What if someone could make you do anything that they wanted? What if they could make you do the most horrible things but once free of them you could never be free of the memories? Would you feel guilty, even if it wasn’t ‘really’ your fault?
I have watched nine of the thirteen episodes of Jessica Jones, the Netflix Original Series featuring characters from Marvel Comics. Nine (of 13) episodes in and I thought it might be a good time to write up a review of what I’ve seen so far. Jessica Jones is the second of four series based in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. Daredevil was the first (you can read my review of it here) with Iron Fist and Luke Cage to follow.
Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones is an outstanding series but not exactly for the same reasons.
Jessica Jones stars Krysten Ritter as the titular character. Jessica is super-strong and more durable than an ordinary person being capable of holding her own against even the biggest of normal human opponents. She chooses not to wear a costume or to reveal her abilities to most other people except her friends. I take that last part back. Jessica doesn’t really have friends. She has people that she has to work with as a private investigator or people that she buys booze from. Everyone she knows she keeps at arms length.
The reason Jessica wants to erect a wall around her is due to her involvement with a man by the name of Kilgrave (aka the Purple Man because in the comics he is literally purple). When Kilgrave (played by the very popular David Tennant) gives someone a command, they are compelled to do it. If he says jump off a cliff or shoot yourself or to stab someone than you will do anything possible to fulfill his orders. Anyone within the range of his voice is a potential victim and he tends to rack up a pile of bodies and broken lives behind him. He is a sadist who will do anything to anyone as long as he is entertained. He is evil, pure and simple. Most people suffer his wrath for a short period of time and then he gets bored and moves along. Jessica was his thrall for much longer and while she is free of him when the series starts she is not free of the memory of it. She uses alcohol and PTSD coping techniques to assist in her quest to try to move on, to escape her past but these only bring temporary comfort.
Jessica isn’t a perfect hero. She wasn’t a perfect kid before she had powers. She makes some extremely sketchy choices and certainly isn’t around to make everyone feel better. That really isn’t her gift. For all her strength, Jessica doesn’t see herself as a good person and I’m not sure that this feeling is totally just from her time with Kilgrave but also with her memories of her family. I won’t go into that here but her origin (how she got her powers) takes a long time to develop in flashbacks. I know this story from the comics but I’m curious to know how many of the dots they will connect in the final four episodes.
Compared to Daredevil, the fight scenes here are rather tame. The violence here is on a much more personal level than it was in Daredevil. The ability to take over a person’s mind and to make them feel that your touch is what they want more than anything is far more abusive than a punch to the gut. To be able to feel in the back of your mind that you don’t want to be with this person, that you don’t want to please them while in the front that is all you want. This kind of abusive ‘relationship’ is not unique to comics even though this is an extreme example and because of that, this series is not for everyone. If this review has you thinking that you will find this series disturbing then you are probably right. I will also mention that while there is no direct nudity in this series, there are several scenes with people having sex. This show is absolutely not something you want to watch with the whole family over Thanksgiving in my opinion.
A couple of other thoughts here before I’m done.
- I wasn’t at all thrilled with the casting of Krysten Ritter but I was totally wrong. She is perfect in this role.
- Also amazing is Mike Colter as Luke Cage. He has been dead-on here and I can’t wait to see his series.
- The story-line with actress Carrie-Anne Moss and her ex and her lover seemed a bit odd to me and I’m not totally sure why they spent so much time with it. It is well acted and an authentic story but I would have liked to have seen some more of Jessica as a PI and less of that.
- The story-line with the twins did nothing for me. (Having now watched episode 12, I get this even less. Every scene with the sister brought the show to a grinding halt.)
- For that matter, I would have liked to see more of Jess as a PI before we got to Kilgrave but I also get that if you have David Tennent, you want to get him onscreen as much as possible.
- Also the theme music is strangely quirky for such a dark show. I think it misrepresents what you are going to see. Then again, if you binge it, Netflix skips the theme music anyway so it is no big deal.
- Rachel Taylor is fantastic as Patsy Walker, a character that has a much longer, if not as disturbing, history than Jessica Jones.
I have four episodes left and I have every intention of wrapping this thing up before we carve the Tofurkey. I loved the comic Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos which introduced us to Jessica and I truly feel that this series is an honest interpretation of the show as only Netflix can do. Kudos to Marvel and to everyone involved.