AKA the Jessica Jones season review

23 Nov


Stewart here…

Slight spoilers ahead…

In terms of Marvel characters, Jessica Jones is certainly one of the more recent and popular additions to that comic universe. Introduced in 2001 in the mature readers book Alias, written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jessica Jones was a New York private investigator who was formerly a superhero for a brief time before a horrifying event happened that traumatized her. As the series ended after a few years, the character drifted into the regular Marvel universe and became one of the stronger female characters in that universe thanks to her continued presence with the Avengers (in those particular books, written by Jones creator Bendis). The book was almost made into a series several years ago at ABC, but now has ended up in a batch of Marvel/ABC shows on Netflix.


Yes, that Jessica Jones costume is in the show. Just watch and see for yourself.

The resulting Jessica Jones is certainly the darkest show Marvel has put out there, and with maybe its most complex lead heroine. In the show, the super-strong Jones (played by Krysten Ritter) is a PI who spends her free time drinking and trying to forget the events that isolated her from her friend Trish (Rachael Taylor), and pretty much any long-term relationship. It doesn’t help that a simple missing persons case leads to the discovery that the mystery man responsible for her trauma, Kilgrave (David Tennant), may not be dead as she once believed. With Kilgrave’s ability to influence others to do his bidding, Jessica has no choice but to face him and stop his obsessive mission to take her captive once again.

Already this is a step above Daredevil from earlier this year, in a more grounded lead character, if with equally ridiculous powers as Matt Murdock has. Jessica is a PTSD victim who has to contend with the person responsible for that damage re-entering her life and throwing lives (random or personal) into chaos to get to her. It doesn’t help that she is a severely antisocial person with not the best social skills, and Kilgrave’s actions throughout the thirteen episodes of the show feast on her weaknesses. It’s a credit to show runner Melissa Rosenberg and Ritter’s performance that keep this character likable despite occasionally being creepy and by her estimation, an asshole.


It helps that like Daredevil, there’s a great villain anchoring Jessica Jones in Tennant’s Kilgrave. It’s not cartoon super villainy Tennant plays here, but something scarier in a man who’s used to getting his way all the time, and finds getting Jessica back under his thrall to be very irritating but enthralling. That conflict between both Jessica and Kilgrave takes it own shares of twisted turns once you understand more about what happened with them the first time and about Kilgrave himself. You certainly might get a chill when seeing purple on this show.

As for the supporting players, Trish turns out to be more layered and capable than the usual “human best friend of the hero” type in these superhero shows. Then there’s frequent employer, attorney Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), Jessica’s junkie next door neighbor Malcolm (Eka Darville), and somewhat boyfriend with a secret of his own Luke Cage (Mike Colter, whose performance here makes Luke’s upcoming solo Netflix show worth waiting to see). And it’s not afraid to get real adult in subject matter (far more than Daredevil in being a show not for young Marvel fans), and really violent. It’s a noir thriller that happens to have a lead that can lift a car off the ground.


If you had the time she has in this show, you’d be downing liquor like water.

And now, MAJOR SPOILERS for the season ahead, so do not read the next few paragraphs unless you’ve seen the entire season…



First, the minuses: things start getting a bit fuzzy motivation wise in the tenth episode, where Kilgrave escapes Jessica’s sealed prison thanks to Hogarth’s need to use him to influence her divorce from her wife (which, shocks of all shocks, ends with Jeri slashed up, the ex-wife dead, and Jeri’s lady mistress being charged with the ex-wife’s murder, so good luck having a job next season, Jeri!). It also doesn’t help that one supporting character, Simpson, turns from “just an ordinary beat cop who got used by Kilgrave” to a few episodes from his introduction to “BUT I’m also a former ex-shadow assassin for some mysterious organization who takes pills to make him super good at fighting and being crazy” (Which, I really didn’t catch on was a reference to super villain Nuke from the Captain America comics). I suppose this is setup for a second season, being Simpson’s handlers and captors by the end of this season, IGH, also have some vague connection to Jessica’s past. And of either twin neighbor for Kilgrave to make commit suicide in Jessica’s apartment, its the dopey brother, but not the annoying sister?


On the plus end, it was nice to see Luke being put out of commission (hey, Rosario Dawson cameo!) for Jessica’s final showdown (with some help from Trish) with Kilgrave, keeping it to the battle of wills between the two. Considering how much Kilgrave was built up as a bad guy throughout the season, he wisely doesn’t get allowed to cheat out of the justice that’s handed to him by Jessica snapping his neck like a twig. He was a good villain, but it would have been too hard to have him go on to another season without getting what he so deserved. Also, I love the gradual transformation of Malcolm from loser junkie to unwilling stooge of Kilgrave to a cleaned up ally for Jessica’s PI firm.

Some credit should be given to the creative team for not playing down or ignoring the obvious mental abuse and rape that occurred to Jessica (and who knows how many more people) during her entrapment by Kilgrave. Its a subject in the Kilgrave arc from the Alias comic that inspired this season’s storyarc, and even though it might be worse in that book than here, its an important influence of Jessica’s current state that shouldn’t be glazed over. Unlike a few shows of late that approached the subject in a questionable light, there’s weight to it that’s not exploitative in regards to Jessica and the numerous people affected by this villain. And even Kilgrave’s murder isn’t a miracle cure for her trauma by this season’s end, and how she will deal with this is a nice question mark for another season.



Jessica Jones manages to be a complex and dark series for Marvel, certainly less peppy and harder to take than their other female led series, Agent Carter. So far Marvel’s batting 2 for 2 with good shows on Netflix, and with Luke Cage mainlining his own show in 2016, that streak may end up continuing for a while. But while its too early to know if it’ll come back for another season of gloom and doom for our tortured detective, this run of episodes is a solid start for that.


If you don’t want more of that coolness in 2016, there’s nothing that can be done for you.

But hey, if you’ve seen Jessica Jones, what are your thoughts? Your favorite or least favorite things or moments? Comment below…

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