Warning: Spoilers ahead for Jessica Jones season 2.
The IGH, a shadowy government organization that was teased in the first season of Jessica Jones, is back again. While we already know that the IGH gave Jessica Jones her super powers — and that she’s not the only they experimented on — there is still much to be revealed about the motives of the group. The show's already touched on how the IGH gave Jessica (Krysten Ritter) her powers, but gave them to her against her will. She is an IGH project. She doesn’t remember how she got her abilities, and is left grappling with why.
This is what Jessica Jones is trying to find out in season 2, even though her discoveries will lead her to some unexpected realizations about her past. Fans might also come to some realizations of their own after watching the show. Like how the IGH in Jessica Jones strikes a scary resemblance to the U.S. government.
U.S. history is filled with stories about the government experimenting on humans against their will. In 2011, the Associated Press reported that the government apologized for infecting disabled people, mental patients, and prison inmates with diseases starting in the 1930s and continuing through the ’60s. “Such experiments,” the AP wrote, “ included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.”
According to documents found by the AP, government experimentation on humans goes back nearly 80 years and spans at least 40 different studies, including the infamous 1932 Tuskegee syphilis study, which claimed to provide treatment to hundreds of Black men infected with syphilis. But the researchers simply used the men as case studies to see how the disease would progress. They didn’t treat a single one, and even injected previously healthy men with the disease. "When you give somebody a disease — even by the standards of their time — you really cross the key ethical norm of the profession," Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, told the AP.
In 1953, the U.S government launched Project MKUltra, which tested illegal drugs on humans. The program, which was kept secret due to ethical concerns, was started to help the U.S. government keep up with “presumed Soviet advances in mind-control technology.” The government tested hallucinogenic drugs on “unwitting test subjects” like sex workers, terminally ill patients, and prisoners already struggling with drug addiction.
Official testimony from CIA director Stansfield Turner in 1977 stated that the government wanted to see how these drugs would “enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion.” These drug tests didn’t result in super-powers, instead they led to the deaths of two people and the endangerment of countless others. The 1975 Senate hearings condemned the MKUltra experiments for “demonstrat[ing] a fundamental disregard for the value of human life.”
Most MKUltra documents were destroyed as a way of keeping the project a secret and as a result, there is still an “incomplete record of the program.” Without those documents, the government was able to get away with the inhumane testing, even in a court of law. In the 1980s, two separate Supreme Court cases focused on MKUltra gave verdicts that “protected the government over citizens’ rights."
Jessica is also struggling to find documentation about the lost 20 days between the accident that killed her parents and when Trish’s mom adopted her. In season 2, she’s attempting to fill in the blanks with the help from anyone who is willing to speak with her. The problem is, it isn't easy finding out the truth if the government is doing its best to hide it from you. Jessica Jones suggests the government has the power to do what it wants and get away with it. What should really scare those watching the show, though, is knowing how close to real life that realization really is.
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