there are other special people out there. Kilgrave is building a “normal” life for himself based on his skewed understanding of what that means. Last week Kilgrave dropped hints that he was dissatisfied with his life, getting everything he wanted, and his desire to have had a normal childhood.

Kilgrave has seen what love looks like on TV, and this is condemning us, the media we consume, what is portrayed as healthy relationships, and the kinds of behaviour that are perpetuated as normal, or romantic. When men go to extremes to prove their love for a woman, that he can compel her, that he has the right to her love because he wants it badly enough. He’s confused her strength to stand up to him, to challenge him, with love.

There’s an interesting moment of conflict in the police station where Kilgrave finds himself caught in the cracks of this logic. He’s so certain that he deserves her, that he must have her. But he struggles when he realizes he’s forced her into a corner. He doesn’t want to make her want to be with him, he needs for her to want it. He sees the ugliness in what he’s doing – the stink of the precinct, the noises, and the fact that Jessica doesn’t want to come with him. He’s deluded though, still certain that he can show her his love through his twisted emotional torture.

We’re Not Killers. AKA This Week in Simpson is the Worst.

Once again, Simpson is being a total dick and is endangering people in the process. He uses his relationship with Trish to take the situation into his own hands with a complete lack of thought or respect for Trish or Jessica in the process.

Simpson has made it perfectly clear that he thinks Kilgrave needs to be killed with no regard for the fallout. Unlike Jessica, he’s willing to do this in a way that will leave his victims hurting, and leave Hope imprisoned with no hope of proving her innocence, and countless others without closure or justice. Yes, he’s a victim too, but where Jessica is being the hero Trish always hoped she’d be – he’s being selfish.

Simpson may be on the right side of Kilgrave but that doesn’t make him a good guy, even if he thinks his intentions are well-placed. He’s harmful to our main gals (Jessica, Trish, Hope). He embodies toxic masculinity as he disregards the women around him, certain that he knows best, that his solution is correct, and that he can go it alone. He’s poison to everyone around him whether he means it or not.

In this episode alone he blames Jessica for the last mission going bust, then proceeds to needle Trish into sharing her plan and her leads on Kilgrave. Instead of working with her, and with Jessica, he takes her information and goes rogue – lying to Trish on multiple occasions and betraying her trust.

Kilgrave is obvious, flamboyant in his evil. He has a superpower that he abuses in obvious and horrific ways. His violations are clear and obvious crimes. With Simpson it’s not so obvious, it’s low level shit. The boundary pushing starts small. The insistence on making amends to Trish even when she didn’t want to be anywhere near him after the attack. He was persistent and she finally gave in. He puts her down in subtle, yet pointed ways, calling her just a radio host. He barely knows her and he’s questioning her ability to drive a van. We’re not giving him a pass just because he’s not as bad as Kilgrave, right?

Speaking of the worst …

Trish’s mom is a real piece of work. We get to know Trish’s mother a bit better both in present day and in flashbacks. Based on hushed mentions earlier in the series, we already know her for a woman who made her daughter famous, abused her and took her money, and Trish has spent her adult life distancing herself from the situation.

But back to what actually happened in “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”

This episode’s “AKA” originates in Jeri’s description of the kinds of folks who get sent to Supermax. Jessica, in her desperation, decides she needs to become one of those chosen few, the worst of the worst — or at least pretend to be. This is of course, part of her high stakes plan to not only trap Kilgrave, but to get evidence of his powers in the hopes of providing some kind of closure for his victims, and  freedom for Hope.

The plan involves getting herself locked up in a high security prison (before he catches wind of this) and he will come to her, revealing his powers on the layers of security systems in the process. Before thinking too hard about it this is actually a pretty solid plan. In practice though it carries the very real risk of a) getting stuck in Dupermax b) the things you’ve gotta do to get locked up (even faking it includes desecration of a corpse) and c) wildcard, aka the millions of things that could go wrong in the meantime.  The plan is ultimately a bust but that doesn’t make this week’s efforts dramatic af.

Simpson, who’s spent the episode with his pants on fire watching Kilgrave move into Jessica’s family home, eventually spots Jessica arriving — in her attempts to appease her abuser for the sake of everyone else around her.

Kilgrave has invited Jessica to come live with him. He’s made her a home that he thinks will make her love him. He stole her journal and used it to coax her towards him. His power runs deep — but it isn’t everything.

What else …

Trish and Malcolm spend the hour running around doing everything to prevent their friend from complete self-destruction with little success.

Before Jessica goes for what she believes to be a Hail Mary, she does her rounds, delivering an apology to Luke (via the dude in the bar), and a threat Trish’s abusive mother to stay the hell away.

This week’s mystery — what’s up with Ruben and Robyn and do I need to care? Robyn pops onto the scene looking for her missing (murdered) brother, labels Jessica a sexual predator, and harasses Malcolm because … he’s a junkie? Like Jeri’s relationship drama this situation here is underdeveloped and detracts from the rest of our regularly scheduled drama.

’til next time!

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

About Sara

Sara is determined to break the space-time continuum to allow for more hours in the week to watch all the TV. Her entry into TV geekdom came with Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and Eccleston's Doctor Who, and has continued to spiral since. You can also read her TV musings at The Viewing Party and follow her on Twitter @janie_jones.