This is the world of Jessica Jones, and it’s not a pretty one.
New York City. It’s the city that never sleeps, and with all the countless cheating spouses having affairs out there every night it’s earned its reputation. But there’s someone else out there who doesn’t sleep much when the lights go out, and her name is Jessica Jones, P.I. She’s out there, and it’s her job to get evidence of those infidelities. She’s hated and loathed by both her clients and those she spies on, has a psychopathic sadist stalking her and she’s a borderline alcoholic.
She’s also a superhero. Except she doesn’t wear a costume, she’s not that super and she doesn’t consider herself a hero.
When Jessica takes the case of tracking down runaway athlete Hope Schlottman, she learns that the young girl has become the latest mind-control victim of Kilgrave, the psychopath who has an obsession with Jessica unlike any other. The kidnapping of Hope is just his first move in a dangerous, violent game which drags Jessica back into his life. With his ability to control anyone into doing anything against their will, the one thing he wants from Jessica is for her to love him of her own free will – and he’ll kill as many people as he wants just to make that happen.
Jessica Jones may have super-strength and be able to leap small buildings in a single bound, but she’s flesh and blood like all of us. She can be hurt both physically and mentally, and she will be. Badly. While struggling to exonerate Hope of her crimes, Jessica’s own dark past catches up with her and she struggles to protect those around her, from childhood friend Trish Walker to Luke Cage. But against Kilgrave, she has no defence. All she can do is her job, and wait for a moment when she can fight back…
After a slow build-up of hype and massively positive responses, the real question is if the second Marvel/Netflix show is as good as Daredevil? The simple answer is no, it isn’t.
From its stylish introduction complete with an increasingly-chaotic theme tune right to the final moments of the last episode, it’s a show which grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. There’s no glamour to this in any way, just a hard-hitting darkness which shows the street-level side of life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite some of the characters having superhuman abilities, there’s a reality to this which is almost unnerving at times. In an almost voyeuristic way, it’s hard to stop watching because there’s always something happening.
The big theme here is control. Those who wield it can abuse it, and those who are the victims of it suffer long after their abusers are gone. So many people in this are victims, mirroring so many in real life, and Jessica Jones examines how we respond to that. Some seek comfort in others or by being alone, some seek revenge, and some in turn go on to control and abuse those around them. There are no easy answers here though, and it’s honest enough to admit that.
Krysten Ritter gives an outstanding performance as Jessica Jones, playing her as emotionally scarred, generally unpleasant and hilariously sarcastic to everyone she encounters, yet has a streak of goodness which keeps her one step away from being entirely unlikable. Mike Colter makes a huge impression as Luke Cage, and the rest of the cast are perfect. The real standout is David Tennant, who plays the villainous Kilgrave (The Purple Man from the comic books). Carving up an instant reputation as the MCU’s most vile villain within moments on screen, Kilgrave oozes a level of menace which is horrific to watch and could create more than a few nightmares.
The slow-burn detective formula may not be to everyone’s taste, especially those seeking superhero action.
Likewise, some of the sub-plots (such as lawyer Jeri Hogarth’s divorce or Trish and her abusive mother) may seem drawn out, but there is a reason. The only sub-plot which seems like a bit of padding is the one concerning NYPD Officer Will Simpson, but since it sets up the character of Nuke as a potential season 2 storyline it does make some sense. There are action sequences, along with sex scenes and some disturbingly gory images, but it isn’t a show which is reliant on them.
Is it worth viewing? Absolutely, although it isn’t for kids. This one is for mature audiences only. However, it’s also possibly the strongest entry into the MCU so far as well as being the most genuine, and is impressive viewing regardless of its comic book origins. Like Jessica Jones herself, this show doesn’t pull any punches but is definitely worth getting to know.