I love Netflix. I become entirely immersed in the shows, clicking “next episode” without hesitation. It’s not until the screen goes black and I see my face staring back at me that I realize I’ve finished an entire season, completely engrossed. “Jessica Jones” was no different.
I had no idea that after the first episode of this superhero comic turned TV show that I would end up becoming hooked. “Jessica Jones” is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the same world as Marvel’s Avengers, “Thor” and “Antman”, where superpowers and aliens are plausible and even referenced.
“Jessica Jones” is the second TV show in Marvel-Netflix’s newest series, “The Defenders”, sequel to TV show “Daredevil”. In this series of comic book stories we see a collection of second tier superheroes whose personal and moral dilemmas are heavily ingrained into the plot line. The TV shows combine two things that I love about all Marvel productions: The classic good vs. evil plot line and great action-packed fight scenes.
Jones, who is played by Krysten Ritter, is quite the anti-superhero; her name is forgettable, her personality is rough around the edges and her dry humor and sarcastic attitude pushes people away. It is, for lack of a better word, awesome.
Having a great villain is key to all Marvel productions. “Jessica Jones” has the perfect villain: Kilgrave, aka The Purple Man. Played by David Tennant and equipped with a haunting British accent, a maniacal laugh and the power to control your mind, I instantly loved to hate him.
Upon meeting Jones, Kilgrave is immediately enchanted with her abilities of super strength and flying, much like I was, and begins to control her mind. With no morality in sight, Kilgrave coerces Jones into complete capitulation, forcing her to do whatever he pleases, whenever he wants. In a moment of freedom, Jones is able to escape Kilgrave and his powers, but not without consequence.
In the aftermath of her Kilgrave-induced nightmare, believing that Kilgrave is out of her life, Jones opens her own private investigation practice, Alias Investigations. She spends her time solving mysteries regarding adulterous spouses. Cooped up in her dingy NYC apartment, Jones turns to nursing her wounds with a steady stream of cheap whiskey, while trying to keep her PTSD in check, waiting for the inevitable return of Kilgrave.
The plot is a fluent mix of detective work, fighting crime and managing the relationships that surround Jones’ life. Despite all of this, Kilgrave still lingers in the back of Jones’ mind, creating chaos in her life.
In one of the first episodes, we meet Hope Shlottman, a track prodigy at NYU and a victim of Kilgrave’s powers who Jones can relate to.
In each episode we also see how Jones interacts in her various relationships. One relationship is with fellow superhero Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, a man with unbreakable skin and super strength. She also relies on the strength of her childhood best friend Trish Walker, played by Rachel Taylor. Walker is a former model and child star turned radio talk show host, who is human, which creates a striking contrast to Jones’ superhuman character.
The interesting thing about Kilgrave’s powers is the subtlety of his evil. He makes his victims believe they want to do the things he tells them to do rather than using brute force to make them do it. Through her past traumatic experiences with Kilgrave, she is driven to protect others from his evil means. In the time they were together, Jones was raped, however nobody considered it rape as she was mind-controlled into believing she wanted it, highlighting the extent of his powers.
Through the relationship between Jones and Kilgrave, the show also explores human issues. Discussing PTSD and rape, Netflix finds another way to incorporate real life problems and delves into the complexity of these issues, while still maintaining the crime-fighting superhero agenda.
The emotional damage left on Kilgrave’s victims, who gather in a support group, is palpable. However, with Jones, she does such a good job hiding her emotional scars that it was easy for me to forget what was done to her. She’s cutthroat, yet extremely human in her flaws and mentality, creating a nice change to Marvel’s “cookie cutter” superhero.
This is one of Marvel’s first productions featuring a female protagonist, a major leap for the company. Not only does it feature a strong female lead, but it is also created and directed by Melissa Rosenberg. When all combined, it amounts to a pretty big change for super-hero TV shows and movies in general. If you haven’t seen Jessica Jones yet, I highly recommend it.