“AKA I’m Smiling” (Jessica Jones: Season 1)

Jessica Jones Poster.jpg
The artsy poster for Jessica Jones.

Recently, I was pretty psyched for Marvel and Netflix’s second TV show, Jessica Jones. The first was Daredevil, an absolutely phenomenal take on a classic superhero, that genuinely surprised me with the levels of depth it had reached by the end of it’s 13 episode tenure. Jessica Jones came out recently, and despite my best efforts, I was unable to watch it all in one day. Life got in the way, so I had to settle for two days.

Jessica Jones is a PI in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Business is slow, especially with Jessica’s personal problems. She’s an alcoholic with a violent twitch and PTSD from the time she was raped by a psychopath with superpowers named Killgrave. When Killgrave turns up in town again, and starts up his old hobbies, Jessica is the only one who can stop him, and she’ll go to any length to make sure that he can’t hurt anyone again.

To be honest, after Daredevil, I was massively hyped for this show, and it did not disappoint. The show was sort of like Daredevil, in it’s tone. Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones are very dark shows. They are gritty, violent, and delve deep into the psyches and motivations of their heroes. I didn’t expect Jessica Jones to be a lighthearted, fun filled romp, and I was proved right.

Whereas Daredevil was more of an action show, with a masked vigilante taking down the local criminals with both his fists and some inventively shot action scenes, Jones is much more of a psychological thriller. There’s action, certainly some really pulse-pounding scenes, but even those rely on some level of emotion, like pitting two friends against each other. Jessica is probably the more powerful hero, but Jones is mostly content with showing Jessica trying to overcome Killgrave’s mind games, rather than punching mobsters.

Luke's Bike (Jessica Jones).jpg
Here’s Luke Cage, due for his own Netflix show later.

Now, let me say right now that the acting on this show is absurdly good. I’m not sure if Netflix shows can be awarded Emmys, (didn’t Orange is the New Black win one or two?) but if they can, David Tennant deserves all of them. I’m not kidding. This guy was fantastic. I already loved him from Doctor Who and Broadchurch, but Tennant took it to a new level this time around. Krysten Ritter is phenomenal as Jessica, and the supporting cast all hold up the show in their own ways. Honestly, I liked Simpson a lot. He turned out to make some bad choices in the end, but he was trying so hard! You could tell all he really wanted was to put a stop to Killgrave, he just went about it in questionable ways.

That, for example, is what Jessica Jones does really well. All the characters have their own motivations, and you latch on to them all in different ways because of it. The show escalates in such a good way because all of the characters are going about their specific business in ways that feel real. Even Killgrave has realistic motivations, and you can both start to see where he went wrong and that he might be able to be saved.

Daredevil was a very linear show. I love Daredevil, I think it’s a masterpiece of the superhero genre, and the way it builds towards it’s climax is insane. Jessica Jones dosen’t do that, however. Jones is much more content with twist and turns, and you can be sure that crazy stuff is going to happen that will shake any event in the show to it’s core. You really feel like Jessica and her friends are fighting for their lives against Killgrave, and both teams are forced to improvise at times. It’s not like standard superhero fare. Jessica dosen’t have billions of dollars, secret spies, or AIs to fall back on, she only has her friends, and the best plans she can come up with on the spot. Boiled down, the show is about Jessica and Killgrave locking wits, and seeing who will flinch first.

Jessica and Kilgrave (Jessica Jones)
Oh, you can just feel the tension!

Ultimately, Jessica Jones is at it’s best when it’s delving deep into the charters motivations and minds. They are all connected through ways that are sometimes good and sometimes bad, and seeing them interact with each other is a real treat. Finally seeing Jessica confront the man who had so much power over her for so long but can’t touch her anymore is really powerful, and the show brings a lot for feminism, and a lot against misogyny. When Jessica Jones is drawing real world parallels to violence and rape, that’s where it hits the hardest, and the story of a woman fighting a man who won’t take no for an answer feels just too real.

With top notch characters and writing, and award worthy performances from the cast (especially David Tennant’s Killgrave), Jessica Jones will leave you breathless until the credits of the final episode roll. The show’s twists and turns will lead you on a wild and unforgettable ride, and it may even tackle some real social issues along the way.

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