Jessica Jones is more a neo-noir psychological thriller than it is a superhero show. Sure, a few of the characters have powers but it isn’t the driving force of the show. Anyone who’s never watched a Marvel entity, nor has any interest in superheroes whatsoever, would probably really enjoy this show. It’s the best thing Marvel has produced, even more so than last year’s Daredevil. However, I don’t think it’s due to it’s toned down Marvel nature as the superhuman elements don’t detract from the gripping and gritty plot in any way.
Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter, a former superhero with the ability of superhuman strength, is a Personal Investigator that catches wind that a mysterious man from her past, Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, is back in town. Kilgrave has the ability to make anyone do whatever he wants just by saying it to you. When he uses his ability the subject is fully aware what they are doing, even if they don’t want to, but they just can’t stop themselves. She knows the full extent of what he is capable of and sets out on a path to keep him from ruining more people’s lives.
This isn’t a kid’s show. Don’t think that you can sit down with any younger relatives and watch a fun superhero tale like Marvel’s other licences. This is a dark, disturbing and incredibly brutal show, which is no surprise seeing as Jessica Jones was the subject of Marvel’s first MAX comic designed specifically for adults. How dark this show gets is solely down to Kilgrave’s ability. He can literally tell you to do anything. Jump off a building, sure, you’ll do it. Stab yourself a thousand time, okey dokey, stab stab stab. Satisfy him any way you can, of course, you have no choice. It’s here where the show really shines as you know for a fact that Jones is a rape victim, yet it never explicitly tells or shows you. You just get the sense from his behaviour, in conjunction with Jones’ demeanour, the full extent of how he uses his power.
This is probably the best interpretation of post-traumatic stress disorder I have seen in a show. It is handled with such care and respect, through the use of occasional flashbacks, and never borders on being melodramatic. You can see the agony in Ritter’s performance when she is confronting the demons of her past and channelling them to achieve the task at hand. Despite her cold persona, you really root for the character and the risk that anyone, from anywhere, could come out of nowhere to kill her makes the show incredibly tense and thrilling.
David Tennant is electrifying. If you’ve only seen him as a hero I implore you to watch him play Kilgrave. He has a witty charm to him that really enhances the believably of his power leaving you always on the edge of your seat to see when he will next show up and what he will do. It’s probably the role I’ve most enjoyed Tennant in and that’s really a testament to how well he handles the role, flipping hauntingly between his bark and his bite.
The supporting cast also did a terrific job which neatly filled in the low parts of the show. The addition of Luke Cage, the man with unbreakable skin, was also a nice addition. It introduced me to the character as well as really making me want to see his own show that’s set to come out next year.
Despite this, there is the classic 13 episode trope that also plagues this show. It’s just too long and could have done with maybe 2 episodes taken out of it.
It’s not difficult to see where they could have cut it. The character of Simpson commands the screen way more than he should do, leading to a ridiculous twist towards the end that no one expected, or quite frankly wanted.
The climax of the show is also rather lacklustre, which was such a shame due to its stellar build up that ended in a fizz rather than a bang.
Jessica Jones is a fantastic show. Netflix’s has again surprised me by the quality it has achieved reaching further than I thought it would after Daredevil. If you enjoy crime dramas such as Luther and Sherlock, I guarantee you’ll have a blast with this show.
As Kilgrave would say, ‘Go watch it…Now!’