By Sean Ray | a&e editor
Based on the comic book “Alias,” written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Michael Gaydos, “Jessica Jones” is the second entry in the Marvel Netflix series leading up to the crossover, “Defenders.” Following up on “Daredevil,” the show tries to replicate the success its predecessor had to mixed results.
The show follows the titular character, played by Krysten Ritter, who works as a hard boiled private investigator and possesses the super powers of super strength and limited flying. While Jones served as a superhero in the past, she retired after an encounter with a man known only as Kilgrave. Played by former “Doctor Who” star David Tennant, Kilgrave has the power to control people with verbal commands. As one can imagine, Kilgrave made Jones do terrible things with his powers, things w Jones tries to forget by drowning her sorrow in alcohol. However, when signs start popping up that Kilgrave has returned, it is up to Jones to stop him before he hurts anyone else.
Similar to its predecessor “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” is a lot darker than what is typically seen in super hero adaptations. The show parallels Kilgrave’s mind control powers to act of rape, with many of his victims developing post-traumatic stress due to what they did while under Kilgrave’s control. Tennant’s wonderful acting further cements this, portraying Kilgrave as a depraved and obsessive pervert who hides behind a veneer of sophistication.
The show is based heavily on the classic film noir genre. The opening sequence alone contains many scenes that seem right at home in an old black and white detective flick, and having the main character be a P.I. is a timeless archetype of the genre. It even includes a running internal monologue by the main character, though it does not occur often enough to truly nail down the genre it is inspired by.
Inevitably, the question comes down to whether “Jessica Jones” lives up to “Daredevil.” The latter received extremely positive reviews and stands as the very best when it comes to live action comic book shows. With such a tough act to follow, it seems unlikely “Jessica Jones” can possibly live up to the hype.
And sadly it does not. “Jessica Jones” is not able to push as many boundaries as “Daredevil.” Indeed, the show somehow seems less mature than its predecessor. Part of the blame can be laid on the premise. While Kilgrave is a wonderfully great villain, his super powers and over-the-top evilness makes him appear less realistic than “Daredevil’s” Wilson Fisk.
That is not to say that the show is not good. Its side characters are extremely likable and wonderfully portrayed. Special mention goes out to Rachel Taylor’s portrayal of Patricia Walker, Jones’ best friend and a name comic book fans should be familiar with, and Eka Darville as Malcom, Jones’ drug addicted neighbor. The problem is that “Daredevil” also had an amazing ensemble and one that managed to have their own side plots that did not revolve around the main character. Meanwhile, the characters of “Jessica Jones” are all focused on taking down Kilgrave.
Ultimately, while the show is enjoyable in its own right, it fails to surpass “Daredevil” for a number of reasons. Jones, who is an alcoholic and occasional jerk to her friends, is a much less likable protagonist than the morally upright Matt Murdock. The fact that Kilgrave’s actions are mostly about getting revenge on Jones makes him seem like a lesser evil than Fisk.
The show also suffers from very poor pacing of its plot. It seems not a single episode can go by without the entire status quo being completely changed. Relationships begin and end in the course of 50 minutes with no real time to properly develop and make the audience care.
While “Jessica Jones” does receive a solid recommendation, as it remains better than the rest of its competition, it is still a letdown compared to the show its predecessor. However, for people who have not seen “Daredevil,” it is a masterful work of television entertainment and a real example of how comic book adaptations can be serious and down to earth.