Jessica Jones Isn't Likable
...and that's why you should love her. Eve Batey looks back on the season with S01.E13.
"Here's the problem with Jessica Jones," a stranger explained to me via social media the other day. "She's just not that likable."
That helpful stranger is not completely wrong! Jessica, as she is now, does not seem like she'd be a lot of fun to spend time with, what with the brooding, the heavy drinking, and the generally shitty attitude. I think that's one reason (besides the Marvel-ous inside jokes) that we get those flashbacks of her friendship with Trish before Kilgrave hollowed Jessica out. Even then, it was Trish that people really liked, with Jessica as her sharp-tongued sidekick.
And that, right there, is what gives Jessica Jones its juice! It would have been so easy to make a character like Trish, the kind and gorgeous child-star-turned-talk-show-host, the center of a heroic action/adventure property (I mean, Hellcat is hotttt)!
But, miraculously, that's not what happened. Our heroine isn't the charismatic ingenue: she's the knock-kneed, scrawny-due-to-malnutrition-not-exercise, sallow sidekick who gets by on wisecracks, not charm. Jessica wasn't popular until she wasn't, or a former cheerleader until she realized she had powers: she was a weirdo from the get-go. And that's what makes her truly revolutionary.
(A quick break here to say that Krysten Ritter, who plays Jessica, is a stone-cold fox! But the power of her performance made me forget her model-perfect looks.)
I'd argue that the show's greatest weaknesses, perhaps, are some of its more superheroic ones. The Simpson character seemed unnecessary (unless they're floating a Nuke show, too?), and I'm not just saying that because I will never forgive him for killing Lester Freamon.
In fact, I question the whole IGH line of discussion. I assume it's a setup for the Luke Cage series? But it fee;s like an unnecessary tangent given that there are no set plans for a second season of Jones. I would have been completely happy for Simpson to jump off that roof and die, and for Jessica to have powers that aren't even half-assedly explained, they're just...there.
Excising those elements would have given us more time to understand why Reva had that flash drive and what she was doing with Jessica and Kilgrave that fateful night. Obviously, whatever happened even before Jessica hit Reva laid the groundwork for Jessica's ability to walk away, so that deserved more time and attention than it received. I would have happily watched an episode devoted to that entire backstory, and would have been pleased to trade all the Simpson scenes for that pleasure. I'll even throw in half of the repetitive Hogarth divorce discussions, I reluctantly say, because I adore Carrie-Anne Moss and just want to look at her all day and all night and all day. But I get it, show. She's an ethical garbage pile and wants to trade her current wife in for a newer model. Move it along!
But I wouldn't want to get rid of all of Hogarth's family life stuff, because it's the many complicated, messy, funky, and angst-ridden relationships that took this show from the standard chop-socky quip to something glorious. I didn't once question the Kilgrave-demise-delay that Hope provided, because I completely believed in Jessica's sandwich of guilt, past resentment, rage, and concern at the entire horrifying situation. (That said, death was really the only ending for Hope -- and I'm troublingly pleased that she went out on her own terms. Is that awful to admit?)
I also believed in Hogarth's appreciation of Jessica's talents, Jessica's sick and sad attraction to Luke, and Malcolm's guilty turn from addicted Judas to frustrated but ultimately loyal assistant. I completely bought Robyn and Ruben's fucked-up sibling situation, and sobbed at Robyn's desolation at the loss of her brother. I even believed that Kilgrave felt a sociopath's version of love for Jessica -- check out the look of delight on his face when he ultimately believed that she was back under his power. He didn't smile like that just because he's rape culture in a gorgeous purple suit, he smiled because Jessica fills some void in him. Isn't that a big part of what love does for us all?
SPEAKING of Kilgrave. My colleagues have said almost everything there needs to be said about Kilgrave as he lived, and they are all correct beyond measure. I will just add that, if Jessica had not killed him, I would have driven to Los Gatos and burned Netflix to the motherfucking ground. Kilgrave's death was so so important! It must have been extremely hard for the people working on the show to kill off such a great character, as well as lose such a terrific performance from David Tennant. That they did so, without any obliqueness (believe me, I Zaprudered that shit to make sure there wasn't a dumpster he could've crawled under), is a testament to the show's commitment to storytelling. (If I were to speculate, I do not think that such a move would have flown at a big network. Yet another point in the Netflix column right there.)
Then again, maybe they just felt free to kill him because, as I previously noted, there are no firm plans to do a second season. Which I might be totally fine with? As much as I loved this season (and I loved it a lot) I don't know that I need it to keep on going. Sometimes one is enough.
Okay, who am I kidding? If they announced a deal for a second season I'd be racing to Twitter to celebrate so faster than Simpson runs to his hairdresser when his highlights start growing out. In a world (as they say in superhero shows) where men still feel compelled to urge women to smile as they walk down the street, Jessica Jones is exactly the superhero we need. Bring it on.