Following the first season of Daredevil is a tall order to ask of a new series since its one of the best first seasons of a series comic book or otherwise. But what Marvel and Netflix has set forth in motion is ambitious in nature that ultimately pays off with the next “street level” heroine in Jessica Jones. Season one of Jessica Jones comes came near close to the level that Daredevil set the bar at with arguments that it surpasses the blind vigilante. If you know the comics, which is never a requirement, there is a small team called the “Defenders” compromised of four heroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, & Iron Fist. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out what the plan is here.
Jessica Jones season 1 is damn near perfect. To many, this is a first introduction to Jessica (Krysten Ritter) so some handholding or a quick google search may be required before sitting down to binge the entire season. All the momentum Daredevil season 1 had created is passed onto creator and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg keeping the level of consistency high for Marvel television. In the comics, Jessica Jones is created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos who in the comics has been a part of the aforementioned “Defenders” as well as the “Avengers”.
By day Jessica is drinking whiskey – a lot of whisky and by night she’s a private investigator, the best Hell’s Kitchen and Manhattan has to offer. What makes Jessica special is her power’s which how she got them is only alluded to in this introductory season while the main focal point Melissa Rosenberg chose to home in on is the severe trauma Jessica is drinking away, unsuccessfully. Being a tv series spanned out over 13 episodes Jessica’s origin doesn’t need to be explained in episode 1 or 2 for that matter.
“The beauty of what he does is that nobody knows how he does this. It can’t be explained, so it can’t be believed.”
As the series evolves and the story moves forward little hints are sprinkled in here and there to give some semblance of an idea of how Jessica became powered. All we are made aware of at first is the fact that Jessica and her family were in a deadly car accident where she is the only survivor.
Just like with Daredevil and Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones is a deeply unique and dense character. There is way more than meets the eye to Jessica when we first meet her especially with her traumatic past and how she chooses to deal with the weight of it all. She drinks heavily, delivers subpoena’s for lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) in lew of finding dirt on Jeri’s Ex for a divorce and spies on a bar owner named Luke Cage (Mike Colter). All in a day’s work as far as Jessica is concerned. But one thing is apparent – Jessica cannot outrun her past no matter how many bottles of whisky she finishes.
That past involves Kilgrave (David Tennant) who has powers of mind control, some may say a powered and more brutal Charles Manson. I mean the man tells people to stand at a random fence and never move and also to stick their hand in a blender. If there’s ever a time to be desensitized, it’s now, for this series. Brutal and bloody is an understatement. Jessica Jones is centered around hard to talk about topics – PTSD, sexual assault and sex in general. Melissa Rosenberg doesn’t shy away from these topics nor hold back opening an avenue for serious discussions surrounding female characters and how we view them.
“You have no idea, do you? I have to painstakingly choose every word I say. I once told a man to go screw himself. Can you even imagine? I didn’t have this. A home, loving parents, a family.”
What the Marvel television shows and MCU has done perfectly is finding a way to connect story threads to other projects either released in the past or in future projects coming up. Jessica Jones connects directly to Luke Cage and serves as an introduction to the character and more importantly their relationship. In the comic’s Luke and Jessica are an item, they get married and have a child together. Season one plants those seeds for the eventuality giving a nod and a wink to the comic readers. How Luke and Jessica come to meet here is credible to the overall story Rosenberg maps out. Kilgrave had both Jessica and Luke’s wife Reva under mind control when Jessica is ordered to kill Reva. In nature it’s a traumatic situation to be in while Jessica is drowned in her own guilt.
It’s been stated that the Netflix Marvel series are in the MCU – the fraction of lines of dialogue prove this much to be true. And just like with Daredevil, the timeline is set closely after the battle of New York. Besides the one liner’s connecting shows to the universe Jessica Jones is tonally different than its MCU counterparts. Where the MCU is lighthearted, comedic and inspirational, Jessica Jones is depressing, traumatic and dark – the polar opposite. Even compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones is more adult themed and violent. Tone and violence have a more grounded and realistic nature to them which makes Jessica Jones easier to separate itself from the greater universe.
Some characters can thrive in a two and a half hour setting – their origin is told; they are faced with adversity and they overcome it by the end. Some characters who are lesser known won’t fit into that mold, but that’s ok.Jessica Jones just like Daredevil works better as a series, a fleshed out and fully realized series. More time is given to these characters, their development and their relationships with those around them. Jessica Jones has several relationships it juggles well over the course of the 13 episodes. Jessica and Luke, Jessica and Trish (Rachael Taylor), Jessica and Malcolm (Eka Darville), Jessica and Jeri but the most important one that that is crucial to everything that this show is, is Jessica and Kilgrave. Their toxic relationship is the skeleton for this first season’s success – everything rides on it and David and Krysten have such a palpable chemistry together. As much as David and Krysten are on screen together, Rachael and Krysten have the most screen time. Their relationship has many peaks and valleys, like a sisterhood. Jessica does everything in her power to never use her powers and hide them while Trish as a thirst for power and to defend herself.
As good as David Tennant is, and he’s brilliant as Kilgrave, I would still give the edge to Wilson Fisk as the better villain. That’s not to take away from Kilgrave – he’s an excellent choice for a villain and his motivations are mapped out in the way that we can sympathize with him. In his head, his actions are justified and its believable – even if his powers aren’t easy to spot with the naked eye.
Jessica Jones is near perfect – Its darker tone and lovable antihero give it a sense of uniqueness while being able to stand out and apart from other projects. Where it falters is in the season length. 13 episodes can cover a decent amount of story but some of the middle episodes come across as filler and not necessary. Daredevil has the same issue. Seasons ranging between 8-10 episodes would absolutely sing but overall, Jessica Jones Is another solid outing for Marvel and Netflix. 4.4 out of 5.
Jessica Jones season 1 premiered on November 20, 2015 and can be streamed on Netflix. Jessica Jones season 1 has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Jessica Jones was created for TV by Melissa Rosenberg, was based on characters created by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos and stars Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Will Traval, Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty & David Tennant.
So, tell me, have you seen Jessica Jones season 1 and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.