“Jessica Jones” recap (1.05): You’re never fully dressed without a smile

Operation Stick & Snatch seems to be going well. Simpson stuck him with the tranquilizer dart. Jessica snatched him up off the street. Trish squealed out as the getaway driver. Hey, this crazy plan actually worked? Things are going so well. Jess even gets to sock him right in his cocky, unconscious face.


Yeah, no. Sorry, guys, it’s way too early in the season for it to be that easy. Kilgrave was wearing a tracker and the armada of security he hired comes complete with stun sticks. Yes, you heard that right, he hired them instead of compelling them. Cash really is king. Simpson wants to make sure with some non-Geneva Convention approved methods. But Jess reminds him his whole and only job is to serve and protect.

She leaves to go find Malcolm, who at this point is so desperate for a fix he has called some lesbian drug dealer. Jess dispatches her, and then keeps Malcolm from going after her. But he tells her she can’t save him “again.”


So now, it’s here. The end of Before Kilgrave Jessica and start of After Kilgrave Jessica. We flashback to her running into a mugging on the street. She throws the two attackers around like rag dolls. And just as she is going to check on the victim there is clapping.

It’s him, flanked by two compelled ladies. He sends them off, luckily with all their limbs, and focuses all of his attention on Jessica. But all he sees is the power. What he doesn’t understand, of course, is her heart. Inside of Jessica is a hero–no, not one who wears spandex and waves the flag. But one who, deep down, wants to make a difference. But then, psychopaths never were big on comprehending the concept of empathy.


And so, it began. Kilgrave compels her to leave with him and on the sidewalk, a bloodied Malcolm picks himself up. Life’s rich circle of shit has come full circle. So now, back in the mess of present day, Jessica tries to help Malcolm go cold turkey. But instead of compelling him, she gives him a choice: Save her for once, or drown himself back in what Kilgrave wanted.

Kilgrave wakes up, with a mightily bruised face, and laughs. So next he rings up Jessica to gloat and make a deal. He won’t hurt Malcolm if she does his job for him. She must send him a photo, every day at 10 a.m. And “don’t forget to smile.” Oh God, there it is again. The insidious command to “smile.” Because, of course, women owe men like him smiles, and dates, and love and obedience and whatever else they feel entitled to.


Of all the ways this show exposes the misogynistic mentality that pervades so much popular thinking, the instruction to “smile” may be the most insidious. It seems like such a well-meaning request. Who could be mad at a smile, right? But when men tell women to smile, it’s never really about brightening her mood. It’s not about what actually would make her smile. It’s about what he wants to see. And Kilgrave, he wants to see a smile.

Like us, Jessica is disgusted by the request. But then, she also knows what will make her happy. And helping people, saving people, making a difference–that’s what makes Jessica happy. So she smiles, the faintest, smallest smile. But not for him, never for him. It’s all for her.


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