I just finished binge watching the first season of Netflix’s original series Jessica Jones in less than a week. I’m not typically interested in superhero movies, so seeing Marvel associated with the title of the show didn’t really appeal to me too much at first. But, I had heard only great things about the show so I decided to give it a go.
Jessica Jones had so many things I love in a show. High drama, anticipation, a bit of mystery, a badass female lead and some strong female friendships. But, if we’re being honest, the thing I found most interesting about Jessica Jones was the villain.
***Warning: if you are planning on watching Jessica Jones or are currently watching the show, I would refrain from reading the rest of this post until you finish. I’m not about to write everything that happens, but I don’t want to give anything away.
The thing about Kilgrave was that he wasn’t your stereotypical super villain. There was no secret lab, no crazy weapons, no plans of taking over the world. His power was mind control. He could make people do anything he wanted, and when he first met Jessica, he used his mind control to make her be his “girlfriend.” He could make her do anything he wanted.
At the start of the season, we don’t know much about Kilgrave and Jess’s relationship, or how she was able to get away from him. But right from the get-go we can see that Jess is struggling from some sort of PTSD with flashbacks and visions of Kilgrave licking her face, stalking her and just harassing her in general. She believed him to be dead, but the abusive nature of their relationship was so vivid to her, years after the fact, that she continued to lose sleep over it.
And through various scenes in which Jess and Kilgrave are facing off, we come to see that Kilgrave doesn’t see any of his actions in pursuit of Jess to be “wrong.” He claims he was just a man in love.
When Jess, who is now the only person immune to Kilgrave’s power, accuses him of raping her in their past relationship, he is completely confused.
Kilgrave: “We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.”
Jessica: “Yeah. It’s called rape.”
Kilgrave: “What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”
Jessica: “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”
Kilgrave: “That is not what I was trying to do.”
Jessica: “It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. You raped me again and again and again—”
Kilgrave: “How am I supposed to know? I never know if someone is doing what they want, or what I tell them to.”
Jessica: “Poor you.”
Kilgrave: “You have no idea, do you? I have to painstakingly choose every word I say. I once told a man to go screw himself—can you even imagine.”
While this is completely disturbing, the reason I found it so disturbing is because it really isn’t that far off from real life. Kilgrave did rape Jess. He made Jess do something she didn’t want to do, even if it appeared that she was doing it of her own free will. The circumstances may be a little different, with Kilgrave’s force over Jess being a mental one rather than a physical one due to special powers, the concept of him thinking he’d done nothing wrong because they “stayed at five star hotels and ate at all the best places” is all too realistic.
Even more concerning? When Kilgrave realizes he can no longer control Jess, he starts doing everything in his power to try to control her again, to force her to love him, because he thinks he deserves it. He feels entitled to her. He thinks she is his.
During the final showdown between the two, Jess lets Kilgrave believe he has finally regained his control over her. “You’re mine now… you’ll be with me now,” he says to her. “After a while, however long it takes, I know you will feel what I feel.”
Super entitled. Super creepy.
The last words Kilgrave says to Jess? “Tell me you love me.”
While believing she is under his control, he literally orders her to profess her love for him, because he thinks that they belong together, that she should love him, that she belongs to him.
I know that this is obviously an extreme case– the two people involved have superpowers for god’s sake. However, I felt eerie comparisons to the UCSB shooter, who literally killed innocent people because women, who he felt entitled to wouldn’t sleep with him or give him attention.
Like I said earlier, Kilgrave isn’t your typical villain. He isn’t scary because he wears a silly outfit, or has a physical deformity. He’s not loud, he’s not physically intimidating, and he’s doesn’t have any fancy gadgets.
In fact, Kilgrave dressed well, spoke well, was rather attractive and remained calm and collected in most instances.
But, he’s the scariest villain I’ve ever come across in a TV show or movie.
He terrified me because he felt so entitled to this woman that he literally tried to use mind control to force her to be with him. He terrified me because he was completely obsessed with her. He terrified me because he thought the problem was the rest of the world getting in his way, instead of realizing that the problem was actually himself. He terrified me because he seemed so real.
Certain qualities he possessed reminded me of real people I’ve seen, real pieces of conversations I’ve heard, and, unfortunately, real news stories I have read.
Like it or not, I think that we still live in a world where many men feel entitled to women.
And I couldn’t help but think that if his power was placed in the hands of some random guy out there in the world, there’s a good chance those powers would be used in the same way as on this TV show.
As great a show Jessica Jones was (it comes with my highest recommendation), I kept finding myself thinking about Kilgrave’s attitudes toward women, and Jess in particular, and how he literally killed people to try to get to her. I think he’s so scary to me, and probably to other women, because even without mind control, he possesses so many qualities that we are afraid of.
Just throw in the mind control, and you’ve got yourself one of the scariest villains on the TV.