powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Reviewing Netflix's Jessica Jones based on viewing all 13 Season One episodes


Krysten Ritter powers through the title character in Jessica Jones. Netflix photo

Premiering: Currently streaming all 13 Season One episodes on Netflix
Starring: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Rachael Taylor, Mike Colter, Wil Traval, Carrie Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Susie Abromeit, Robin Weigert, Erin Moriarty, Colby Minifie, Kieran Mulcare, Clarke Peters, Rebecca de Mornay, Rosario Dawson
Produced by: Melissa Rosenberg, Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Dana Baratta, Dan Buckley, Alan Fine and many others

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Among the things Supergirl will never say: “I stand in dark alleys and wait to take pictures of people boning.”

No, this is from the narrative voice of haunted, booze-swilling, dark-mooded Jessica Jones, who’s endowed with super strength and the ability to fly but is very much out of uniform and in a funk for her Season One escapades on Netflix.

Jessica Jones, adapted from the bottomless fount of Marvel comic book incarnations, is a marvel of taut, sure-footed storytelling and one eventful episode after another. ABC chose to reject it as a series. And its two Marvel entities, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, are scrubbed-up inferior beings compared to what screenwriter/head executive producer Melissa Rosenberg has wrought for Netflix.

Jessica Jones chooses not to exercise the freedom it has in terms of nudity and any hard-core expletives. That probably would violate the overall Marvel code. But it’s nonetheless the most thoroughly adult of all the brand’s feature films and TV series. Krysten Ritter (formerly of ABC’s Don’t Trust the B -- in Apartment 23) vividly portrays the title character while David Tennant segues from the tormented investigator of Broadchurch to the super-sinister mind manipulator known as Kilgrave.

Tennant doesn’t show up in full force until Episode 5 of the 13-episode Season One, which began streaming in full on Nov. 20th. This review is based on seeing the entire collection. A followup series, The Defenders, already is in production for Netflix, with Ritter’s Jessica Jones slated to join forces with other Marvel notables, including Daredevil from the earlier same-named Netflix series.

The setting for Jessica Jones is New York City, where she’s eking out a living as a snoop who collects evidence for cuckolded husbands and wives. Her office is a dumpy apartment with a busted front door. A good deal of her work comes from law firm boss lady Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss), who’s been cheating on her wife Wendy (the welcome presence of Deadwood’s Robin Wiegert) in favor of a voluptuous younger assistant named Pam (Susie Abromeit).

Jeri is amoral through and through while Jessica has little use for herself or the human race in general after earlier being possessed by Kilgrave and traumatized by what she was forced to do for him. The end of Episode 1 plunges her back into his vortex after a shocking act committed by young Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty), a missing former track star she’d been hired to find.

Multiple dilemmas ensue, with Jessica wary of involving radio talk show star Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), who’s more than a friend but not a lover but . . . well, you’ll see.

Another pivotal character, muscular bar owner Luke Cage (Mike Colter), turns out to be more than he seems and integral to both Jessica’s past and present. There’s also her apartment building neighbor, Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville), whose main pursuit is another drug fix. But appearances can be deceiving.

Jessica Jones doesn’t spare the gore or its central character but does occasionally lighten the mood with her sardonic ways and means.

“Massages make me tense,” she says in Episode 2. And in Episode 7, an exasperated Jessica pleads with Trish to stay out of the way lest she find her “bludgeoned to death with my vacuum cleaner.”

“We both know you don’t own a vacuum cleaner,” Trish deadpans.

Even Tennant’s Kilgrave briefly gets in on the act, contending that his blindly followed commands can be problematic if he’s too literal. “I once told a man to screw himself,” he laments. “Can you even imagine?”

Given the otherworldly circumstances, it all moves along quite logically and at a brisk pace that leaves dawdling for dead. There’s no flabby midsection here, just one major development after another. The fight scenes are well-choreographed and frequent. And the twists are imaginative while also being grounded in the grim realities of this ramped-up universe. I did see one twist coming -- during the course of Episode 4. But I also wrote “Wow” in my notes on more than one occasion.

Jessica Jones ends with a resounding resolution while also opening more doors for next year’s The Defenders. New and important characters are drizzled in when the time is right. By Episode 9, Jessica is telling one of them, “I wish I had a Mother of the Year award, so I could bludgeon you with it.”

Here’s hoping that when actual awards are handed out, Jessica Jones is on the receiving end of a good number of them. This is a supernatural drama of the first order, with the human condition of its anti-heroine also in sharp focus. Once you start watching, you may not be able to put her down.

GRADE: A-minus

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net