Spoilers for "Jessica Jones" follow!
Jessica Jones' story is so tightly interwoven with that of the villainous Kilgrave in her series' premiere season that it's strange to think of the show continuing on without his creepy, malevolent presence. But there’s no getting around the sickening crunch his neck made when Jessica snapped it in half in the final episode -- he’s officially joined the choir invisible and become a full-on “murdercorpse.”
Luckily, “Jessica Jones” already has the perfect character to continue on in his disturbing footsteps for a second season: namely, Officer Bill Simpson, played to slow-burning perfection by Wil Traval. Throughout the first half of the series, it seems like something’s a bit… off about Simpson. Like all of Kilgrave’s victims, he’s struggling with the trauma that comes with losing control and being forced to do terrible things -- but rather than take some time off and maybe join a support group, his method of coping is downright intrusive to his fellow survivors. For example, rather than give Trish Walker time to heal after almost killing her, he keeps trying to earn her trust against her explicit wishes to be left alone -- which works, surprisingly, but is generally not the thing to do after you’ve traumatized someone, whether you meant to or not.
Similarly, he keeps trying to take control of Jessica’s quest to bring Kilgrave to justice, and when he doesn’t get what he wants he decides to take matters into his own hands. That is, until he loses his "boys" to a bomb explosion after one such effort, and seeks out his old war doctor Dr. Kozlov to help him get the job done -- help which comes in the form of red, white, and blue pills that make him not just stronger, but terrifyingly violent.
And suddenly, for many comic book fans, everything clicked into place for the character at that moment. He’s not just Officer Bill Simpson anymore -- he’s Nuke, a Marvel villain in his own right.
If you sat through all of “Jessica Jones” wondering why Traval looks more or less like a bargain basement version of Chris Evans’ Captain America, then congratulations! You’ve picked up on exactly what the show runners were trying to accomplish, because that’s what precisely what Nuke is -- a failed attempt to create a new patriotic supersoldier to do the U.S. government’s dirty work overseas, who becomes a sadistic avatar of the worst aspects of American nationalism and war-mongering.
His first comic appearance in the early ‘70s during Frank Miller’s iconic “Born Again” run of “Daredevil” shows that the character not only has a tenuous grasp on reality (most of the time he thinks he's fighting the Viet Cong), but he's willing to do literally whatever it takes to carry out his twisted version of justice -- including demolishing a good chunk of New York City to get at his enemies. In later issues, he's revealed to have a shared history with Wolverine as a fellow survivor of supersoldier experiments, and he often faces off against none other than Captain America, who's more than a bit bummed that a guy with an U.S. flag literally tattooed to his face is committing atrocities in the name of his country.
While Nuke has never encountered Jessica Jones in any run of the comics, he's a perfect character to carry on the legacy that Netflix's version of Kilgrave left behind. In a way, both characters represent different, exaggerated forms of toxic entitlement, and while Kilgrave's goals are no doubt terrifying, it's actually Simpson's that might be scarier in the long run.
After all, Kilgrave made plenty of excuses for his behavior, but at the end of the day his actions were fixed solely around his own selfish desires. He wanted something; therefore, he got it. It's sinister and makes your skin crawl, especially combined with his mind control abilities, but for the most part it's also pretty a pretty easy mindset to vilify (with the notable exception of the rhetoric he uses to dismiss Jessica's rape, which is still all too commonly used to dismiss real-life sexual assault victims).
Nuke, too, imposes his will on others, but he justifies himself with belief in a higher purpose. In his mind, he is a Good Man who's the only one capable of doing what's Right. That's why he's so desperate to get Trish to talk to him at first, because he can't bear the thought of someone thinking of him as the bad guy -- and why he's so determined to kill Kilgrave, because he thinks it's the only way to stop him once and for all. It's no small wonder that once he start taking the pills that boost his adrenaline and lower his inhibitions, he goes all-out Rambo on everybody in his life. What good are personal relationships or even ethics when you have a country to defend from evil?
Of course, there's another big reasons for Simpson to return to the world of "Jessica Jones" -- because the company that turned him into such a patriotic monster, IGH, also might be responsible for giving Jessica her powers. So even if Simpson isn't the Big Bad of the show's near-inevitable second season, it stands to reason that their paths will cross again. And we're going to be sitting here with rapt attention when it happens.