The Marvel shows on Netflix have been a mixed bag. Daredevil proved to be a worthy entry, Luke Cage was amazing for about a half of a season, and Iron Fist was dead on arrival. My favorite of the bunch however was always Jessica Jones. Not just because Krysten Ritter is spectacular in the lead role, showing her tough super-powered armor and fast wit, but also showing real and raw emotion. This is a show that functions on all levels as a metaphor for someone dealing with the aftermath of abuse and assault, and it does so beautifully. The show did, after all, receive a Peabody Award in 2015 for that reason.
Episode 10 of the first season, “AKA 1,000 Cuts,” is directed by accomplished television director Rosemary Rodriguez, who had directed previous episodes of Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, and The Good Wife. She uses this experience to give the show a similar fast and intense pace.
Rodriguez’s direction and the narrative provide crucial commentary on domestic abuse. David Tennant’s Killgrave starts the episode claiming another victim under his mind control. Like so many abusers, Killgrave firmly believes that his mind control is not wrong. His victim, Kerri-Anne Moss’s Jeri Hogarth, is confused, but follows immediately. Within the world of the show this is because Killgrave has mind control powers that allow him to control anyone he wants, but it reflects how crafty real world abusers can have so much control over a person, even if they don’t know why.
The show also depicts victims’ allies. Will Simpson poignantly transforms from what we believe to be a male ally, helping Trish stay safe and assisting with finding Killgrave, but his addiction to the medication turns him into a monster, the character comic book fans know as Nuke. Jessica herself deals with her own survivor’s guilt in this episode as well when she is blamed by others from a survivor therapy group for the actions of Killgrave. All of these storylines fit perfectly into the drama of the show and serve as subtle metaphors for real life, while also empowering those with similar stories. That is after all what the superhero genre does best.