The origin story. We’ve come to expect a full-fledged transcendence of a former average Joe who’s suddenly bestowed with special abilities. They dawns a mask or cape and decides to fight the good fight. What happens if your soul is compromised out of the gate and you barely escape, ruined but alive, haunted by the memories of a waking nightmare perpetrated by a villain with a penchant for purple? Enter Jessica Jones, private detective.
The Netflix series based on the Marvel Comics character, Jessica Jones plays in the gritty New York City subculture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe championed by last year’s Daredevil. Powered by Krysten Ritter, Jessica Jones hits the screen like comic book noir as she confidently but cautiously unravels her world to the audience.
Three Reasons To Watch (Spoiler Level: You’ve Probably Heard Worse)
1) Krysten Ritter
After a triumphant but short-lived run on AMC’s Breaking Bad, Ritter’s character sadly moved on to the smack house. She went on to star on the ill-fated ABC sitcom Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23 (her run as the titular “bitch” was pure gold). Now, Ritter storms into the MCU.
Since geek culture is probably the most vocal (and asshole-ish) when it comes to casting their favorite characters to the big or small screen, I was waiting to hear the inevitable backlash. Sure, Jessica Jones is relatively new to Marvel and doesn’t have a Spider-Man level following, but fans appeared to give their collective reticence of approval. Which works out, because Krysten Ritter absolutely owned this role and seemed to walk with the swagger of someone who’s been playing it for years. I didn’t expect the show to portray Jones as so dynamic. Her motivations are veiled and guarded but end up slowly rolled out from episode to episode and Ritter had no problem guiding the audience along the way.
2) Origin Within An Origin
Cap gets the hero juice, Shellhead gets the fake ticker and a shiny suit, and Goldilocks gets the hammer. Origin achievement unlocked. How did Jessica Jones get her powers? Car accident. That’s it. No elaborate flashback, just an idle conversation with Luke Cage (more on him later). This might nerd-rage a few fans, but I think it’s needed in this narrative. How she gained her abilities isn’t as important as her true origin- one that’s born from survival and redemption. Jessica Jones proves you don’t need a cape, just a pair of blue jeans and a bottle of whiskey.
3) Purple Man, Hellcat, & Power Man.
You may know them as Kilgrave (David Tennant), Trish Walker (Rachel Taylor), and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). Each character is able to pull Jones in a very different direction, with each one paying off several times. Colter’s Cage makes the biggest impact as the man with unbreakable skin helps Jones cope with her misgivings (and sets up his own show). Tennant’s Kilgrave is wiry and spooky while rocking one of the most powerful weapons a villain can have- ultimate control. Rounding out Team Jessica is her childhood pal Trish Walker, talk show host and equally quick to pity a fool.
Two For The Road
1) Shorter Haul
Thirteen episodes seemed a bit much. I felt the last three or four started to turtle toward the finish line. It seemed stretched. I enjoyed the ride, but it could have ended a few stops early.
2) Carrie-Anne Missed
Trinity, I will always have a special place in my heart for you. Carrie-Anne Moss’ role as power attorney Jeri Hogarth didn’t have the same payoff as the rest of the supporting cast. Moss was wonderful. She took every aspect of the role as far as she could. It just ultimately went nowhere. I felt like she was given more drama and a divorce side story to help perpetrate the narrative. Came across as a little weak.
Jessica Jones succeeds where it could have flopped. The dark tone mixed perfectly with the story’s fresh take and strong performances. Stay tuned for season 2, debut TBA.