Jessica Jones Season 1 (2015) Review

DISCLAIMER:

This is my first review on here so I’m going be testing with things. I’ll eventually have a semi-regular structure for these types of things, but until then, I’m just going to go with the flow.

I’m a bit late on watching this (especially given that I’ve seen both seasons of Daredevil and Luke Cage before watching this), but better late than never I suppose. Why did I put off watching this show? Like with how I put off many other shows, games, etc., there is no good reason. I just did.

Also: SPOILERS.

Prior Knowledge

As already mentioned, I had already watched Season 1 and 2 of Daredevil and Season 1 of Luke Cage before getting onto Season 1 of Jessica Jones. Prior to watching, I knew the show focused on Jessica’s dealing with the Purple Man and all his mind control shenanigans. My expectations were high because 2 of my friends said this was their favorite of the Marvel Netflix shows and they love the others too. One friend said it was kind of boring but my expectations were mostly affected by the former 2. That said, I am usually sure not to have too high of expectations for anything in entertainment because people and this hype-culture we live in tend to exaggerate things drastically. I still expect things to be good, but I usually never go crazy over anything before I get to experience it myself.

As far as my knowledge of Jessica Jones the comic book character goes, it was very limited going into the show. I knew vaguely what she looked like, a very broad grasp on her personality, that she is the wife of Luke Cage, her powers are similar to that of her husband, and that she has a detective (or in her case, PI) thing going on. That’s…about it.

General Perception

Overall, the show is fantastic and, at the very least, on par with the other Marvel Netflix seasons. That said, I am a little disappointed and frustrated with it so therefore, expectations were not met. Things like the acting, story, character development, and production value are great. It was things like vague or questionable characters motives or general moments that threw me off.

Cons

Most people put pros first and I’ll likely do that most of the time too, but when I have only nitpicks with something, I’ll likely do the cons first to further explain myself. In this case, I’ll probably be explaining to my 2 friends why I don’t think Jessica Jones is the best Marvel Netflix show.

Jessica’s Powers

Before I get into why Jessica’s powers irked me, I should first explain what they are. Her primary power is super strength. This, in turn, gives her, to an extent, super speed (she can run a mile in under 4 minutes) and limited invulnerability (bullets can hurt and kill her but she can take multiple taser batons at once whereas the average person has trouble with one). It also allows her to jump great distances. Jessica also has a minor regenerative healing factor, saying herself that she heals faster than most people. I’m inclined to believe this because she healed from broken ribs within a day or two.

Nothing is wrong with her powers on the surface. My problem with it is the extent of her powers. It seems to be inconsistent throughout and especially at key moments. Most notably Jessica’s invulnerability. For example, near the end, Jessica fights a mind-controlled Luke Cage. The two are shown to be at about the same level of super strength throughout the show. They can punch holes threw walls and easily bend or break metal. Jessica is able to take multiple blows from the obviously hard-hitting Luke Cage. She wins the fight and comes out on the other side fine. A bit rattled obviously, but the fight didn’t seem to really slow her down much in the aftermath. In an episode or two earlier, she gets hit by Robyn, who uses a pole or plank as a club while Jessica is distracted by two other men attacking her and Malcolm. Robyn is a fairly average woman. While crazed and adrenaline-filled, Robyn is not strong, definitely not super strong. Given that Jessica can withstand hits from Luke Cage, you would expect the club to either break over her head or bend, causing some damage, but nothing special and Jessica would be able to continue to fight with little problem. But no, it knocks her out in one hit. Despite the different circumstances and preparedness of Jessica for the attacks in the two fights, this makes no sense to me.

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Should’ve still ended like this (from an earlier episode).

There are other inconsistencies of Jessica’s invulnerability as well as level of strength, but that was the biggest one.

Not really a nitpick but it would be nice if she could fly eventually. The other 3 Defenders definitely can’t and it’s always a nice asset to have. It also helps differentiate Jessica Jones and Luke Cage a bit more in terms of powers.

Adult Content for the Sake of Adult Content

It’s no secret that the Marvel Netflix shows are for a more mature audience. None of it “bothers” me per say, but, at times, I feel some of it is completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the story, characters, or anything really. While I’ve felt this reigns true across Daredevil and Luke Cage as well, I feel it’s most prominent in Jessica Jones.

First there’s the sexual content. I can understand why some of the sex scenes are in there, but I felt there were too many in Jessica Jones. I can’t say exactly how many there were, but I feel around half of them were pointless and unnecessary.

Next there’s the use of swearing. Marvel Netflix shows are no strangers to swearing. While Jessica herself is shown as a fairly foul-mouthed protagonist, I still felt some of the swearing was put in there just because they can. Not necessarily from the main heroine, but other characters as well. At times, it just felt forced and even a little annoying. The most common swear was definitely the expletive of “gosh darn.” I’m pretty sure it was sometimes used at least 5 times in a matter of 30 seconds.

Again, I have no inherent problem with this kind of stuff being in a TV show (there are shows that are much more “adult” in this regard anyways) and sometimes even welcome it, freedom of speech after all, but, like anything, it can be overused and I just felt it was here.

Vague/Questionable Character Motivations

While most of the time I understood why a character would do things, there were moments where a characters motivations were either really vague or really questionable, making them rather unconvincing. I have several examples of this.

One moment involved Malcolm. This was the scene where Luke and Jessica leave Jessica’s apartment and run into Malcolm as he’s going in with a bag. After being freed from Kilgrave’s control and getting off drugs, he was going to leave and go back home to try and live a normal life. That’s not what I take issue with. What rubbed me the wrong way was when he seemed angry at Jessica and how he felt that she made him feel alone. Jessica helped him get free from Kilgrave’s control and get off drugs in the first place once she was aware of what was causing it. While he was a junkie, she was one of the few who paid him any attention. Not only that, she’s a meta human dealing with a super villain, cut her some slack! Malcolm was one of my favorite characters in the show, but this moment seemed really out of place for him.

Another was Simpson near the end and the whole tease of Nuke. I understand everything with the secret project he’s a part of and how the reds affect him and all that. To me, some of his actions still seemed too over-the-top. Like when he killed Detective Clemons. Again, I get the whole thing with reds making you focused solely on the mission and being enraged or whatever. It just still didn’t seem right. And I don’t mean morally (though it wasn’t morally right either), just that felt off. All the Nuke stuff just seemed like a complete 180 for Simpson without much build up for it, making it a turn for the worse in my opinion.

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Cool tease rushed too quickly.

The last one I’d like to mention is Kilgrave. I think he’s an overall great antagonist, definitely the 2nd best Marvel villain in all of the MCU, tied with Cottonmouth in Luke Cage and Winter Soldier (with more thought, I could probably separate these 3 more), with only Kingpin from Daredevil being better. That being said, a lot around him is left vague and unquestionable; I don’t mind things being left a mystery, but it made some things rather unconvincing. His parents never told him why they were doing experiments on him? AKA, to save his life/prevent him from going braindead? Before the experiments, his parents seemed to give him a normal upbringing as implied by the family picture in his dad’s shirt pocket when he died. Did he not learn any sense of right and wrong from those times? Why was he only obsessed with Jessica? Was he not aware of Black Widow and Scarlet Witch? Two of Marvels other powerful heroines. I’d have to check the MCU timeline, but still. What’s with Kilgrave’s twisted version of love? He initially took an interest in Jessica because of her power. After all that, the two versions of her he knows are completely different. One is mind-controlled and forced to love him. The other is the real her. They’re basically two completely different people. How was he actually able to survive the bus crash? That things was not moving slowly when it hit him. I know that one doctor gave him a kidney transplant, but surely it hurt a lot more than his kidneys? I know the comic Purple Man has a regenerative healing factor, but that is not at all implied in the show.

Unlikeable Characters/Character Moments

While I do like most of the characters, there are some that really just don’t do it for me.

One is Robyn. While I do sympathize with her a little bit because of the loss of her brother, she’s really not a likable character. Crazy, mean, and unreasonable are probably the 3 best words to describe her. Her character is basically the cause for my least favorite part of the show, when she rallies 2 Kilgrave victims to rally against Jessica and Robyn somehow manages to knock her out in one swing (see: Jessica’s Powers above) and frees Kilgrave. This leads to Kilgrave taking her, the 2 victims, and Malcolm as well as Hope later.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of Jeri Hogarth. She just seemed like a mean, bitter woman and that’s it. It wasn’t until the end, when she had pretty much lost everything did she start to redeem herself and I felt sympathy for her. I feel like the characters of Robyn and Jeri were supposed to be (mostly) hatable, at least at first, but I still don’t like it.

Also had a problem with the 2 Kilgrave victims who went with Robyn, whatever their names were.

The other is Simpson/Nuke in the last few episodes (see: Vague/Questionable Character Motives above). Already explained. Just gave off the wrong vibe to me.

Trish was also another one for me. I don’t think she’s a bad character and I actually don’t dislike her, she just seems to get in the way too much. It’s that annoying trope of being the (super powered) protagonists normal best friend who tries to be way more useful than they really are. She is genuinely helpful and useful at times, but gets in the way at others. I’ve never really liked that trope. I wish these types of characters would be the protagonist’s friend, but would only help when explicitly asked in the right situation. Plus her whole romantic relationship with Simpson seemed weird and moved way too fast.

Again, while I don’t actually dislike these characters, Pam and Wendy didn’t really bring much to the table.

Kind of Slow Pace(?)

While I do like the overall story, I felt it was a bit too slow. There’s nothing inherently wrong with things being slower paced, as long as things are happening. In this show, at times, I felt like not much was happening. Or at least not enough. Enough could’ve been cut to probably bring the season down to 10 episodes. At least that’s how I see it.

For example, I think they could’ve taken out Hogarth’s whole ordeal with the divorce. I understand what they were trying to do with it, but I felt it didn’t really add much to the story in the end, even if it spiraling out of control did make Hogarth redeem herself a bit, in my opinion. The whole thing was kind of like a generic”side quest” for Jessica anyways, if you look at the show like a video game.

CONclusion (heh, get it?)

So while that may seem like a lot, most of that is really just explaining the few problems and nitpicks I have with the show.

Pros

There are definitely a lot of pros, hence why think the show is still great despite my problems with it.

Characters

One things that can make me love any form of media is the characters. Jessica Jones definitely has some great characters. Jessica Jones herself was awesome. A BA, powerful heroine who doesn’t take crap from anybody who also has plenty of depth to her. Kristen Ritter was absolutely fantastic in this role. I already knew Luke Cage from his own show and prior comic knowledge, but he’s still great in this show. I absolutely love Mike Colter as him; he’s absolutely perfect as this character. Kilgrave/Purple Man was a fantastic villain. A very interesting and unique antagonist who isn’t really truly a villain necessarily. Never straight-forward or predictable. I already know David Tennant a little bit from what little I’ve seen of Doctor Who and his portrayal of Ten and he definitely killed it as Kilgrave (no pun intended).

I’m not sure how many people actually even care about him, but I also love Malcolm. He’s a great kid who got caught in the worst of situations, literally forced to become something he didn’t. I sympathized with him the most because it seemed like he had an amazing future ahead of him with the best intentions and that was all taken away from him by Kilgrave. Who knows exactly what his parents and loved ones thought of him after that too. Despite my nitpick of one moment with him as mentioned above, I think he’s great and it’s cool that it seems like he’ll basically be Jessica’s assistant for Alias Investigations in upcoming seasons of the show. He’s also probably the most morally good of all the characters too. Eka Darville did a great job and Malcolm became a breakout character for me.

With the exception of those mentioned in the cons, the rest were good too. Trish and Simpson I do like overall, despite my nitpicks with them.

Uniqueness

This is probably the most unique movie or show out of the MCU prior to the Doctor Strange movie. Despite my slight issue with it, I like how they were willing to go at a slower pace for this show. It let things build up better.

Instead of being mostly action like a lot of the MCU properties are, Jessica Jones had the whole detective/PI thing going on. It showed more investigation on how Jessica made her decisions instead of her just justifying them briefly afterwards. Though I think this can be improved upon, the idea and foundation are great. There really isn’t even *that* much fighting in it either. Though I would like to see Jessica go all out more often, it’s still a nice change of pace.

Kilgrave/Purple Man is also a very unique villain out of all we’ve seen from the MCU. He doesn’t really do anything himself. He never even directly fights back. No other villain does that. Even Kingpin and Cottonmouth get down and dirty sometimes. He’s very manipulative (and not just because he has mind control), unpredictable, and, at times, very VERY strange. Though I did criticize some stuff about him being left too vague, I like how you’re not sure if he’s actually truly sadistic or that’s how things just end up playing out sometimes.

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This moment (almost) freaked me out.

Jessica Jones herself is also a fairly unique protagonist. Though I have called Kilgrave a villain despite him being a bit morally gray, notice that I have not once called Jessica Jones the “hero” just yet. While she definitely is by the end, she’s still not the most moral of Marvel protagonists. Part of this had to do with the Marvel Netflix shows being darker and more mature than their movie counterparts, but a lot of it has to do with the character herself. Despite the relatively darker tones of their shows, Matt Murdock and Luke Cage are undoubtedly still the good guys, even if they’ve done some bad things at times. Jessica Jones is more akin to the Punisher in Daredevil Season 2 than Daredevil himself. She’s more of an anti-hero. She doesn’t really care about most people and is reluctant to be the hero a lot of the time. As Luke Cage describes her, she’s a hard-drinking, short-fused women…but at least she’s not a piece of s***. She even kills Kilgrave at the end, permanently ending his reign of terror. I do understand and relate to most comic book heroes and their code of honor not to kill. But seriously, more villains need to die. Even if death in comic books doesn’t always mean something. Anyways, while I do think we’ll see Jessica Jones be more heroic as time goes on, it’s nice to see a protagonist that’s different than the rest of them. And even if she does become a “lawful good” hero in the future, we’ll get to see her develop into that. She didn’t just start out as one.

Tone

I’ve mentioned it plenty of times already, but I’ve liked the darker tones of the Marvel Netflix shows. They’re a nice change of pace from the MCU movies, which are all pretty fun and light-hearted. While I don’t think there is actually a bad MCU movie that I’ve seen, they have yet to really change things up. I remember the trailers for Age of Ultron made it seem like they were going to and be a little darker, but that ended up being one of the most light-hearted of them all. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I like having variety and the Marvel Netflix shows, Jessica Jones included, offer that.

In the case of Jessica Jones, the darker setting allowed them to explore some interesting topics like rape and PTSD. These are not easy things to talk about for anybody, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be talked about. It also added to the character of Jessica Jones who dealt with both of these because of Kilgrave. Both scarred her immensely and while she’s far from a perfect person, she could be a lot worse and she’s still strong despite it.

Easter Eggs

As I’m sure any comic book fan or fan of MCU does, I love the Marvel Easter Eggs. The appearance by Claire is the most obvious, as it seems she’s going to be a constant across all the Marvel Netflix shows. It was also cool to see the DA prior to Daredevil Season 2 as well as Officer Brett Mahoney from Daredevil as well. And of course there’s always the references to “The Incident” aka Avengers 1.

But the best Easter Egg in Jessica Jones, by a mile, was the nod to her comic book costume and one of her early superhero names: Jewel. This was in Luke Cage as well. As good as some things look on a comic book page (Jessica Jones) or at a point in time (Luke Cage), when translated to live action or modern times, they don’t always hold up.

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It’s the little things.

That said, I think Jessica’s costume could potentially work, it would just need some modern touches or explanations. Trish did say the one she got was an early prototype anyways. I’m always a fan of making the classic superhero tights more armor-ed looking or just more heavy-duty. It often makes things look less ridiculous like they did with Daredevil’s red suit. That said, Daredevil’s costume throughout most of Season 1 is a comic-original that looked good and still made sense given the circumstances. But anyways, yeah. Cool reference.

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Don’t necessarily need the purple hair either.

Score Range:

I will typically not give absolute scores as ratings, but a range instead. I’m usually not good at giving specific scores like that and I don’t have any sort of criteria for it anyways. The range I’d give for Jessica Jones Season 1 is:

8.2-8.9

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