Well, just finished the entirety of the Jessica Jones Netflix show. I watched 1 episode at midnight on Thursday night, 6 more after work that evening, then the final 6 throughout today.
Overall, another great series. It helps that the original comic of renown was already targeting adult audiences, but still, this was a strong entry that featured some very different content than Daredevil did. Mainly, there are very few real fights, and it’s more of a character study with the main genre being something closer to a mystery. It’s rather great to have a mystery where you’re less concerned with who the perpetrator is and more on how to bring him down.
I do have to say I was severely disappointed in the dearth of Daredevil references. I mean, these are more closely linked than the movies are to Agents of SHIELD, and they’re even based in the same city, so at least some random mention of him doing stuff would be nice. We got Brett Mahoney in the infamous police department standoff, then Claire Temple in the finale, but considering the frequent use of law firms and lawyers there was not a single mention of Nelson & Murdock. I think that was a missed opportunity. I mean yes, the existence of Brett and Claire does loosely tie Jessica Jones back to Daredevil, but it’s a pretty tenuous link, more of a cameo really. At least the next series is focused on Luke Cage, which is kind of hard to do if Luke is not the prominent protagonist.
That said, maybe I should be more surprised that Luke had such a large role in JJ. I was thinking he would be a side character, they’d know each other, kind of a next-door-neighbor relationship, but to think he had such strong ties to her already was interesting. I’m not up to speed on the Alias comic book story, but I liked that they’re involved already.
Another nice surprise was Trish Walker. At first I thought she and Jessica had really horrible chemistry and struggled focusing when they were together. However, as the show went on it got a lot better, some because we learned their past together, some because they had better scenes to show off interplay.
So, I am hoping to see more Krysten Ritter in Luke Cage, since they’re a pair. I hope Trish makes an appearance, even if it’s just her radio show. Claire will almost definitely be in there too. It would be nice if she had more than 1 episode, but I guess I won’t expect too much this time.
What else to talk about… Robin and Ruben were pretty funny. In comparison to Daredevil, Elden Henson’s Foggy was a very welcome source of a bit of light and compassion in a show about killings, kidnappings, the criminal underworld, and general mob functions. We didn’t get that so much in Jessica Jones, since she herself had some cynical wit to throw around and the focus on the Purple Man’s powers made the overall atmosphere a lot darker. Foggy was a nice guy and was also played as a rather comical character, but there was no one like that in JJ. Robin was easy to laugh at, but her character was played straight, not specifically for laughs. Laughing at her feels like making fun of weird people, basically.
Hogarth and the last couple whose apartment Kilgrave took over were both homosexual, which is interesting since the only other relationships in the show were the hot Jessica/Luke/Kilgrave mess, and the equally messy Trish/Simpson pairing. It felt like Trinity x doctor x secretary was the most stable relationship, heh. However, I really liked 2 things about Hogarth: first, when she was trying to represent Pam, how unironic it felt to hear her spew back Kilgrave’s line, “I didn’t kill her, you chose to do it on your own;” then, more for Jessica, but the way their last phone call went where Jessica simply told her straight, “you are a horrible person, but you can help us, so keep being horrible if that’s what it takes.” It’s great characterization and hopefully does something interesting in future works.
Daredevil, I felt, had 2 primary focuses: the dichotomy between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, and Matt’s struggle to find the best way to use his powers effectively without losing his values. These foci were presented between real, down-to-earth fights that helped to break up tension, or sometimes increase it. Jessica Jones was very different. As I said before, it felt more like a character study. Who is Jessica Jones, and how does she live her life after experiencing a heavy trauma? Who is the Purple Man, and why does he do what he does? The first half of the show seemed to do its hardest to only ask the questions and not give any answers. It also did this with minimal action scenes, instead opting for more investigative and introspective scenes.
This was probably the show’s biggest weakness, to me. Without Daredevil’s frequent action to change the pacing, each episode felt incredibly dense, like its own movie. Each moment was consistent and interesting in and of itself, but when I had the chance to stand back and think about the show as a whole, it felt like there was a lot of spinning in circles, a lot of extraneous plot elements. Daredevil felt extremely well-paced, and each scene and episode were clearly connected to the larger plot. It helped that we had a clear look at Fisk’s criminal enterprise early on, so we could kind of “keep score” by way of seeing how each mob boss was hurting as the story progressed. Jessica vs. Kilgrave felt like a really, really long game of cat and mouse. I think it definitely helped the P.I./mystery aspect of the show by knowing who the villain was from the start, but from a pacing perspective it kind of dragged on and on for them to keep clashing, breaking up, clashing again, pulling apart again…
I think this weakness could have been a strength if we followed everything from Kilgrave’s perspective. As it was, both he and Jessica were presented ambiguously enough that while we were supposed to hate Kilgrave, we were also only really rooting for Jessica simply because she was the best person to take him out. If we got to watch the story through his eyes, it would be kind of like Death Note, where he’s a compelling enough character to want to watch but we also know he is 100% a villain. I don’t know… I think I’m struggling to pinpoint what didn’t sit well with me in Jessica Jones when I felt Daredevil was so great. Maybe it’s simply that I’m comparing it too much to Daredevil and wanting it to be just as good when it’s just different.
Well, no matter my detailed impressions, Jessica Jones was a very entertaining show to watch that presented the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new way that is probably unique to Netflix. It had a compelling cast of characters with a dynamic mystery that made me keep wanting to watch more to figure out how they would approach the puzzle next. I may not love it as deeply as I love Daredevil, but I would definitely recommend watching it.