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In Praise of…. Jessica Jones


I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t flippin’ spoil it but I need to find out what happens and I can’t bare to look.

Let’s cover why I need to watch:

1.  Jessica Jones is awesome.  A proper actual awesome character of awesome with bills to pay and a life to lead and mistakes made and friends and convictions and flaws and just…

… just a proper awesome kick-ass character of the kind TV needs more of, all the time, please.  And yes, this is a shout-out to Marvel’s general lack of doing anything with its female characters ever, but also just as a punter who is willing to briefly forget the stark under-representation of gender (and indeed racial) diversity on TV, Jessica Jones just delivers wonderful characters – plenty of them – brilliantly.

2.  The story is a slow-burning cascade of terror, tension and misadventure.  I can’t predict it, and yet every decision makes a kind of terrible sense.  Characters evolve in surprising ways, and yet never break out of who they are, and at the end of every episode I curl up on the sofa with my partner and shout at the TV and announce that I can’t watch another episode because the story line can’t keep doing this sorta stuff to me, but I need to keep on watching because I have to find out what happens.

3.  It’s beautifully filmed.  Light and dark, colours and shapes, from the first (comic-honouring) credit sequence to the last frame, it’s lovingly done.

4.  New York is awesome, and this is very much the same world as Daredevil, and I feckin’ loved Daredevil.  Arguably Daredevil is more up my street, particularly when it comes to all the ninja business, but Jessica Jones isn’t trying to be Daredevil, and is good for that, while at the same time inhabiting that same grimy world of bad decisions taken in worse circumstances for petty gains.

5.  So yes, let’s not kid ourselves – it’s a story that has set out to pack a punch, and does so.  It handles a dozen different things that you wouldn’t expect anything with the word ‘Marvel’ on the front to tackle, including domestic and sexual abuse, mental health, trauma and drug addiction.  And it doesn’t do it in the typical way that most dramas do it – by showing a shot of a naked, dead woman and having men stand around going ‘wow, she must have suffered’.  No.  It actually handles these things in human depth, with human voices and survivors who are allowed to speak, not just become soulless victims crying in the bottom of our screens.  It’s an incredibly difficult step to take, and arguably there’s more that could be done, but the fact that someone is doing it at all is worthy of praise.

Now.  Why I can’t watch.

Bloody hell Kilgrave.

So, without wanting to spoil too much – a villain with mind control.  This is pretty freaky, sure, but Jessica Jones gently, one small step at a time, uses it to tear the world apart.  There is no place that is safe; there is nothing sacred which cannot be violated and abused.  There is no trust, there is no freedom, there is no dignity or power or hope.  There is just an inevitable collapse towards disaster, made possibly even worse by the fact that this evil isn’t ‘I shall conquer the world’ evil – it’s childish, banal evil.  It’s casual every-day-petty evil, given Godlike strength.  And again, kudos to Jessica Jones, it hasn’t taken mind control and turned it into a ‘how many zombie-like assassins can I fight?’ but rather has used it to undermine the basic foundations of everything ordinary that you’d ever think of relying on in your life.

I say this.  At the time of writing I’m at what I’m hoping is a turning point in the narrative (perhaps) and I have to find out what happens, even though I’m dreading it.  Just… dreading it.  I have rarely, if ever, had to sit in front of a screen hugging a pillow to my chest whenever the villain appears, dreading everything that follows.

So yeah.

Jessica Jones

… you should totally watch it.