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‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ Episode One Review: “AKA Ladies Night”

“Do I look like I’m hiding? No. You wanna know why? Because no one wants to know. They want to feel safe.”

If you want a spoiler-free look at the series as a whole, go check out Bilal’s review. If you want all the thoughts and details about what happens in the first episode of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, then stay right here. Spoiler alert: there be spoilers.

After the huge success of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, I have to admit, I was afraid that Jessica Jones wouldn’t be able to compare. Call it fear of the sophomore slump and HEY–I’m justified in being concerned! Thankfully, Netflix seems to have this superhero gig on lock because Jessica Jones is just as good, if not better than its predecessor. (Also, thanks for slashing the A.K.A. bit from the title.)

Jessica Jones opens with a gritty narration of what Jessica does for a living–namely, investigating cheating spouses. Normally, I don’t like narration, but it works with the theme for Jessica, lending itself to the noir atmosphere of the show. After an angry tussle with a client, we’re introduced to Jessica’s apartment door and while it may seem silly, that door is a plot device and a damn good one. It serves as an accurate metaphor for Jessica as a professional throughout the first few episodes.

Without missing a beat, we follow Jessica to the introduction of one of the show’s main characters, Jeryn Hogarth, a powerful lawyer who takes zero shit from anyone. Wanting more from her private investigation career, Jessica approaches Hogarth about a job and after some Sorkin-esque fast-paced hallway dialogue, Hogarth concedes to Jessica’s April Ludgate-like charm and gives her a summons to serve.

The first ten minutes do a fantastic job of showing who Jessica Jones really is to the viewer: an alcoholic, workaholic who is clever enough to trick people into getting what she wants, even while sitting on the toilet. Even though she doesn’t like showing it, she cares about people like Malcolm, the drug addict next door, but she also berates him sarcastically, as his her nature. (And I love her for it.)

I’d like to take a break from your regularly scheduled programming and now pronounce my love for Jessica’s jacket and scarf. If anyone knows where I can buy these items, please leave a comment. 

We see glimpses of Jessica’s powers throughout the episode, but there’s no real explanation of them. In fact, the show doesn’t focus in on her abilities at all, but instead brushes them to the side. If you blink you might not notice that Jessica jumped up to her hiding spot in the fire escape and she dismisses how easily she breaks an apartment door lock. You might not even notice that there’s something physically amiss with Jessica until she picks up the back end of a car. It’s a nice reminder that unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones is a psychological thriller first and a superhero show second. Jessica may not hide her identity with a mask but she doesn’t parade around as the hero, either.

If you’re a fan of the comics or even just follow news surrounding the show, then Luke Cage’s appearance should come as no surprise. Right off the bat we’re treated to a few romantic moments between the two, some flirtatious and some more…primal. But there’s a history there we aren’t privy to yet and Jessica’s need to keep her distance from her past and real emotion rears its ugly head.

The episode really hits its stride at the introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Schlotten, adorable and over-bearing parents looking for their missing daughter, Hope. As Jessica delves further into the case she realizes something is amiss with Hope’s disappearance and only when she gets to the restaurant where Hope and her new beau went does she realize she knows the man who took her. Jessica’s sarcastic but calm demeanor takes a drastic turn and she becomes jumpy, anxious to get the hell outta Dodge. She eventually turns to her best friend turned radio show host, Trish, who gives her the money but tries to get Jessica to talk about what’s got her scared.

As someone who has suffered through abuse, I love the way the show has approached PTSD and the fear of an attacker. Jessica is at her most raw and vulnerable when talking about the man who controlled her. We don’t find out much about him in the first episode but we know that he’s strong enough to frighten a young woman into not moving from a bed for 5 hours and 21 minutes.

And then there was that ending. That ending that I can’t even write about because it’s so haunting.

Remember when Glee’s pilot first aired and everyone was all atwitter because yes, this show was going to be so good and it made us feel emotions all over the spectrum? Well, Jessica Jones did that with its pilot, too, except where there was hope in a show like Glee, Jessica left us only with unbridled despair. How do you fight a man capable of such monstrosities?

All episodes of Jessica Jones are available November 20th on Netflix. 

About Jen Stayrook

Jen Stayrook
Don't let the fancy nerd duds deceive you; Jen’s never been described as “classy.” You can find her on Twitter where she stalks all of her favorite celebrities: @jenstayrook. Or you can find her on Steam or Xbox dying in every game she plays as "Rilna." Email: jen.stayrook@theworkprint.com

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