My brother and I had a conversation about what I like to refer to as the Netflix model of T.V. in which Netflix shows have their entire season’s episodes available all at once when it’s released. He said that he doesn’t understand why all networks can’t do the same: give the audience the option to binge-watch or withhold viewage themselves. I mean, it makes sense to be for it, and I don’t mean to be contrarian, but I realized that I prefer having to wait for episodes. I know it makes me sound annoying, but my immediate gut reaction to a Netflix model of T.V. for all the T.V. was “no fucking way is that the better route.”
I don’t really know why I was so strongly against it. I think I said something about ad revenue/commercials (?) and but after thinking about it for a while, I think I like the once-a-week model more because it gives the show a) sustained public interest, b) it builds suspense, c) it makes you more invested, for a longer time. It sets the pace for viewers and allows them to engage, I feel, in an environment that’s more conducive to something like community. Like, can you imagine a season of LOST being aired all at once? How less fun it would be when not everyone can follow the story at the same pace that’s set by ~the networks~.
But that’s just me. I’m a huge fandom dork, and I suppose this type of viewing T.V. doesn’t really matter to many.
So, Jessica Jones. It’s Netflix’s latest baby, a post-superhero thriller starring Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, an ex-superhero turned detective who suffers from PTSD. It’s set in the same universe as Daredevil and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it follows that timeline (which excites me a lot, for some reason). Anyway, when it came out, I jumped on the train but vowed to actually pay attention and try to absorb the entirety of it all, as best I can.
I took a media studies elective when I was a senior and thoroughly fell in love with T.V. as a medium. We met once a week to watch 2-3 episodes of Doctor Who, and I took meticulous notes. I think I remember more from the first two seasons of new Who than anything post-Rose/Tennant. So, I figured I’d try to do the same here.
I cut myself a deal and allowed myself only the first three episodes. I had to write recaps for each before I could continue. How well this is going to work out, who even knows, but I took notes, and I paid attention, so I hope it all works out for me understanding it better.
These recaps are going to be informal, so don’t expect scholarly insight. I’m just a nerd trying to stop mindlessly consuming media. I’ve done all three, so I’ll be rolling them out during the week since this post is going to be way too long if I put all three here, like I was initially planning.
Jessica Jones 1×01: “AKA Ladies Night”
Disclaimer: I knew nothing about Jessica Jones getting into this series. I just knew she was an ex-superhero who’s trying to get over some type of psychological trauma. The tone felt like a way darker, less campy Veronica Mars, which incidentally is how I encountered Krysten Ritter for the first time when she starred as Gia Goodman. It opens with a narration and some noir-y shots, which you know, that’s how I met Veronica, too.
The first episode successfully (in my opinion) sets the stage for the series, and strongly shows the type of person Jones is. She’s a private investigator working freelance with issues of alcohol abuse and a penchant for surly replies and violence. She routinely works with sharky lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) on her cases, even though it’s frowned upon because of her “methods.”
“I’m not begging you for a case,” Jessica says. “I will ask you, though. Very strongly.” Hogarth is reluctant, but gives her a subpoena to serve to this strip-club owner for a case she’s working on.
Jessica jogs around at night when she can’t sleep—again, due to PTSD—peering into windows like a creep and taking photographs of people in compromising positions. At some point, she is approached by a couple from Ohio named Bob and Barbara Shlottman who are looking for their recently estranged daughter, Hope.
Hope was on the track team at NYU who left school and her best friend without explanation. After digging around, Jessica discovers that Hope took off with a guy.
“Of course there’s a guy,” Hope’s best friend says. “Why else would a best friend crap on you?”
Meanwhile, she finds strip-club owner, Gregory Spheeris, serving him the subpoena by lifting his car as he is trying to escape. She threatens him with her (non-existent) laser eyes and challenges him when he threatens to expose her powers. “Do you know why I’m not hiding? Because nobody wants to know,” she says. “They want to feel safe.”
Jessica grasps onto facts to anchor herself when she finds herself transported back to her traumatic experiences. She finds herself back to the building she staked out, and gets invited into the bar by the guy she was photographing the other night, who lures her in saying it was “Ladies Night” (it’s not). He turns out to be Luke Cage, the bar owner.
“I don’t flirt,” she tells him later in the night. “But you do. Not for sport; it’s got a purpose.” And after a while: “Again, I don’t flirt. I just say what I want.” And, well. Y’all know what a line like that leads to.
The most telling aspect of Jessica is delivered during a sex scene. She tells Luke, “It’s okay, I won’t break.” He replies, “Yeah, you will.” Jessica, in my opinion, is the perfect mix of fragility/vulnerability and toughness/independence. She knows how to take care of herself, knows that she has to because no one else can or should be burdened to. She’s a wonderfully complex character, and I’m so happy she exists.
After more digging on the Hope case, her trail leads her to the site of an old restaurant her captor used to take her to. Panic seizes her as her past—the one she thought she left behind—finds its way back to her, her worst nightmares realized. Seeing this as a losing battle, she tells the Shlottmans to leave New York City as she herself attempts to flee the country. When she fails to procure tickets Hong Kong via Hope’s credit card, she asks Hogarth for an advance (and is refused), leading her to approach Trish Walker, her childhood friend for the cash.
They have a pretty complicated relationship
(gaygaygaygaygay), with Trish upset that Jessica disappears on her. Jessica explains that Kilgrave, her captor whom they had presumed to be dead, is back with a new hostage and that she needs money so she can escape. Trish insists that Jessica help Hope escape since she’s a much more capable match against Kilgrave than Hope, a poor girl from Ohio was. Jessica’s superhero past is brought up. “You’re still the person who tried to do something,” Trish says. “Tried and failed,” Jessica counters. “I’ll never be the person you wanted me to be.”
Trish reluctantly gives her the money (because she is an awesome friend) and on her way to the airport, Jessica changes her mind and makes a stop at the hotel Kilgrave kept her in, in the past. There, she finds and rescues Hope, who is piteously held in her position in the bed for hours because Kilgrave instructed her not to move.
Eventually, Jessica brings her back to her apartment, where they meet up with Hope’s parents, instructing them to leave for Ohio immediately. Hope and her parents board the elevator. Jessica mistakenly thought Hope was free from Kilgrave’s influence but sees her withdraw a pistol from her purse. Just as the elevator door closes, Hope fires the gun at her parents, instantly killing them.
Jessica briefly considers leaving Hope to her inevitable fate, as the doors open to bloody bodies, Hope’s crime, and an audience of onlookers on the ground floor of her building. This was even more confirmation of Kilgrave’s return, another reason for her to flee and save herself. “Knowing it’s real means you’ve got to make a decision,” she says. “One, keep denying it, or two, do something about it.”
In the end, she decides to help Hope, because that’s just the kind of person she is.
I wish I had taken note of my reactions to this reveal, but I guess it was good since I immediately pressed play on episode 2. I planned on writing these faster, but I guess it got away from me since it’s closing period for magazines. Tomorrow is a non-working holiday, though, so I’ve found some room to write. I’ll be posting the rest of the recaps throughout this week. I’ll hopefully have recaps until episode 5. Anyway, this is why I like having a properly paced schedule. I feel like I’m running super behind, even though in the traditional format, I’m not really all that far behind.
Anyway, if you have feelings about the Jessica Jones pilot, I’d love to talk more about it in the comments!
Featured image credit here.