As Netflix and Marvel prepare to release up to three new series this year, I have been trying to catch up on the shows I missed in preparation. The series I most recently finished was Jessica Jones Season 1. Like all of Netflix’s Marvel shows this show takes place in New York City and follows Private Investigator Jessica Jones and her battle against the villainous Kilgrave.
It all starts rather innocently for Jones, played by Krysten Ritter, when she is hired by two people from Nebraska who’s daughter has gone missing. When Jessica follows the clues of the investigation they lead her to Kilgrave, a dark and mysterious figure from her past who has the ability to make people do whatever he wants by just telling them. Jessica is not without her own powers, super strength and enhanced jumping, which were obtained after a car accident when she was young. The whole series focuses on her attempts to right the wrongs in her life and take down a man who seemingly will stop at nothing to get Jessica back under his influence.
The description in the previous paragraph is intentionally vague because I do not want to spoil too much of this fascinating series. Marvel had done it once again by providing us with an engaging and grounded story that keeps you wanting to hit the play next episode button. Krysten Ritter plays the badass, hard drinking, rough and tumble Jones perfectly. Her performance is spot on because she shows us a wide range of emotions. Jessica is deep down a broken person just trying to make the world a better place, but all the while trying to hide that goodness within her because she does not think she deserves happiness. Her past constantly haunts her and Ritter knows how to convey all of this. In a way the character of Jessica Jones and her story line is about dealing with abuse and overcoming what that can do to you. This show portrays that perfectly and its very surprising that super hero show does all of that.
A good superhero show is nothing without a compelling villain and boy does this show have a compelling villain. Kilgrave, played menacingly by David Tennant, is messed up in every way possible. He has no moral code and his manipulations have no bounds. You are constantly wondering if he is playing you or telling the truth. He may be the most evil villain to grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that is saying something for a universe that contains Thanos, Loki, Kingpin and the Hand. Kingpin can be ruthless, but he is fighting for a cause. Kilgrave on the other hand has no moral code and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Many villains know what they are doing is wrong, he does not and often does not see how anyone else could view the world differently. All of this is possible because of David Tennant’s performance. He gives the character a suaveness and almost coolness that is hard to deny, but at the same time makes him despicable. When Kilgrave loses control, Tennant imbues him with a manic fury that is unmatched. The show would be nothing without him.
Joining these two main characters is a fantastic supporting cast. Mike Colter play Luke Cage another superhuman who has indestructible skin. Cage and Jessica cross paths at many points and he serves as the main love interest for Jessica as well as tying to the central mystery and backstory of Jones’ character. Colter plays Cage with an air of coolness that is infectious and makes him infinitely likable. He has his own series as well and I have just started watching it. Another is Jessica’s best friend Trish “Patsy” Walker a talk show radio host and former child star. Trish’s mom took Jessica in when her parents died and so they grew up like sisters. Walker is played by Rachael Taylor with a fierceness that is unmatched and makes her a character I cannot wait to see again. Another one of Jessica’s friends is her neighbor Malcolm played by Eka Darville. Malcolm can be a bit annoying at times with his wishy washy attitude, but he plays a key role in the plot.
The final two main players are allies of Jessica’s, but can also be in more of an antagonistic role. Carrie-Anne Moss plays power player lawyer Jeri Hogarth. Jessica gets a lot of her clients from Jeri and they have a mutually beneficial relationship where Jessica runs some of Jeri’s more dangerous errands. Jeri is as ruthless as they come in the legal world and some of her personal issues make things all the more complicated for Jessica. The final main character is Will Simpson played by Wil Traval. Simpson is a cop who fell under Kilgrave’s spell and once out of it will stop at nothing to get him out the picture. He helps Jessica when tracking down Kilgrave, but when her methods differ from his he takes a much darker path.
Overall Jessica Jones was a endlessly entertaining series that kept me invested in the Marvel Universe on Netflix. The characters are compelling and three dimensional while the writing for the most part smart and well paced. The whole look and feel of the series is pitch perfect as well. The other exciting part to this story was the diversity in its cast and characters. The main characters are primarily women who are both straight and gay and of the male main characters one is a minority. This is huge for a big brand like this to be pushing more diverse storytelling and it looks like it continues in Luke Cage. This leaves me very excited to start Luke Cage and I am highly anticipating a Season 2.
Best Episodes: AKA WWJD, AKA Sin Bin, AKA Smile
Worst Episodes: AKA I’ve Got the Blues, AKA 99 Friends