Let’s Talk About Jessica Jones

SPOILER WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FIRST SEASON OF THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES JESSICA JONES.

tvline
Poster from Netflix, via tvline.com

Yesterday, Netflix rolled out their newest Marvel series Jessica Jones. I just finished the first episode and I’m already hooked.

The opener is a gritty composite of city life in Hell’s Kitchen, stylized as a moving painting. Jazzy piano music contributes to a noir-feeling; fitting against a darkly colorful backdrop. It’s beautifully done and I would hang the artwork of it on my wall if I could get my hands on it.

Jessica (Krysten Ritter) narrates, first describing her role as a private investigator as scenes of her photographing a couple in a parking garage lead to a confrontation with the cheating woman’s disgruntled significant other. “Shoot the messenger,” she says. It “rarely pans out,” she concludes to the audience, tossing the man headfirst through the window on Alias Investigation’s door. “Then there’s the matter of your bill,” she deadpans to the unconscious client, in true, dark Jones fashion.

The main plot revolves around Jessica’s latest case, a Nebraska couple hiring her to find their daughter who has exhibited some strange behavior lately. Anyone familiar with Jessica’s story can tell almost immediately that the girl’s odd situation will tie in to Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, who Jessica had previously thought to be dead. Now, it seems as though he is baiting her out, reminding her that he is still there.

This is no more evident than in the climactic final scene, after the girl has been reunited with her concerned parents. Kilgrave makes sure Jessica knows that he is in control, always.

As far as first episodes go, Jessica Jones nails it. The writers here have done a good job of balancing setting the stage while keeping the story moving. In this episode we’re briefly introduced to some main players, including Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica’s romantic—or at least sexual—interest, and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Jessica’s friend, talk show host, and fellow superheroine Hellcat. I’m looking forward to seeing how they use Hellcat in this role.

Ritter plays the alcoholic, PTSD-ridden Jessica with finesse and skill, not shying away from Jones’ darkness, but instead embracing it. I really believe she is Jessica Jones and I feel for her throughout the episode. Marvel and Netflix made a smart move with casting her in the role.

The chemistry between Ritter and Colter is palpable. They exchange in some dark, snarky flirting in Cage’s dive bar, before heading upstairs to have one of the steamiest sex scenes I’ve seen without nudity. There is no previously established relationship between the two, and this episode leaves me curious for how that will progress. After Jessica leaves his apartment almost wordlessly and near tears, it’s hardly painted as the beginning of a happy relationship.

It’s Kilgrave, however, who manages to steal the show. Despite only having a collective minute of screen time, during which we never get a clear, full face shot, Tennant delivers a portrayal that is heart stopping even if you aren’t aware of his powers and downright terrifying if you are. They decided to keep Kilgrave’s character close to that of the comic as far as his evil deeds are concerned—Netflix’s Kilgrave is most definitely a rapist—although they ditched the purple skin which made him the Purple Man. I’m still out on how I feel about that.

Overall, the series looks to be a hit already. If the writers keep up the steady pace and the actors continue to deliver such stellar performances, I’m looking forward to completing this series within the week.

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