[TV Review] ‘Jessica Jones’ Episode 1.01 – “AKA Ladies Night”

Jessica Jones” is a breed all its own.  If you plop down on your couch (or bed, in my case) to view it expecting something as pulpy as “Agent Carter“, as melodramatic as “Daredevil“, or as slick as “Agents of SHIELD“, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  It is as different from all three of those shows as they are from one another.  This is a good thing.

Mind you, I feel that all of those series have their place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Each highlights a different corner of the Marvel world not often showcased within the films, both in terms of narrative and style.  Some are more effective at doing so than others, but such is the way of things in the world of multi-platform franchises.

Carter” and “SHIELD” form the backbone of this world as they focus on the history of it, both from what occurred in the past and what is occurring now, albeit generally behind-the-scenes.  “Most Wanted” will likely do the same, in its own way, once it arrives next year.  “Daredevil” tackles street level crime with a focus on how the law can sometimes fail society, how deep corruption can run within it, and illustrates the ill-effect that all of it has on the community around it.

While “Daredevil” deals in communal corruption and suffering in Hell’s Kitchen, “Jessica Jones” deals in personal corruption and pain.  The procedural stylings of the former have given way to a rougher, more handheld outlook on the personal tragedies of Hell’s Kitchen.  Some can be as simple as infidelities and injury claims.  Others can be as devastating as physical and mental violation.  Degradation of the soul that leads to one committing acts that they otherwise might not have previously.

There’s tinge of horror filmmaking amidst the noirish tone as our downtrodden protagonist drinks, fucks, and sleeps her way through her broken life.  What left Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter, who is stellar here) broken?  While the actual details have yet to be disclosed, there’s enough there to at least surmise what probably happened.  The what and why matters far less than the who.  That who is the mysterious Kilgrave (David Tennant).  The Purple Man.  A silver-tongued devil who can convince anyone he wishes to do his bidding, even if the request flies in the face of a person’s own beliefs.

When she finally realizes that Kilgrave is behind her current case, hero-turned-private eye Jessica’s first notion is to run like hell.  To flee the city and the certain danger that lies in facing Kilgrave again.  A refusal of the call, if you will.  Something holds her back from going through with her plans to bounce and she steps up to save the Purple Man’s latest victim.  While she ultimately does not succeed, something has awakened within.  Something driving her to put a stop to the evil that is Kilgrave, even if it costs her dearly once more.

Sure, it’s all cliche stuff.  As I have said elsewhere on this site, however, the fun is not always in the outcome.  Sometimes the fun is just in the journey itself, especially when the tale is told in an interesting matter or with a distinctive voice.  While it’s a it to early to call it just yet, it appears to this writer that “Jessica Jones” will accomplish both.

I was excited to see what Marvel and Netflix had in store for me when I sat down to watch the pilot in the wee hours of the morning earlier today.  After finally seeing it, my excitement holds true.  I can’t wait to see what showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, her staff of writers, and this wonderful cast (Mike Colter is already great as Luke Cage in his short bits here) have in store for us over the course of this season.  While the entire run went up all at once today and many are sure to binge watch it throughout the weekend, I hope that at least some of you will still take the time to read the episode reviews on this site and maybe even fire up a bit of discussion (be it below in the comments or on our Facebook page) from time to time.  I’ll be running one review per weekday (M-F) from here on out until all episodes have been covered.  Feel free to follow along (or rewatch along), if you like.