Marvel followed up its dark Netflix series Daredevil with Jessica Jones a few months back and, since the former is about to release its second season, we thought we’d finally review the latter.
Cast and Crew
Directors: Simon Cellan Jones, S.J. Clarkson, David Petrarca, Stephen Surjik, Uta Briesewitz, John Dahl, Billy Gierhart, Rosemary Rodriguez, Michael Rymer
Writers: Melissa Rosenberg, Brian Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Jenna Reback, Ruth Atkinson, Otto Binder , John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, Joe Orlando, Archie Goodwin, Scott Reynolds, Johnny Romita, Dana Baratta, David Mazzucchelli, Frank Miller, Micah Schraft, Liz Friedman, Hilly Hicks Jr., Jamie King, Edward Ricourt
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones
Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker
David Tennant as Kilgrave
Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse
Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth
Mike Colter as Luke Cage
Wil Traval as Will Simpson
Susie Abromeit as Pam
Erin Moriarty as Hope Shlottman
Robin Weigert as Wendy Ross-Hogarth
Michael Siberry as Albert Thompson
Colby Minifie as Robyn
Ryan Farrell as Jackson
Paul Pryce as Donald
Kieran Mulcare as Ruben
Clarke Peters as Det. Oscar Clemons
Danielle Ferland as Clair
Nichole Yannetty as Nicole
Gillian Glasco as Emma
Lisa Emery as Louise Thompson
Rebecca De Mornay as Dorothy Walker
Joseph Ragno as Roy Healy
Parisa Fitz-Henley as Reva Connors
Elizabeth Cappuccino as Young Jessica
Charleigh E. Parker as Sissy Garcia
James Freedson-Jackson as Young Kilgrave
Catherine Blades as Young Trish / Patsy
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple / Night Nurse
An orphaned, broken, hard-drinking private eye with superpowers tries to redeem herself when the mind-controlling villain who once enslaved her forces his latest victim to kill her own parents. Along the way she gets help from her famous adopted sister, Trish “Patsy” Walker, a neighborhood junkie, Malcolm, an ethically-challenged lawyer, Hogarth, and the future Hero for Hire, Luke Cage.
I’m going to note thematic concerns even though, strictly speaking, the show works because it permits those concerns to develop naturally, and with relatively little comment. The story and characters come first.
That said, the show’s central villain, performed terrifically by David Tennant, reflects on many kinds of abuse, affluence, and terrible choices. He’s a man with the power of a god, the mind of an unrestrained child, and the abusive predilections of some abuse survivors. His specific power raises questions about free will, diminished responsibility, and other topics relevant to both the Marvel Universe and ours.
The story raises a number of other questions, some of which can be answered by the dramatic needs of the story. However, they linger, leading us to wonder if the problems couldn’t have been addressed.
Why didn’t anyone ask sooner if loud noise or headphones would cancel out Kilgrave’s powers? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who wondered early on if something like that would be worth trying.
Why don’t other metahumans notice the multiplicity of odd happenings and the Game of Thrones-like trail of bodies? Daredevil lives, literally, around the corner. Jessica Jones could probably get the attention of an Avenger or two; Kilgrave represents a serious enough threat. Of course, the viewer would feel cheated, but shared universes contain these inherent problems.
Finally, why doesn’t Jessica take a gun once she’s decided to kill Kilgrave? That would have been really helpful.
Originality: 3/6 Daredevil preceded this show, but Jessica Jones does gritty and street in a different and darker way. It’s Marvel’s most R-rated production to date and, despite some conventional noir/superhero elements, it opens up that universe in ways that will surprise those who only know The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Effects: 6/6 The show relies less on effects than most Marvel movies and series, but they have been integrated seamlessly.
Story: 4/6 The story introduced multiple aspects of the character in interesting ways, and doesn’t get bogged down in origins. We learn what we need over time. Luke Cage’s past isn’t explored at all. The season runs less linear than Daredevil, and proves more willing to explore side-stories, as a TV traditional series would. While highly entertaining, it is not without flaws. It drags a little in places, and the tying together of Luke, Kilgrave, and Jessica relies too heavily on pulpy coincidence.
Acting: 6/6 The series features strong actors turning in credible performance as characters dealing with incredible circumstances. Krysten Ritter turns Jones into one of Marvel’s most compelling characters. Tennant is outstanding, and his definitive death should mean he won’t return. That is for the best; anything else would cheapen the character and the story.
Emotional Response: 6/6 The series delves into the disturbed psyche of its villain, and several broken relationships. The most affecting relationship, however, was Jessica and her adopted sister, Trish.
Overall: 5/6 I’m looking forward to the second season, and I’m really looking forward to the Luke Cage series.
In total, Jessica Jones, season one, receives 36/42