Jessica Jones is the latest Netflix television entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like most of you, I binge watched it over several days. I couldn’t do it in one sitting, because I have a day job, a family and other obligations aside from a TV series. Now I’m done with it and I’m ready to share my thoughts on it. Be warned, there will probably be spoilers from this point on, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
Like Daredevil before it, Jessica Jones takes advantage of the freedom Netflix gives it with content, especially violence. Unlike Daredevil, there aren’t many wincing scenes in Jessica Jones. It also takes gratuitous freedom with profanity, so that should be enough to convince you that this show is not for kids. It also departs from the comic story that spawned it by having Kilgrave as an omnipresent threat from the very beginning. This allows for more linear storytelling. We also have some departures in Jessica’s personal history, detaching her from the Marvel Universe Brian Michael Bendis imbedded her into, working her into Spider-Man and the Avengers’ history. It keeps her relationship with Luke Cage, but replaces Carol Danvers with Patsy Walker. These changes are all for the better, I believe, especially since it’s trying to root itself firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Krysten Ritter completely immerses herself in the Jessica Jones character. I have no trouble believing that she possesses enough power to stop a car or tear someone apart. At every moment I believe she has contempt for Kilgrave. Every moment I believe that she has suffered horribly at the hands of Kilgrave. Her performances in the flashbacks only emphasize this. In the flashbacks we get a Jessica Jones that opens up, especially to Patsy. When she’s in Kilgrave’s thrall, her eyes go completely dead. Her interactions with David Tennant’s Kilgrave always kept me on edge.
Which brings us to David Tennant as Kilgrave. His performance is simply terrifying, and at the same time, sympathetic, to a point. He is able to convey the behind a sociopath there’s a child behind the origins of the criminal. However, he makes it perfectly clear that he is too far gone to be redeemed. I was almost expecting madness before watching this series, but was thoroughly pleased that we didn’t get that. Kilgrave is all about control, and the best performances that Tennant gives are when Kilgrave is not in control. In those scenes we see Tennant doing his best acting, letting us know that Kilgrave is trying to find a way back in control of his situation.
Mike Colter’s Luke Cage is completely believable and likable. When he first shows Jessica his indestructible skin, I was enthralled. When he cuts loose near the end of the series, we finally get a movie-worthy super-powered fight on TV. I found myself rooting for Luke Cage. I genuinely liked him and especially wanted him and Jessica to end up together, knowing that with his solo series still to come, a regular Cage/Jones thing couldn’t happen. Mike Colter also carried that vibe of being a genuinely nice guy.
Patsy Walker, or Trish Walker as she’s called in the series, is played by Rachael Taylor, who expertly plays her as someone fed up with being known as a cute kid celebrity. Her earnest desire to be a hero is something that we haven’t seen yet in the MCU, a regular person trying to be a hero without anyone guiding them about what it actually takes. Her romantic interest, Simpson, has the advantage of being part of a secret program that gives him pills to increase his abilities. Patsy only has a lot of training and genuine resolve to become a hero. It might be because I like the comics version of Hellcat so much that I want Patsy to become Hellcat in time for the planned Defenders series.
The flaws to the series lie primarily with Simpson’s character. He’s based off of the comic book character Nuke, who is one of the most forgettable of Frank Miller’s creations from his time on Daredevil. A scientific reason behind Kilgrave’s powers is given but then as it’s amplified, it defies that science. On a personal preference, I deplored the way Kilgrave treated children, placing them in terrible danger, and Hope’s story never gets the satisfying ending that it truly deserved. Aside from that, the series is really, really good. I sincerely hope we get a Season Two which would hopefully end with Jessica and Luke together, but that’s all wishful hoping.