Because I keep my ear to the ground (in that I pfaff about on social media) I’d heard about Jessica Jones, a new Netflix show which was getting rave reviews in the US, before it was officially released.
Jessica Jones – the person – is a Marvel comic character. Apparently. I don’t read comics or graphic novels and have mostly stayed away from the superhero franchises, so I knew nothing about Jessica Jones before I started watching it.
I mean, I knew it starred Krysten Ritter and I knew Aussie Rachel Taylor and Matrix hero Carrie-Ann Moss featured… but that was it.
For those not in the know (like me a few weeks ago! #accidentalrhyming) Jessica Jones—the person—is a pretty sleazy private eye. Or at least she would be if she were male. She gets results however, which is why prominent attorney Jeri Hogarth (Moss) uses her talents… despite Jessica’s difficult personality.
Mostly though Jessica’s work involves following husbands and wives and taking pictures of them inflagrante.
She’s obviously running from something. Constantly looking over her shoulder and unable to sleep she spends most nights scoffing as much whisky (or scotch?) as she possibly can, waking hungover in her apartment-cum-office which is in a constant state of dishevelment.
She’s flawed and prickly and tries really hard not to give a shit, but there’s something vulnerable and likeable about her at the same time.
We’re well into the first episode before we discover WHY Jessica Jones is part of the Marvel franchise… she has some sort of superhuman strength. We later learn (if you haven’t read the comics) this was the result of exposure to radioactive chemicals in a car crash that killed her parents and brother.
In retrospect I realise I should have guessed she had some sort of superpower but it came as a shock at the time. Like I said… I knew this was based on a Marvel comic but didn’t know the entire series featured superheroes. D-oh!
The plot unfolds very cleverly and we eventually learn that Jessica’s still recovering from a run-in with someone called Kilgrave, played brilliantly by David Tennant. Kilgrave has the power to control people’s minds and Jessica fell under his spell and—as she puts it—did some terrible things while there.
She thought he was dead, but he isn’t and he’s back. Taunting her… the one who got away.
We eventually meet Trish Walker (Taylor), a former child star and radio talkshow host. Trish’s momager took Jessica in after Jessica’s family were killed and the pair were close until the liaison with Kilgrave made Jessica push her best friend away. Trish is trying to get Jessica to let her back in, but with Kilgrave still on the loose she fears the psychopath will use her bestie against her.
And then there’s the sexy Luke Cage (widower and bar-owner) and Jessica’s junkie neighbour, Malcolm added into the mix.
I was addicted from episode one. The entire series is centred around Kilgrave but it’s set up through the first few episodes and a case Jessica’s working.
Jessica Jones—the show—has got so much going for it. The characters are great, the cast is great, the plot arc works and the scripts and dialogue are clever, offering a perfect mix of light and shade.
Although these characters were developed a while ago it’s the way they’re portrayed by the actors and the treatment they’re given by the writers that makes them so engaging. The characters are seamlessly given context by the flashbacks (and backstories); and they’re complex and multi-faceted… as evidenced by the lack of antipathy I often felt for Kilgrave.
I was actually not a fan of Ritter before this, though haven’t seen her in much other than 10mins of some show called Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 and The Gilmore Girls. But she’s great in this role. Her character’s quite dark and (in addition to her internal demons) she seems to be constantly battling her disdain for everything and anything and an unwanted sense of humanity.
There are 13 episodes in this series and they’re all currently available via Netflix. There’s been no talk of season 2 as yet, but I find it hard to believe Netflix won’t renew the series. A potential new plot thread came to light in the final episodes so it makes sense to let that play out…. but we’ll see.