Dec 8, 2015

[TV] Jessica Jones: Season 1

When Netflix announced that the were going to work on several television dramas based on various Marvel characters, one name raised more question marks than exclamation marks, if you get my drive. Everyone knows Daredevil and even Luke Cage has a decent amount of name recall, albeit as Power Man maybe.

Marvel's Jessica Jones was the bit of a wild card since she's not actually a well-known Marvel character when it comes to the average non-Marvel person. Even for Marvel fans, she's a bit of a rarity and most probably know her best as Luke Cage's girlfriend then wife in more recent comics. But before that...many draw a blank.

As much as Jessica Jones does have powers, that's really not the point of her story. She's a person who gained abilities that were certainly interesting but not enough to make her truly special. They certainly not enough to get her to become a full-blow superhero fighting global threats and such. But they're just enough to give her an edge in the world.

Synopsis: Marvel's Jessica Jones is a Netflix TV series adapted for television by Melissa Rosenberg. The series is based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name who had been originally conceived by Brian Michael Bendis for the comic Alias under Marve's Max adult-oriented comic book sub-line.

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a former superhero turned private investigator. She's the modern equivalent of your classic gumshoe detective character, down to the broken door, the bottles of alcohol hidden all over her apartment. She takes on the odd case or two as best as she can and hers her connections and her intuition to see her through cases. At the same time, she maintains a relationship with lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), who hires Jones from time to time to dig up information for her cases. Her primary family is Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), a former child star who is Jessica's adoptive sister.

But the really center of this story lies in Jessica's past. At first it's easy to question why she's such a vile character given her all of her bad habits, her filthy apartment and her sour demeanor. But all this aggression that she carries around so casually is all part of something elaborate coping mechanism for dealing with the world. It's all a reflection of her efforts to deal with significant trauma that she continues to deal with - or perhaps run away from, depending on how you interpret her actions.

And the man at the center of her pain is a certain Kilgrave (David Tennant), that for most of the series feels like an urban legend or something. But he is very much real and has the power to control other people within his immediate vicinity. His power isn't quite telepathic and seems to require that the person is able to hear him in order for it to work but its effectiveness is pretty much absolute once he has you. And for many years Jessica was his prisoner through the use of his powers and she's spent most of her life since then trying to get past that. And as the series begins, Jessica finds out that there's a very big chance that Kilgrave is back and is active in the city.

Krysten Ritter puts on a compelling performance that's certainly interesting. She falls into that classic case of playing seeming unlikable characters and making you wonder if not liking her means she's doing her job well. But Jones is more than just annoying - she's a woman with pain and continues to deal with the lingering trauma of what Kilgrave had done to her. It's a blatant analogy for rape victims with all the classic signs including people not believing she was the victim of a crime and the eerie power the abuser continues to hold over you even after the fact.

The show is once again very powers-light in nature. Sure, Jones has super strength and a limited ability to fly, but she's gotten through life not relying on those abilities. She has come to accept that being a superhero didn't work out for her and so she keeps her powers to herself - an ace up her sleeve for when it may be of most value.

David Tennant really blew me away as Kilgrave. Sure, we all loved him as the quirky and adorable Tenth Doctor over on Doctor Who, and that's a great way to remember him. Here he's something else entirely - a man who has a frightening power and few ethical boundaries to cross. He's a very dark character who's more than willing to use anyone in any way. And he knows how to clean up after himself in order to avoid attention  from the authorities by having his agents kill themselves once their tasks have been completed.

How does one woman manage to defeat a person of this nature? Super strength means nothing to a man who can make you use your own strength against you. Plus this is the man who controlled her in the past - what will it take for any victim to find the strength to face her oppressor again? All these questions are what define the nuances of the show and the complex struggle that Jessica goes through. And the way this all comes together makes for a brilliant story that is quite captivating.

Sure, it's not a show for everyone since it is quite the slow burn. It has those noir touches that really shape the story in interesting ways. Kilgrave is evil, but he's also a victim in his own away and the story is dominated by such moral shades of gray that make everything all the more tricky to get through.

This first season of Jessica Jones were quite the experience and I enjoyed the whole journey. Plus I can't wait to see how the rest of these shows eventually tie together both to one another and of course how it might play a part in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thus the show gets 5 moments of Jessica fighting through her own fear and trauma out of a possible 5.


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