Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 1 “AKA Ladies Night” (Spoiler Free Impressions)
The first season of Daredevil was critically praised, leaving Jessica Jones, the second of four individual Marvel drama series created for Netflix, a lot to live up to. The series premiere is a good indication that it’s tough, no-nonsense heroine can not only hold her own as a lead character but that this series is going to be a dark, engrossing ride.
The appeal of Marvel’s Jessica Jones is that like Daredevil, it’s a drama series for grown-ups. While there is always a place for fun, saccharine sweet comic-book television shows, Jessica Jones is genre entertainment that is grounded with characters who mostly talk, behave and interact in a realistic way. The premiere has more sexuality than any of the MCU movies combined. It’s a carnal sexuality, not that the hand on the steamy window type romance, neither is it gratuitous.
There are some television shows which feel like they are aspiring to be a prestige drama, yet Jessica Jones doesn’t have that pretentiousness about it even if some of those elements may be there. Yes, the central character as played by Krysten Ritter is deeply troubled and flawed. The show is moody and takes a grim, violent turn. But in all it’s seriousness, it’s not completely without a sense of humor. There’s a well crafted mystery which begins to unfold in such a way that isn’t trying to be overly complex or overwritten.
One of the strengths of “AKA Ladies Night” is the immersive storytelling. Writer and Executive Producer Melissa Rosenberg takes her time to paint a picture of Jessica Jones by showing us how she reacts in different contexts and to different people. There’s not as much exposition as one might expect in a typical pilot.
What are her superpowers and how did she get them? What or who caused her post-traumatic stress disorder? Unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones’ first season isn’t her origin story, she’s been a gifted individual for some time and running from a mysterious past which haunts her. Rosenberg does a good job of balancing the information viewers need to know at the moment and leaving some questions to be answered as the season moves forward.
The door to Jessica Jones private investigator office tells us just about everything we need to know about her in a nutshell. It’s a little off it’s hinges with a few screws loose. It’s left unlocked in the dangerous Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood; criminals should be afraid of her not the other way around. And the door’s broken glass window is covered up with cardboard because she tossed a man through it. That was a good day.
Melissa Rosenberg borrows a writing device from the Matrix where Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is introduced as a bad-ass fighter but when the Agents arrive she becomes scared and runs for her life. This is a great way to build up how dangerous the villain is without the villain having to do anything on-screen. So when Jessica Jones becomes terrified, we know as an audience that not only is her nemesis a big threat but it also shows she’s willing to face her fears and help others in need.
Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, Don’t Trust the B — in Apartment 23) is terrific as Jessica Jones. There’s no learning curve for her, from the start she embodies Jessica’s brash assertiveness with a subtle vulnerability. Ritters’ chemistry with Mike Colter aka Luke Cage is instantly likable and their dialogue is finely written.
The rest of the major characters don’t get as much screen time but have potential. Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri, a powerful lawyer, is good at conveying the shrewd, calculating aspect to her character. Radio talk show host Trish Walker (Rachel Taylor) has a deep history with Jessica and gives a vibe that they could have been more than former best friends.
If there’s a weakness to the premiere is that it takes a little while to get the story moving. Aside from the pacing issues, Jessica Jones’ debut is very promising. The first episode leaves us wanting to know more about Jessica, her past and the mysterious off-screen villain. The rest of the supporting characters are well acted and have a lot of potential. As marketing line goes, Hell’s Kitchen has a new hero and she’s definitely worth watching.
Are you hyped for Jessica Jones? If you binged watched it already, do you think it’s better than Daredevil?