Considering that I binge-watched the entire first season of Jessica Jones yesterday, this is less a review and more (mostly) incoherent thoughts on the show. I went into this show absolutely blind, having read only the most basic information on the character. Which is why I’m guessing I missed out on a lot of Easter Eggs.
Let’s start with the principle difference between the protagonists of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Matt Murdoch wanted to be a hero, he wanted to protect the people of Hell’s Kitchen, the people that everyone else had forgotten about. He set out to kill the Kingpin only to realise that that’s not what he wanted, he didn’t want to become a killer. Jessica, in contrast, had been a superhero and now wanted no part of it. She works as a private investigator and that’s how she likes it. She doesn’t care about other people and isn’t interested in being a saviour. She suffers from guilt and self-loathing about the things she did when she was under Killgrave’s control. She just wants to live her life in peace. She spends most of the season trying to make him accountable for his numerous crimes only to realise that that’s not possible. He’s too powerful and there’s only one way to truly stop him for good.
The pace of the show is also not as consistent as Daredevil, which is not to say that it’s a bad thing, but the show loses some steam right before the third act. This is partially because there are multiple arcs and while Killgrave is the primary antagonist, there are other forces at play and there’s much we don’t know about them or their motives. The show is also exceptionally well-written and does very well in wrapping up enough of the plot lines by the finale to be satisfying, while also setting up some stuff for season 2. As bleak as the tone is, it is the dialogues that provide the levity and keep the tone from getting too heavy. Also Ritter’s deadpan delivery also helps that along.
One of the thing that works in Jones’ favour is the casting, the casting is spot-on and even the changes they made, for instance Jeri Hogarth’s gender-swap, worked really well within the show. Kristen Ritter was fabulous as Jessica Jones and could not have been portrayed better. She is understated and she makes the character very sympathetic without losing her snark or bad attitude. Rachel Taylor was also great as Trish Walker. She was probably the most likable character on the show and yet she brought this quality to Trish that made her relatable. Carrie-Anne Moss as the tough-as-nails Jeri Hogarth was perfect and could not have been better cast. Mike Colter as Luke Cage was compelling and I’m excited about seeing him head his own show. David Tennant as Killgrave was perfect. He was equal parts funny and twisted psychopath. And yet you didn’t hate him and that is thanks to the way Tennant plays him and the way he’s written.
Jones also features some of the best written characters on TV, and it is refreshing to see more and more shows avoid the tired and abused tropes that are still far too common in mainstream TV series. Unlike Daredevil, Jones also has a relatively large number of characters and for the most part, they are all engaging and interesting. But I loved what Melissa Rosenberg did with the female characters on the show. They were all complex characters who were very hard to figure out. All too often on shows like this, the female characters make some very stupid mistakes that jars even the viewers because they are so out of character. What really struck me with Jones was just how smart they were, with regard to Jessica and a special mention for Trish Walker. They were cautious and didn’t rush headlong into danger. Their plans were well-thought and while they did make mistakes, they were logical ones. What I also loved that they didn’t take bullshit from anyone, case in point, after Simpson attacks Trish a second time, she doesn’t trust him and shuts him down calmly and decisively. She is very much in control.
That’s the other great thing about this show (as well as Daredevil) is that it features complex characters. Characters who are real, they are not inherently good or evil. They make bad decisions but are capable of redeeming themselves. Even the villains have a compelling history that makes them all the more menacing.
Throughout the season, Jessica suffers from PTSD and while we know that she spent time with Killgrave, under his control and did things that made her hate herself, the show never goes into explicit detail. We see her after the fact, fighting her guilt everyday having escaped from her abuser. We don’t need to see the abuse to know it happened (something Game of Thrones refuses to understand) We see Jessica as a woman who escaped on her own terms.
While there is some romance, especially between Jessica and Luke, it is understated and always in the background. It never distracts from the main plot. At its heart Jessica Jones is a love story (as my friend pointed out) but never between Jessica and another man, but between her and Trish. Their relationship is the only positive one in the show. Trish is the only person that Jessica truly loves and Trish loves her, exactly as she is, bad attitude and all. Trish is the bright spot in the darkness that’s Jessica’s life.
Jessica Jones is a great follow up to Daredevil and does very well in distinguishing itself from it. Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones is very intense, dark and bleak but it is a very rewarding watch. Featuring great writing and characters, it is also immensely satisfying and I for one want to watch it again and this time take my time and savour it.