In the show Jessica Jones, in the last two episodes Kilgrave takes steps to enhance his powers, which leads to him

being able to control people through phones, loudspeakers, tvs, and other electronic communication devices. He uses a phone call in the hospital, which is Jessica's first realization he can use electronic equipment. He then uses the broadcasting system and the televisions in the hospital to turn all of the hospital staff against Jessica, uses phone calls to control Luke Cage, and uses a microphone and sound system to take over a concert.

Given that we are told his powers work because he emits an air-borne virus that affects people near him, how does this make any sense at all? How does a (presumably) biological virus get transmitted electronically?

  • When does he control anyone through a phone or TV? Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:24
  • I'll put examples in the question so I can mark them with spoiler tags
    – childcat15
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


It doesn't get transmitted electronically, though it's not clear at all from the scene.

Kilgrave's power is

a virus that his body continuously emits into the air around him.

Once you are exposed, you become very open to suggestions from Kilgrave's voice. His power is only limited by those people who are physically exposed to the environment where Kilgrave happens to be.

Initially, his limits are around the size of a medium-sized room, and about 10 hours. That is the distance his powers can travel in the air from Kilgrave, and the length of time it stays active in the victims after exposure. At any time during that 10 hours, he can order you to do something and you will do it, even if he's not physically there anymore.

At the end of the series, Kilgrave has

his father work on expanding those limits.

Once done, his power is able to spread out further away from him, including

through the circulation system of the entire hospital.

All of those people are already exposed to Kilgrave's ability; they are just waiting around open to his suggestion. Once he announces over the loudspeaker what he wants them to do, they're forced to obey his commands.

  • But what about Luke Cage? Even though Kilgrave mentions that the initial lingering effect of his virus had been upgraded to 16 hours, he also still said that having Luke check in on the phone was enough to keep him under for longer, since it was about a full day between the bar explosion and the confrontation at the concert hall
    – childcat15
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:44
  • From the script: "Mr. Cage had been ordered to ring me about your exploits since before he blew up his seedy little bar. Uh, the 12-hour window at that point was actually 16 hours. Now it's 24 and a hundred yards."
    – childcat15
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:48
  • 2
    It wasn't full day - it was (if I remember right) 14 hours (Luke mentions it specifically to Jessica saying that he is "safe" now), at least its what he TOLD HER - Killgrave could forced him to say that he visited him much earlier than he really did. In any way it was still within the time limitation of his virus.
    – Yasskier
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:49
  • 4
    From the script, it's not clear that Luke was being kept under just by talking to Kilgrave, merely that he was keeping him aware of Jessica's actions. Without knowing exactly how long Cage was "under" (and knowing for sure he never ran into Kilgrave again after that) I don't think we can make the assumption that Kilgrave was reinforcing his control remotely.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:50
  • 2
    By the time Luke Cage was being apparently controlled with the phone, Kilgraves range was more than far enough that he could get within range of Cage and call him without being detected by Jessica.
    – kaine
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 21:17

Those in Kilgrave's presence (e.g. those that are

infected by the virus he exudes)

are prone to following his verbal commands. This also extends to commands given to other people to pass on as well as commands heard via phone/microphone, etc.

The key factor is that people must have been in his physical presence to have been

infected in the first place.

In the final episodes, his range is extended to the point that he can control an entire theatre or an entire hospital almost at once, but the key factor is that he has to have been inside the building at the time.

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