Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Series Review
I must admit that initially I had reservations about Jessica Jones. It didn’t seem like the logical follow up to Daredevil. I mean, Daredevil is a premier character with a storied history who deserved a quality movie or TV show. Jessica Jones just didn’t have the grandeur behind her name to get me excited. I admit only being aware of a handful of important comic stories featuring her.
After watching the trailer I was more on board with the whole thing, and even more so, after positive word of mouth began to head my way.
Well, I watched it, and it was damn good. How good? Let’s dive in to find out.
The story itself is good, but not terribly original. It contains classic troupes that have been done before. A loner detective with a knack for finding trouble opens up a P.I. firm while battling her demons and trying to right her wrongs. Pretty much the makings of any Noir story. Add super powers and throw the characters in to the Marvel universe you get something a little different that works.
What makes it work so well is the execution. It could have easily felt stale but it didn’t. This is actually in part, due to the relative anonymity of the source material. We want to see what Jessica Jones can do. What are the limits of her powers? How did she get them? What misdeeds has she done? And the question that soon enters everyone’s minds… Just who is Killgrave?
The thirst for answers, in many ways drives the show. It doesn’t hurt that the writing( Particularity the dialogue) is quite good. It feels as real without being too dour. In true Marvel form, there is humor. But I found it to be thrown in at the right times. Like Daredevil, This show had more dramatic weight than most of the films. I felt for most of the characters and, I connected to Jessica Jones struggles a bit more than usual.
The look of it was reminiscent of Daredevil but not quite as innovative. Nevertheless, the production was of a high quality. The acting was, a general positive for the show. Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones was excellent. I’d seen a bit of her work before. She was always good, but nothing outstanding. She usually played to her strengths, nothing more. As Jessica Jones, Ritter is forced to push her self past her comfort zone and showcase a more varied skill set. For the most part, she succeeds. Playing a bitchy, yet cool woman is where she is most comfortable, but I enjoyed, and bought it when she went to different emotional places.
Her supporting cast was mostly strong as well. We’ll get to the weaknesses in the cast later. Luke Cage, played by Michael Colter was very good. He certainly nailed the look of Luke Cage. I would say that he also had his comfort zone and excelled more when he was in it. A bit underutilized but since he’s getting his own show, I can’t nitpick. Trish Walker, played by Rachel Taylor was a solid support for Krysten Ritter’s Jessica. She added just enough without taking away from the lead. Carrie Ann Moss makes a refreshing comeback, playing defense attorney, Jeri Hogarth. It was good to see her again, even if it was playing a cold calculating bitch, which she did very well by the way.
Lastly, we get to the best part of the show… The villain. Killgrave, played by David Tennan. phenomenal across the board. I’d say the best villain Marvel has brought to life on the small or big screen. I have to say that when it comes to TV, Marvel seems to execute it’s villains much better. If you look at Kingpin or Kilgrave, one thing is clear. They’re threatening and they don’t mess around. Personally when I watch Avengers I don’t find Loki threatening at all. Same goes for a throw away villain like say, Yellow Jacket. So there’s that.
With Killgrave you get a guy who can get you to do anything he wants with simply the sound of his voice. Imagine that power. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? What harmless, yet selfish things could we do with that? Give those powers to a deranged sociopath and you get a whole new perspective on just how much a power like that can corrupt someone. Credit to the writers for putting it out there, but even more credit to David Tennant for bringing Killgrave’s evil ways to life.
He plays him with so much charm and wit that it’s almost impossible not to root for him, at first. That quickly changes once the mysteries begin to unfold and his true nature becomes more apparent. One thing that’s for sure is that your attention is on him whenever Tennant shares a scene with someone. You can help but ask to ask yourselves questions about him. What makes him tick? What will he do? How far can he truly go? He ends up makes the unlikable likable as much as he can. So much so, that you may even end up hating what he stands for ,but not hating him. Or maybe his powers of persuasion even worked on me!
The show can get quite gory at times which might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. On the contrary, I think the gore was key in showing the severity of what Killgrave could do and what it really means to have such power. It shows us why the trauma for many of his victims is as scarring as it is. That is, if they live to tell about it.
While, the meat of the story was good the rest suffered at times. There were definitely a few plot holes and character moments that just didn’t jive with me. This series really could have done without needing to make it 13 episodes. It dragged at various points in the middle and was clearly stalling things so they could get to episodes 12 and 13. The subplots that were shoehorned in slowed things down and were, frankly uninteresting. Even ( SPOILERS) Jessica’s eventual immunity to Killgrave’s mind control seemed rather convenient and lame to me. Although for the most part, I was willing to overlook it.
Some things did seem repetitive and eventually became pointless. For example, Jessica’s crass attitude and constant disregard for D.A. Jerri Hogarth’s time. I found it hard to swallow that Jessica could just burst into a lawyer’s office and start making demands. Especially a lawyer that is her client. Minor but still…
As I mentioned before, most of the supporting cast was good but I have a bone to pick with a few of them. Will Simpson, played by Will Traval is one of those low points for me. Perhaps, even the biggest low point. He plays a cop who becomes one of Killgrave’s mind controlled slaves. He is sent to kill Trish Walker but fails in doing so. Jessica manages to save him as well. Done, right?
Wrong. He pops up again and again, for reasons that are about as flimsy as a straw. It doesn’t help matters that the actor playing Simpson isn’t very good. This is especially apparent whenever he shares a scene with Trish Walker, played by Rachel Taylor. Not good. Not good at all. Both actors benefit greatly from Krysten Ritter acting in the majority of scenes with them. Going back to Simpson… His motivations are all over the map. His story line even seems to contradict itself at times. At one point he laments how he could not forgive himself from trying to harm another person and the next he murders an innocent man in cold blood! The worst part is that that death had no point to it either. When you get to it, you’ll see what I mean.
Another annoying character was Jessica’s irksome neighbors upstairs. Creepy brother and sister that just grate on you to no end. The less said about them the better. I also wasn’t particularity fond of Malcolm( Jessica’s junkie “friend”) but as the series wore on I came to like him more.
People tend to say that the show’s finale was anti climatic but I didn’t find this to be true. I thought it was a tense and appropriate end to the story.
In conclusion, a solid show. Not as good as Daredevil ,but high quality nonetheless.I look forward to see what Marvel does as a follow up to Killgrave. I think that it’s going to be very tough to replace such a memorable villain. The journey to find out should be interesting. Go watch Jessica Jones season 1 and share your thoughts!
Hey Val – managed to get about 3-4 episodes into it, but haven’t been able to finish it yet. I expect that I was expecting something more like Daredevil and while I like the fact that they’re willing to use people with POWERS, it just didn’t have the same “umph” to it! I liked David Tennant – you know I’m a huge Doctor Who fan and it was really cool seeing him as the baddie. Even Cage was quite cool. I don’t know … I’m just on the fence a bit I guess.
I get where you’re coming from. It’s not quite as visceral as Daredevil, thats for sure, but it’s got it’s strength’s. I will say that as David Tennant becomes more involved, the show does get better. Get to about the halfway mark and see how you feel. Always good to chat with you!