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REVIEW: Jessica Jones Season 1

Written by Alex Reale

Have you watched Jessica Jones yet? The show was released on Netflix almost three weeks ago. If you haven’t at least checked out the first episode, then you have failed the Marvel fandom.

We’ve been reviewing Jessica Jones‘ individual episodes over the past couple of weeks, but this is going to be an analysis and examination of the series as a whole. If you want the TL;DR, spoiler-free version, all we can say is that it was pretty damn good. Needless to say, this full series review is going to contain some mild spoilers. Readers beware.

Personally, I thought the show was great, but not as good as Daredevil. However, looking online, it seems that Jessica Jones received many polarizing reviews from fans and critics alike. Most of the praise went towards the excellent acting, the gritty cinematography, and the overall interesting premise. On the other hand, criticism was drawn toward the lack of action, the poor fight choreography, and the lack of popularity surrounding the characters (even non-comic readers had heard of Daredevil, but characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Purple Man, etc. are pretty obscure). Was all this criticism and praise warranted?

First, let’s look at the premise. Jessica Jones is a retired superhero who now works as a detective in Hell’s Kitchen. Along the way, she befriends a bartender named Luke Cage, and the two become fast friends/lovers. These two work together to stop a vile man from Jessica’s past named Kilgrave. It’s a very cut-and-dry premise when you look at it, but it’s the superhero aspect that really pushes the quality of the show.

For one, Jessica has some mild abilities like super strength and durability, but she doesn’t rely too heavily on them anymore because she’s trying to stay low-key. Luke Cage has super strength and unbreakable skin, which comes in handy when you’re in one of the rowdiest bars in Hell’s Kitchen. Finally, we have Kilgrave, with the ability to control people just by telling them what to do. This is what makes this show so much more than a hard-boiled detective drama. You’re taking a rather realistic scenario and amplifying its severity by placing it in a world filled with superheroes. The stakes are much higher. Even with super powers at their disposal, it’s still tough for Jessica and Luke to overcome Kilgrave because of his abilities.

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The casting for Jessica Jones is outstanding. Krysten Ritter is a great titular character, maintaining a stoic composure and confident demeanor even when the world seems to be turning against her. I can’t place anyone else in this role. She’s just got that aura where, if you saw her walking toward you on the sidewalk, you might want to cross the street. She’s super intimidating, even if you didn’t know about her powers.

In the beginning, I was skeptical about Mike Colter‘s casting as Luke Cage. Luke happens to be one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I was hoping that they would choose someone brawny and intimidating, but with a personality, someone like Terry Crews. But Colter sold the part really well. He’s quiet and timid, but if you get on his wrong side, he’ll rough you up. And his chemistry with Ritter is perfect. Almost every scene the two share feels natural. You’d think they were a real-life couple.

Finally, there’s David Tennant as Kilgrave. Holy crap. I know a ton of Whovians weren’t happy with their beloved Doctor being cast as such a vile villain, but after watching his portrayal, you can’t say he wasn’t the right man for the job. Tennant’s Kilgrave is absolutely terrifying. What is it that made him such a great villain? Was it his powers of being able to control people? Was it his gentlemanly disposition and calm demeanor mixed in with his vileness? Was it the fact that we almost felt bad for him in later episodes because of his rough upbringing? Or was it the fact that Kilgrave hardly even saw himself as a villain at all? I thought Wilson Fisk was a fantastic bad guy, but Kilgrave makes him look like a chump.

My only complaints about the show are very mild. I thought the pacing was pretty slow in the first couple of episodes. Overall, the season could’ve been trimmed down by three or four episodes unless they incorporated some other major villain or they introduced Kilgrave a little later. Also, even though the show isn’t meant to be all action-y, I felt like the occasional fight scenes were shot and choreographed clumsily. There were shots where I cringed at the way the characters fought. I’m not going to penalize the whole show for its less-than-impressive fight scenes, but they sure didn’t help either.

As I already stated, Jessica Jones was great, but I loved Daredevil even more. Regardless, it’s clear that Marvel definitely knows what it’s doing with its Netflix series. Next up, we have Daredevil Season 2 coming to the small screen. After that, we’re seeing Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and then The Defenders. If all these shows are hits, I’m hoping that Marvel and Disney agree to bring other characters to Netflix as well. Give us Blade, Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk! We deserve proper adaptations!

 

Have you finished Jessica Jones yet? What did you think of the series overall? Are you looking forward to Season 2? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!