Netflix’s Jessica Jones is an awesome, exciting show about a deviant professional stalker with a Houdini-like escape quality and a +10 Luck rating. It’s also a story about a girl who has never watched a single day of HGTV in her entire life. It’s also about a city that is resistant to believe in superheroes even after it’s been invaded by an army of aliens and saved by what can only be described as “super” “heroes”.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones explores the psychosis of a villain with an auditory command superpower who is never once confronted by a single person wearing earplugs or someone who doesn’t speak English. Que? Que? It’s about a titular hero who could be a Republican presidential candidate she’s so hard to like, yet who adheres to an iron-clad, unshakeable moral code…until she eventually doesn’t. Whatever. Bygones! It’s a tale about a bartender who barely tends bar, a lawyer who barely lawyers, and a detective who barely detects. It’s a story about friendship and loss, about victim-shaming and moral dilemma. But mostly it’s about stretching about six episodes of content into thirteen episodes. Let’s meet the gang, shall we?
Kilgrave. They were gonna call him ‘Deathtalker’ but that was too on the nose. Kilgrave is the best character on the show by a country mile.
Oh it’s sooooo like a man to think this show about Jessica Jones is about a man! You stupid caveman, Lord Castleton! Why don’t you go lick a picture of Tucker Max and drink some motor oil? This show breaks all kinds of ground on The Bechdel Test!
Yes, yes. You’re quite right. But Kilgrave is sublime and Jessica Jones is just kind of a solid B/B-. Kilgrave has a goal! He acts, Jessica reacts. Kilgrave is what happens when Michael Sheen gets drunk on Agent-Orange-laced Asti Spumanti and fucks a poster of Simon Le Bon’s hair circa 1986.
Kilgrave’s amazing power is completely wasted, so much so that he cheats at cards, which has to be the lowest hanging fruit possible when you’re capable of mind control. That’s like having the power to become any animal and deciding to be a chicken. Kilgrave is basically an A/V nerd infatuated with the cool Goth girl that sits behind him in third period French, but at least it’s an ethos! Kilgrave has a British accent, first of all, which makes him infinitely funnier, classier and somehow wafer thin. He rocks some kick ass David Bowie suits and thinks of really interesting ways for people to end themselves. He’s a modern day slaver. He’s a sociopath and a psychopath and kind of a complaining weenie, but he knows what he wants. He wants Jessica Jones to learn to love him. A lofty, noble goal for a man who could end world hunger overnight or stop wars instantly with a simple whisper or two in the right ears. He hatches long term, complex plans but it never occurs to him (until seconds before the season ends) that Jessica cares about one person on the planet and that maybe he should use that against her. He’s an actual virus for which there is no known cure: like reality television. And why he doesn’t command people to forget him I’ll never understand. “Forget anything you know about me” feels like kind of a no brainer, right? Maybe it’s just easier to tell people to eat garden shears or inject themselves with bleach or cut their own hearts out. Yawn!
Jessica Jones is the main character and is what happens when a bottle of speed-rack bourbon fucks a pair of Doc Martin’s at a Dropkick Murphys show. I didn’t believe she had the capacity to smile until the very last segment of the season, when she’s ‘forced’ to. None of us can begin to understand the invasion and anguish she suffered at the hands of Kilgrave and the way we know that is that to exact her revenge she tries to catch him ON VIDEO as someone who makes people do shit. Oooooooohhhh! Be careful everyone! We got ourselves a badass over here! There are a number of fantastic ways she attempts this, but none better than forcing two mortally terrified old people to be butchered by him. Wahhhh! You break him, you buy him, grandma! Her plans are so well thought out and above reproach that I’m not going to even chronicle them, except to say that none of them even came close to working.
The most brilliant one was when Trish dressed up in Jessica’s clothes wearing earphones under a hat that were blaring loud music (so she couldn’t be commanded by Kilgrave). Kilgrave is on a stage and fake-Jessica-Trish strides toward him, but Kilgrave has a cohort of cops with drawn guns fan out between him and fake Jessica. Trish whips off her hat and we see the blonde hair and everyone is like HOLY FUCK THAT’S NOT JESSICA! KILGRAVE SCANS THE ROOM QUICKLY AND THEN JESSICA APPEARS ON AN ELEVATED BALCONY FURTHER FROM KILGRAVE THAN ANYONE ELSE. At which point all the cops just turn and start unloading their weapons and Jessica and Trish run away. It is the single worst tactical assault in history and I’m including Gallipoli in that. It was such a strategic fail that the petrified skeleton of Sun Tzu figured out a way to shit itself inside it’s coffin. It just felt like she didn’t do a tremendous amount of actual thinking.
For example, when it became clear that Kilgrave was obsessed with her, she continued to always return to her apartment where Kilgrave could easily track/compel someone to photograph or follow her. Every single person - every one - that she trusted even a little was eventually controlled by Kilgrave. There’s this magical 18 seconds where she was not under his control in the past and rather than kill him in that time, she fantasizes about being an equestrian. In fact, she had several chances to kill him but was trying to do the ‘right thing’ by instead manufacturing staged/coerced evidence which was so wildly inadmissible that Judge Joe Brown would have thrown it out. You have to admire that in the pantheon of life importance for Jessica, Hope is #1 with a bullet. I mean, leaving Kilgrave alive means an innumerable amount of people will be enslaved/violated/murdered by him but it’s worth it to make sure Hope is ducky. Forget the fact that this show literally kills Hope.
Halfway through the show we find out that Kilgrave can’t control Jessica. Aaaaaand then there’s like a bunch of episodes after that. That’s where you imagine the scene would have been like:
Trish: You should kill him.
Jessica: Yeah, but he always has safeties, like if I kill him thirty people somewhere will cut their own faces off.
Trish: You should just kill him while he’s asleep.
Jessica: Oh! Yeah, good idea!
But that never happened. Instead she’s like “I’ll date the philandering quarterback and teach him to be loyal!” Ugggghhh. “This game of three card monte isn’t rigged!” Ugggghhh. Just stick a fork in that fucker already and let’s call it a night! No? Gotta go jump up to a fire escape somewhere instead and watch Luke Cage bore his customers to death and then take out the trash? Okay!
A professional investigator, Jessica excels in tailing people from a total distance of just under four yards. Not a single person she tailed in the series ever turned around once. I triple jiggle the latch on the door of my public bathroom and then stare at it like it has the cure for cancer in it, but characters in Jessica Jones committing actual felonies didn’t ever check their six even once. She also has amazing combat math. For example, Jessica > unbreakable skin Luke Cage but Jessica < a 63 year old partially retired police detective. Jessica + (Trish +Chems) > (Special Forces Cop +Chems), even though Jessica + Trish + Special Forces Cop < private mall security detail. Look out, Marvel Super Hero! They have STUN BATONZ!
And never forget that Jessica < random twentysomething + wooden board. Jessica could snap iron locks with zero effort and leap to the top of buildings and back down again but she couldn’t figure out a way to ever change her clothes. #DENIM4LIFE y’all! While Jessica Jones breaks new ground as probably the coolest Marvel female super hero to date, she also breaks ground as the one most in dire need of a lady speed stick. One of the much heralded high points of this show is the gender of the lead character, but an often overlooked bummer is that her own story and self worth on the show seems so inextricably tied to Kilgrave that when she kills him in the end, it’s like “Okay, shows over. Move along people. Nothing left to see here.” Also, my television smelled like Rumplemintz for six hours after I watched this show.
Mike Colter’s Luke Cage is the very definition of exactly how far being rocket hot can get you in America. Everywhere, basically. People say he’s “smoldering.” He sure did smolder! When he was Lemond Bishop on The Good Wife. There wasn’t a smoke monster anywhere near him on Jessica Jones. Luke Cage is what happens when Djimon Hounsou fucks Dumbo. Luke Cage never registered an emotion above -3 on the Richter scale. I’ve eaten sandwiches that had a broader emotional footprint than Luke Cage. The best part about Luke Cage was when he just stood there with his shirt off without talking.
The worst part about Luke Cage, outside of him in a motorcycle helmet, was when he said Reva. I get it. Reva. I miss Reva. You killed Reva? You let me stick my junk in you after you killed Reva? That thumb drive was from Reva? That’s the bar I built with Reva. That’s the bed Reva accidentally took a shit in. (He never said that). Reva Reva Reva! Shut the hell up! Reva! We get it! Sheesh. Also, truly the slowest puncher in the Marvel Uni. This dude couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a fuckin’ boat (to quote Crash Davis). He telegraphs his punches in morse code. He delivers his blows by pony express. They tell you his superpower is unbreakable skin (yawn) but I say his superpower is making hetero dudes everywhere feel an uninvited man-tickle in their pee-pee for the first time ever. Luke Cage is only relevant because we’re still a society that values hotness above all else.
Trish. Trish is Jessica’s best friend and the only person with a stable income on the show. Trish is what happens when Julie Bowen fucks Jack Bauer on top of a Hannah Andersson catalog. While Jessica has spent a lifetime filling the bottoms of alcohol bottles with backwash, Trish built a great career, escaped a narcissistic, evil mother and found a certain level of success. She also can see things that aren’t there. Like when she basically says “whoa, you and Luke Cage! The chemistry is crazy between you two! I could light a match off that heat! You two were basically meant for each other!”
None of that is true. While we’re meant to relate/admire people with super powers, it mostly annoys me. That’s why Trish is my Batman. She fortifies her apartment. She takes intense self-defense lessons. She teaches herself to control her fear. Trish is an inspiration. She embodies the American dream, working hard every day to better herself. Meanwhile, Jessica, who can literally leap tall buildings, spends all her time self medicating with schnapps. I know some people have trouble rooting for the pretty blonde girl, but you shouldn’t, because that pretty blonde girl earns her stripes every day. This show is reverse blondism.
Malcolm. Some people loved Malcolm. Malcolm is what happens when Radio Raheem eats paleo for eight years and then fucks Guile’s hair from Street Fighter. I was just impressed that he went from Ashy Larry to doing L’Oreal commercials in like seven minutes. For anyone worried about becoming addicted to heroin? Don’t be. Jessica Jones shows us that you can go from filthy to fabulous in half an episode. Malcolm was the very personification of the term “friendzone.” Not only did he save Jessica, make her bed after Nick Cage and Jessica frolicked in it, defend her in public meetings, clean her apartment, take pictures of her like, every day, and guard her unconscious boyfriend, but he actually hid a stiff in the ocean for her and swiffered up the blood trail! Jessica never so much as bought him a Fresca. When he was finally like ‘I’m all set with this’ she was like ‘good. adios’ and rode away on the back of some dude’s motorcycle like a shittier, brunette-ier Michelle Pfeiffer from Grease 2. It’s amazing how long it took him to even think about leaving. He was controlled by Kilgrave for much of the show and once he was free, instead of getting the hell out of dodge and moving to ANY CITY without Kilgrave in it, he just went about his business. Do dee do dee do. Then he gets controlled again. What a donkey. Getting controlled once is shit luck. Getting controlled twice is buffoonery.
Officer Will Simpson is what happens when a Play-Doh Skellan Skarsgard fucks a Kodiak Bear. He’s (I guess) some kind of former special forces black ops guy who was Jason Bourne for a while but then got out so he could write parking tickets for the NYPD. You know, that old story. Then he marshals all of his killing capacity for Kilgrave but can’t beat a ninety-six pound Trish.
Then he falls for Trish and they have a thing. Then they don’t and he goes mental and asks Treadstone to take him back in. Then, he wants out. But Treadstone is like no way, Charlie. Then he goes on a meth rage and gets beat by Jessica and Trish and vanishes.
His tactical prowess is totally suspect. At no time did this Navy SEAL or whatever think “let’s use a sniper to snuff Kilgrave from range.” His face looks like a gingerbread cookie that you decorated before you baked it and when it comes out of the oven shit has expanded in a weird way. Like every single other character in the show, either he was getting in someone else’s way and unknowingly helping Kilgrave or he was the person who had people get in his way and unknowingly helped Kilgrave. Either way, a high percentage of the dramatic tension in Jessica Jones was not about who could actually kill Kilgrave. It was how to get around all the obstacles and randomness between you and Kilgrave. This show was basically Frogger and Kilgrave was just the other side of the street.
Robyn. Robyn is what happens when Martha Plimpton fucks a marine air horn while watching a Carrot Top “comedy” sketch. Robyn is, without a doubt, the most annoying character anywhere on the small screen. She absolutely studied at the Dana Brody school of dramatics. Her character was not believable in any way. It was like the writers had enough creative energy to write all of Kilgrave, and then half of Jessica, Luke and Trish and then everyone else was just written by a Roomba with an android phone. Robyn is the worst conceived character in television history. An irritating twin who has some kind of weird incesty thing going on and has an utterly repellent personality but who frames herself as a victim and demands sympathy and can turn a Kilgrave survivors support group into a lynch mob faster than Luke Perry can be bucked off a bull. In the entire series, no one put a bigger hurt on Jessica than upstairs neighbor Robyn. Huh? Jessica got knocked the fuck out by ROBYN. The scenes with only Robyn and Malcolm were the lowest point of my entire life, such that I began to wonder if Kilgrave was compelling me to watch the show.
Hogarth was played by Trinity from The Matrix and her wife was played by Calamity Jane from Deadwood. The only reason Hogarth was on this show was because Marvel wanted to show you just how unlikable a character could be. My Christmas tree flickered and moaned in pain whenever Hogarth was on screen. There was nothing — and I mean nothing — redeeming about Hogarth. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from watching Jessica use her superpowers ‘appropriately’ by holding Calamity Jane over the third rail on Hogarth’s say so. I don’t know much about the law, but I think there’s grounds for a criminal misuse of Robin Weigart lawsuit against this show.
In the end, Jessica is able to catch up to Kilgrave and outwit him. To me, it would have been sooooooo much better from a story standpoint for Kilgrave to have gotten away with Trish and have Jessica left alone to deal with her failure. But if we had to bid farewell to one of Marvel’s best and most interestingly drawn villains, well, then it was good that Jessica dispatched him. The show spent hours upon hours putting them in the same room without her killing him, but when she finally did, it was as satisfying as when you make one chopstick into two.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a triumph of the genre, and it’s high goddamn time that we get to see a female protagonist dealing with tough issues and not having to be saved by a man. A-fucking-men. It’s also a show where the women have the good parts and the men are pretty much just eye candy. If Jessica Jones succeeds in nothing else other than shaking up a tired-as-hell dude-dominated genre it’s already a huge win.
But that’s not all it does. It shows us the long-term durability of denim. It suggests the relative lack of importance of a front door in modern society. It posits the question: what if people in an urban apartment building actually spoke to/acknowledged the existence of each other? It challenges the concept that purple suits are the exclusive domain of dark-skinned men. It answers the age-old question about whether or not you need any type of certificate or program to call yourself an investigator. (You clearly don’t). And most importantly, it gives you a detailed and prophetic look at a modern day superhero who isn’t gifted with strategy, planning, a functional shower, charisma, tact, some form of laundering device, joy, sobriety, family, a past that makes sense, bein’ pals with Hawkeye, truthfulness, basic door repair know-how, small-squad tactics, the simple pleasures of food inside a refrigerator, consistent powers, judgement, common sense, cat-like reflexes, wit, subltety or the je ne sais quois noir-meets-knight of a professional gumshoe. But what she doesn’t have she makes up for with attitude, persistence and good old fashioned luck. And, failing any of that, she can sometimes punch people wicked wicked hard.
And that’s something. I guess.