Marvel Television have really perfected the longform, thirteen episode stories that populate the Netflix corner of their shared universe. Of the five debut seasons Jessica Jones was the best recieved critically (with Luke Cage a close second) so post-Defenders crossover her series is released first.
The story is regular superheroic stuff – investigating the origin story and the feelings that come with it – but through the lens of Jessica it is compelling. In Spiderman: Homecoming a lot of this stuff was swept under the rug or shrugged off within the first ten minutes, but Netflix have taken two seasons now to understand how and why Jessica Jones is.
Each season has highlighted a separate trauma of her life – first the psychotic mind-controller Kilgrave and now the nefarious company that imbued Jessica with abnormal abilities. Beginning with Kilgrave – a more genre villain and a more traditional good vs evil tale – welcomed the audience in while hinting at all the complexities of IGH. It was possible to do a Jessica Jones story without knowing about IGH but it is impossible to do any Jessica Jones story without understanding Kilgrave.
In this sense, Jessica Jones season two is Batman Begins while season one was The Dark Knight.
The cast gathered to populate the lonesome Jessica’s world are elite – Aussie Rachael Taylor drives the majority of the narrative and rails against anybody that stands in her way. Her passion for her sister and the truth sprinkle the show with heart and necessary optimism.
Carrie Ann Moss is in a weird position currently. Her story seems very singular and while she slowly begins to tell the other cast members it’s unclear how this will play into the bigger picture. The subplot is okay and it’s far better than letting the powerhouse actress reduce to guest appearances but as a viewer it’s a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Eka Darvill steps up to be the Watson to Jessica’s Holmes, an audience surrogate and helpful set of hands. His path to this role was interesting but this place he’s been written into could get broadcast-TV stale if not invigorated soon.
Of course, this episode is only based on the first third of the season. All the plots are hanging unresolved and while a curious mystery it is, it’s impossible to say if the team can tie them all together satisfactorily.
Their commitment to their story is admirable. Dropping the first season’s long-burn origin story of Nuke (Wil Travel) within the first two episodes was unexpected but opened up a new world of possibilities. He very easily could have been the Mordo to her Doctor Strange, an unarchnemesis in plain sight throughout the origin story but instead became the third body to hit the floor in an attempt to call the hero to arms.
The script is witty, crass and sarcastic without being mean or tired and the cast deliver them well. Big themes like discrimination, feminism and consent all slip into the show in little ways.
None of this would be possible without the perfect casting of Krysten Ritter. From Breaking Bad to Veronica Mars to Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 (and even a cameo in the Gilmore Girls original season finale), Ritter has been building towards the kind of genre series to write home about.
Marvel were ballsy to even try to adapt this hero, especially in a MA15+ environment pre-Logan and pre-Deadpool. She pre-dates Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman or Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. Jessica Jones doesn’t get enough credit for being the icon that she is. Perhaps because the character spends a lot of time decrying any such title within the narrative.
Either way Jessica Jones is the Murder She Wrote for the 21st century Marvel Cinematic Universe, an entertaining story filled with a kickass cast. When is season three?