Jessica Jones’s sixth installment, “AKA You’re a Winner,” takes a detour from the primary catch Kilgrave mission, instead digging into Luke Cage’s story – with Jessica, and Reva, his late wife. Cage hires Jessica to track down a missing person. This missing person happens to be a pawn for Luke to trade in exchange for information regarding the death of his wife, proof that it wasn’t an accident. Tensions rise between Luke and Jessica, and even Malcolm finds his place. Storylines surrounding Kilgrave are left to simmer on the back-burner, while Trish and Simpson are completely shut out of this one.
By Episode 6, hell – by the end of the first episode — you should be damn well aware of the overarching themes of Jessica Jones. The show’s villain continuously commits invasion and violation of body and mind of countless victims who have little to no recourse, no proof, and no one to believe them if they did. As the season builds the show explores the ways victims cope – therapy, isolation, self-medication, revenge, and more.
Rape in Jessica Jones has hardly been veiled if not explicitly mentioned. In “AKA You’re a Winner” Hope has her moment where she speaks loudly and directly about what happened to her. We learn that Hope is pregnant as a result of being raped by Kilgrave, and that this is haunting her every second of every day. This pregnancy is an ongoing violation of her body, a constant reminder of her rape and being forced to murder her parents.
The moments given to this story are bold, and they are loud – and they should stand out. Burying Hope’s story in an episode that so strongly focuses on the nexus of Jessica and Luke’s fraught relationship has the unfortunate consequence of drowning out moments of such significance.
Hope is not at all apologetic or shy about what she wants. She wants an abortion, and she wants to live her life. But she is stuck in the prison system without timely access to healthcare. Jessica is her only support system. Hope has decided that if it takes risking her life to stop this ongoing violation of her body and mind, she is resolute. She refuses to give life to this violation, to this monster that has been forced inside her. This is all so much a piece with the series yet it feels pushed into the edges alongside Jeri’s tedious domestic drama.
It’s a damn shame, because this in itself should have been a more compelling episode, a way to once again bring Hope to the forefront of the show and give her more agency, and more space as a character in this world.
Jessica’s Got a Secret
Jessica has been lying to Luke Cage since day one, each lie building on another, tripping over different excuses as they get closer, trying to extricate herself but can’t stop herself from getting pulled back in. The tension of this lie is probably the most palpable of the show – and also the most difficult watching the train wreck happening in slow motion and knowing it’s inevitable. There’s no good way to tell someone that you killed his wife, even while being mind-controlled and forced to do so.*
*Although to Jessica’s credit, she did attempt to open those lines of communication in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey” when she asked him what he thought of the people claiming mind-control in Hope’s case and he was not particularly sympathetic.
Jessica and Luke have found themselves stuck in each other’s orbit, unable to remove themselves, and finding themselves such complements of the other. This lie is the time bomb and in this episode it goes off. Everyone knows that while secrets are hard, the cover up is harder.
Jessica & Luke
“AKA You’re a Winner” starts off by showing us Jessica and Luke’s relationship as one on equal footing, based on a certain kind of understanding (except that big lie simmering just below the surface). We see Jessica and Luke in a way that mirrors and contrasts Trish and Simpson’s evolving relationship.
Jessica and Luke reconcile through a door mirroring Trish and Simpson bonding in “AKA 99 Friends.” After spending the night together, Jessica and Luke flip the script on Simpson’s assumptions as he butted into Trish’s business uninvited. Instead, Luke — who now knows about Kilgrave (thanks to Malcolm’s intervention), and has told her that he understands that what she did wasn’t her fault – it was Kilgrave (as we all sit and cringe, wondering how he’ll feel when he finds out about Reva). He apologizes for shutting her down before when she was trying to tell him about what happened to her.
Then the icing. He asks her about Kilgrave. Instead of Simpsoning it up and inserting himself into her plans, he asks if she needs to face Kilgrave alone, and it can only be interpreted as rhetorical, respecting what he understands that she needs. She says yes, and he responds with a supportive “Good for you” and a kiss. It runs so counter to Simpson’s insistence of being involved, showing off his manly prowess and skills, pushing his way into Trish and Jessica’s plan. It’s to Luke’s credit that he is comfortable to be supporting Jessica by being there for her emotionally as she tackles her demons as she sees fit.
This all blows up anyway – but I think we know it’s far from over.
Kilgrave Survivors Support Group
Malcolm echoes Jessica as he speaks to the support group that Jessica built about his struggle coping with what Kilgrave did to him in a way that ties so closely into Jessica’s current situation. As victims, the violation goes beyond the act of what he did, it’s also what happens after. He tells the group about how he knows what Kilgrave made him into, but he can’t stop wondering how much of that was already there, and how much of what he was forced to become has stayed with him. He is finding some kind of relief while Jessica is punishing herself, allowing Luke to call her a piece of shit because that’s what she wants to believe about herself, and she’s alone because that’s what she thinks she deserves.
What else happens in “AKA You’re A Winner”?
- Let’s not get anything confused here, I’m not even a little bit about sympathizing with a monster like Kilgrave. That being said, “AKA You’re a Winner” did a little work to pull back some layers. His boredom is showing, almost exasperated with how easy it is just to take. He pauses and decides to guy the house he wants the good old-fashioned way, offering a whole ton of cash making an irresistible offer. As he hangs around the door, complementing the soon to be former homeowner – I wish I grew up somewhere normal like this. As he touches the wallpaper, taking in this home, we wonder what it is about Jessica and her life that he is so consumed by.
- I don’t think that the revelation that Kilgrave was purchasing Jessica’s childhood was much of a surprise, but nevertheless, watching David Tennant play the moments as he enters the home — taking it all in — was excellent. And the “reveal” that the home was Jessica’s – pulling out and ending a shot on the street names we’ve come to know so well from Jessica’s calming mantra — was excellent.
- Speaking of excellent acting – Mike Colter certainly had time to shine this episode. The complicated emotions washing across his face as he studied the file revealing the bus driver he believed killed his wife was drunk. Then as we watched Jessica’s betrayal, her lies more than her acts, processed by Cage – disbelief turning to anger, despair, hurt, and loss all with strength and enough subtlety that the moment was excruciating.
- And who’s the titular winner? That would be Antoine — the prize in the wild goose chase that led to the evidence that triggered Jessica’s necessary confession to Luke.
- And finally, what does Jeri want with Hope’s aborted fetus?
Photos Courtesy of Netflix