“Jessica Jones”: The Final Analysis

All right, here we go. This will be in the style of my “Daredevil” analysis from earlier. Spoilers abound

Worse than:

  • “Daredevil”, kind of. Will explain later. This automatically means worse than “Sherlock”, “Justified”, and Firefly.

Better than:

  • Pretty much everything I’ve seen on television now (will have to check out the new season of “Fargo” soon though.) “House” too.

As good as:

  • Roughly, (what I’ve seen of) season one of “Fargo”, though from what I know that show didn’t get as good dumb as “Jessica Jones” did later on.

Annnnd, the next part of the analysis:

Great Episodes:

  • The pilot, “AKA Ladies Night”. Still the most terrifying movie or episode of television I’ve ever seen. Son of a bitch, that scene at the end…Wow. Great pilot.
  • “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”, because it contained the police station scene, which is the best one in the series. If you haven’t seen it, you will, and you’ll know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
  • “AKA Take a Bloody Number”. It’s amazing that in a show where literally anybody but the main character can potentially be mind-controlled, I still did not see the twist at the end coming. Excellent writing.

Very Good Episodes:

  • “AKA WWJD”. This is very nearly on the list of great episodes. In fact, it really only isn’t because the great episodes are so great, and I don’t think it contained any of those top shelf moments. Still a great episode.
  • “AKA Smile”. The final episode. Perhaps a little too much Claire, as much as I like the character (also, the moment when she casually drinks Luke’s bottle of water was awesome), but the dock scene is terrific. Kilgrave’s death was tremendously satisfying. Also, I love Malcolm joining the team.

Wow. I had higher praise than I thought I would. Buuuuuut, we get a bonus section: Why this show was still worse than “Daredevil”:

At times it was really, really, really stupid.

Episode ten. “AKA 1000 Cuts”. Holy shit, it was so dumb, in so many ways. It was so dumb that my opinion of this show dropped considerably. Let’s talk about why:

  • Simpson burning down the sealed room and killing the police officer was beyond stupid. It was unbelievably, aggressively stupid. It was stupid in a billion different ways. First, it accomplished nothing. Actually, it did worse than that. He literally just destroyed the only possible way he could have his cake and eat it too. Keep the officer (who he had no reason to kill) alive, keep the video evidence, and Hope gets out of jail. And then he could STILL kill Kilgrave! Getting rid of the room and cop only hurt his case! I mean, come the Hell on.
  • As is a general problem with the show, Jessica’s powers are totally inconsistent. When the small group of normal people shows up, it should be a laughing stock, a complete joke. We later see that she can go toe to toe with Luke Cage. She can stop a car! How can she possibly be overtaken by the wimp group? It’s ridiculous.
  • Worse though: Kilgrave’s powers are directly contradicted. He tells Jessica that if she kills him, people will commit suicide. Except…they won’t know he’s dead. And we know this makes a difference, because when Simpson thought he killed Trish he stopped the attack. Direct knowledge of events matters when it comes to Kilgrave’s orders. And don’t tell me that he had to give a text every hour or something, because if Jessica believed that she wouldn’t have bound and gagged him.
  • Meaning…Jessica had absolutely no reason not to kill him. As far as she knows Simpson hasn’t started playing around with the idiot ball, and they have several witnesses and video of Kilgrave’s powers. She kept him alive for no reason except plot.

That episode was full of really, really, poor writing. However, the whole series has plot holes. Let’s go:

  • Earplugs. Earplugs. EAR. PLUGS. Why, why, why does Jessica not use ear plugs when she knows Kilgrave is near? This would have been relevant at the hotel at the beginning. This would have been EXTREMELY relevant for the dock scene at the end. It would have been much harder for Trish’s headphones to come off. How on Earth did she not think of this incredibly obvious protection against Kilgrave’s powers? And how does she not have earphones available for emergencies immediately outside the hermetically sealed room, so that the team could put them in in case he got free? Come on, guys.
  • Anesthetic is the worst weakness ever. Just saying. At least it was dropped quickly.
  • By the way, can you imagine how badass the dock scene at the end would have been if Jessica had earplugs in? Imagine this: We see Kilgrave trying to order Jessica away and slowly panicking. We see Jessica continue forward unphased, fighting off attacks. We see Kilgrave desperately yelling in her face. And then…we cut to Jessica’s point of view. She can’t hear a thing. And we get this line:

Kilgrave: Obey me! Love me! STOP. MOVING!

(Complete silence as Jessica stops in front of him. Then:)

JESSICA: Sorry. I didn’t hear that. (Picks him up): Now smile…*snap*

…And Jessica takes out ear plugs. That would have been awesome. Though the scene as-is was pretty great anyway. Still. Earplugs.

Anyway. Onto the show’s biggest achievement: Its general lack of feminism.

Sure, the show in my estimation did have a couple of missteps. Jeri from the comics was changed into a lesbian girl, because…any excuse for lesbians, I guess. There were too many explicit sex scenes. The abortion subplot made me roll my eyes, though it wasn’t handled nearly as badly as it could have been (Jessica takes a shot at “Assholes who would call Hope selfish”, though. Wonder who she’s referring to? Not pro-lifers, surely?), and anyway it’s based around my personal culture war concerns. I guess your mileage may vary on the sex scenes, but I would argue that the pro-life potshot was unnecessary even if the abortion worked as a character moment.

But these are minor critiques. For a supposedly feminist show, “Jessica Jones” was shockingly non-feminist. It was a show driven by how its characters act – how they really would act given what we know of their personalities. Jessica’s enemy wasn’t “the patriarchy”. “All men are rapists” never came up, and commentary on “victim blaming” was subtle and very much fit the context (Also, can you blame people? What’s easier to believe, really, that Hope is just crazy or mind control?). There were no preachy speeches, no feminist sloganeering…basically, no shoed-in message fiction.

It’s being defined as a feminist show because it stars a rape victim who is a complex character. Except that that’s not feminist. It never was. It’s just one variety of story, and that it was well-written doesn’t change that.

It’s ridiculous to imply that anything that portrays rape victims in a realistic and sympathetic light is feminist, yet reviewers just loooooove to say that. Because of this reviews of the show are nigh-impossible to read, to say nothing of the comments sections.

So serious props to the “Jessica Jones” team. This show is based around characters and a concept that practically screamed to be SJW’ed, and instead they took those characters and used them to craft a compelling drama. Well done.

As an aside, I think Jessica Jones and Daredevil would work much better if they weren’t part of the larger MCU and instead stayed in their own little universe. I feel like as time goes it’s going to just become harder and harder to find ways not to involve those characters more fully. References to “the Incident” already scream awkward.

Final thought: Jessica and Kilgrave were absolutely sensational. The only villain who ever made my skin crawl as much as Kilgrave is the Joker, and I think Kilgrave might have frightened me even more. Tennant’s performance should get him an Emmy nom – Ritter as well. What a great pairing.

I look forward happily to season two, flaws aside. It really is a well-done, entertaining show, and you can’t ask for more than that. Highly recommended.

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2 Responses to “Jessica Jones”: The Final Analysis

  1. Syllabus says:

    He tells Jessica that if she kills him, people will commit suicide. Except…they won’t know he’s dead.

    Remember the staff at her old house, how he told her they would commit suicide in two hours if he hadn’t come back (or at least that’s what I recall; I’m too lazy to actually go check it)? Sort of the same reasoning as “if I don’t press this button every X hours, a bomb goes off”. So that works, I think.

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