I know very, very, very little about Jessica Jones, and when I heard that Marvel had joined up with Netflix to produce a TV show about her, I was surprised. After hearing the news, I decided to stay ignorant about who she was. With Netflix’s Daredevil show, I already knew a ton about ole’ Horn-head because I am a big fan of the books and have been for a long time. Jessica Jones is a character that I know exists in the same world as the street-level heroes, but I never read her books and know next to nothing about her. Heck, I don’t even know if she has any powers, and for that reason I am looking forward to experiencing this show with no prior knowledge or thoughts about the character. Furthermore, I stayed away from all pre-show spoilers, most casting announcements, and any possible piece of news that may have filled me in on something that I would rather be surprised about. In other words, I am coming into this show 100% fresh and with zero expectations, and that makes this the perfect show for me to review. As part of this series, I must add that I will be writing these reviews immediately after watching each episode, so that I stay just as confused and shocked as the rest of you when something happens. Without further ado, let’s get started and try to figure out the puzzle that is “Jessica Jones”.
Before we get to the show itself, I have to comment on these opening credits. As they start, it reminded me of those PBS Mystery shows, with a very classy and jazzy intro alongside a colorful but grim animation sequence. As it continues, the music picks up steam and takes on a life of its own, and this was pretty exciting. I can venture a guess that this show is about solving mysteries, and if the intro is any indication, this is going to be a wild ride.
We kick the episode off with some rather cliched monologue from Jessica (Krysten Ritter) as she spies on a cheating couple and snaps shots of them. She reports back to her client, who gets justifiably pissed, but unjustifiably at Jones. Her response to his tirade – smashing his head through a glass window. Jones is clearly a tough customer who takes crap from no one, whether they pay her or not. Immediately, we get a sense of what this show will be like – a modern film-noir private eye story, and I am immediately a fan.
We rapidly learn that Jones does indeed have powers, super-strength and super-jumpy abilities (I don’t know what you want to call it, but she jumps really high). She uses these powers to help her on cases, and to stalk hot dudes like that hunky barkeeper that may or may not be Luke Cage (Mike Colter) making love to a woman in his home above the bar. While on a stake-out one night stalking this man from a fire escape, she suddenly gets accosted by a creepy shadowed figure who disappears just as fast as he appeared.
I knew David Tennant was in the show, but I didn’t know who he played. It took all of three seconds for me to figure it out – he was The Purple Man. It was a flawless intro for this bizarre character, from the lighting change to the sudden appearance out of the corner of your screen. The Purple Man was never the toughest of villains, and is a main part of Daredevil’s rogues gallery, but being played by Tennant has turned him into a serious threat. Every thing about him is perfectly evil, and as the episode progressed we got a taste of who he is, and how much that has screwed up Jones.
Jessica takes on a case from parents of a girl from Omaha, in search of their daughter Hope. As Jones investigates, she rapidly learns that the Purple Man (AKA Kilgrave) is behind this abduction, and that leads us to the biggest revelation in the first episode -Jessica’s PTSD. Upon realizing what is going on, Jones goes to visit an old friend/ celebrity TV star Trish (Rachael Taylor), who at first is reluctant to believe this man is back since “she saw him die”. It’s Trish that talks Jones back into facing her fears and using her powers to rescue someone, instead of another person being mentally destroyed in the same way that Jones was by him.
In between this search, Jones runs into the barkeeper (whose name is not revealed in this episode) and steps in for a drink (or twenty), ending up in bed with the guy in a pretty hot (and rough) sex scene. Their bouncy-bounce time over, Jessica checks out his bathroom and discovers the photo of another woman in his medicine cabinet, and walks out on him before either of them says another word.
The rescue sequence where Jones retrieves the college girl is terrifying, watching the POV of a person suffering from serious mental hurdles who must push through these issues to prevent it from happening to someone else. The glints of the Purple Man haunting Jones’ mind is unsettling, and draws serious tensions from practically nothing happening, demonstrating visually the power he still has over her through her PTSD. What led to all of that has yet to be revealed, but I look forward with curious trepidation on learning more about her past.
Jessica rescues the reluctant Hope, too afraid to move out of fear that Kilgrave will harm her, and reunites her with her parents. The reunion doesn’t last long, as Hope goes back into a trance and shoots both of her parents before crumbling to her knees, crying in confusion and pain. Jones walks away with her head hung in shame of failure, giving up on Hope and Kilgrave and deciding to run away, but something stops her dead in her tracks. Whatever that something is, that heroism inside of her, causes her to turn back around and continue to face her fears, whether or not she can actually do anything to make herself feel better or not.
Also, have to ask – what was up with the random lesbian action from Jones’ employer, Jeri Hogarth? Is the Purple Man going to a part of this love triangle somehow and use it as a way to get to Jessica?
Possible Easter Egg: When Jessica is hanging out inside the bar with Maybe Luke Cage, she deduces that a gentlemen there ate buffalo wings four years ago, and Luke tells her that his name was Melvin. Could this be Melvin Potter AKA The Gladiator (who we saw in Daredevil, but not yet as Gladiator)?
Debut episodes are always tough to write reviews for, mainly because you have no idea where things are going to go, and you have to sift through a lot of exposition to introduce elements and characters. “Jessica Jones” is no different, but it’s a very strong start that has given me just enough to intrigue, excite, and hook me. I love the cinematography in this episode, and wonder how the rest of the serious will look as well. It feels like a gritty 1970’s movie, as if it was shot on film, with a voyeuristic lens. The camera is typically obscured or hiding behind something – a fence, a window, all sorts of barricades to show that kind of life that Jessica lives inside her head and out in real life.
Jones is a troubled character, certainly not a hero yet but trying to define who she is to herself, lost in her dark hole that is PTSD that she hides in with her penchant for heavy drinking. She hides in a bottle, trying to numb her pain, and when confronted with the idea that her old stalker might be back, her mental trauma takes over. Tennant as the Purple Man is chilling so far, and he has only been on-screen for a total of 10 seconds. After seeing this first episode, I am not ready for her to face him yet and that notion really has me on the edge of my seat and stuck to my computer screen to see the next one.
It’s hard not to compare the show to “Daredevil”, and also unfair, but since the two shows are set in the same world, I would have to say this might be a stronger pilot than DD and I look forward to the future of this show (and hopeful that Matt Murdock and Jessica will run into each other soon). I am also curious to see how the relationship of Maybe Luke Cage and Jones will develop, and when they will actually tell us the identity of this guy, if Jones even knows his name.
Stay tuned next time for whatever trouble Jessica will find herself as we take a look at “AKA Crush Syndrome”!