After a long wait, the second of Netflix's collaborations with Marvel has hit and has likely been binged as quickly as Daredevil was last year by many fans.
Jessica Jones however, is not your average MCU outing, indeed, while Daredevil was darker and more violent than anything Marvel has put out so far, this show takes things to a totally new level. Indeed many parts of the show give a new meaning to Netflix & Chill.
With this show, Marvel is clearly paving the way for some VERY adult material to come, especially with The Punisher on his way... or rather they bulldoze the path from the first episode and while the show is undoubtedly well made and enjoyable, it could also be seen as a mis-step.
If you have yet to watch the show IN FULL, leave now and come back when you have seen it to see if you agree, cos I'm not going to shy away from spoiler content here.
First, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way.
There are lots of similarities between this and Daredevil, to the point that you could almost see a "formula" developing for the MNCU.
There's a funny and cute best friend with some checkered history with the lead, there's a a dodgy lawyer, there's an innocent woman charged with a crime she didn't commit and a protagonist with guilt for a death(s) that wasn't their fault.
A lot of the elements of Jessica Jones were already used in Daredevil and it makes the show slightly less original than hoped for.
The smart move they make is introducing Mike Colter as Luke Cage from the start.
This saves a lot of his origin story for his own show but we don't need to do the exposition thing again, however even he has his best friend in his older bartender so you can almost see it's not gonna be too far from the seemingly formulaic approach.
This is quite dangerous if it continues, as if the shows begin to follow a pattern over their 13 episodes then it could get very dull, very quickly and turn people off.
The other big issue with the show is that Jessica is without doubt the most unlikable character Marvel has released to the public yet, even their villains are often portrayed more sympathetically. She is, for a lot of the time, for want of a better term, a dick!
When Malcolm walks away from her, you get it and agree with him.
Jessica doesn't have Tony Stark's charm to get away with her flaws, so she'd be very hard to translate to the big screen or to work with the other Marvel heroes we have outside of this new R-rated world. As interesting as it would be to put her and Cap together, it would be very jarring, even with a language gag. In some ways, Demon In A Bottle is on this show, not an Iron Man movie for example.
Oh yes, it's R-alright... from the first encounter between Jessica & Luke.
Yes they went there.. don't watch the first episodes with the sound too high or with your parents without preparing them, add to that the high and gory body count throughout and you get a very adult show that again, makes it difficult to ever see a crossover with the more PG heroes.
Would you bring a Hawkeye up to Jones R-rating? or tone Jessica down? either way it'd be a big risk and could potentially backfire badly!
What the show does well, it does very well, thanks in no small part to David Tennant's creepy but convincing turn as Kilgrave/The Purple Man.
He puts a very good spin on the idea of mind-control, different from the Xavier way of doing things and as the series develops you realize that he basically is a child who never learned the wrongs and dangers of his gift in the way Professor X did.
It always made me wonder if Charles had forced his mother in the X movies to accept Raven as one of the family, so he wouldn't feel alone, and it's interesting to see those kind of motivations explored here
There are some scary similarities to Tennant's portrayal of The Doctor and some great Whoesque one liners mixed with the general creepiness. The scene later where he is exasperated that his power isn't working as well at a comedy club is only missing a sonic screwdriver solution or "that's brilliant" line from him and in a bizzaro world way, you could see the Doctor as having the same kind of hold over the people he interacts with as Kilgrave.
It's part of what makes the character and show work, that Tennant is a very likable actor, where as Krysten Ritter is known for playing bitches.
Like Foggy in Daredevil, the sidekick role is perhaps one of the best. Rachel Taylor is great as Trish/Patsy Walker, who herself may or may not become Hellcat. She's hot, funny and good in her role as a former child star, mixing the vulnerability and bad ass well.
Colter is also the perfect Luke Cage, although some of his early fights seem to underplay his powers to being a low-rent BA Baracas, clearly setting up for a later episode to really see what he can do.
Some characters definitely grate. Robyn for example seems like a riff on Punxatawny from Orange Is The New Black, and is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.
She could easily become Typhoid Mary down the line, with her own potential psychic powers being behind her hold on Reuben and later the other survivors, but till then when she is onscreen you want to look away and turn the sound down, even when she gets some closure and a potential romance with Malcolm.
Simpson is another who develops well as a potential villain and it's a good wrinkle on that villain, but the actor becomes annoying after a time.
Trish's Mommie Dearest, seems too much of a contrived set up for a season two villain/she was in on it from the start rather than being useful in her own right.
Carrie-Ann Moss is perhaps the most interesting performance in the show - she could to some, be the Fish Mooney award winner as Jeryn Hogarth.
She avoids it well by playing against what most people remember her being. This isn't Trinity, she's manipulative, and by her own admission, a shark but you actually get a sense of her character developing throughout her arc. In some ways she has the biggest journey of the show, from being a sceptic to being fully bought in to the idea of Kilgrave, to refusing to be just another victim. The pep talk Jessica gives her near the end is important but not gonna end well.
You just know who is gonna be defending Pam on the murder charge, after all he only defends innocent clients... and you know that Jeryn will somehow be the one trying to convict her to protect her reputation and get revenge.
As the story develops, we build to a somewhat underwhelming climax that some will cry is stolen from a certain Snyder movie - this was inevitable, as there was no big reveal of a costumed persona or potential team up as there was for Daredevil. No way it was going to end other than it did.
The smart thing is they actually used it to their advantage, and we see Jessica right back where she started before she became Jewel only this time not wanting any of it, just a normal life with Luke that she knows she can never have.
So on balance? Is this show a mis-step?
No, but Jessica Jones HAS fallen into the now depressingly familiar Marvel trap, of it seems more about setting things up for the future than being its own entity.
As much time is spent on Luke Cage, and Trish, to the extent that she too could get her own show relatively easily as Hellcat.
This is Age Of Ultron all over again in some ways, designed to build to The Defenders, just as that movie was to build to Civil War.
It's a trick Marvel are relying on too often and while it doesn't damage Jessica Jones TOO much, that is only because they have gone much further in tone than they ever have before. They couldn't get away with this again without risking alienating fans.
Luke Cage and Daredevil Season 2 would benefit from being more self contained, which seems difficult with The Punisher and likely Iron Fist set to debut in them.
The danger is that too much crossover too quickly, as they seem to be intent on doing will lessen The Defenders, and force a gimmick, such as Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange to be part of it to counter this.
It is easy to see why the Iron Fist difficulties are coming on watching Jessica Jones. They've taken a very dark path, which will only darken with Frank Castle and potentially Bullseye's debuts. Iron Fist and Heroes For Hire will arguably become far more difficult to show as being part of that ultra-violent world unless they are the pure counter to it.
It's also difficult that so much has been put onto legal cases. Sure there are real consequences they are trying to show, but the lawyer stuff is Daredevil's arena. They need to back away from the trope of an innocent person to keep Daredevil unique. That means no arrests for Luke Cage in his show please!
So in all, while it's not quite a mis-step, Jessica Jones is a cautionary tale for Marvel and Netflix. If they go for a "formula" again it will detract, if they go too dark it will ruin any chance of movie crossovers, which will limit the appeal to fans.
My hope is that Luke Cage is more of an action based show to counter some of the darkness of Daredevil & Jessica Jones. If they can manage that, then there is still some very good reason to be excited. If it's more of the same? Then the bubble could burst long before we get to The Defenders, which would be a shame because this IS good stuff.
It is a solid 8.5 as a show, the acting in the main is strong and it almost achieves what it set out to do. But it loses marks for being just a set-up for something else.