Jessica Jones is the second in a series of 4 straight-to-Netflix shows that Marvel is producing. The series premiered November 20th, and over the next few weeks we are going to review each episode in detail. There will be no scores for each episode, so no need to scroll to the bottom to see if the Temple of Geek liked it. Spoiler warning: WE LOVED IT. That said…there is a disclaimer/warning that follows:
WARNING: Some minor and some major spoilers will follow, as we analyze and scrutinize the episode for Easter eggs and other details, as well as the greater impact on the over-arching Marvel universe. Still here? Let’s begin!
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: This show is full-on adult in nature, as there is quite a bit of adult content (sexual content, strong language, adult themes, etc). The themes dealt with in this show are deep and difficult to discuss, and rarely do you see these topics used as the foundation for an entire show. The first episode opens up with Jones working on what she does best; digging up dirt on the people of Hell’s Kitchen as a private detective. Carrie Ann-Moss plays “Jeryn Hogarth”, an uptown lawyer that uses Jones to do some of the more shady bits of her work. Jones comes to Hogarth for a job to deliver a summons to the owner of several gentleman’s clubs…a job that suits Jessica’s particular set of skills. As the show demonstrates a number of times in the first episode alone, Jessica is very resourceful. Whether researching the friend of a friend of an exotic dancer, or using sex to get information, Jones seems willing to do almost anything to get the job done.
Luke Cage is introduced early, as we get a voyeur’s impression of his nightlife. Cage owns a bar in what I assume is relatively close to Jones’ apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, and even he is on the list of people she is watching. Luke catches her looking in his bar one night, invites her in for an impromptu “Ladies Night”, which she reluctantly agrees to. It’s not apparent at the moment if they have the same goal, but what is apparent is that they both speak their mind. Cage is just as aloof as Jones, neither revealing their true intentions in the relationship.
Pictured: Jessica’s favorite past time.
Jessica has obvious PTSD symptoms, though the source of her stress is only alluded to. It’s obvious she drinks to keep away the demons, as she is abruptly brought out of slumber by the thoughts of a mysterious man. Sometimes it will be in the middle of the day…triggers seem to surround Jessica as she treks through the city. When the hallucinations begin, the color purple is present, giving us the impression the Purple Man is who she fears. Neon signs change from yellow to purple, a purple haze fills corridors as walking through waking nightmares are daily occurrences for Jessica.
Within the first episode we get to see the chemistry between Jones and Cage, but it’s obvious Jones damaged past is holding her back from anything resembling intimacy. She notices a picture in Cage’s bathroom medicine cabinet that I’m sure will come back to play in future episodes. The aloof nature of Cage does little to help the situation, making for an awkward “goodbye” after their first slumber party.
Jessica embarks on her second mission of the episode; tracking down a missing girl. Parents of a missing girl travel all the way from Nebraska to find their daughter who’s gone missing and isn’t returning calls. As Jessica begins to search for the missing girl, she’s met with a number of red-flag-reminders as her own past begins to creep back in and haunt her. Everything seems too familiar, as Jessica uncovers a series of events that eerily resemble her marred past with the mysterious man. Jessica follows the clues and solves her case, or so she thinks. The end of the episode our first lesson in just how far the Purple Man (or Kilgrave as we later learn) is willing to go to get to Jessica.
The ties to the Marvel universe are subtle, but evident. There is an instant connection to Daredevil in that this story is set in another part of Hell’s Kitchen. Super powers are utilized but again, very subdued and subtle; much like Daredevil. Saying that Jessica Jones is “gritty” and “grounded” are both true and completely understate how complicated the themes are in this show. From the very first episode Marvel is using their formula and turning the rest on it’s head; with more adult themes and subject matter that will have you discussing each episode long after it’s over. I’m sure as we review future episodes we will get to see the bigger picture, but after one episode we can safely say Jessica Jones is highly entertaining and provocative, all while staying in a very contained universe.