I wasn’t exactly looking forward to Jessica Jones. Daredevil was good but plagued by structural issues which left me less than enthusiastic for the next installments of Marvel’s alliance with Netflix. On the contrary though Jessica Jones is a vast improvement on Daredevil. Melissa Rosenberg appears to have a handle on the character and crafting of the overall story arc that were largely missing from Drew Goddard’s Daredevil. In fact, I’d go as far to say this is one of the strongest serial shows to come out of both Marvel and Netflix.
Jessica Jones follows the titular Jessica Jones, a former superhero turned private investigator with a dark and traumatic past. She spends her days and nights drinking and stalking possible cheaters until one case brings her traumatic past to the present. The character, played by Krysten Ritter, was previously brainwashed by supervillain Kilgrave, with David Tennant appearing in the role. Jones managed to escape but now, at the beginning of the series, Kilgrave, who she previously thought to be dead, begins tormenting her once again.
Jones is a very conflicted character, wanting to be good but jaded from her experiences. More than just the typical anti-hero, who is painted as doing bad things for the right reasons, Jones’ story arc is very much about her ability to deal her trauma. Very often superheros are painted as being above human problems. Having a superhero dealing with post-traumatic stress and other psychological issues humanises them but it also makes them much more relatable. Krysten Ritter really brings her best in the role. So much so that she and her character’s personal story arc are two of the main reasons audiences will keep coming back to the series.
Segregation of the character’s personal development and the main plot is another strong reason to watch. Kilgrave is very much tied to Jessica’s growth but it’s not like dealing with him solves her problems. She still has issues and she still has to learn to deal with her issues without isolating herself and half drinking herself to death. But the series never wastes an episode. With Daredevil, there was a feeling that sometimes the episodes dwelled too much on Wilson Fisk without very much actual story progression. But even when Jessica Jones dives into Kilgrave’s background, it’s from Jessica’s perspective and effects both the characters and the story. It’s a very smooth and seamless integration.
If there are any problems with the series they are minor. At 50-something minutes long, episodes still feel a tad long and i’m not sure why Netflix appears to favour the longer format over the traditional 45-ish minutes that most series’ stick by. Aside from that, there’s probably only a couple of major twists that viewers might not see coming. The plot is at times predictable but no less enjoyable thanks to the performances and issues at play. And that’s the problems I had with Jessica Jones. Two small, trivial matters that in no way harmed my appreciation of the series.
Following Jessica Jones, I’m anticipating Luke Cage more and hoping that season 2 of Daredevil has learned from Jessica Jones’ success. But Jessica Jones has set the bar high and I will be eager to see if any of the other Defenders can reach it. Mike Colter does make an appearance as Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and based on that, I’d say the next Marvel-Netflix series is off to a strong start.