Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available to view now on Netflix, and as with Daredevil we’ll be providing (mostly) daily episode-by-episode coverage for those who want to follow it with us. Each instalment of these viewing notes will look at how the show’s plot, characters and story relate to the comic source material, providing background information and pointers for those who want to know more.
Please note that while we might occasionally reveal the way plots developed in the comics, we are trying to be sensitive to any surprises the TV show may have in store. These notes are written immediately after the episode is watched, so any speculation about the way the story may go is purely that!
All we ask is that if you’ve seen future episodes that confirm, contradict or otherwise twist things we talk about in this piece, please respect people who don’t have the luxury of binge-watching and please don’t put spoilers for future episodes anywhere in the comments. You can, however, swap spoilers in our ‘What Did You Think? post. Thanks.
Kilgrave invades Jessica’s apartment while she’s not home, and is interrupted by Reuben, one of her weird neighbours. Later, when Jessica returns she and Malcolm find Reuben in her bed with his throat cut. Jessica tries to intimidate Hogarth’s wife into signing divorce papers but almost kills her. Jessica plans to get thrown in Supermax jail so that Kilgrave will come and find her. Malcolm dumps Reuben’s body in the river. Jessica fishes it out and takes the head into a police station so that she can go to jail. Eventually Kilgrave turns up at the precinct and convinces her to come live with him in her old house in exchange for the lives of the police officers.
Hmm. Well, after six pretty solid episodes, I thought this one dropped off a quality cliff. Jessica spends the entire episode pursuing a plan that doesn’t make sense and is so far out of the show’s remit that there’s zero chance of it actually coming to fruition anyway. I get that Jessica isn’t supposed to be super-competent or even likeable, but when the entire supporting cast (and audience) are going “this makes no sense and you’re wasting your time” it makes the show difficult to engage with.
It’s not even as if this is some kind of deeply-nuanced Don Draper-esque self-destructive cycle. It’s just counter to all logic and reason, internal or external. Like the plot wheels are essentially spinning to fill time. I’m hopeful that it’s just a blip, but right now I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who thinks that this isn’t the series’ low point.
It doesn’t help that poor dead Reuben is being treated like he’s in a remake of Weekend At Bernie’s. His corpse gets dragged all over town without anyone doing anything remotely sensible with it. The tone of noir that the previous episodes fought hard to establish simply can’t meld with this level of grim comedy, which culminates in Kilgrave taking his head away in a carrier bag like it’s Chinese food. Maybe it worked for you, but I found the whole episode jarring, and it’s not helped by how Reuben and Robyn (Jessica’s crazy neighbours) were basically cartoons already.
Still, that scene between Jessica and Kilgrave in the police precinct was illuminating, especially in establishing Kilgrave’s motivations: Jessica’s the only thing he’s ever not been able to have, and that makes him want her more than anything. And furthermore, he wants to do it without his powers. It’s a good take on Kilgrave – one that deviates from the source material but in a way that makes it more interesting and strengthens the ties between the character, his powers, and the show’s themes. That’s one change that I do like.
One thing I did find interesting is that in the police precinct, Kilgrave told everyone in the room to forget he was there and imagine the whole thing was a hilarious joke after he was gone. Which they did. But Jessica didn’t. She didn’t find it funny and she remembered everything. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it in any of the previous reviews, but I’ve had a working theory that Kilgrave’s wish to manipulate Jessica without his powers is because he knows she’s become immune to them, and this might be proof of that. Though at the same time, it might just be proof that he’s able to direct his powers very specifically. Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on future scenes to check whether that theory gets punctured or not.
The comic references have largely dried up at this point in the show as it focuses on its own cast, but there were a few worth mentioning. The scene with Reuben, for instance, mirrors something that did happen in a Jessica Jones comic, only instead of getting into bed to realise her dead neighbour was in there, she woke up and only THOUGHT her dead boyfriend was there (Alias #27). (As an aside, that boyfriend was Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see Paul Rudd in this series.)
Also, when Jessica goes to look for Luke only to find that he’s left town, Roy lists a bunch of things she probably wants to tell him, one of which is “you’re gonna have his baby.” This is something that Jess DID eventually do in the comics (she’s called Danielle) though I think the Netflix version of the character is a long way away from that just yet.
Finally, we get to actually meet Tricia’s mother in this episode. I think I mentioned before, but Dorothy Walker is from the comics. As well as appearing in the original Patsy Walker comics (first in Miss America Magazine #2, November 1944) she was reintroduced into the modern Marvel Universe in Defenders #89 (November 1980) where she attempted to sell Patsy’s soul to hell in exchange for her youth and health back. It’s fair to say that as bad as she comes across here, she doesn’t come over THAT bad.
The episode ends with Jessica essentially back under Kilgrave’s control as she arrives at her old house to meet him, while Simpson – who has been dodging Tricia’s calls and lying to her about trailing Kilgrave – looks on. No prizes for guessing his plans.