We’ve known for a while that Kilgrave would be back, despite being killed at the end of season one. Exactly how he returns has been a closely guarded secret, but now season two has actually been released, we know exactly what actress Rachel Taylor meant when she promised that his return would be “one of the deepest, darkest episodes” of the show so far.
What episode does David Tennant return in Jessica Jones season two?
Well, here we are. There’s no going back. The season two arc is all about Jessica Jones facing demons from her past, but that becomes much more explicit in episode 11 – when Kilgrave ‘returns’.
We hear David Tennant’s character before we see him. As Jessica is agonising over her killing of sadistic prison guard Dale Holiday, we hear her inner monologue: “You killed him… He’s dead… You have to take the blame…”
But then another voice interrupts her. It’s Kilgrave, suggesting she “make it look like a suicide”.
It’s Kilgrave’s voice, but are these Jessica’s thoughts? The monster inside her made flesh by the most monstrous person she knows?
The next thing we know, Jessica is cleaning up the crime scene, forging a note from Dale and doing exactly what Kilgrave suggested: making it look like suicide.
Job done, she turns to go – and hears somebody clapping. Here is the moment we finally see Kilgrave, just as many predicted when this trailer was released.
“I think someone like him, even though he’s dead, [he] doesn’t just disappear,” Carrie-Anne Moss said of Kilgrave before the second season. “[He] leaves an energy. He’s left his mark, so we get to see that, what that means.”
That’s an impressively apt way of describing how this frenetic, fearful episode plays out. Kilgrave embodies Jessica’s every dark thought and burst of anger. He may be only in her mind, but we see him through Jessica’s eyes. He’s in her office; beside her as she visits her mother in prison; laid out on a bed…
“I just need sleep,” Jessica says, trying to banish these visions of her tormentor.
“I’ll be in your dreams too,” Kilgrave replies. “I’m inside you forever.”
In another scene he holds up his hands at the end of an argument and says, “Hey, I’m just a thought”.
And the episode title, “Three Lives and Counting”? That’s a Kilgrave quote too.
“You’re a pro now,” he tells her. “Three lives and counting.” Reva Connors. Kilgrave. Dale Holiday. How can Jessica have those three lives on her conscience and still insist she’s not a killer?
While fitting into the season as a whole, this is an episode that stands on its own: a two-hander between arguably the two most intriguing characters that Marvel and Netflix have produced together.
Jessica Jones the series can survive without Kilgrave. But Jessica Jones the character can never live without him.