Grumpy Bird Reviews: Jessica Jones

Not too long ago I recorded a podcast about the first 6 episodes of Jessica Jones. I finally was able to finish up the series. Here are my thoughts.

jessicajonesposterJessica Jones

Starring: Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, David Tennant

Release Date: Nov. 20, 2015

Netflix

Quick Review: This is a followup to the earlier podcast and I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Basically what was said there was that in general I liked the first 6 episodes. I didn’t find it as engaging as I found Daredevil. Also, originally I pleased with how much Ritter fit the role of Jessica Jones. As for the last 6 episodes, well, they were good. But the areas I wasn’t that impressed with seemed to expand. Worst of all, an aspect that I found to be rather poorly handled became the key to the end of the series. Unfortunately that robbed the final confrontation of any power, at least to me. Still, I wouldn’t call it a bad show. However, when compared to the high quality Netflix is known for and following up Daredevil, Jessica Jones does come off as a disappointment.

Spoilers below.

Analysis: Where the show excels is in the performances. This is a great cast that works very well together on screen. There is a lot of power in the core relationships (Trish and Jessica, Jessica and Luke, even Jessica and Kilgrave.) I want to see more of those relationships in different contexts.

In a way that is the start of where I think this show takes a wrong step. The only context we really have for these characters is the Kilgrave angle. And it starts very strong. David Tennant makes a fantastic boogeyman. But the more I saw of that boogeyman, the less interesting he became. Gone was the threatening aura from his first few appearances and all that remained was the body horror aspect of a man almost putting his hand in a blender. To put frankly, it got old. Rather than this being a compelling game of cat and mouse, it felt like a delaying operation to ensure this one storyline filled 13 episodes.

And to see that happened, there was indeed filler. Carrie-Anne Moss’ Jeri Hogarth received a fair amount of screen time and subplots, but I never felt connected to any of her stories. Again, they were very well performed. But I just could not find an interest in her love life. I keep wondering if perhaps the show had started with them being together and we saw the breakdown, would that make a difference. Maybe. Instead it just became another set of lives for Kilgrave to ruin. But, I had more horror over the opening family with the kids in the closet than in the 1000 cuts. I almost feel the show lost interest as well since we only hear the outcome in passing.

Outside of Kilgrave the only sort of villain was Will Simpson, or should I just say Nuke. This character just felt out of place. He was a cop super-soldier who was used by Kilgrave, went for revenge, almost got killed, took drugs, and then, I forget, tried to kill Jessica? It seemed the only reason he was there was to provide a connection to IGH. I’m guessing that is Inhuman Growth hormone. Or maybe that was in the show? Either way it was the everything is connected conveniently card.

Possible the main thing that had me shaking my head was that Kilgrave had lost control of Jessica. Because of reasons. Sure, she didn’t want to kill, but she also didn’t want to get raped repeatedly and that didn’t snap her out of his control. And, one of the few points Kilgrave made, he did not actually tell her to kill. Sure, that is a little semantic. But Jessica uses semantics to prevent others from harming themselves under Kilgrave’s influence. (Ex. Put a bullet in your head.) So, him having no control just felt cheap. Really robbed the ending of an power and left me rolling my eyes at the cheesiness of “I love you.”

I did have one other thought. I wonder when was the decision made to make Jeri Hogarth a woman. A lot can be made of this show making a point over manipulative relationships. Kilgrave and Jessica. Nuke and Trish. Hogarth and her secretary and wife. If Hogarth remained a male character, it paints an even darker picture because it becomes a strictly male enterprise. (I would almost count the twins, but the brother dies fairly early on and even though the sister clearly holds the power we don’t really see the brother suffer as a result.)

Wrap Up: Jessica Jones starts off really strong and has many great performances. But it also just keeps rolling over the same ground for 13 hours to end up at a resolution that could have happened in episode 2. Lots of filler and lots of side characters that ultimately don’t amount to anything that interesting accompany us along the way.


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