This article contains nothing but Jessica Jones spoilers.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones Netflix series is quite possibly the best thing to come out of Marvel Studios in, well…ever. While it’s not packed quite as tightly with Marvel mythology as its predecessor, Daredevil, there’s still plenty to unpack, analyze, and speculate on. Jessica and her friends and enemies are a little less well known than some of her costumed counterparts, so I’m here to break things down for the newbies, and help look for stuff even experienced fans might miss.
But the thing is…I probably missed some stuff, too. In fact, I’m counting on it. And that’s where you come in!
I’m obsessing over every line of dialogue and every name mentioned in Jessica Jones on a quest to find all of the hidden Marvel Comics easter eggs. I imagine many of you are doing the same thing. I’ve got my Alias comics at the ready, too.
So, let’s do this together!
If there’s something I missed, let me know in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter. If I can verify it, I’ll add it here. You folks helped make our Daredevil reference guide a really beautiful thing, so let’s do it again for Jessica Jones!
For ease of reference for people coming back to this again and again, to prevent new viewers from accidentally stumbling on spoilers for episodes they haven’t watched yet, and because some of these sections are really, really freakin’ long, it’s broken up over multiple pages according to episodes. Here’s a little table of contents:
I’ll keep adding more as I start re-watching episodes, and as you folks point out what I missed!
One final note about how all this is structured. I’ve mostly left the big reveals in place for each episode, rather than aggregate everything we end up knowing about a character in their first entry. This allows folks who are just getting through their first viewing not to get spoiled about future episodes in an entry about an earlier one. Whew…that was a mouthful. It’s not a perfect system, though, so beware.
Now, on with the show. This should be fun, because the comics this show are based on are some of my favorites. Beware, the spoilers are everywhere…
Jessica Jones Episode 1: AKA Ladies Night
Jessica Jones is hired to find a pretty NYU student who’s vanished, but it turns out to be more than a simple missing persons case.
– Before we go any further, know this: Jessica Jones was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, and first appeared in Alias #1 in 2001. That was originally supposed to be a comic starring Jessica Drew, better known as Spider-Woman. The idea of a former superhero turning to the world of private investigations was then adapted for an entirely new character, and that’s our Ms. Jones.
So, instead of a past as Spider-Woman, Jessica has a superheroic past of her own, and that’s alluded to in amusing fashion several times in the course of this series. We’ll get into more details on that when we hit the episodes they appear in, though.
Alias ran for 28 issues, afterwards she starred in the less foul-mouthed and sexy The Pulse, as a member of the Daily Bugle staff. She started making regular appearances with the Avengers during Mr. Bendis’ tenure as writer on New Avengers, and has generally settled into the Marvel Universe, although never in the most traditional of ways, of course.
This series is primarily concerned with the events that were collected in Alias Volume 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones. That’s where we learned about her traumatic past with Kilgrave (more on him in a minute), although it’s explored in much more detail here on the show. Jessica Jones isn’t a straight adaptation of any particular story from the comics, though, but it’s still faithful in spirit and tone to the source material.
Most importantly, the Jessica Jones of this Netflix series is exactly the character we got in the comics, minus a nasty smoking habit. Nobody smokes anymore anyway, and Jessica has enough other endearing vices.
Alias Investigations is (of course) a play on the traditional superhero secret identity trope. But it was also the name of the comic that this series is based on.
When plans were first being put in place to bring this to TV about ten years ago, the plan was for an ABC series, but because of another female-fronted TV show known as Alias, the comic book name wasn’t available. It became AKA Jessica Jones before stalling, and that was the title of this Netflix series until very recently when it was shortened to the current title.
This puts to rest any speculation that the “Atlas Investments” door visible on the same floor as Nelson and Murdock in Daredevil would somehow get painted over or modified, and Jessica and Matt Murdock would be neighbors. Hey, I bought into it, too.
Of course, that door is ill-fated…
This bit of violence comes to you courtesy of the very first Jessica Jones comic ever. Alias #1 featured Jessica taking a guy out in exactly this manner, for exactly the same reasons.
About the only difference here is that Marvel Netflix shows apparently won’t drop the f-bomb, while “fuck” was quite literally the first word in the first issue of Alias.
– Jeri Hogarth is a Marvel Comics character who has been around for about 40 years, except in the comics, Jeri is a man named Jeryn. However, the presence of Hogarth here is a pretty hefty Iron Fist connection, perhaps more substantial than the Steel Serpent logos we saw stashed around in Daredevil season one.
Hogarth is Danny Rand/Iron Fist’s attorney in the comics. It’s still to early to tell if that’s going to be the case here in the Marvel Netflix universe.
Oh, and don’t believe any silly rumors. The Iron Fist Netflix series is alive and well.
– Patricia “Trish” Walker is perhaps better known to Marvel Comics fans as “Patsy Walker.” Trish, as she prefers to be called here, has a history of her own. Before she was a radio talk show host, she was a child star and a model. Her long history is kind of a play on her comic book counterpart, who has been around since 1944.
No, it’s true. She was initially a kind of Archie-esque teen comedy character for most of her existence, before becoming the superhero known as Hellcat in the ’70s. Now, here’s where shit gets really kind of meta.
The superhero version of Patsy Walker was never actually the teen humor character that headlined various Timely/Marvel books for 20-plus years. Those comics were written (in Marvel continuity) by her mother, Dorothy Walker…who also promised her daughter’s soul to Satan. No, really.
So that stuff about Trish having a nightmarish, horrible stage mother who manufactured her career and public image (and did worse) throughout this series? In a way, it’s kind of a sideways reference to that.
Patsy never appeared in the Alias comics. Her best pal in those pages was Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, who is obviously otherwise occupied (and still uncast) on the Marvel movie end of things, leaving her unavailable for the TV end of Marvel’s plan.
– The guy who’s the cause of Jessica’s PTSD horror is Zebediah Kilgrave, known by his nom-de-douchebag of “The Purple Man” in Marvel Comics. It’s also spelled “Killgrave” in the comics, in case you had any doubt as to whether or not he was a good guy.
Now, here’s the thing about the Purple Man…he’s actually a Daredevil villain. He first appeared in Daredevil #4 in 1964, and he was created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando. From what I can tell, other than the skeevtacular mind-control powers, the TV Kilgrave has little to do with the comic book Killgrave (these are not typos). For one thing, the TV Purple Man isn’t, y’know, purple, he just wears it (although note how much purple stuff appears in the backgrounds throughout this show to illustrate Jessica’s trauma).
He mostly languished in obscurity until his return in Alias #24, when Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos resurrected him to torment Jessica, and close out the series.
– Kilgrave victim and missing girl Hope Schlotman and her folks aren’t comic book characters. But Jessica tackled at least two similar, non-Kilgrave related missing girl cases in the pages of Alias, but they played out quite differently. Like I said, Jessica Jones isn’t really an adaptation of any Alias stories.
– Jessica’s drug-addled neighbor, Malcolm is kinda not from the comics. There is an annoying “Malcolm” in her life in Alias, but he’s just some dorky kid who keeps showing up at her office because he has a bit of a crush on her and digs superheroes. The comic book Malcolm is less out of it than the TV one, less creepy than Ruben, and pretty much only used for comic relief.
– Referring to those with powers as being “gifted” sure sounds like a sideways nod to how mutants are traditionally referred to, doesn’t it? Of course, the fact that Marvel’s mutants are all tied up at 20th Century Fox means that can’t be the case here, and they’ve been dealing with this over on Agents of SHIELD by shoehorning the Inhumans into the “persecuted” role generally associated with mutants. It’s not working, and it bites Jessica Jones (the show, not the character) in the ass a little bit in a later episode. I’ll get to that, though…
Jessica Jones Episode 2: AKA Crush Syndrome
Jessica vows to prove Hope’s innocence, even though it means tracking down a terrifying figure from her own past.
– The interrogation that Jessica is subjected to here is similar to something seen in early issues of Alias, and she’s subjected to the same kind of suspicions we see here. Basically, the cops don’t trust her because she tends to attract trouble…and she’s got powers. That doesn’t help anything.
– Unless I’m mistaken, the Detective doing the interrogating is Oscar “Ozzy” Clemons, a character who has only appeared in a handful of Punisher issues. He first appeared in 2011’s The Punisher (vol. 8) #1 by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto.
– Get yourself familiar with Mike Colter as Luke Cage, because he’s going to headline his own series soon enough. Luke first appeared in his own title, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire in 1972. He was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr.
He didn’t have the best costume back then:
Luke has been around the Marvel Universe block, to be sure. He’s been a member of various Avengers teams, but most famously the Defenders. After his own series, he’ll definitely be part of Marvel’s Defenders Netflix series, so there you are.
While Luke has been a serious presence in the Marvel Comics world pretty much since his inception, it was his return in Alias #1 that helped really revive his career, and led to his appearances in other Brian Michael Bendis scripted comics, particularly New Avengers, and that helped get Jessica involved in some more high profile stuff than we might ordinarily associate her with.
– Considering how almost completely chaste the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and its TV extension) has been, it’s kinda refreshing to see that Luke and Jessica just flat out love to fuck. There’s been a little hanky-panky on Agents of SHIELD, and we all have had a laugh at the dalliances of serial monogamists Howard and Tony Stark, but for real, sex is a thing that people like to do.
Also, the way their initial sexual encounter plays out here, after a drunken flirty chat at Luke’s bar, is very similar to how they first got together in Alias #1, although Jessica wasn’t shadowing Luke for work, they were already acquaintances.
– Reva Connors was indeed the name of an old flame of Luke’s, and she first appeared when he did, in the pages of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 in 1972. That Reva Connors wasn’t killed in a “bus crash” however, but in the wake of some other super criminal activity.
– We see some hints about Trish Walker’s fascination with becoming more than she is, here. Learning Krav Maga and living in an apartment with bulletproof windows and fingerprint identification technology at the door is definitely an indication that she has some heroic plans ahead of her.
– Baxter is a real hospital equipment company, so the inclusion of that name with the dialysis machine is really just a coincidence. But graynewt in the comments came up with such a nerdy spot that I really just can’t not include it.
“Robert Baxter was a childhood friend of Patsy Walker, eventually marrying her. He also became a villain known as Mad Dog.”
So, yeah, coincidence, but still a cool catch.
Jessica Jones Episode 3: AKA It’s Called Whiskey
It won’t be easy to acquire or deploy, but Jessica thinks she’s found a weapon to use against Kilgrave. Luke and Jessica bond over their similarities.
– Luke alludes to his origin story, as an “experiment.” The short version is that Luke was a street tough who found himself on the receiving end of treatments that were intended to duplicate the super soldier serum that gave birth to Captain America, a theme we’ve seen explored more than once in the Marvel Universe of both the page and the screen.
Luke also utters his signature comic book phrase of “Sweet Christmas!” in this episode, which is a cute touch.
– Now, stick with me for a minute. I couldn’t make out the name or the radio station that’s playing in the convenience store. But doesn’t the host who is hosting a bunch of metahuman/superhero skeptics sound a tiny bit like he could be J. Jonah Jameson?
There’s still no sign of The Daily Bugle in any of the TV or movie Marvel Universe stuff, but the idea that ol’ JJJ could be a multi-media mogul (print is dead, after all, just as Egon Spengler predicted) would kind of fit, wouldn’t it? And since the comic book version of Jessica eventually has to cross paths with Jameson more than once, this would be a fun nod to him, without actually having to cast him. I’ll keep an ear out to see if this voice pops up again in case they drop us some hints.
I reserve the right to completely lose my mind with joy if they make mention of some skinny kid in a costume climbing walls in Queens, though.
– This episode drives home one very cool point about not just Marvel’s Netflix shows, but the entire MCU in general. It’s easy to forget just how new and weird this world feels to everyone.
Let’s assume that the MCU as we know it takes place in “real time.” That means that other than Captain America in the ’40s, superheroes have only really been operating in public since about 2008. What’s more, we’ve only met the big ones, and we’ve pretty much only seen them dealing with major issues. So a superhero “event” happens roughly with the frequency of something similarly catastrophic in the news cycle…which may not be very often.
In other words (and this is something that Daredevil also did a nice job illustrating), the world isn’t used to this stuff, and in the case of New York City, they’re downright traumatized by it. Threads of this trauma will probably play out in Captain America: Civil War, as well.
The point of all this is that something as apparently simple as Kilgrave’s verbal mind control power, which doesn’t seem as flashy or sexy as a super soldier serum, a suit of armor, a magic hammer, or turning green, is actually completely fucking terrifying when put into a relatively real world/violence isn’t the answer kind of setting. Short of vaporizing this guy from orbit, what the hell can you do? But for the most part, none of this super powered stuff is any more “real” to the average citizen than anything else.
Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of me pointing out how even by operating on the fringiest fringes of an established superhero universe, Jessica Jones has added some color to it, without having to get all mixed up in it. Good stuff.
– Hey, there are Patsy Walker comics in this world, too! From what I can tell, that isn’t an actual vintage cover but the logo is spot on. It’s neat that this is also part of her child star entertainment empire, and it’s another tie to her Marvel roots.
Just for reference, here’s a look at an old Patsy Walker comic. Note the “Atlas” logo that we saw in Daredevil…
– While not related to Marvel stuff, many NYC residents probably will get a chuckle out of Jessica roughing up an obnoxious urban cyclist in this episode.
Jessica Jones Episode 4: AKA 99 Friends
A new case demands attention as Jessica tries to find out who’s spying on her for Kilgrave. Trish’s radio show yields unexpected consequences.
– This episode gives us our first hint about Jessica’s origin, which involved a car accident. I won’t get into it in too much detail here, because it will become more appropriate in the footnotes for a later episode.
– This also marks one of the very few times that Marvel Studios’ inability to use or reference mutants and the paranoia and persecution that surrounds them stings a little bit. As I mentioned above while discussing Kilgrave’s relatively innocuous super powers, there aren’t really enough “gifted” individuals or public events surrounding them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to really justify the kind of prejudice that Aubrey Eastman (and her goofy scheme) displays.
Then again, tying the average person’s hysteria and willingness to generalize after one catastrophic urban attack isn’t all that unrealistic given the state of the world in the 21st Century, but whatever.
But really, in Marvel Comics, the first thing anybody thinks when they encounter a superhuman who isn’t going to let them get their way tends to be, “you mutie scum” or something similar. The “gifted” prejudice and the kinky set-up here just felt…well…watered down. We all know what they really wanted to say.
– Jessica’s speech/lie about being bulletproof (and how she will dispose of the bullet) is almost word for word from the pages of Alias #5. Different situation. Well, as different as having someone who is going to shoot you believe a line of bullshit about you being bulletproof can be, I guess.
– Jessica’s threat to Aubrey about having “99 gifted friends in this borough alone” is very clearly a lie, but it’s a sly play on the density of superhuman activity in Manhattan in the pages of Marvel Comics, which has always been the most New York-centric superhero universe. At one point, 99 per borough probably would have been a very reasonable estimate.
– This isn’t a Marvel Comics thing, but the guy who gave Kilgrave his coat refers to him as “that limey cocksucker.” It’s such a specific choice of words, and it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Tim Burton’s wonderful Ed Wood biopic.
Jessica Jones Episode 5: AKA The Sandwich Saved Me
Despite Jessica’s objections, Trish’s new friend Simpson gets involved in the hunt for Kilgrave. Jessica recalls a pivotal moment in her life.
– It turns out in this episode that Trish used to be a redhead. Guess what? That’s what the comic book Patsy Walker was! Holy moley, there’s more Patsy Walker history in this thing than there is about Jessica Jones. That’s what happens when one character has been around since the ’40s and had a superhero identity since the ’70s and another hasn’t, I guess!
– Jessica tells Trish “maybe you should put on a cape.” Okay, so I guess we have to deal with the Hellcat in the room now, right?
See? Red hair. Superhero. You get the idea. Trish is definitely being played as a “superhero wannabe” as these episodes unfold, so maybe something will come of this.
While Patsy herself first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 back in 1944, she became Hellcat in The Avengers #144 in 1976. That issue of Avengers had a pretty awesome creative team of Steve Englehart and George Perez.
– During the flashbacks, we see Trish designed a costume for Jessica, and offered her the ridiculous code name of “Jewel.” Well, this is entirely too much fun, because that is pretty much exactly the Jewel costume that comic book Jessica Jones wore during her stint as a superhero. And yes, she did call herself Jewel. And yes, she was suitably ashamed of it after the fact.
The whole “Jewel” thing is kind of a funny commentary on the state of Marvel Comics, too. Alias was published in 2001, the tail end of an era in which every superheroine out there was scantily clad with features that defied the laws of physics. Jessica’s Jewel identity would have been only a few years earlier in “comic book time,” but because of the sliding scale of how comic book time works, the aesthetic of the Jewel costume and codename is more similar to Marvel stuff of the late ’80s. See characters like Dazzler or Quasar for the kind of primary colored, optimistic stuff Jewel is in line with.
One of Jessica’s other codenames was “Knightress” although we haven’t heard it mentioned on the show. Presumably, that was her post-Jewel, mid-90s “bad girl” reinvention after the Jewel identity became lame.
However, Andy in the comments pointed out to me that I was wrong about never seeing Knightress in the comics. She did indeed appear in flashback in the second series Jessica starred in, The Pulse. Here’s a page from The Pulse #14 as proof…
I’m not sure if they make it very clear how deep into her vigilante career she was here before Kilgrave abducted her. But in the comics, it was during her “Jewel” phase, which put it pretty early on. In that regard, even though she never puts on that ridiculous costume, the show is sticking pretty close to the comics.
Jessica Jones Episode 6: AKA You’re a Winner
Luke hires Jessica to help him find someone who may have skipped town, but she fears he’ll learn too much about her history in the process.
– Jessica recommends another private investigator by the name of Angela Del Toro. Ms. Del Toro was a Daredevil supporting character who took on the superheroic identity of the White Tiger. This character hasn’t been cast in Daredevil season 2 or Luke Cage, but she’d be a prime candidate for inclusion in one of these Netflix shows as they expand their reach.
And down in the comments, Paul US reminded me that the White Tiger character is actually a connection to future Netflix series, Iron Fist. Characters who assume the White Tiger identity (and there have been several, Angela Del Toro wasn’t the first), get their enhanced abilities from a Jade Tiger amulet. which comes from the mystical kingdom of K’un-Lun, which was alluded to numerous times in the course of Daredevil season one.
– To the best of my knowledge, none of the names of the people involved in Luke and Jessica’s case here have any parallels in Marvel Comics. However, this whole thing just feels like such a classic “Luke Cage taking care of neighborhood shit” story.
Also, note that Luke won’t hurt dogs. Because real tough guys are kind to animals, that’s why. Nice touch.
– We learn in this episode that Hope is pregnant via Kilgrave. This will play out over the next few episodes, and I won’t get into it here for fear of spoiling anything for readers just watching for the first time. BUT…
In the comics, Kilgrave did indeed have a daughter, named Kara Killgrave. She inherited his powers and skin tone, and eventually joined the superhero team known as Alpha Flight. (thanks to Paul in the comments for reminding me that Kara exists)
Now, since TV Kilgrave has certainly been using his powers to rape women since he first realized he could, it’s quite possible that he has fathered other children. There could very well be an 18 year old “Purple Woman” running around in this version of the Marvel Universe right now, but I can’t see Jessica Jones going back to that well.
– Jessica mentions real life billionaire Carl Icahn in this episode. Icahn very nearly succeeded in a hostile takeover of Marvel around 1997. In Sean Howe’s absolutely essential book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, he describes the conversations between the man who was president of Marvel at the time, Joseph Calamari, and the Icahn camp in a manner that Jessica Jones herself would surely approve of:
Calamari’s calls with Icahn’s people were epic, hypnotic fugues: “Fuck you.” “No, fuck you.” “No, no, no – fuck you!”
Seriously, if you’re a Marvel fan, you need to read that book.
Jessica Jones Episode 7: AKA Top Shelf Perverts
Malcom, Simpson and Trish go rogue to prevent Jessica from carrying out an extreme plan to outwit Kilgrave.
If you’ve made it this far, I have to assume that spoilers are no longer a concern for you. With that in mind, we need to talk about Ruben’s death.
– The “dead dude in Jessica’s bed and it’s Kilgrave’s fault” thing might be a sideways nod to a similar moment in the Alias comics. Jessica was dating Scott Lang (Ant-Man!) for a little while, and at one point she woke up to a rather gruesome scene, with him being devoured by insects. Of course, this was just Kilgrave’s doing.
Scott Lang and his checkered past seems like he’d be a good romantic fit for Jessica, but it just never worked out between them. He ended up being a little bit of a dick to her, anyway. It’s unlikely we’ll see this explored on screen, unless they ever decide to make some sideways reference to Jessica dating some guy doing time for burglary now or something.
It was Carol Danvers who set the two of them up. I can imagine Trish trying to play matchmaker in future seasons of Jessica Jones, but again, it won’t be with Scott Lang.
– It’s never made quite clear where Jessica’s childhood home is. Considering that she’s able to get to and from there and Trish’s midtown apartment pretty easily, it has to be accessible via subway or LIRR. It looks like a Long Island neighborhood, or some of the suburbs north of the George Washington Bridge.
Why does any of this matter?
Well, in the comics, Jessica grew up in Queens, probably Forest Hills. Why is this important? Because she went to the same high school as Peter Parker. Not only that, they were actually classmates (and she had a crush on him). Obviously, that can’t work here. The vague bits of Spider-Man’s origin haven’t been worked out yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Jessica is obviously much older than our new, teenaged Spider-Man will be.
– The elderly bartender at Luke’s establishment jokes that “you’re gonna have his baby,” when she comes in looking for Mr. Cage. Well, funny he should say that, because that’s exactly what does happen down the line for those two. Jessica and Luke, I mean. Not Jessica and the bartender.
Anyway, as you might expect, their baby complicates things during their time in the Avengers. There’s no need to get into it here, trust me.
Jessica Jones Episode 8: AKA WWJD?
Jessica experiences a strange homecoming courtesy of Kilgrave. Hogarth’s conflict with her estranged wife reaches a tipping point.
This episode contains two rather brilliant subversions of both ends of the superheroic coin, and they’re worth discussing before getting into the bits and pieces of everything.
For starters, Jessica is trying to play the “with great power there must also come great responsibility” card on both herself and Kilgrave. Obviously, Kilgrave has “great power” and none of the responsibility. Jessica’s “great power” is twofold, she can do all the incredible things we know she can do, but she’s also the only one who seems to have any power over Kilgrave, because of his feelings for her. The potential to aim Kilgrave and his power, like a weapon, as a force for good (or at least “not evil”) would be a ridiculous responsibility to take on for anyone, though, let alone someone as human as Jessica.
There’s something else to consider here, as well. The Punisher is about to make his Netflix debut on Daredevil season 2, played by Jon Bernthal, who is bound to make poor, tortured, murderous Frank Castle into an appealing, sympathetic character. But let’s not forget, in this episode, even when Kilgrave is doing good (saving a family) his logic about how that disturbed, hostage-taking husband and father “will never be a productive member of society” and is thus better off dead, isn’t all that far off from “Punisher logic.”
So remember that if you find yourself rooting for Jon Bernthal’s Punisher when Daredevil season 2 arrives…Kilgrave would approve.
– Jessica’s family structure is in place from the comics, including her little brother, Phil. All of this stuff was revealed in Alias #22, by the way. They mention that her Dad is a mechanic here on the show, but in the comics, he worked for Tony Stark. Whether he worked for Stark directly or was just someone who worked for a Stark company was never quite revealed.
Also note, that in the comics, Jessica’s family name was “Campbell” and she changed it after the fact. That doesn’t appear to be something they’re addressing here, as there are much bigger fish to fry on this show.
– Jessica’s father is named “Brian,” which has to be a nod to her co-creator, Brian Michael Bendis, not the awesome (but sadly deceased) Rolling Stones guitarist. Her mother is Alisa, the name of Mr. Bendis’ wife (thanks to Jeff for the correction).
– They do a lot more work making Kilgrave more “human” here than they ever did in any of his comic book appearances, or even his story with Jessica in the pages of Alias.
– While Kilgrave’s reference to Obi-Wan Kenobi with “we can go about our business, move along” is obvious to everyone, inluding Jessica, I feel that Star Wars‘ competition, Star Trek, gets a bit of a nod in this episode, as well. The whole thing with Kilgrave feeling that it’s important that Jessica actually choose a life with him of her own free will reminds me of original Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage,” in which aliens trapped the Captain of the Enterprise in a prison where your fondest desires could be fulfilled.
Like the Talosians’ failed understanding of what people actually want, Kilgrave seems to think that by giving Jessica the “normal” life she lost when her parents died will make her a compliant, happy prisoner. But she’d still be a prisoner. See also: awesome TV series from the ’60s, The Prisoner.
– Not that there should have been any doubt based on the horrifying turns this series has been taking, but Jessica makes it very clear that Kilgrave raped her repeatedly during their time together. The thing is, that wasn’t quite the case in the comics, where his abuse was purely psychological, but never physical.
This page from Alias #25, when Jessica was explaining her situation to Luke Cage, sheds some light on things…
– This next bit is kind of an “off-brand” reference, I guess, and possibly an unintentional one. “I once told a man to go screw himself…” Kilgrave says. The spectacularly good comic book series, Preacher, has a main character who has “the word of God” in him, which allows him to tell people to do exactly what he wants.
While he’s certainly not the scumbag that Kilgrave is, Jesse Custer doesn’t pull many punches for those who have something coming to them. He does indeed tell a man to “go fuck yourself” and, well, that person ends up in the hospital.
That’s going to be a series on AMC, by the way, and I’m really looking forward to it.
– The origin of Kilgrave is touched on and revamped in this episode, and it’s appropriately horrifying. The thing is, it has no similarities to the comic book version.
That’s a good thing, though. The comic book Purple Man/Killgrave is such a relic of the Cold War that there’s no way that story, about a Croatian spy who finds himself doused in purple chemicals while on a mission, leaving him with the ability to make people do whatever he wants, doesn’t really seem all that appropriate for this world, does it?
– “Did she just fly?” Yes. Yes she did. Jessica flew as Jewel in the comics, and could fly in general…she just isn’t very good at it. Does this make her the first character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who can fly under her own power? I think it does. Don’t forget, Thor doesn’t really fly, he throws his hammer and catches it really fast, which pulls him along in the air.
It’s been pointed out to me that Vision can fly, which is true, but my only defense here is that Vision isn’t strictly biological. It might not be the strongest defense, but I’m sticking to it.
Jessica Jones Episode 9: AKA Sin Bin
Just when Jessica has Kilgrave right where she want’s him. Hogarth’s involvement complicates the situation. Details of Kilgrave’s past emerge.
This was another remarkably tense episode.
– There are more details of Kilgrave’s origin unpacked here, and as I explained in the notes for episode 8, it has nothing in common with his comic book counterpart. That’s a good thing, of course.
For one thing, “Kilgrave” isn’t his name, it’s “Kevin Thompson.” This also explains why we never here any mention of his first name being “Zebediah” or anything similarly ridiculous. “Was Murdercorpse already taken?” Jessica cracks. Between exposing the name Kilgrave as exactly the kind of thing that a 14 year old boy would consider to be a cool pseudonym, and the perfect illustrations of Jessica’s youthful angst, this show just really “gets” how the teenage brain works.
– The idea that there were lots of kids being experimented on in different places around the world, and Reva Connors’ involvement/knowledge of at least some of them, implies a link to Luke Cage’s origin story. Could one of these young people be Jessica Drew, the future Spider-Woman? Could these experiments also encompass the origins of Cloak and Dagger, who would also fit nicely into the Marvel Netflix world? Time will tell, I suppose.
There is some precedent in both Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a great many ills coming from folks trying to deliberately give people super powers. Most of the time, unless you’re Captain America, you get ’em by accident if you’re a good guy…when they’re by design, they almost never work out. For anyone. See also: the Abomination in The Incredible Hulk film.
But speaking of super soldiers and things that never work out for anyone…
– Okay, we need to talk about Officer Simpson. While officially, Wil Traval is “Will Simpson” a character who doesn’t have any Marvel Comics counterpart, something about the way this episode ends, and his general drive to bring in his black ops past and skills to get rid of Kilgrave by any means necessary was our first clue. His traumatized ramblings about who “my boys are dead” was another one, and it’s a piece of dialogue right out of the comics pages.
“Frank Simpson” was Nuke, a traumatized soldier who became a failed super-soldier, and who appeared in the greatest Daredevil story of all time, and potential Daredevil season 3 or 4 story candidate, Daredevil: Born Again. I tried to dismiss this from my mind at first, and then this happened:
Nuke was created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and first appeared in Daredevil #232 in 1986. He’s popped up at various other points in Marvel Comics history, and assuming he survives Jessica Jones, he’s the kind of guy who could be a secondary or tertiary antagonist in a future Captain America movie. I’m not counting on that, though.
– There doesn’t appear to be any particular Marvel Comics parallel with the mysterious Dr. Koslov. Clearly, he’s a representative of the government, probably part of some program doing shady shit to try and duplicate the Captain America super soldier program. There’s a “Michael Kozlov” who appeared in Strange Tales #83 in 1961, and while that’s technically a Marvel publication, it has nothing to do with the Marvel Universe. In other words, unless that’s a fake name, we’re probably wasting our time trying to get answers about him.
– The way that Kilgrave…ahem…I mean KEVIN’s parents lived in fear of their child’s terrifying powers and catered to his every whim reminds me of classic Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life,” in which a boy who can read minds can also wish people away to a weird dimension called “the cornfield” and thus, ends up practically enslaving everybody he knows.
– When Jessica goes to pursue Kilgrave’s mother after she leaves the support group, it looks like we can spot a “Yost Cafe” in the background. This could be a coincidence, but Christopher Yost is a Marvel Comics writer who also wrote Thor: The Dark World, and is penning the script for Thor: Ragnarok.
– Jessica tells Malcolm that helping people feel better is his “superpower.” In a loose way, this ties into another piece of Brian Michael Bendis superhero writing. When Gwen Stacy was introduced in Bendis and Mark Bagley’s (note that Bagley also did some work on Alias, illustrating the sequences dealing with Jessica’s more colorful superheroic past) Ultimate Spider-Man, she was a bit of a tougher, more cynical character than the “girl next door” we usually associate with the name.
Anyway, in one particularly optimistic moment, she talks about how everyone has a superpower, it’s just a question of how you look at it. Are you really good at guitar? There you go. Can you rattle off obscure pieces of Marvel Comics trivia from memory and write about it in a way that makes people think you know what you’re talking about? Ummmm…maybe?
Ultimately, this may turn out to be the major theme of Jessica Jones. The world may not be black and white, but we all have the ability to make it better, even in tiny, incremental ways. You want to be a hero? Start by being nice to the people around you.
Jessica Jones Episode 10: AKA 1,000 Cuts
A discovery has the potential to change the entire game — if Jessica can refuse Kilgrave’s offer.
We’re still dealing with a number of issues related to Kilgrave’s origin and the Nuke revelation from the previous episode, so this might not be the most elegant way to present this information. In a perfect world, it all would have been in one place for everybody, but in order to keep from spoiling things for people just checking these updates as they watch for the first time, well…it’s the best I could come up with.
– For one thing, we have the talk about Kilgrave’s powers, if not Kilgrave himself, being “a virus.” The idea of this sort of thing being something that one can vaccinate against is a fair enough plot device, but it’s the “disease” element that keeps ringing a bell with me.
Throughout Jessica Jones, I keep feeling these familiar echoes of another famous villain: Dracula. Like Mina Harker, Jessica and her friends find themselves under the spell of a mysterious foreigner, who continues to cause all kinds of horror and chaos in their lives. It’s not the strongest of connections, I admit, but again, here we are with the “virus” issue.
So much of the original Dracula story by Bram Stoker can be read as a fear of foreigners and the notion that they would bring “disease” to polite society in the late Victorian era. It’s been spun around and twisted so many times, and it’s far from the only reading, but it’s there. Even the way vampirism spreads, through a bite, intimate contact reminiscent of sexual encounters (and note that an Kilgraved Trish “bites” Jess as self-defense in this episode, too), feels like it has a shadow in Kilgrave’s disgusting pursuit of his victims.
I’m not at all implying that Kilgrave actually is Dracula. It’s just something that jumped out at me about the way theyr’e treating him and structuring this story.
– Sgt. Simpson busts out his American Flag zippo lighter in this one, and as you saw from the above image of Nuke, that’s a big part of the character’s iconography. The flames remind me of the chaos that surrounded the character in Daredevil: Born Again, as well.
– Since we’re still talking about Nuke and what he means in general for the Marvel Universe, Kilgrave’s father, while discussing the drugs Simpson is using, points out that “there’s no pill for a conscience.” This echoes what has often been said about why the super soldier serum worked on someone as inherently good as Steve Rogers, but the effects wouldn’t be the same on anyone else.
In Captain America: The First Avengers, Dr. Erskine tells Steve Rogers that:
“The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows… compassion.”
This doesn’t mean that Simpson is a bad person, but he’s a soldier, a damaged one, and one who thanks to a career in black ops is trained specifically to solve problems by killing. It would appear that the “reds” he takes simply make that kind of battlefield pragmatism considerably more extreme in his interpersonal dealings. The mission is to get rid of Kilgrave, and he no longer cares what kind of collateral damage that causes.
– The Kilgrave fetus is in storage at Hammond Labs, which may be a reference to the place where young Robbie Baldwin once interned. Who was Robbie Baldwin and why should you care? He was the superhero known as Speedball, and that’s where he accidentally landed himself some super powers. Again: accidental powers = hero. Not accidental = not hero…most of the time.
Jessica Jones Episode 11: AKA I’ve Got the Blues
Jessica searches morgues for clues. Trish goes all out to keep Simpson from getting in Jessica’s way. Malcom has an epiphany.
– This is one of those episodes where you can see the police procedural roots of the show. Going to the morgue and lying to and/or bribing an attendant are such a staple of that genre. Except usually it happens like, once an episode or something. But this is still a nice example of Jessica Jones teasing out these tropes from other genres across multiple episodes. It’s great.
But, for real, when they do this stuff, I half expect Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu to be walking in as they’re walking out or something.
– I checked all the names on the list at the morgue, because I am a crazy person. None of them added up to any Marvel connections. Jonathan Chibnall and Michael Knue worked as editors on several episodes of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. That’s all I’ve got, folks.
– While Kilgrave has no particular power of people while they sleep, the anxiety about not wasting time sleeping (and the effect it’s having on everybody’s effectiveness) reminds me a little bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The original. Well, and maybe the kinda underrated 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy. Either one. Your pick.
– The “rock flautist” may not be anything Marvel, but I had to appreciate the faintly Ian Anderson groove she got into.
– They’re still teasing out Jessica’s origin here. In the comics, Jessica wasn’t adopted by Patsy Walker’s family or anyone other celebrity. Instead, she was taken in by a kindly, middle-aged couple. Not the Kents, either.
– We do get to see Trish’s “Patsy Walker” redhead wig. If Trish does go on to be a superhero, a red wig would be a fun part of the disguise. I’m not counting on it, though. But while we’re on the subject of Patsy as Hellcat…
Her dropping some of Simpson’s wacky super soldier drugs and then taking him on isn’t quite a superhero origin story, but it’s definitely the most badass we’ve seen her get, and we got to see her put her training to the test.
– There have been some hints that perhaps Luke Cage will need a new place of business, and could find work at Daredevil‘s perennially troubled Josie’s. He sure is going to need a new place to hang out after the events of this episode.
Jessica Jones Episode 12: AKA Take a Bloody Number
The hunt for Kilgrave reunites Jessica with Luke. Trish receives some unexpected information about Simpson and Jessica.
The episode title is a quote from Kilgrave, and it’s the first episode where we really get to see David Tennant be, well, David Tennant. There’s something to be said for the surprisingly frank and honest discussion he has with a mind-controlled Luke Cage about their feelings for Jessica. I mean, Kilgrave is still an inexcusable monster on every level, but it’s interesting to see all the different ways he just sees himself as a run-of-the-mill jilted suitor, and not the hideous rapist that he actually is.
– As far as I can tell, the company that the mysterious Doctor Koslov works for, IGH, doesn’t exist in the Marvel Universe. Well, I’m sure it does, but it doesn’t have any immediate or obvious parallels. It could be a branch of HYDRA or AIM or one of the shadowy divisions of SHIELD that does shit it isn’t supposed to, I guess.
Considering that they still haven’t filled in one major blank in Jessica’s origin story, that (according to the comics, at least) the truck her family slammed into was carrying some kind of chemical material that gave her powers. It’s interesting that they stopped short of filling in the rest of Jessica’s origin story with the moment of impact in the accident. We know as much about the origin of her powers as she does. Maybe this will be changed in favor of some shady experiments happening on Jessica while she’s in a coma, perhaps conducted by the same people experimenting on all the other kids we saw.
But if they were to go there, if IGH is the shadow company that’s been funding all these experiments, or is even tied to the mysterious Hand or Madam Gao from Daredevil, well, I just don’t know. Maybe IGH was carrying the radioactive waste that blinded Matt Murdock, too. Hell, if they’re gonna go down this road, they may as well make it TGRI from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
– When Koslov’s name comes up, Jessica jokes that she can only deal with “one big bad at a time.” Again, this could imply a potential future connection to The Defenders series (whenever that ends up finally happening), the same way that there were Iron Fist hints in Daredevil with the Steel Serpent logo on the heroin packets or Madame Gao’s otherworldy powers.
– Jessica also mentions that Luke “keeps hidden what he needs to hide.” Luke was keen to get away from his bar without talking to the cops, too. This is all an allusion to Luke’s early days, where he ran with a bad crowd and had more serious criminal ambitions.
– To the best of my knowledge the ZALK company also has no parallel in the Marvel Universe.
– Jessica makes a crack about “breeders” getting in her way in Central Park. As completely un-motherly as she may seem here, in the comics, Jessica and Luke marry and have a daughter.
– I had to chuckle that Jessica drinks a brand of whiskey called “Wild Fowl.” This is either the Marvel Universe equivalent of Wild Turkey, or it’s an off-brand Wild Turkey knock-off. I didn’t think shit could be as vile as Wild Turkey, so I can only imagine how bad “Wild Fowl” would be. On the other hand, I’m a dedicated Jack Daniels drinker, so I probably don’t have too much room to knock Jessica’s taste in booze.
– “If this is a severed body part of any kind, I’m going to be very upset.” That’s a sideways Wayne’s World joke, although the line was “severed head” in that flick.
– I’ve seen weirder shit happen at Webster Hall than a mind-controlling maniac making two superhumans fight each other. Trust me.
– The Jessica/Luke Cage throwdown is the obligatory Marvel Universe “it’s time for the heroes to fight each other (usually due to a misunderstanding) before finally kicking the crap out of the villain” moment. It’s a staple of the comics, and we’ve seen it play out in both Avengers films, Guardians of the Galaxy, and virtually every comic Marvel has ever put out.
Jessica Jones Episode 13: AKA Smile
Jessica and Luke get help from someone else in the neighborhood. Kilgrave gears up for a major test of powers against Jessica.
– There’s something really elemental from the absolute beginnings of superhero history about needles breaking on Luke Cage’s skin. I’ll tell you why…
The first words spoken by Superman in his very first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938 were “Try again, doc!” as a frustrated doctor broke a hypodermic needle on his unbreakable skin. When you consider Luke Cage’s powers, that he’s unnaturally strong and has unbreakable skin and then add in Jessica’s awkward jumping/flying thing (and I bet Luke can jump pretty goddamn high if he puts is mind to it), you basically have the complete power set that Superman had in his earliest appearances.
– Of course, we get Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple in this episode. There are still rumblings that Claire is no longer “Night Nurse” in this universe (because that character may or may not be slated for other big screen plans), but whatever, she is who she is, and this is a perfectly organic way to bring in specific elements from Daredevil without making Jessica Jones feel like a 13 hour long commercial for future or past Marvel products.
From a slightly nerdier standpoint, though, this is her first meeting with Luke Cage. In the comics, Claire and Luke dated for a bit. When she was introduced on Daredevil I thought that might be a fairly easy way to connect the two, but this is clearly their first meeting.
– Brian Michael Bendis once wrote a Jessica Jones/Luke Cage story in the comics that dealt specifically with Luke getting seriously injured, and his unbreakable skin preventing him getting medical attention. This played out in the pages of Jessica’s second, slightly less curse word heavy, series, The Pulse, during a tie in to the Secret War (singular) mini-series.
– Kilgrave’s childish crapola about how he will torment Jessica once he has control over her again is that he will “reject her and devastate her over and over,” which sounds an awful lot like how he tortured her in the Alias comics (see entry up above). What a stupid evil purple dildo this guy is, right?
– When Kilgrave takes the treatment to give him ultimate power, we do see his skin briefly turn purple. That’s as much as we’re going to get as far as that goes, although you see it happen briefly when he gives a particularly strong command later in the episode, as well.
– Justin Boden doesn’t seem to exist in the Marvel Comics universe, but the fact that the yacht is named “Goldfish” is kind of significant. Before he wrote for Marvel, Brian Michael Bendis wrote and drew some excellent crime comics, one in particular is called Goldfish. It’s absolutely worth a read.
– I’ll try not to be one of those people who piles on Man of Steel at every opportunity (and note that I gave it a favorable spot in my ranking of all the Superman movies), but Jessica breaking Kilgrave’s neck makes considerable sense. The show did everything possible to establish him as a completely incorrigible threat, right down to her attempts to rehabilitate him.
– We end with Malcolm answering Jessica’s phone. None of the messages on her phone correspond to any of the Alias cases that weren’t filmed for the show. Even though screen Malcolm is nothing at all like annoying teenager comic book Malcolm, that version did occasionally answer Jessica’s phone for her, much to her annoyance.
Oh, and some parting notes.
– Trish survives, and assuming she’s going to continue on her current path, I figure she’ll be involved in The Defenders in some capacity. Whether she gets a costume or not as Hellcat remains to be seen. I’d say it’s unlikely. The only folks on that team that will probably be in costume are Daredevil and maybe Iron Fist.
– Sgt. Simpson is still alive out there somewhere, which means when Daredevil finally gets around to adapting Born Again (and seriously, in some form, this has to happen!), he’s available. This is both chilling and awesome.
That ending? “Alias Investigations, how can we help?” Wow. Remember what I said about Jessica telling Malcolm that his superpower is basically kindness? Well that’s your superpower, too. Use it wisely.
So, now it’s up to you, internet! Help keep me honest. Tell me what I missed either here in the comments or gimme a yell on Twitter, and I’ll keep updating this list with stuff as it gets verified! Expect lots of updates…