If you haven't already binge-watched all of Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix, be warned, there are lots of spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!
Marvel's Jessica Jones finally debuted on Netflix at 12AM Friday morning and after binge-watching all 13 episodes, the wait was definitely worth it! Keeping with the darker tones of Marvel's other Netflix series, Daredevil, Jessica Jones is not your typical superhero fare. Set in New York City's Hell's Kitchen after the devastation of the alien invasion in The Avengers, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is "just trying to make a goddamned living in this goddamned city" as a private investigator who just happens to possess super strength. She spends her nights digging up dirt on cheating spouses and her days looking out for the junkie down the hall in her apartment building when she isn't busy staring down an empty bottle of cheap whisky. But of course, Jessica has a dark past and it is full of secrets. And her secrets come back to haunt her when worried parents hire Jessica to track down their missing daughter who has been abducted by a mysterious figure from Jones's past, Kilgrave (David Tennant). And Kilgrave will stop at nothing to control Jones again.
Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) is incredible as Jessica; playing the dark, complex character constantly at odds with her superhero ideology to perfection. Jones is so very raw, human and refreshingly flawed. She does her best to drink away her pain, finding solace in the arms of Luke Cage (Mike Colter) a bartender with impenetrable skin and whose wife Jones actually - sort of - murdered. And did I mention she sometimes makes terrible decisions? Jones is direct and sometimes blunt to the point of rude, has trouble controlling her temper and doesn't hesitate to manipulate a situation or people as a means to an end. I think Luke describes her best when he tells her, "You are a hard-drinking, short-fused mess of a woman."
What can I say about David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Kilgrave? He is easily the most terrifying villain to hit the screen in a very long time and Tennant is a revelation in the role. If you were unfamiliar with him as an actor before, you will remember him forever after watching Jessica Jones and I will be genuinely surprised if he isn't nominated for an Emmy for this performance. Tennant plays Kilgrave with such a villainous glee that at times, you forget he's actually the bad guy. As a testament to Marvel, what they tend to get consistently right are the villains. Kilgrave isn't merely a mustache twirling jackal in a black hat; he is a fully fleshed out character with his own past and his own demons.
Kilgrave's power is that he can compel others to do anything; a sort of mind control that can get him the table he wants in a restaurant even if it's occupied or force a line of people to simultaneously try to hang themselves. In the early episodes of the season, as his character is being introduced, Tennant's whispers creep up your spine and tickle your neck before they snake into your own head and make you shiver as you imagine what it might be like to have Kilgrave trying to play with you. And the idea is genuinely horrifying when you think about it; the complete surrender of will to another person and being utterly at their mercy. Kilgrave can get to anyone and use anyone to do his bidding by turning friends, neighbors and lovers into his eyes and ears and even his weapons.
Mike Colter as Luke Cage is some pretty spot-on casting. Colter not only looks the part of the comic book hero, but his performance was so nuanced that now I can't wait for his own show to debut next year on Netflix! Colter is striking as Luke Cage; he plays the character with a quiet confidence but still leaves you acutely aware of the power simmering just below the surface. Unfortunately, Jessica Jones doesn't give us a lot to go on with Cage; we learn a little of his past and his power but he is still an enigma. Most of what we learn comes from how he is tied to Jessica and to Kilgrave. Cage actually goes missing for a couple episodes when he learns the truth of how Jessica killed his wife when she was under Kilgrave's control. But of course, we know from the comics that Cage and Jones are married and have a daughter. It will be interesting to see if this piece of plot comes to be in this iteration of the characters since they will each have their own respective shows. The chemistry between Ritter and Colter was smoldering and you know...those scenes were scorching!
Other noteworthy performances include Wil Traval as police sergeant Will Simpson. Simpson storms onto the screen under Kilgrave's control and makes a brutal attack on Jones's best friend, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor). And most of the "holy crap" moments came from Simpson and his surprising character arc. Traval does a fantastic job of disarming you as a viewer with his All-American good looks and charm. He makes you believe that he is genuinely a good guy with a few underlying reservations about Jones and her abilities. But when he starts popping those red, white and blue pills supplied by the mysterious Doctor Kozlov, he loses touch with reality and only sees red. It wasn't until after the fact when I read about Nuke, his character in the Marvel Universe that I understood a little better. As much a victim of dangerous government experiments as he is a frightening single-minded killing machine, Simpson makes you simultaneously ache for him and fear him. He's a different kind of junkie born out of fear, insecurity and patriotism. And judging from how the show left off with Simpson, we have definitely not seen the last of him.
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) is fantastic as Jeryn Hogarth, a ruthless corporate lawyer whose desire for control in and out of the courtroom rivals Kilgrave's. She uses people for her own emotional or professional fulfillment and callously discards them when she's finished. Hogarth is a liar and cheat, leaving her wife for a younger woman, triggering a nasty divorce procedure that travels down a dark and tragic path. What stands out about this character is that there are no LGBT politics that come with the storyline. The writers don't make any sort of statement or special show out of the fact that it is a same-sex couple experiencing all of these problems. The gender could easily be swapped to show a man and a woman experiencing the same issues. And in fact, Jeryn Hogarth was a man in the comics.
Overall, the first season of the show is everything you want it to be; it is dark and gritty with real violence and sex. Make no mistake, just because "Marvel" is in the title doesn't mean you should plop your ten-year-old kid in front of the tube and let her have at it; Jessica Jones is a comic book story for adults. The themes are much more intense than anything you will see on the big screen from Marvel where 'family-friendly' is the order of the day. Jessica Jones tackles hard issues like PTSD, rape, controlling relationships, physical and emotional abuse, addiction and even delves into many of the other societal issues we are experiencing today.
Jessica Jones sets up Marvel's future nicely on Netflix with the appearance of Doctor Kozlov, the red white and blue pills and the tease of learning more about how Jessica got her super-strength. Daredevil's Rosario Dawson guest stars in episode 13 to tie the heroes of Hell's Kitchen together and also set us up for future crossover events and the already confirmed Defenders miniseries which will bring together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the yet to be introduced, Iron Fist.
I can't wait to see more of Marvel's Jessica Jones! Season 1 of Luke Cage and season 2 of Daredevil will both premiere in 2016 on Netflix.
Did you already watch all of Jessica Jones? Did you love it as much as I did? Leave your comments below and we can chat!