When Jessica Jones was introduced in Alias, the Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Gaydos comic from Marvel’s adult-themed MAX imprint, it didn’t skimp on the violence or the sex. The first encounter between Jessica and Luke Cage was...memorable with a bit of kink thrown in.
Some SPOILERS follow…
I’m fine with anyone who says where Jessica Jones, the Netflix TV show is coming from, is somewhere they don’t want to go. They probably would be happier with lighter superhero fare like Supergirl. You can’t get much less grim and gritty than Superman’s cousin.
The original plan was to binge-watch all 13 episodes over two weeks. It took closer to a month. At various times I found the show to be intense, meandering, exciting, boring, violent, talky, sexy, contrived, memorable and forgettable. It’s not an easy show to wrap your arms around, but Jessica Jones provided many moments hard to forget.
As the title character, Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a complete mess. She drinks too much, she lives and works in a dump of an office in a crummy apartment building, she pisses off her best client, blows off her best friend, and sleeps with the husband of the woman she murdered. She’s rude, surly, selfish and thoughtless. She’s not a nice person.
Jessica Jones has a much bigger supporting cast than Daredevil and while gal pal Trish Walker (Rachel Taylor) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter) are big assets, the amount of face time given over to Jessica’s neighbors Malcolm (Eka Darville), the drug addict with a big secret, and the crazy twins upstairs Reuben and Robin are big drawbacks every time they get more than 30 seconds of face time. They simply didn’t interest me as they were there mostly to fill the 60 minute running time.
Reuben’s banana bread and unrequited love for Jessica means a bad end for him from Kilgrave and Robin’s annoynace powers crank up to ten after he exits the show. I hated every time they showed up siphon screen time. Even when Reuben gets snuffed it does nothing but move an irritating second banana off the screen and gives another one even more chances to be irritating. Big mistake Jessica Jones writers! I was hoping Kilgrave would make her die slowly.
Death is not in short supply on Jessica Jones as they practically stacked corpses. I was initially stoked for the show, but ended up lukewarm over a show most critics gushed over. Instead, I found myself echoing a few who came out feeling as let down as I was.
We thought Jessica Jones was the newest Marvel superhero show, but what it is is the story of a rape survivor still being tormented by her rapist. Jessica is an alcoholic, antisocial, abrasive and damaged woman who cares about nothing and no one, not even herself. That’s what the show was going for and it succeeded, but the unpleasantness of her personality as well Jessica’s lack of likeability made it hard to completely pull for her.
As a survivor, Jones is always on guard, uncomfortable and hostile to strangers and wary of even simple acts of kindness lest there be some hidden strings attached. Only
Jones is damaged, teetering on losing her grip on sanity, drinking to numb herself from feeling anything and pushes her only friend away so she won’t get dragged down in her misery. Kilgrave has violated her mind, body and soul and nothing she fears more than him repeating the violation. It’s not your standard super-hero vs. super-villain dynamic.
David Tennant was fine as Kilgrave, the bane of Jessica’s existence, but he lacked imagination. Make a guy stand and face a wall while he pees and craps on himself? Nasty, but far from lethal. If you’re going to make everyone in a police station hold their guns on each other, then make them pull the trigger and let the carnage ensue. Lethal would be Kilgrave walking into an air control tower and telling the staff to make planes crash into the ground and each other or instructing the doctors, nurses and patients in the hospital to kill each other.
Kilgrave delighted in torturing Jessica mentally with his sick mind games and dropping bodies all over the place because she wasn’t ready to commit to taking him out. Jessica should have listened to Breaking Bad’s Mike Armentrout about the foolhardiness of “half-measures.” If you’re going to be a villain, go all out and really pose a threat to our anti-hero. If you’re a hero, stop dicking around with your half-baked schemes and take out the villain before he drops more bodies.
The show peaked at Episode#10 with its huge body count and then dragged its ass to a finish I saw coming a mile off. When you’re only telling one story over 13 episodes there are going to be peaks and valleys and there were plenty of both. Here we had a tough woman who didn’t want to be saved or redeemed. Jessica only wanted to be left the hell alone.
I liked Jessica Jones, even if I didn’t love Jessica Jones and while it limped to a padded-out, obvious end, I enjoyed watched her end up as much damaged goods as she started. Still drinking hard. Still bitter as hell. Still along. Still with a broken door to match her broken life.