November 20, 2015 marked the day yet another Marvel TV series to invade Netflix. Released at precisely 12:01 AM PST, several countries in the world sprinted into a binge-watch session. The few trailers released prior by Marvel wasn’t enough to satisfy the fans’ need for another darker twist of a Marvel Cinematic Universe piece—and this time, it’s headlined by Jessica Jones.
Who is Jessica Jones?
It’s not a question you have to be able to answer before you sit down and watch Jessica Jones. The tagline of the series, It’s time the world knew her name, pretty much says it all. Picking up on Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ classic MAX title, Alias, as the basis for its story, Jessica Jones does not tell an origin story as Daredevil previously does in its show. Instead, Jessica Jones begins at a point in the timeline where the titular character, Jessica Jones, has given up on superheroing and decides to start a new business as a private investigator after a recent incident—but soon, a figure from her dark past catches up with her turns the gears of the season-long plot.
I wouldn’t go too much into spoilers here, so I’m going to stop right there.
Jessica Jones may very well be the answer every Marvel fan has been dying to have for those who say that Marvel shows are for children. While you could still watch Daredevil with an eleven-year old kid and supervision by an adult—trust me, I know; I’ve tried and it worked—Jessica Jones’ age restriction regulations are none that easy-breezy to work around. It deals with a lot of very mature themes, including but not limited to rape, suicide, PTSD, torture, and a load of sex scenes. You’ve been warned—don’t watch this with a kid anywhere near you.
I personally don’t mind the mature themes. I think it adds to the juxtaposition of the series, tackling matters no Marvel big screen adaptations could have done otherwise. While we had glimpses of very dark themes most prominently in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in Jessica Jones, everything is a lot more vivid and graphically depicted. One of the most central things about the Marvel shows on Netflix is that they want to get as low and grounded as possible, bringing out the most humane of problems into the screen. With Jessica Jones, it’s no holds barred—it’s a full package of comedy relief, humane drama, complexity of characters, the occasional superstrength spices here and there, and dope action scenes.
One thing about Jessica Jones I can’t forget to mention is the opening credits. Worked on by David Mack (check out our previous interview with him here) with a noir, jazzy tune of an opening title track by the show’s composer, Sean Callery, it really sets up the mood before you step into the world of Jessica Jones. Throughout the thirteen episodes, not once did I skip the opening titles to get to the real episode, just to get that mood going.
Going into episode 1, I really felt that humane quality oozing out of every scene. I immediately knew that Jessica Jones isn’t just another superhero show—in fact, it rarely deals with the superhero/superstrength aspect of the character but as an identity trait. You could talk about Jessica’s superstrength as you would about her hair color. It’s something the character has, but it doesn’t define her as a character. There are a lot of layers of the character and the world surrounding her that the show really delivered to explore.
Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23) headlines the show as Jessica Jones, and I must say, after bingeing all thirteen episodes in under 24 hours, her performance really caught my eye. Dare I say she is the perfect actress for the role (much like I would say Charlie Cox is for the role of Matt Murdock), and I really can’t see anyone else portraying Jessica Jones as well as she does. Jessica Jones has a lot of layers to portray, which means a lot of highs and lows that comes with the role, and Ritter really shines in each of the episodes.
Another highlight of the already magnificent array of actors is, of course, David Tennant. I know him well from his tenure as the Doctor in Doctor Who (2005-2009) and as DI Alec Brady in Broadchurch (2013-present) and I have grown into quite a big fan of his works. And Tennant doesn’t disappoint. In Jessica Jones, he portrays the character of Kilgrave, the main villain of the show this season. In the comics, Zebediah Killgrave is a purple-skinned, mind-controlling man, appropriately called Purple Man, but as many of the other characters featured in the show, the character has been reinvented to better fit the show’s more contemporary adaptation—one of the most obvious things being he doesn’t have purple skin as he does in the comics. His portrayal of the superficially psychotic, often a slight bit sympathetic, more often creepy Kilgrave hit a really high note as one of the best performances in the show, which is a lot to say given how talented the actors in the whole of the cast are.
The rest of the niches are filled with names like Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) as Jeri Hogarth, Rachael Taylor (Transformers, Charlie’s Angels) as Patricia “Trish” Walker a.k.a. Hellcat from the comics, Erin Moriarty as Hope Shlottman, Wil Traval as Will Simpson, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse, and Mike Colter (The Good Wife, Halo) as Luke Cage, whose own Netflix show is already deep underway.
All-in-all, Jessica Jones is a thoroughly juicy experience to enjoy. I would have gone straight through the season in one night if I could, as many others did right after its release. And they have good reasons to do that. The plotlines weaved in every single Jessica Jones episode are immensely tight and dynamic—they really keep you on your toes throughout the episodes, but especially at each ending. Don’t be surprised if you go, “Oh, I’ll just watch one more episode,” and end up watching a whole batch of them instead.
A show’s plots have great connections to its characters, and Jessica Jones is no exception to that. The intrigue entwined in the tapestry belongs not only to the main character, but the whole of the supporting cast. Characters like Hope Shlottman, Jeri Hogarth, and Malcolm Ducasse have some very piquant storylines going on that just adds to the sheer goodness of the show.
There are so many good things you could find in Jessica Jones, and this article will end up being a whole 10,000-word essay before I get to the end of them all. But let me tell you this: If you enjoy a more adult take on comic book characters, Jessica Jones will take you through one hell of a ride. Even if you’re just a casual fan or even if you know nothing of Jessica Jones prior to watching the show, it will still blow your mind away along each episode you go through. So get the episodes piled up, sit down when you have the time, and binge-watch the whole thing from start to finish and I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed.