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SERIES PREMEIRE REVIEW: Jessica Jones 1×01 “AKA Ladies Night”

Written by Scott Swartz

All right ladies and gentlemen, lets get weird with some psychotropic neo-noir or as I will henceforth refer to it as, Jessica Jones. The second of Marvel’s Netflix experiment is on us and it seems like Marvel is no longer screwing around with content and leaning heavily into the dark and strange corners of Hells Kitchen. “AKA Ladies Night” is a very strong opening gambit as it manages to set ups a story that will make us gasp and frighten us to our core. Jessica is well flesh out in a matter of minutes and her world is seductively intriguing as we watch her investigate Hope’s missing person case. Of course you are only as strong as your side characters and from first looks it seems as if there will be some studs and some duds and boy this show really can’t afford to have any duds because it is walking a very fine line since it is a noir.

Let’s start off with what works, in this case it is Krysten Ritter and by god from the word go she makes Jessica hers and never lets go. Ritter nails being a broken shell of a former superhero and what it means to have been taken advantage of in the worst way possible. Despite all of her power, all of her rage, she is still terrified of whats to come and that this big bad is still waiting out there for her. Even with some slightly out of place voice over and some on the nose dialogue, the big moments with Jessica absolutely get nailed. Major standouts are when Jessica “rescues” Hope from Kilgrave’s hotel room and her interaction with Luke Cage at the bar. Everything feels so naturally terrifying in those scenes and that at any moment something could go horribly wrong and Jessica could snap. Ritter nails this razor’s edge throughout the episode and for all her drinking and putting up a strong front, she knows at any moment she could end back under Kilgrave’s control.

Speaking of Kilgrave, even though we don’t get to meet him in the pilot we are sure shown his presence and just how terrifying of a force he can be. The purple visual cue whenever Jessica starts to nod off is a nice touch and David Tennant does just enough to show what type of boogie man Kilgrave truly is. Everything from the way he speaks to his lack of personal space with other characters gives us subtle hints that this is a character who does not have nor respects boundaries. What I really want to see is just how far we are willing to push this villain as he does some pretty horrible things for a warmup act, thus when he takes center stage it is going to be all the more terrifying. I know it is probably way to early for Jessica to hear from the present day Purple Man, but I really wanted the episode to end with some sort of tease like he was watching the whole time.

As for Luke “Sweet Christmas” Cage, from what we get to see of him and how he interacts with Jessica they seem like a fun pairing. Mike Colter does admirably poking and prodding all of the right areas in order to make Jessica open up, even if it is only for a little bit. It was also exciting to see Luke as the submissive in the relationship as Jessica is constantly in control whether it be in the conversation in the bar or knocking boots in Luke’s apartment.The question right now is where exactly do we fall in the Luke Cage timeline and whether or not Luke has obtained his powers yet. Also, since Luke is going to be a part of this series I would love to know if he will be more of a cameo or an active player in Jessica’s story. There are more questions than answers which is to be expected since this is the pilot, but I really want to see them play off each other little more.

The only part of the episode that did not square right with me were the side characters as they were the least interesting parts of the episode. Jeri, feels way to rough at the moment and I can’t figure out if she is actually on Jessica’s side or simply more interested in the “third party” that she is working for. Trish on the opposite side gets just as much screen time as Luke Cage and yet I feel like I really know nothing about her, or at least nothing of substance. From what I can infer Trish was part of Jessica’s deprogramming once she got away from Kilgrave, but other than that we have no real reason for their falling out as friends. Since this is a noir we are messing around with a ton of subtext, and it is a little too much sub for my liking.

Overall the pilot does what it needs to do and manages to set up the season really well. Jessica has now chosen to “do something about” the Purple Man and only time will tell if she is fighting a losing battle and walking right back into his trap.

Final Grade B

+Krysten Ritter is excellent as Jessica

+Kilgrave is super creepy despite never appearing

+Luke Cage seems interesting enough

-A lot of world building/ Pilot-itis

-Clunky secondary characters

Extra Thoughts

-Kilgrave has patterns and routines, my guess is those will be exploited by Jessica later in the season.

-I totally thought Hope’s parents were under Kilgrave’s control, I was so wrong.

-Hey douchey film student stop being a douche, you are giving film students a worse name.

So what did you all think of the pilot? Comment down below and lets get this party rolling.

About the author

Scott Swartz