Jessica Jones is a series that I watched with the same enthusiasm and expectations that I watched Marvel’s Daredevil with. It doesn’t have to be repeated that Daredevil was a series which was everything that the film should have been but was not. Jessica Jones on the other hand is a superbly crafted series which is riveting to watch but is not at par with Daredevil. I will not compare it any further with Daredevil but for those readers who want to know whether it is as good as Daredevil, the answer has just been given. From here on I will concentrate only on the series at hand and its pros and cons.
The series chronicles the journey of an alcoholic and tortured individual, Jessica Jones(Krysten Ritter) who must fight her inner demons to be able to cope with her personal predicaments and be able to destroy that one man who is not only a threat to her but to the whole world, Kilgrave. She has super powers which lets her have super strength and also leap as high as no human can. Kilgrave (David Tennant) has the power to control individuals. When he tells you to slap yourself, you do it! When he tells you to kill your parents, you do it! When he tells you to kill yourself, you do it! That’s how powerful he is. He meets Jessica one fateful night and controls her from there on before he meets with an accident and Jessica has her way out of the situation.
She opens up a private investigation agency and tries to bring her life back on track. During the days she meets the parents of a girl called Hope (Erin Moriarty) who hire her to find their daughter who they believe is missing. Jessica successfully tracks down Hope but Hope isn’t the girl she was. In a matter of moments, Jessica realizes that Hope has come in contact with Kilgrave and before she can help her, Hope ends up killing her parents under Kilgrave’s instructions. Jessica is left with the choices of either staying on and fighting for Hope and come in contact with Kilgrave eventually or escaping from the place before the man finds her and abuses her again. Jessica decides to stay.
This series works for varied reasons. The performances by the ensemble cast is terrific. Ritter plays Jessica exceptionally well. As you start off with the series, you ask yourself repeatedly why this girl is being such an unapologetic and heartless brute. With every episode, you get the reasons little by little and by the time the series ends you fully understand her actions and identify with it. She has all but two friends in the world and they help to shape her life in different ways. While Trish (Rachael Taylor) is the girl she grew up with and shares a sister like camaraderie, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is more of an acquaintance to her whom she meets in her line of work and cannot help but fall for thanks to his oozing charm and the fact that he also has superhuman abilities. As the series progresses she realizes that she shares more with Luke than what she believed she did.
David Tennant’s Kilgrave is a vile and sadistic individual whom you will love to hate. I am the sort of guy who cheers for the bad guys in many films and series and this was exactly the case here. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of liking for his character in those brief scenes when he tries to woo Jessica and does a few good things. The manner in which he controls the individuals and the almost comic turn that the directors take on his actions are bound to extract mixed feelings for his character. Mike Colter’s Luke is super cool. He is so very suave and smooth in his portrayal of the character that you practically feel like being this man. He also looks the part in action sequences. Rachael Taylor is eye candy and I mean that in the best way possible. Her character works. Carrie-Anne Moss has an important role to play and she is pitch perfect in her essay.
The series is laced with riveting human drama which has very little to do with the super hero aspect of the series. What I mean is that this could have been very easily the story of some normal people and it would have still worked just as well. So what Marvel was able to do here was what DC achieved with the Dark Knight Trilogy. They were able to create a regular human drama using super hero characters. The fact that the performances are so good only makes the narrative that much more engrossing. There are ample action sequences towards the end and they are mostly done well. The fight between Jessica and Luke is the best action sequence of the whole series.
My only complaints with the series are the fact that it felt a few episodes too long. There are many times when Jessica is shown to let Kilgrave off the hook when she could have very easily ended him. That’s where the narrative begins to slip because those episodes give you an indication that the story may be dragging unnecessarily. The finale also was a letdown because after all the buildup of the 12 episodes before it, the finale just shows the end of Kilgrave in the most uneventful manner. Also the way Jessica endangers Trish’s life is just too much to fathom as for most part of the series she tries to keep her away in the effort to keep her off Kilgrave’s radar. Why would she possibly bring her to the scene where she was expecting a final standoff with Kilgrave? There is also a subplot involving a lesbian lawyer Carrie-Anne Moss and her wife which is given way more time than was necessary.
Having said that, the series is still one of the most watchable series of the year. It is a close second best after Daredevil as far as the Marvel universe is concerned for me. Great plot, super performances, some great action sequences and riveting human drama make this series a must watch.