Spoilers for “AKA Ladies Night”
Jessica Jones is finally here! I have been excitedly waiting for this show to drop for some time now.
I love that we now have three shows in which women are the stars and badasses. Supergirl has its issues, but I enjoy Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers and her optimism in the face of adversity. It is a breath of fresh air with all the anxiety filled superhero shows. Agent Carter is a well done period piece and Hayley Atwell shines as the titular character in a world dominated by men. Agents of SHIELD could be seen as a female lead show, it is filled with strong female characters, but the show overall is about Phil Coulson’s journey. I’m okay with that because I love the character of Coulson and he is surrounded by kickass women with whom he respects and loves as his equals despite his director status. Women in the male dominated superhero world are starting to get recognized on TV, hopefully soon the movies will follow.
Jessica Jones is played by the magnificent Krysten Ritter who nails the look and persona of the broken and battling private eye. Unlike many of the other superheroes we have seen, Jessica wears her vulnerability on her sleeve. One character remarks that she hides behind her sarcasm, but she really doesn’t. She is just a sarcastic person. You see what is going on in her head and her pain written so plainly on her face.
The opening credits have a jazzy tune one would associate with a classic noir, not a show about a powered person. As the credits progress, the song gets more intense and leans into more of a rock-like guitar riff, hinting at a more turbulent journey as we get further into the show. The visuals for the titles are the same water color design used on the covers of the Alias comics the show is based on and continue the noir look of the show. And of course the classic voice over is throughout the episode and I’m sure every episode in the series. This helps to make this show standout as something drastically different from anything the MCU has done so far.
Another way the show makes itself standout is the fact that Jessica is not defined by her abilities as the other heroes we have met are. Every character we have encountered in the MCU so far is defined by their superhero persona. Steve Rodgers is almost exclusively called Cap and doesn’t know how to behave without a mission. Stark damn near refuses to function without his suit and hides behind his tech savvy. Matt Murdock relies more on his senses than his intelligence. Daisy’s status as an Inhuman has become her default trait and not so much a plucky hacker we met in the premier. And so on and so forth. Jessica has super strength and uses it to get somethings done, but you get the sense that she would have been able to do almost anything she is already doing without it. The super strength is handy, but not crucial.
— Jessica Jones (@JessicaJones) November 20, 2015
“AKA Ladies Night” serves to set up Jessica and her practice as a private investigator, a line of work that suits her considering she does not sleep and already sees the worst in people. She is mostly hired out to stalk cheating spouses, but she occasionally gets work from Jeryn Hogarth (Carrie Ann-Moss), a corporate lawyer. Jessica is a functioning alcoholic and is quite good at what she does, but does not enjoy her line of work. She does enjoy that is pays the bills and keeps her in booze.
Jessica is hired by parents of a young girl named Hope (Erin Moriarty). They think she has been taken by a cult and they want Jessica to find her and bring her back to them. As Jessica investigates the case, she starts to see some disturbing trends between her past and Hope’s actions. She eventually tracks Hope down to a hotel room, but she is too late. Hope had been taken over by the mysterious Kilgrave (David Tenant), a powered person with the ability to control people’s minds. He had once taken Jessica as his (unwilling) lover a year before and repeatedly abused her. Jessica suffers from PTSD due to his actions and he is still in her mind. Kilgrave cannot control her, but he does haunt her. After Jessica drags a kicking and screaming Hope from the hotel room, she returns the girl to her parents only to watch Hope gun them down under Kilgrave’s orders. Devastated by what he has done to another young girl, Jessica decides she is going to do something about him once and for all.
Other tidbits from the first episode:
Jessica stalks a bar owner named Luke Cage (Mike Colter) for reasons we don’t quite know just yet, but she does mention that some cases are hard to let go. She eventually makes contact with him and after some seriously sexy flirting, the two of them fall into bed with one another.
— Jessica Jones (@JessicaJones) November 20, 2015
With Jessica, you get the sense that she is using him to feel something. With Luke, you get the sense that he is using her to forget. While cleaning up in his bathroom, Jessica finds a photo of a woman in his medicine cabinet. I think she is a woman Jessica was hired to find or she hired Jessica to find Luke.
Jeryn is cheating on her wife with her secretary and it is freaking hilarious that despite being a gay woman, she still gives into the person in a powerful position cliché mostly reserved for men. I am wondering how this is all going to play out in future episodes or if this is just a way of showing character development.
We briefly meet Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) in this episode. She is a radio talk show host and the only thing resembling a friend to Jessica. Trish is one of the few people who knows all about what Kilgrave did to her and tries to be a supportive friend despite Jessica’s attempts to keep her at bay. She also holds out hope that Jessica will try to do the right thing and be a hero.
Hope’s parents went to the police to try to get them to help find their daughter, but since Hope was not technically missing, they were not able to step in. Kilgrave gave them Jessica’s number so he could guarantee she would be on the case. He wants to play a game of cat and mouse with her.
So far all of the reviews I have read online have compared Jessica Jones to Daredevil, but there is no comparison outside of the service that streams the two shows and the area of New York both shows take place. Daredevil is all about saving Hell’s Kitchen, Jessica Jones is all about saving the titular character from her past.
What did you guys think of the first episode of Jessica Jones? Did you fall in love with the gritty, noir drama? Does Kilgrave freak you out? Let me know what you think in the comments section below. I will be back with a review for episode two and three on Monday. Hope to see you back here!