[Warning: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for the show. Turn back if you don’t want this to be ruined for you.]
You’ve been warned. Seriously. Go away. Watch the whole show then come back.
Okay, that should be enough room. Now onto the main attraction.
These past two years have put us at the pinnacle of comic book TV shows debuts, and it’s only been getting better. Whether it was the happy-go-lucky feel of The Flash, or the gritty and grounded vibe set by Daredevil, these Superhero shows have been delivering. However, with the release of the Netflix/Marvel Series Jessica Jones, “delivers” may be an understatement. In this review, we’re going to give an overall thoughts on the season, our likes and dislikes, and just our view on the show as a whole so far. Buckle up and get ready for the ride.
Not So “Super”
Now right off the top, we know this is a show with characters based on superheroes and villains, and there’s obviously no issue with that, it’s great. However, one of the best things about this show is the simple fact that the characters hardly even use their powers (minus Kilgrave obviously, but we’ll get to that). In all honesty it could’ve worked perfectly without Jessica or Luke having powers, but the fact that they do is just an added plus. They rarely even use them in the show unless it’s completely necessary. This kind of adds to the theme of the Netflix/Marvel shows that are set to be more “street level”, unlike the big screen titles. This next thing was also done by the Daredevil series, but these shows do a good job of letting us know that they share a universe with the Avengers, without just blatantly name-dropping them. They actually reference them as little as possible, and that’s good, seeing as how that could take away from these storylines.
Kilgrave = MCU’s Best Villain Yet?
Easily the best part of the show thus far, David Tennant does a ridiculously amazing job at playing and truly BEING Kilgrave. Besides Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Marvel films have constantly been lacking in the “compelling villain” department. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk was a close breakthrough, however his performance was a bit formulaic. Kilgrave, on the other hand, is sadistic, manipulative, charming, and just all around evil. Something fresh that the MCU had been needing. The sad truth of it though, is that despite his mind controlling abilities, he’s human, and very relatable to normal people. He grew up always getting whatever he wanted in life, no questions asked, but once he met Jessica, that changed. He finally found something (or someone) that he couldn’t just have, and that frustrated him. He’s a very sad, pathetic, and sometimes funny individual, and easily comparable to a child throwing a tantrum. The only difference is that children don’t usually force people to kill themselves via mind control when they’re enraged. His character is such a monster, that even a viewer at home watching the show could literally be terrified of his next move, as if Kilgrave’s actions in the show would affect their real lives. A character of this caliber truly stands out among the crowd, and could easily be seen as the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Hats off to David Tennant for killing this performance (pun intended). It’s almost a shame his character was killed off already. Or so it seems..
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones
Despite the obviously lack of resemblance from the source material, Krysten Ritter does an excellent job bringing Jessica Jones to life. She portrays a broken, damaged, but also completely badass heroine who proves that she can hold her own and doesn’t need rescuing from anyone. Ritter is well known for her role in Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, but this may be her best performance yet. She’s someone who’s used to playing a cynical, sarcastic, and troubled individual. However she truly captured every rough edge, every alcoholic, and also every heroic trait that makes Jessica Jones, Jessica Jones. A very commendable performance, indeed.
Mature themes for Marvel (i.e. Rape, etc)
One of the main questions asked by everyone before the show was released was this: just how dark is Jessica Jones going to be? The answer? Very dark. The Alias graphic novel that the show is based of was also considered one of the darkest works that was written for Marvel. This story took viewers to a side of Marvel that we were briefly introduced to in Daredevil, although they still held back a bit. Jessica Jones went full throttle, and wasn’t afraid to show us how things operate in Hell’s Kitchen. One of the most controversial things from the comic was the fact that they dropped some F-bombs literally right from the start, and that was unseen. In the show, they didn’t do that, but they used rape instead. Obviously these words carry different weight, but a theme like rape is no joking matter. Kilgrave is the rapist in the show (even though in his twisted mind he doesn’t see it that way), and it kind of creates a double entendre of sorts. Jessica -as well as many others- were mind controlled by Killgrave, which is an invasion into one’s mind and life. Then you have actual rape, which is an invasion of one’s body and life with no consent. Both cause incredible trauma and can change a person forever, leaving them just a shell of their past self. The writers probably used these two themes to bounce off of each other and present two different ends of a somewhat similar spectrum of Kilgrave’s power. this also just shows us how creepy Kilgrave is, even without intending to be so.
Another thing this show played on a lot was the use of glass (shattered glass, to be specific). The glass represents one’s mind, and often, you saw glass getting destroyed or shattered. That represented one’s mind after Kilgrave had his way with them and invaded them, and it was a great and interesting way to show fans how it would physically look after Kilgrave had messed with someone. Not everything has to be dark, but not everything has to be all fun and games, and Marvel definitely took a risk with this one being their darkest project yet, but it was worth it.
Despite how good this show was, it had a few standout flaws, and those were mostly connected to the supporting characters. Robyn and Ruben’s sub story was strange, and not really necessary to the grander scheme of things. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t needed. Then when he died, Robyn and Malcolm had a small story and it went off on a strange and distracting tangent. Another one was Hogarth’s strange love triangle. Jeri Hogarth is an attorney that Jessica sometimes helps, and was this show’s female version of Jeryn Hogarth. Hogarth was having an affair with her secretary, Pam, and her Wendy wife finds out, which leads to them going through a divorce while also going through this whole ordeal with Jessica that eventually leads to Wendy being controlled by Kilgrave to kill Jeri, but Pam comes to the rescue and kills Wendy first (definitely one of the more interesting scenes of the season). While it wasn’t terrible to see their relationship eventually deteriorate from two different sides, it also could’ve been completely left out. In contrast with these two subplots, we have the story of Frank Simpson (AKA Nuke in the comics), who is a cop-turned-villain due to some strength/adrenaline enhancement pills he takes. His character in the comics is basically an 80’s, Rambo-version of Captain America, hopped up on combat drugs. They didn’t do the best job of letting his story play out properly in the show however. One minute he’s injured, then the next he’s getting treated by this shady doctor who works for this shady organization who’s feeding him these shady American flag-colored pills. It was a bit rushed. Obviously though, since he didn’t die they can expand on his story and show viewers how he got to be that way. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll see him with that American Flag tattooed on his face like in the comics.
All in all, Jessica Jones did more than deliver and was a great contribution to the MCU. Being a property that not many people were familiar with, it really shocked fans and was a nice spin on the generic superhero formula. The tone was fresh, the villain was compelling and captivating , and some of the supporting characters gave us interesting relationships to look forward to in the future (i.e. Trish Walker, Malcolm, and even Luke Cage). They did a great job at taking on some subject matter that most wouldn’t dare touch, especially with a superhero themed show. Its grim and noir setting could help battle superhero fatigue, and it also proves that female heroes are capable of leading their own TV shows while being drunk and badass all at once. We’re just looking forward to the next season now.
Jessica Jones: Season 1 receives a 9.0 out of 10 from Superhero Task Force.
Jessica Jones season 1 is available for streaming on Netflix now.