Meet Jessica Jones; she’s an independent thirty-something living in the big smoke just trying to make ends meet by working as a freelance private investigator. Oh and she can also lift cars off the ground, leap up tall buildings in a single bound and throw grown men across the room with one hand. Netflix and Marvel reunite to bring us the second entry in their shared television universe and yet another complex lead character.
Jessica is hard edged and tough as nails. Everything she says is laced with venomous sarcasm as she battles her personal demons with hard drinking, but there are signs of a kind spirit deep inside that’s been beaten down over the years. But by what or more appropriately who? The dark secret she’s harbouring and the secret whispers that haunt her mind are at the heart of the series and as it goes on I’m sure it will be a thrilling revelation. Working through the night she profits from the seedy side of New York, taking pictures of extra marital affairs for suspicious partners which has recently lead her to a womanising dive bar owner named Luke Cage. But her curious fascination for him seems to run a little deeper.
When she’s not working for herself she’s taking subpoena issuing work from cut throat lawyer associate Jeri Hogarth, dealing with kooky neighbours Ruben, Robyn and drug addict Malcolm and avoiding her estranged celebrity sister Trish. Her latest case has brought concerned small town parents Bob and Barbara Shlottman from Omaha looking for their daughter Hope who has shacked up with a new boyfriend and abandoned her college education and prosperous athletic career.
What at first seems like a cut and dry case begins to get personal as Jones starts to see parallels between Hope’s relationship with this influential mystery man and her own. Slowly she comes to the revelation that they are one in the same, a man known only as Kilgrave. Krysten Ritter is gorgeous yet rough, her battered leather jacket, baggy hoodies and ripped jeans project a tough exterior yet her sorrowful doe eyes and pouty lips can’t hide years of pain. She’s also smart and resourceful whether it’s playing it up as a bimbo over the phone or threatening to use her “laser eyes” to melt a man from the inside.
Mike Coulter as Cage is calm and collected a centred voice of reason in Jessica’s chaotic life and their relationship comes hard and fast with intense and graphic sex scenes. This isn’t your light hearted Ant-Man style Marvel, this show has one foot firmly in grounded reality and the other somewhere between Scorcese’s Mean Streets and Fincher’s Seven with sudden bursts of ultra-violence and seedy green and brown hue cinematography.
Daredevil was a hard act to follow, but so Jessica Jones is a different beast all together more psychological thriller than superhero action adventure. I hear the word ground breaking thrown around but I’m not quite jumping the gun just yet, it’s not the first TV series with a strong female lead and not even Marvel’s first with Agent Carter on ABC already representing but so far it is a great addition.
Following this Kilgrave’s person’s pattern she manages to track down Hope in his penthouse suit. She lies across the bed forced against her will to stay there until his return all from just his powers of persuasion. This is the first sign of his mysterious hold over people he wills that he wields but the second is far more frightening. Reunited with her parents a happy ending turns to horror when while leaving the apartment with her Mum and Dad, Hope brandishes a gun in the elevator.
Jessica races to stop her but as the doors slowly shut gun fire rings out, meeting them at the ground floor to find the parents gunned down and Hope catatonic clicking away on the trigger of the emptied gun until the realization of what she’s just done kicks in and she cowers in the corner screaming in regret. Kilgrave’s power of persuasion proves fatal and clearly too much for Jones to handle.
As Jessica walks away from the crime scene dazed she’s tries to run away from it all, something she seems to have been doing for a long time but she comes to a crossroads. As she says herself “knowing it’s real means you gotta make a decision, one keep denying it or two do something about it” and with that she, even in the face of greatest fears she sucks it and walks straight back in to take do whatever needs to be done to make this right and in this moment Marvel’s next hero is born.
Keep up to date as we review all 13 episodes and join the discussion on the Marvellous podcast Monday nights on Podomatic and I-Tunes.
Review by Dylan Boaden.