Jessica Jones: Full Series Discussion
November 28, 2015 7:24 PM - Subscribe

The second in Marvel's Netflix series about gritty NYC superheroes, revolving around a superpowered woman and her fight against a mind-controlling supervillain.
posted by Greg Nog (121 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
So mainly I was surprised by how much less good this was than everyone seemed to be saying it was
posted by Greg Nog at 7:26 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's a bit of unevenness to it, but on the whole, the show remained strong and decidedly atypical in its treatment of the characters and superhero tropes. There's a lot of meaty subtext about abuse, survival, and being a woman in a man's world when dealing with all that.

I was really impressed with the low key climax. Superhero stories usually call for big and spectacular punch outs or shoot outs. But the series stayed true to its street level and personable environment by making it about the people first and their particular quirks.

Curious to see what they'd do with a second season.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on November 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


I felt there was an occasional disconnect, and I think I know what it was. The series feels like a gritty drama. It's shot that way, acted that way, directed that way. But it's written as a gritty comic book. So you sometimes get ridiculously melodramatic lines coming out of the character's mouths, and if you've been lulled into not thinking of it as a comic book it sounds really wooden. If you keep in mind what it was actually created as, I found it goes down a lot easier.
posted by figurant at 7:46 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I gave up on this. I can't suspend disbelief for this show for whatever reason.

Also, I just think Daredevil was better. Better shot, felt like it was paced better, and I really thought the Kingpin was a cool villain, unlike "Mr smug serial-killerpants who you secretly like/hate". Daredevil felt like a slightly more... expensive show? There were a number of points in this show where it felt like the character should do a slightly superhero thing, but instead just... climbed a ladder instead of jumping up or whatever.

I feel like there should be a note somewhere in the film school textbook that says "try to avoid filming people climbing ladders from the side. It just looks stupid for some reason."
posted by selfnoise at 8:02 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did think the Kilgrave stuff dragged out a little too much, and I still think Simpson's back and forth between villain and hero was not handled well, but on the whole, I really liked this! And I never even finished Daredevil b/c it was the same old boring superhero fighty stuff. It was just such a refreshing change to me. Of course I'm biased, since Alias is one of my all-time favorite comics (except for the terrible art).
posted by leesh at 8:42 PM on November 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


This was a great 6-episode series stretched out to 13.

And I truly don't understand why. Netflix can do whatever the heck they want. Why not drop this down to fewer episodes? Why do 13 when there clearly wasn't enough story for that? Would have been cheaper to produce, and so much better.

I am, however, glad we finally got a decent-if-not-great Superhero show with a female lead. There are way too few of those.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:51 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed this show, but I have some nitpicks with it. What are those, you ask? Why, here are a couple:

When she first goes investigating the disappearance of Hope Schlottman, she goes to her apartment (no good info except that Hope is with a guy), then the lingerie store, the men's clothing store, and the restaurant. It's not until she arrives at the restaurant that she begins to make the connection to Kilgrave. But wouldn't she have recognized a pattern at least by the men's clothing store? Or wouldn't she recognize the address of the restaurant even before she got there? Or wouldn't someone at one either of the two clothing stores have mentioned, "Yes, she was with a British man and everyone did whatever he wanted for some reason"? I guess maybe Kilgrave sent Hope to these places alone, but I doubt it; he seems like he'd want to be there for her purchasing of the lingerie, to make sure it matches his taste, and ditto with her purchasing "the Gift", which I assume to be a gift from her for him from the men's clothing store, but of his choosing (of course).

Furthermore, I'm not sure that Jessica shouldn't have realized that he was still alive much earlier -- as in, pretty immediately after the bus accident. Trish mentions early on (ep. 1) that Jessica's seen a death certificate for Kilgrave, but how did she get hold of it? It's mentioned in ep. 2 that Dr. David Kurata forged it, so wouldn't she have been onto his name much earlier? You'd think that she would have checked out the person who signed their name to Kilgrave's death certificate way earlier. Or that she would have heard about the ambulance driver who fled the scene of the bus accident and disappeared for 3 weeks and then was found with his kidneys missing and investigated... And wouldn't the death certificate also say where the person died, or have some sort of hospital information attached to it? Maybe not, but you'd think it would have been much easier to track down the hospital that he supposedly went to after the bus accident. So, did she just not know about this stuff earlier, or did she just not follow it up? If the former, then she's not a great PI, if the latter, then she's not a great PI and she's in tragic denial.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:15 PM on November 28, 2015


I enjoyed it. Jessica got to be edgy and obnoxious and damaged, while the show made it clear that just brooding in her Office Apartment of Solitude was not going to get her anywhere, which is a welcome change from a lot of superhero shenanigans. She and Luke make a good pair, too, in which he's decidedly the saner one, and I normally hate romance subplots, so kudos on that front to the writers/actors. I generally think the B-plots were handled better on this show than on Daredevil (at least up until it focused on the twin sister, anyway) because I cared more about the side characters than I ever cared about Karen or Ben's nonsense in DD. Trish actually tried to do something the majority of the time to further her goals, even if it didn't work, and I'm glad she wasn't just stuck being a damsel.

That said, I think there were way too many rounds where one person brings up entirely sensible objections and is just shouted down/overruled because... well, because otherwise the show would've ended sooner, I guess? Off the top of my head, capturing Kilgrave as opposed to just killing him (which would've saved a heck of a lot of destruction), torturing Kilgrave for legal proof of his powers/a confession (which is quite reasonably pointed out to be both awful and putting him under duress, which makes it all inadmissible in court), the twin sister deciding to attack Jessica with some of the support group because... life wasn't hard enough for Jessica, I guess? I know I'm forgetting a few more that just seemed like implausible Idiot Ball time.

Also, the end fight had exactly as much strategic planning and teamwork as the first several times she went up against Kilgrave, which made it seem like kind of a lame victory.
posted by tautological at 10:29 PM on November 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was disappointed by the end of this series. I agree with tautological that the last fight with kilgrave felt like a lame victory and there was an awful lot of idiot ball passing near the end. I started off really enjoying it and just felt more disappointed as each episode went on. I really TRIED to keep liking it, but by the end....not so much.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:11 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just wanted her to punch Kilgrave in the throat all the time so he couldn't speak and use his powers. Which would have been extremely useful at the police station where all the cops were there to witness his powers. Or why didn't anyone think of using earplugs around him. But I'm only up to episode 10 and I'm hoping there's some later throat punching and earplug usage coming up.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:17 PM on November 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Spoilers herein.


I agree that it started stronger than it finished, but I still thought it was pretty darn great. I enjoyed it a lot more than Daredevil, interestingly, which I found rather flat and too gratuitous and a little cliched. I thought Rytter was terrific, and I loved loved loved the allegory of Kilgrave as abuser, as ur-chauvinist, gamer-gater etc etc. I thought it was terrifically long. I thought Jones' obvious trauma, alcoholism etc did a nice job of explaining away her terrible decision making, eg why she didn't kill kilgrave right away - Hope was a symbol of Jessica's own ravaged innocence, and an attempt to exonerate her, Jessica's own redemption. Of course, Hope's suicide the ultimate demonstration that you cannot come back.

I thought the Simpson plotline could have been handled better. I liked what they did with him, but they should have made it more clear that he and Kilgrave were two sides of the coin - his patronising dismisal of Tricia and Jessica, the insistence that a man could take care of it/understand better/etc etc was the same kind of chauvinism that powered Kilgrave. I thought the subtext got a little messy along with the plotting at the end.

Loved the acting, loved how it was shot, loved (mostly) the script. Looking forward to Luke Cage now, that's for sure!
posted by smoke at 11:22 PM on November 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


I feel like a lot of people saw Jessica's ill-thought-out attempts at capturing Kilgrave, and his (admittedly, occasionally improbable) narrow escapes, and decided that this was just the writers' way of stretching out the confrontation unnecessarily. And I think that's wrong, and I think a lot of people really haven't grasped Jessica's motivations clearly. Basically, if you approach the show thinking Jessica's goal is:

-Defeat Kilgrave!

Then yeah, a lot of her behavior is weirdly illogical bad-decision-making that you can blame on some combination of the character's drinking and the writers' theoretical need to pad out the length of the show. Because, you know, she should've just done the math and figured out Kilgrave was alive and needed killing much sooner and just killed him. Boom, sniper rifle from 1000 yards out. Or whatever. Ultra-efficient ruthless killer Jessica could probably wrap up the whole Kilgrave problem in 15 minutes; lord knows if it was Nick Fury or Black Widow handling it instead of Jessica Jones, the whole thing wouldn't take long enough to be a Marvel One-Shot. But the thing is, that isn't Jessica. "Defeat Kilgrave" is not her primary goal. Her primary goal, although never explicitly spelled out, is:

-Feel good about herself again, after being raped and unimaginably violated and made into a murderer.

And she doesn't have any idea how to do that. And much of the rest of the show is various explorations of different ideas about how to come to terms with having been raped and violated and forced to kill, how to feel good about yourself again after that. And there isn't a simple, good answer for that, and the show doesn't give her one. Everything from the obvious "drink way too much", to support groups, to saving other people, to getting vindicated by society, to getting forgiven by people you hurt, even "try to redeem your rapist", all get touched on but none of it quite works for her.

She's not really a hero. She cares so much about saving Hope precisely because she sees herself in Hope - if Hope can get a happy ending, so can Jessica. If Hope can be found not guilty of murder because she was under Kilgrave's influence, then by extension, Jessica could finally (she hopes) feel like she too was not guilty of murder.

But it all fails. In the end, she gets forced by Kilgrave to kill someone, again. Only this time it's Kilgrave himself that she has no choice but to murder. The rest of the world may think she's a hero, but the main goal she had when the show began, she failed at. She still hates herself. Maybe more than ever. (Watch her wrestling with feeling like she deserves to be in jail, when Hogarth is getting her off from murdering Kilgrave at the end.)

So yeah. This show is not about Jessica fighting Kilgrave and doing it stupidly and taking a long, padded-out time to reach the inevitable good-guy-defeats-bad-guy ending. It's about Jessica struggling to find a way out of her predicament by trying to do literally anything else except being a murderer again, and ultimately failing.

Which, admittedly, is a weird thing for a show about a comic book character. Comic book stuff pretty much always has a very laid-back attitude about violence; Daredevil and the Avengers kill random mooks by the truckload without making much effort to acknowledge it, let alone find another solution, and yet for this narrative to make sense you have to accept a hero that finds the idea of murdering anyone, no matter how vile, to be horrifying. Because here Jessica's going to impossible, tragically doomed lengths to avoid one death, and that one death is of a horrifying monster whose own parents want him dead. It's much more a classic noir story than a superhero story, in that respect ("tortured private eye tries to escape past, can't" with a strong side of calling-out-rape-culture's-BS). One of the only structural problems is that it does clash with the superhero-y aspects of the narrative in some spots - Jessica has this huge problem with murder but she's pretty damn casual about non-fatal violence in fairly typical superhero fashion. The Avengers can justify their violence because they're saving the entire world; Daredevil is saving Hell's Kitchen (and wrestles with it but is ultimately willing to sacrifice his soul); but Jessica Jones has not really demonstrated a coherent philosophy behind drawing such a hard-and-fast line at murder but severe beatings are A-OK. (Still more coherent than Arrow lately though!)

This is not to say that I don't have nitpicks. The cinematography, though it had its moments, was not on Daredevil's level (neither was the sound editing or the fight choreography, but both of those things are more important to Daredevil than they are here). Officer Simpson's partial transformation into Nuke was pretty abrupt and got kind of short-changed by a lack of time, I think. I still sorta feel like we spent too much time on Hogarth's personal life, relative to its importance to the story. And her bad plan with decoy-Trish at the end was just sort of inexplicably a bad plan. But those are really just nitpicks. It was an excellent show, and a very different narrative to anything else in the MCU.

I don't have any idea how they're going to mesh this show and this character with Luke Cage (if they do) or The Defenders or for that matter, what Season 2 is going to look like, but I'm certainly very curious and looking forward to all of them.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:56 PM on November 28, 2015 [102 favorites]


So I've only just watched the first episode, so I haven't read the comments yet, but I just want to say, before I forget, that this show is the first superhero movie/show/whatever to capture the feeling of jumping in to reading an ongoing comic book series. There is obviously a ton of backstory that you have missed, but it just makes the characters more interesting and real, and it makes you want to learn more, rather than putting you off. Really looking forward to the rest of the series.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:31 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, I'm not sure that Jessica shouldn't have realized that he was still alive much earlier -- as in, pretty immediately after the bus accident. Trish mentions early on (ep. 1)

Gotta disagree with you there. I'm re-watching from the beginning today and here's what I noticed.

20 minutes into the first episode, she visits the roommate and gets Hope's credit card bill. She then visits the lingerie shop, then the restaurant. Once there, she recognizes the place. She immediately runs to the parents and asks who referred them to her. The parents mention that the referrer had an English accent and she instantly warns them to get out of town right now and then she tries to do the same. But she doesn't have money, can't steal it off Hope's card and can't get paid by Jeri for a few days, so THEN she goes to Trish. That's the first time we meet Trish.

At Trish's, Jessica tells Trish that Kilgrave is back. Trish doesn't believe her, but Jessica is absolutely and totally convinced and wants to get the hell out of town. She convinces Trish that Kilgrave is back because his one month anniversary ritual, then Trish believes her.

So Jessica figure it out pretty quick, imo. I'm not surprised she didn't recognize the restaurant by the address, as how many of us, especially in today's smartphone age, really remember the address of places?


All that said, I do wish the show hadn't done voice overs. Ritters reading of them of clunky and distracting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:53 AM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Man, Metafilter is a tough crowd. This was excellent. Not uniformly excellent, of course, but overall it was the best new show of the last season by a large margin.

I thought the beginning of the season was better than Daredevil, the late-middle was a bit weaker, and the ending was about the same. So roughly as good though it then gets some extra points for being less typical Marvel fare. Not that Daredevil was typical, precisely, but it was more traditional fighty-based superhero while this was quite original.
posted by Justinian at 9:55 AM on November 29, 2015 [23 favorites]


I thought it was great, and only a few things pulled me out of it a bit. I feel like the husband of the woman Jessica was forced to kill being another super strong powered person was a crazy coincidence, unless Luke's origin gets tied into the experiments that produced Kilgrave. But it isn't tied in within the series so it feels like a reach.

Also, I wish they firmly hammered home that this took place at a time when SHIELD and HYDRA were very occupied, like maybe during the Sokovia business, because there should have been interference from them left and right after Hope's story went public.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:05 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Presumably in Luke's series, or maybe S2 of Jessica Jones, we'll see more about what was going on with Reva and Kilgrave. Why did Luke's wife have the video of Kilgrave and the other children being experimented on? Presumably she was trying to find information about how Luke got his powers (he mentions that it was an experiment), and came across information about Kilgrave in the process, so maybe we'll learn more about that backstory later.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:23 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


But will Luke and Jessica get together as a couple, that's the big question! The whole "I was mindcontrolled and killed your wife, then didn't mention it for a while and then you were mindcontrolled and tried to kill me, so I shot you in the head" is helluva thing to get past.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I watched the whole thing the first day it was available, so I s'pose my feelings about it are not hard to figure out. Some particulars:

* As has been mentioned before, the cinematography was not up to Daredevil's standards. (Daredevil really set a new bar for direction and fight choreography for the whole of the MCU, IMO.)

* I feel like the ending was stronger than Daredevil's. In Daredevil, Murdoch loses the awesome black ninja outfit in favor of the horrible new costume. More importantly, Kingpin loses all his shades of gray in favor of embracing his role as a tired supervillain cliche. I found their final conflict extremely disappointing, especially in light of what a complex figure Fisk had been up until that point. I'm hoping that all turns out to be Fisk having a bad day, and him finding his way toward believing he's the good guy, next time he comes up.

Here... everybody knew what would happen in a direct confrontation between Jessica Jones and Kilgrave, *even Kilgrave*. It's part of why he thought she was so hot: he liked to flirt with situations that were personally dangerous, as long as it never got too real. That's a recurring, subtle theme with him: he sort of enjoys being knocked out, he's a sports fan, and Jones' powers are specifically why he's intrigued with her.

Her situation with him does not mirror the traditional conflict between a superhero and their opposite number, where one is shiny good and one is shiny bad, and they're dark mirrors of some sort to one another. It more closely resembles many abusive relationships, wherein people outside the relationship spend ages and ages trying to persuade an abused partner to just *leave*, but the abused party can't until they're ready to accept that there's nothing to salvage. In this case, everybody wants her to just *kill him*, as she's the one with the best ability to do so, but she's not willing to let go without personal redemption in the form of redeeming Hope, (as was explained wonderfully above - couldn't have said it better than mstokes650).

* I really love that she never puts on a costume, and is never formally closeted about her powers. I loved Daredevil, but I've seen enough narratives about a person who wants 'to become a symbol' to clean up the streets. I've never really bought into that notion, and only really give DD a pass on it because they get into *why* I don't like that: it seems to me like a lot of people aren't going to trust a vigilante. (Having Foggy espouse that loudly and cogently was a help.)

Jones comes across as more grown up for not bothering, and just using the tools at her disposal as best she is able, whether that means her detective skills or her ability to lift a car off the ground.

* I agree with smoke's assessment of Simpson's storyline: it was thematically appropriate, but was not handled very well. Him snapping after taking combat stims was really heavy-handed, and reminded me of nothing so much as Buffy's "Beauty and the Beasts," (which I was also not fond of).

* MCU Luke Cage was awesome. Them meeting looks like a hell of a coincidence, but it seems to me that his wife's investigation doesn't have to be linked to Cage's powers. It would've been a promising lead even if it hadn't panned out, if only because Jones does have a superficially similar power set and the dirt wasn't buried too deeply.

I also think the fact that they both experienced Kilgrave's powers makes it more likely for them to reconcile, not less - Cage has some understanding of what Jones went through now, and some idea of how ashamed she'd be of it. I feel like them getting together without that would be a lot more far-fetched than after. (She's certainly not going to hold him accountable for trying to bust her head open.)

* I enjoyed Kilgrave as the Ultimate Nice Guy. It made perfect sense for him to tell himself he was doing people a favor, and to even go to pains to make it *look* like he was to the very shallowest of observation. It really made him click for me in a way that he didn't when he was just a shadowy flashback presence, (although I thought their depiction of PTSD was very good). I also liked that he was smart in the use of his powers, the same as Jones, right down to working on augmenting himself when he was truly endangered.

* I agree that Hogarth got too much screen time relative to her importance to the narrative. That said, I enjoyed seeing so many of the important players here being female. It's something that both JJ and AoS have been doing a good job with, IMO, and I *really* hope it carries over to the movies.

... I have more thoughts about this, but I have probably hogged enough pixels. Tl;dr, loved the whole thing despite some spots it could've been better.
posted by mordax at 11:51 AM on November 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


So having finished the series last night, I've been kinda mulling it over; some of these thoughts are a little half-formed, but I think this is my general reaction. Overall, I would not really recommend this show to any of my friends, I think.

There were a lot of things the series did that I liked, and a lot that I wanted to like, but which felt like they kind of fell apart in the execution.

WHAT DID I LIKE?

It was rad that it was a superhero show that had so many woman characters, and women who are actually friends, whose love for each other is a driving force for the whole narrative. The climactic scene being structured around Jessica saving Trish was such a nice departure from the standard romantic impetus, and I likewise enjoyed the flashbacks to earlier moments in their friendship (when Jessica first comes to live with Trish and she's cold as hell in the car ride, when they're hanging out in that bar where Jessica's complaining about her string of bad day-jobs). Those flashbacks made me feel like I woulda loved to have seen the characters in a Smallville-type JJ/Patsy teen dramedy where Jessie's first learning about her powers.

I also liked how many nonwhite characters there were; this might be the most New York City looking cast I've ever seen for a show that takes place in New York City. And there was a pretty good spread of shallow and deep and boring and interesting character traits across all racial lines, so it didn't feel like the show was Really About the white people primarily, with token-minority little side-characters of color to kind of round it out; that was definitely a vibe I got when watching Daredevil.

I liked that so much of the show revolved around PTSD and the extended effects of trauma; the show begins right in the middle of someone's long, crappy recovery, and it doesn't shy away from realism; Jessica's trauma isn't something that's ennobled her, making her stronger and more vengeful. It's just fucking shitty. Everything's just fucking shitty. She's trying to make her life less shitty, but that's hard when everything's shitty. It's a much much much better take on trauma than I usually see in fiction. I liked that.

And I dig that they tried to go for a mystery-solving noir kind of feel, as I like noir mysteries, I like hardboiled gumshoes, I like the whole hard-drinking hard-brawling growling trampled badass trope. But so hey here's a thing I didn't like:

NOT GOOD AT NOIR

The show was shot like Gossip Girl or something; lots of clear bright shadeless boring lighting, no real savoring of the griminess that I associate with noir. Like, Jessica's apartment is beat to shit, but it's just long shot after long shot of "there's a hole in the door", being used less as texture and more as establishing shot. It feels less Maltese Falcon, more One Tree Hill. This seems weirdly nitpicky except that the show KEEPS TRYING to highlight how classic noir it is, from the tropes surrounding the character to the terrible voiceovers. Which:

THE WRITING IS NOT SO GOOD

"They say everybody's born a hero" Jessica gravely informs us in the final monologue. No, they don't. No one says that. Literally no one has ever said that. Go on and take a second to google it, even. The show would periodically shoot off these weird little nonsense phrases that presumably are meant to sound knowing, but are just weird-ass pastiches of "gritty" that sound like parody. The dialogue frequently feels flat, rarely funny or idiosyncratic or sad, just kind of workmanlike. This was ALSO a thing I thought about Daredevil, which used a lot of boring old hacky tropes like "We're not so different, you and I, even though you're the hero and i'm the villain, and who's the REAL villain, don't you think?"

But Daredevil managed to pull off the not-good writing in part because it was so visually interesting, and in part because so many of the actors developed really compelling ways of reading their dialogue. Murdock and Fisk and Claire would frequently find incredibly interesting ways to deliver their lines that spoke volumes of subtext, and it kept me fascinated even when the actual dialogue was something like "I guess there's a... Daring Devil... in ALL of us." Foggy and Karen in Daredevil were not so good at that, I thought, but I could grudgingly sit through their scenes to get back to the three acting-chops pillars of the series.

In JJ, the only actor who consistently fascinated me was Eka Darville's Malcolm, who not only was great at finding really interesting line readings on the micro level (his final conversation with Robyn was lovely, and you could kind of see the gears in his head turning as he's trying to figure out how exactly he can be kindest to this lunatic after he disposed of her brother's body), but also on the macro level, he managed to keep a believable unified persona despite the show's scripts yanking his character all over the place, from drug-addled ghoul to cold-turkey trainspotter to helpful friend to nascent social worker. So I thought he was great, and was the exception to:

THE ACTING IS NOT SO GOOD

Krysten Ritter felt flat and boring to me, switching between Pissed to Scared to Petulant to I Am Drunk with occasional Don't Trust The B In Apt 23 glee in a couple of the flashbacks. Increasingly, as I watched the show, I wondered if I could shoot a shot-for-shot remake using a Krysten Ritter puppet in lieu of a human; I think I could! She communicated so little emotion beyond what could be contained in a parenthetical direction in a script that says "(angrily)" before each dialogue line.

Luke Cage also felt kinda flat to me (though I'm gonna be honest, I really dug him mostly because I think I'm just desperate for a good Superman movie, and Mike Colter plays him with the kind of gigantic amiable self-assuredness that I think would make him like my number one choice to play Superman)

For the most part, the boring acting just feels like a missed opportunity, but it becomes actively galling when a scene requires some nuance, like Trish talking about Jessica and Luke's great chemistry, when, dude, TV show, we JUST saw them together onscreen and they have the romantic chemistry of two socks that got accidentally stuck together in the dryer.

THERE'S SO MUCH FILLER

The Lawyer Divorce stuff felt unnecessary, the capturing-Kilgrave-whoa-he-escaped repetitions felt unnecessary, the Simpson pseudo-super-soldier stuff felt WAY unnecessary, like the kind of thing you do to a fourth-rate side character after 80 issues of a comic when you've run out of ideas. The whole series felt really... uneconomical. I think it could've been a pretty good miniseries or even move, but jesus, by the end, it felt like finishing a plate of leftovers that's been in my fridge for a week.

I've mentioned really liking Avatar The Last Airbender on mefi before, and I think one of that show's greatest strengths is that so much of it feels like it kind of unravels from first premises. Here's edbles describing it really succinctly:
You know that nerd thing you do with a show where you discuss how the world works and operates? And discuss what's motivating the characters and challenge decisions the characters make? This show actively rewards you for having those conversations and addresses them, that's what's so great about the writing.

To bring up another show I really love: in Better Call Saul, so much of the plot seems to kind of unspool from each new decision the characters make, and it feels like a huge slow Rube Goldberg machine where every new thing comes from what just happened. JJ just felt like someone was periodically running out to a vending machine full of plot-points, then running back into the writer's room and spreading them onto a table so the writers could figure out which one to use next. It was completely unlike Avatar's "rewarding you for having these conversations", because it just kept wildly stuffing more crap into the runtime instead of answering questions that naturally arise from watching the show, like:

WHAT ARE THE SUPERPOWERS? WHY IS EVERYONE SO BAD AT USING THEM? WHY ARE THEY ALL SO DUMB?

Jessica can hold her own in a fight against the nigh-invulnerable Luke Cage, she effortlessly snap hardened steel with a flick of her wrist, she can jump over buildings in a single bound and land without damage after falling several stories. But then a van full of goons can apparently take her out like she was just someone moderately good at a martial art, and she periodically gets cut/scratched/low-level-bloody.

I know it's the height of Comic-Book-Guy nerdery to be like "UMMMM, EXACTLY HOW MANY POUNDS OF PRESSURE PER SQUARE INCH DOES IT TAKE TO PIERCE HER SKIN?" but like, her-having-superpowers is kind of a major plot-point, and if you're gonna keep highlighting that, it would be good for me as an audience member to have some idea whether any given fight is supposed to be suspenseful, or if my expectations should be "Ah, she'll be okay, it's just a bunch of bodyguards in a car and she's a Hulk who can run a four-minute-mile." Few of the combat scenes set up and then either fulfilled or twisted my expectations; so, expectationless, I just kind of waited to see what would happen.

And that kind of detachment from a predicted outcome was particularly irritating in that the fights weren't all that emotionally-impactful to watch. Daredevil's fights feel brutal; every time he gets hit, you get the sense he might be going down, and every time he hits someone, you get the sense that they're gonna be recovering in a cast for weeks. They swing between gorgeously balletic and terribly gruesome. In JJ, the fight choreography just felt like a bunch of kelp colliding in a gentle ocean current. The boring fight choreography felt like an extension of the boring cinematography and the boring acting; the script says "They fight," so we shot a fight. Nothing too novel, no love of nuance or texture; just a fight.

Also: why doesn't she use her powers more? The show keeps bringing up how she can jump so high it's essentially like flying, but she almost always approaches stuff from the ground, running around like a regular person instead of leaping over obstacles or onto antagonists. Is she just too stupid to figure out she can go over stuff? It's hard for me not to bring this up, given HOW OFTEN they talk about her jumping abilities, and how frequently Daredevil parkoured his way across the city when roads weren't an option.

Other questions about is she just stupid or what:

WHY DOESN'T SHE WEAR EARPLUGS. WHY DOESN'T SHE PULL OUT KILGRAVE'S TONGUE. WHY DOESN'T SHE TIE UP THE SERVANTS SO THEY CAN'T KILL THEMSELVES. WHY DOESN'T SHE JUST DUCT TAPE KILGRAVE'S MOUTH SHUT. WHY DOESN'T SHE CARRY A GUN IF SHE'S GONNA GET BEAT UP SO MUCH. WHY DOES SHE THINK YOU CAN GET INTO A SUPERMAX PRISON BY NIGHTFALL WHEN SHE PRESUMABLY KNOWS ENOUGH BASIC INFO ABOUT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM TO BE A PRIVATE DICK. WHY IS SHE SUCH A BAD PRIVATE DICK

HEY HOW'S THE PTSD STUFF

Well, it starts pretty well. Jessica's living her life and trying to get past this really awful assault, and it's sort of constantly floating around the edges of her life, making her by turns angry and scared and nervous. She's getting through it the best she can, but it's difficult, and frequently results in her self-sabotaging as she drives away anyone who tries to help.

But by Episode Seven or so, when Kilgrave becomes a bigger part of the story, that all kind of fades into a more standard hero-versus-villain narrative, and the interesting psychological repercussions that started in the first episodes kind of take a backseat.

HOW'S THE RAPE STUFF HANDLED

I dunno. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, overall. I think fictional narratives about rape tend to be pretty difficult to do well, but it's not impossible. But I don't think this show really pulls it off. David Tennant plays Kilgrave with gusto, going for a real scenery-chewing vibe, and I just think that makes him seem too "fun," to be honest. If I want to be generous to Tennant, I would say he's making a very conscious acting choice, in that he plays Kilgrave almost identically to how he played Doctor Who, and that's kind of a clever intertextual reference as far as saying "Hey, this handsome omnipotent charismatic man who's promising to whisk you away to a world of wonders? Maybe he does not have your best interests in mind. Maybe instead of letting him be a romantic hero, you should be, like, really scared of that kind of dude."

But ultimately, that interpretation doesn't do enough to distance him from being a Cool character. I think the show runs even closer to the Rorschach Problem than Watchmen did; after Watchmen came out, Alan Moore was gobsmacked by how many readers seemed to love Rorschach. He'd meant for the character to be this emotionally-stunted, ugly, morally-overly-black-and-white indictment of grimdark comic book heroes, but many readers thought Rorschach was just the bee's knees. I worry that Tennant's moustache-twirling over-the-top-ness is going to be similarly received, and he's gonna accrue a "The Guy Ya Love Ta Hate!" vibe among fans who subsequently gifset the shit out of his gleeful villainy online. More succinctly: someone on twitter had recently said something along the lines of "Not looking forward to seeing Purple Man cosplay after this."

So ultimately, the show tries to have both a delightfully-wicked cartoonishly-fierce Bond-type supervillain, and then simultaneously tries to be solemnly realistic about dealing with being raped, and I just don't think those two vibes mesh very well in how the show finally shakes out.

I guess that's all I have to say except for small suspension-of-disbelief thing:

I suppose I can buy that somehow an airborne virus can spread through an entire theatre instantly enough to allow it to affect everyone there. I suppose I can buy that a mob boss, rather than relying on his goombas to enforce things through brute strength, is himself The Most Jacked Dude In The Series. I cannot buy that if you rip off someone's arms and the stumps are raw with like bones and stuff sticking out, that person is still JUUUUUST alive enough to give the hero a little bit of extra advice before expiring. That is... that is just too Monty Python Black Knight, TV show. arms and blood don't work that way
posted by Greg Nog at 12:58 PM on November 29, 2015 [28 favorites]


Oh come on, you HAVE to give a hand for that bit, it was great!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jessica can hold her own in a fight against the nigh-invulnerable Luke Cage, she effortlessly snap hardened steel with a flick of her wrist, she can jump over buildings in a single bound and land without damage after falling several stories. But then a van full of goons can apparently take her out like she was just someone moderately good at a martial art, and she periodically gets cut/scratched/low-level-bloody.

I get the feeling that, because she's so strong, she never learned how to fight. She just throws wild punches. Plus, those guys tasered her like 20 times, and it put her down for maybe 15 seconds when it would have killed other people.

She does seem pretty damage resistant, and she heals very quickly. A bullet in the shoulder doesn't even slow her down, and being hit by a truck going must have been 60 kmh basically just bruises her and she's able to walk away where a normal personal would have been mush. The showdown with Cage happens maybe a day or two after she's too hurt to fight Simpson, and she's at full strength then.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Jessica has power, but not much skill. She's probably never needed it in her life, as the sheer power has been enough to deal with people. Curious to see if she'll get training in the future.

But yeah, a bunch of goons with tasers was able to give her enough trouble so that they could grab Kilgrave. I don't think they did her any damage, just slowed her down. Which makes sense, numbers can be overwhelming, especially for an untrained fighters.

Now Luke? He fought like he had training. More invulnerable than Jessica, but strength wise they seemed matched.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I also really enjoyed this, while still getting frustrated at some of the places where the plotting fell down. I enjoyed most of DD, but at a certain point stopped watching for a while - not sure if it was because I eventually got worn down by the (very good but very frequent) fight scenes or if the characters weren't doing it for me. I watched the last few eps with some judicious fast-forwarding. JJ, on the other hand, I watched over the course of the weekend, always interested in where things were going and what was going to happen next.

It's a fair point that it's not a perfectly constructed series: her lawyer's plotline was interesting but got too much play, even though it was woven back into the story in an interesting way. Jessica's plans aren't well-thought-out, which can partly be ascribed to the fact that she's struggling through trauma, but I get tired at the very cliched "We have to follow my plan, it's the only way" kind of bullheaded stuff heroes tend to have to spout especially when it becomes evident that her plan is not exactly developed. Kooky Alive Twin's incitement of the mob of survivors to attack Jessica made no sense at all. And it's true, JJ's final plan to have Trish act as decoy was really goony when it didn't result in Jessica closer to Kilgrave than across the freaking room.

But - Jess and Trish's friendship. Trish herself, recovering from her own trauma her own way and determined to do something positive in the world. Malcom! David Tennant gleefully subverting stuff all over the place - I have been thinking something about how he is almost inverting the idea of the vampire, who has glamour and can subvert your will but is also incredibly suave and good-looking, and Kilgrave was a good dresser and superficially charming but also crazy petulant and entitled and kind of awkward, really, but hey, no worries because he can take away your free will so he becomes this chilling blend of supernatural predator and commonplace jerk you might meet anywhere and at any time. The world they inhabited looked real to me, especially given that the place looked like the NYC I know. I think DD might have been better executed, maybe? But I loved this story and this collection of people more.
posted by PussKillian at 5:36 PM on November 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


Having never read the comics (and not being such a huge comic fan in general), I almost gave up after the first two episodes of this one.

I'm glad I kept watching, but I was initially put off by Jones since she is such a dick to everyone around her. To her best friend, to Luke Cage from the time they meet right up until sexy time, she's still responding to sincerity with really harsh sarcasm. I was able to empathize once it was more clear that her persona is all a front to distance herself while suffering PTSD, and it was nice to see her gradually warming up and letting down her guard a bit to her closer friends.

So by mid-season I was totally hooked, but then at the end it started unraveling. The pacing gets all screwy as there is so much going on in the final few epsiodes, that the ultimate climax was kind of a let down, plus they rushed through some of the subplots getting there.

Overall glad I watched though and will continue watching. It's always nice to see more nuanced or complex portrayals of the superhero universe. This one is particularly interesting because Jessica & Luke constantly reference the costumed superheroes, but have chosen a different path.
posted by p3t3 at 5:40 PM on November 29, 2015


simultaneously tries to be solemnly realistic about dealing with being raped,

I don't think it did at all, though. Or it kind of did, but it didn't try to be realistic at all about rapists. Everything the show said through its sympathetic characters about rape was true and good to say. But it was good and true without being realistic. Realism would imply, to me, some acknowledgement of the relationship between gender and entitlement, hatred, and violence, and they didn't make Kilgrave chauvinistic or misogynistic or even sexist to speak of. He - or at least David Tennant's portrayal of him - had no virulent hatred of or contempt for any subgroups of people besides A. his parents and B. everybody.

But so, despite its really good treatment of survivors, it's not any kind of Gamergate reflection or critique of real-life rapists -- they didn't give him any behaviors towards women that would have been differently expressed towards men if he'd been a straight woman or a gay man with the same backstory. It is the rapist as individual tragedy; you can interpret it as a metaphor in some satisfying ways but only as a metaphor. Read it straight and his behavior is all some combination of bad character and terrible childhood trauma; social forces have nothing to do with it. and while that is a lot more pleasant to watch than the alternative, it is a giant cop-out if you want to imagine the patriarchy as the villain, which it wasn't unless you mean KIlgrave's dad. The development and expression of his awful personality traits didn't have anything to do with gender. and in the real world, the way that guys like that behave has everything to do with gender, so it comes across as something of a cheat in that way. The way it conceptualizes the desire to rape as the petulant desire to get exactly what you want and pretend it's what everybody wants is very reminiscent of certain SF novels of my youth, it's this deeply teenage worldview that thinks it's got a heavy philosophical explanation for what's wrong with people but has no idea how nasty bigotry really is or what it looks and sounds like outside of comic book metaphors. It doesn't even approach real hatred. If he were really written to be Patriarchy as Villain he'd go around doing to women what he did to his parents, and nobody wants to see that. I certainly don't.

I am of two minds as to whether all this is good or bad. Like I say, you can read it as a really good metaphor; men who as boys are given no boundaries, no consequences, and no authority but their own desires grow up to be monsters. and it isn't even their fault if you go back far enough, because we control children to protect them from the consequences of their own evil impulses, and nobody protected Kilgrave from the consequences of his. sure, ok. But then, the rape isn't a metaphor, it's literal. and the mixture of the two modes results in a softening of the subject matter that I don't like.

(although I could talk myself into liking it because one of the show's points is it doesn't matter if it didn't mean anything very deep to the perpetrator, what matters is what it meant to the victim.)

Also: it speaks to how fucked up Jessica is that she bought Luke's forgiveness line as genuine for even a second. He was fake-forgiving her for what Kilgrave knew she was feeling guilty about, but not for what she actually did that was genuinely awful - which is something Kilgrave wouldn't understand to be wrong. That is: what she needed real forgiveness from Luke for was not killing Reva, but sleeping with him after killing her, knowing how it would make him feel - betrayed and dirty and complicit, even though it wasn't his fault. That, I thought, was why he called her a piece of shit - because of what she did to him, not what she did to Reva, and he wasn't wrong.

also, I think of this as the Crying Game Plot and it was weird not seeing it referenced as that all over the place but maybe there is a snappy new TV Trope name for the plot element these days. I mean: sleeping with the grieving lover of the person you killed and feel super guilty about even though it totally wasn't your fault, but you know they are going to try to kill you as soon as they find out, which you will deserve, which is why you slept with them, in order that you would deserve it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:47 PM on November 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


I liked the series a lot. I liked that JJ was a sloppy fighter. I liked she was a mess and made a lot of bad choices. I wasn't bothered by her bad choices -- they felt in character for her.

The Jeri storylines were weird and I disliked how unnecessary gory it got toward the end -- some stuff in the last episodes felt unnecessary. But I loved the relationship Jessica had with Trish (and separately, with Luke). All of those felt real.

I liked that I never found Tennant's Kilgrave "charming" at all. He played the role as someone who was just always used to getting what he wanted and never questioning it. He was incredibly unlikable and that was it.

Some of the pacing was off and I'm curious to see how I'll feel about it in a non-binge capacity (yes, I was one of those people who stayed up to watch it & finished it within 24 hours). I like what it was trying to say and the respect it gave to its women characters (they were people!). I like that it was a story about a woman's quest to make people believe her. I also liked that it took the comic's ideas and made it into its own thing.

I love Krysten Ritter in this role but I've loved her in everything I've seen her in. I've been waiting for a part that I felt was worthy of her and I was delighted by her here.

I'm still unpacking this and not trying to bring it up with my friends constantly. It wasn't perfect but in a lot of ways, it was better than perfect. It gave me a lot to think about and talk about. It was also crazy entertaining for the most part, and I liked that.

I hope this a game-changer for Marvel. I love comics but most of the MCU has left me pretty bored. I hope this lets them realize they can tell other stories. Super powers are supposed to be a metaphor, right? This definitely worked on that level.
posted by darksong at 5:57 PM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can Luke and Jessica get back together? Well, (a) comics canon says yes, and most shows usually go with that unless they're on the CW, and (b) since Luke has actually gone through the same mind rape experience himself now, he should by god understand what Jessica went through and know she didn't want to do it and had no control over it. Hell, he knew he had no control and possibly the only way out was for Jessica to shoot him. So yeah, I think they have a shot, since he survived and Kilgrave's dead. I just hope she gets as much screen time in his show as he did in hers so they have a shot at rekindling.

Jumping: I chalked all of that up to "we can't afford decent special effects."
Why no earplugs: those little boogers fall out a LOT in my experience-- and as you see in the finale, Trish loses her giant headphones in a fight. Not reliable.

I do agree that I would have been taking out Kilgrave's throat myself. But seriously, he's a virus, or whatever, made NO sense whatsoever, ever, and I wish they'd thought that shit out better.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:50 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The whole Kilgrave character seems totally comic book to me: over-the-top, and serves a symbolic purpose, but falls apart when you overthink the hows and whys.

Like why not just enlist the help of a bunch of deaf people? Wouldn't they be immune to him too? And with the added bonus that he surely doesn't understand sign language.

Granted he does seem to have some sense of his vulnerabilities since he is always in hiding and hiring private security. But it seems like there are many ways to get the upper hand on a guy whose power relies on people needing to physically hear his voice.
posted by p3t3 at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2015


How are the deaf going to help when Kilgrave has armed guards as backup? Remember, the goal was to get him custody, somehow, to prove that Hope was compelled and shouldn't spend her life in jail.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:23 PM on November 29, 2015


How are the deaf going to help when Kilgrave has armed guards as backup?

I'm sure Jessica and Luke could have taken out the guards and let the deaf team handle drugging Kilgrave, or at least just duct-taping his mouth again (that worked surprisingly well until the neighbor girl un-taped his mouth). By the time he realized they weren't responding to him, it would be too late. It seemed like Jessica wouldn't involve other people in her plots mostly just because she didn't want to endanger them, which is a non-issue if the other people are also immune to him. Of course would make for a less dramatic show though.
posted by p3t3 at 7:32 PM on November 29, 2015


Except Kilgrave was spying on her constantly. I'm not even sure she could buy earplugs without him finding out about it, and somehow rounding up an army of deaf people (how would you even do this? Craigslist post? "seeking deaf people to help me kidnap someone, serious responses only pls" - keep in mind, normal people in this world do not believe in mind control) without Kilgrave finding out about it in advance and making his own preparations is definitely a non-starter.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Hello everyone in this restaurant! If you see anyone try to abduct me, start killing each other. Go back to your meals."
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


The "deaf team"? Oh gosh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 PM on November 29, 2015


Also, I wonder if Jessica became immune when she did because she was bleeding from digging up that box. So her body was kicking into high gear, healing her hands and inadvertently dealing with Kilgrave's virus.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if Kilgrave were smarter he totally could have the upper hand despite his vulnerabilities, but based on the multiple times they DID catch him, and often in public, it doesn't seem like he was taking as many precautions as he should have been.

And the whole virus, immunity, length of effectiveness, etc. science angle required a lot of actively avoiding the urge to overthink.

That said, David Tennant made him into a very convincing villian nonetheless and was totally entertaining to watch.
posted by p3t3 at 8:01 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What was the narrative point of the annoying kink twin neighbours? I mean, Ruben was just a giant weirdo, and Robyn was just super annoying until she released Kilgrave, and then I thought that Jessica should have twisted her head off and punted it into the Hudson to rest with her froot loop of a brother. But I'm hard pressed to see why they were there at all, except as cannon fodder.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:30 PM on November 29, 2015


They were a set of characters for Jessica's personality to bounce against and quickly show us a different side of herself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 AM on November 30, 2015


Yeah but ya gotta admit "weird diapered incestuous sister-brother team" is a pretty fucking bizarre set of characters.
posted by mediareport at 2:44 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is the rapist as individual tragedy; you can interpret it as a metaphor in some satisfying ways but only as a metaphor. Read it straight and his behavior is all some combination of bad character and terrible childhood trauma; social forces have nothing to do with it. and while that is a lot more pleasant to watch than the alternative, it is a giant cop-out if you want to imagine the patriarchy as the villain

That's a really thoughtful point I haven't seen anywhere else. Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 2:50 AM on November 30, 2015


One of the main themes of the show was control and agency and the twins fed into that. She was used to being in control of another being, he was used to giving up his agency to another.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:48 AM on November 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah but ya gotta admit "weird diapered incestuous sister-brother team" is a pretty fucking bizarre set of characters.

Unless I missed something, they weren't incestuous at all. c
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:51 AM on November 30, 2015


They did work in a certain sense as another metaphor for control and agency (and yeah, I don't think they were really incestuous, they just gave off that vibe because they were so interdependent). I've read other takes on their use in the story as a demonstration of how an abuser can disrupt entire communities and is thus a societal problem, not one localized to their target.
posted by PussKillian at 7:49 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the introduction of Robyn and Reuben as an apparently odd kink couple then later reveal as odd twins may also have been a lesser version of the Malcolm twist -- people that Jessica misjudged in a way that came back to bite her. Not sure how successful it was overall, but I did love Robyn's goodbye scene by the river with Malcolm.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, I wish they firmly hammered home that this took place at a time when SHIELD and HYDRA were very occupied, like maybe during the Sokovia business, because there should have been interference from them left and right after Hope's story went public.

It's a woman talking about how her abuser made her do terrible shit. I'm sure Shield and the Avengers will get right on it. In six months or so. For now, just file a report.


Also, I love the analysis that the series makes so much sense once you realize it's not about Jessica trying to stop Killgrave as it is Jessica trying to prove to herself that SHE isn't a murderer. And naturally, she ends up making herself feel worse.

The ending it's interesting, because arguably, this whole thing is a loss for Jessica. Yeah, Killgrave will never hurt anyone again, but that really wasn't the point- she essentially did become the murderer he told her she was. And a lot of people died, including the one she was trying to protect. And she got told she was shit by a guy she liked.

And worst of all, people want her to be a hero, when she really doesn't feel like one. And unlike the world of Daredevil, which arranges things so the guy can be a hero, you just know all those calls would end up as something complicated, ugly and traumatic.

It would have been so easy to do a standard "Yes, I learned a valuable life lesson which allowed me to defeat Killgrave" cliche, but Jessica doesn't get that. She doesn't get over her trauma and PTSD by beating people up. She doesn't really get over anything. It's just more shit that happened to her, and she had tip live with the fact that yes, she is a killer.



And the whole virus, immunity, length of effectiveness, etc. science angle required a lot of actively avoiding the urge to overthink.

Hi! Let's talk about the physics and biophysics of super-strength! Did you know that Killgrave's head should have snapped off from the acceleration of Jessica's jump? That she should have shattered the concrete sidewalk? :')

Seriously, forget about it man, it's comic book science.
posted by happyroach at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2015 [14 favorites]




Not to be all comic-book guy on this, but I'm not sure why this story needed to take place in the MCU. It didn't add much other than a few cringey nods and winks, and it actually undercut some of the plot premises. Like, in a universe where Professor X, Magneto, all of the X-men, Cap Ap, the Hulk and others (ad infinitum) exist, why is it such a stretch to believe there's a guy out there who can bend you to his will. And why has he not already been recruited by some super (or super villain) team.

Someone's probably already doing it, but I think a universe full of regional heroes (of which Captain Sacramento, The Fort Collins Crusader, and Super Northwest Columbus Woman are all terrible examples) that can actually be killed (like, for good) would be a lot more interesting than the typical ultimate-power-planet-ending-time-and-space-ripping-existential-threat-to-this-and-all-universe style showdowns. Absurdly increasing stakes and powers seems to be the natural course of serial fictional universes (ahem, Marvel, DC, Dr. Who), but if you could find a bunch of writers who could actually restrain themselves, your fictional universe (and I) would thank you.

As an aside, the Jazz Noir read as parody to me, especially when set against the rapidly gentrifying, condo-filled (and extremely non-noirly filmed) landscape of Hell's Kitchen.
posted by crumbly at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


they didn't make Kilgrave chauvinistic or misogynistic or even sexist to speak of...It is the rapist as individual tragedy; you can interpret it as a metaphor in some satisfying ways but only as a metaphor. Read it straight and his behavior is all some combination of bad character and terrible childhood trauma; social forces have nothing to do with it...If he were really written to be Patriarchy as Villain he'd go around doing to women what he did to his parents, and nobody wants to see that. I certainly don't.

It's hard to see where Kilgrave would get any sort of resentment toward women in particular when they've been doing everything he wants them to for most of his life.

I think his actions toward Jessica, the one woman who didn't give him everything he thinks he's entitled to, has to stand, as you say, as a metaphor for the treatment of women in general by misogynists. I agree that leaves out the social dimensions of patriarchy, but I think the only way you could make that part of Kilgrave's character would be if you change his backstory so he's a misogynist first and develops his powers later.
posted by straight at 9:54 AM on November 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's a woman talking about how her abuser made her do terrible shit. I'm sure Shield and the Avengers will get right on it. In six months or so. For now, just file a report.

It's stories of a man who can allegedly control other people's minds. Hogarth immediately twigged to some unsavory uses for a guy like that, you can bet the big players in the game of using powered people as weapons would investigate.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2015


It's a woman talking about how her abuser made her do terrible shit. I'm sure Shield and the Avengers will get right on it. In six months or so. For now, just file a report.

That's a cute comparison but it doesn't work here. Kilgrave can control people's minds, that's something the Powers That Be would be interested in.

Like, in a universe where Professor X, Magneto, all of the X-men, Cap Ap, the Hulk and others (ad infinitum) exist, why is it such a stretch to believe there's a guy out there who can bend you to his will.

The X-Men aren't in the MCU, they're owned by Fox. The only super beings known to the public in this world are the Avengers and Daredevil, and none of them have demonstrated mind control. It does stretch belief that in a world with some super-powered beings, the possibility of mind control would be dismissed so readily, but it can make sense given that such power has never been seen among the existing super beings.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:16 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not to be all comic-book guy on this, but I'm not sure why this story needed to take place in the MCU.

Because they want to do a Defenders mini-series later ?
posted by Pendragon at 10:16 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not to be all comic-book guy on this, but I'm not sure why this story needed to take place in the MCU. It didn't add much other than a few cringey nods and winks, and it actually undercut some of the plot premises. Like, in a universe where Professor X, Magneto, all of the X-men, Cap Ap, the Hulk and others (ad infinitum) exist, why is it such a stretch to believe there's a guy out there who can bend you to his will. And why has he not already been recruited by some super (or super villain) team.

You're being all comic-book guy about this, and I'm going to join you.

Namely, the X-men don't exist in the MCU and the only super thing the general public has seen is the Battle of New York and other such foolishness. So the general public has seen massive destruction by punchouts, but not mind control. And even if they had seen that, there's still the sticky legal question of whether a person under such control is responsible for their actions.

So Jessica trying to prove mind control actually exists makes sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:18 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like why not just enlist the help of a bunch of deaf people? Wouldn't they be immune to him too? And with the added bonus that he surely doesn't understand sign language...But it seems like there are many ways to get the upper hand on a guy whose power relies on people needing to physically hear his voice.
p3t3

This is a misunderstanding of Kilgrave's powers. It's not his voice that gives him control, it's proximity to him and exposure to his virus (which, yes, you'll just have to accept and move on).

It's clearer towards the end of the show when the father specifically says not to look at Kilgrave, but if you're in range he can control you if he can communicate his will to you in some way. Usually, this is spoken, but presumably lip-reading would work too, or even gestures if you understood their meaning. I think even writing would work if you were near him.

This was demonstrated in the hospital scene. He couldn't command people over the radio on Trish's show because of the distance, but Kilgrave on the intercom was able to influence the entire floor (building?) of a hospital over the PA system because they were in range of exposure to his virus (due to the experiments amping up his power).

A squad of deaf people would still be vulnerable if they could lip-read or otherwise be able to understand his commands. Even someone who didn't speak English might be vulnerable to commands via gesture.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:21 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only super beings known to the public in this world are the Avengers and Daredevil, and none of them have demonstrated mind control.

Yeah, but the Avengers, SHIELD, and Hydra (at a minimum) all know about Loki's staff being able to control people's minds, so it does seem like they would be particularly watching out for something like this.
posted by straight at 11:26 AM on November 30, 2015


That's a cute comparison but it doesn't work here. Kilgrave can control people's minds, that's something the Powers That Be would be interested in.

You're missing a basic fact of the series. Which is:

PEOPLE DON'T REALLY BELIEVE JESSICA UNTIL THEY'VE EXPERIENCED WHAT SHE WENT THROUGH.

So no, the Powers that Be don't believe there's a problem. This is s basic a fact of the series as Jessica's super strength or Luke Cage's skin. Don't buy that, and you might as well be on the position of saying "Well super-strength is impossible."

Anyway, Shield has nothing to actually make them think that there's a problem. Some psychotic girl says her boyfriend made her kill her parents- hey, how many times has that happened? Are you gonna investigate every time that claim is made? Who the hell has that kind of budget? And then some talk show host makes that claim as well- then retracts the story and apologizes the next day. So it is all nothing, everything is good.
posted by happyroach at 11:29 AM on November 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


So no, the Powers that Be don't believe there's a problem. This is s basic a fact of the series as Jessica's super strength or Luke Cage's skin. Don't buy that, and you might as well be on the position of saying "Well super-strength is impossible."

No, sorry, this is just wrong.

The regular public doesn't believe Jessica because they have no experience with things like mind control. Her lawyer, normal cops, people she meets...these aren't people who have experience with super powers except maybe having seen them on TV or being present at the Battle of New York.

But we're not talking about the general public Jessica interacts with. We're talking about SHIELD and HYDRA, organizations created to deal with super beings, who employ and regularly interact with them, and who (as noted by straight) have seen mind control in action.

You are wrongly lumping in the "Powers That Be" with the general public. You are forgetting that Jessica Jones is a street-level show and not operating at that scale, and at the level she operates at people won't believe her while at higher levels they would.

It's like regular people in the X-Files not believing Mulder's rantings and theories about aliens, but people in the Conspiracy knowing they're true because they're involved or have knowledge.

Are you gonna investigate every time that claim is made?

Yes, if I were SHIELD or HYDRA who exist largely to do exactly that. In a world where super powers are a real thing and your job is to deal with them, investigating claims of super powers would be something you'd routinely do.

Who the hell has that kind of budget?

SHIELD or HYDRA.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:40 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the core concepts of Marvel's Netflix series is that they're very local and on the ground. While it would be more interesting if these four series weren't based in New York and we got a wider view of the MCU world, these heroes are very focused on their individual turf/beat.

SHIELD was supposed to deal with that stuff also, but clearly the series has turned towards dealing with global and space threats/situations also.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2015


I remember growing up that Marvel always had this "soft" continuity where the closer you were to some other hero/villain/comic setting the more that setting existed in your universe. What this did partly was to create New York as a unique setting in the Marvel universe where a lot of smaller stories could play out, all surrounding the sort of low-power heroes (Spider-Man, Daredevil, etc) that had this sense of being struggling both with the corruption of the city and also with the fact that their costumes were duct taped together and they had to make rent.

I always really liked that street level NY setting in the comics, which is part of why I really enjoyed the Daredevil show, and also why I gave this show so much rope before ultimately giving up due to just the issues that Greg Nog so ably outlined.

BTW: I think a show about a private detective with superpowers could actually be hella great and I hope they make that show at some point.

Also, I think you could make a really great show with Matt Fraction's recent run on Hawkeye as a template. Jeremy Renner might be too expensive, though.
posted by selfnoise at 12:00 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the things that's been fascinating to watch in the various discussions of Jessica Jones is too see what specifics make people like or dislike the series. There are definitely expectations of what a super hero story should or should not, along with the disappointment when the story fails to match those expectations. No one is right or wrong, but watching people respond so strongly different to the same story is hella interesting.

I love the story myself and wish they could get in a second season before DareDevil at this point. It's definitely the unconventional aspects that are appealing, from JJ doing PI research on the toilet, to not wanting to be an actual hero. The foul mouthed snarkiness doesn't hurt either.

It was also immensely satisfying to see the struggle to contain or kill Kilgrave. The show veers off into a scifi/medical case tangent here and its great to see the detective work and fight on how to capture a massively powerful being. This is sticking point for a lot of folks, but for me it works because Jessica originally plans to inject Kilgrave with the medical drug, but pauses to do so in order to save Simpson's life, whom Kilgrave has just ordered to jump off the roof.

Which is very convenient, timing wise, but works because it fits Kilgrave's MO, i.e. seeing people as tools and wanting to get rid of evidence. After all, if Simpson is merely allowed to walk away, he'll eventually regain control and possibly tell others about being controlled, what he's done, etc. So yes, he has to die and is ordered to do so after he's confirmed to Kilgrave that Trish is dead (though we know she isn't).

From that point on, it's a satisfyingly escalating battle to contain and then kill Kilgrave, somehow who's clearly planned a lot of his actions ahead of time.

I really like that Jeri tried to use Kilgrave or gain his powers. Far from being stupid in the intelligence sense, it speaks to the show's themes on power, abuse and those trying to gain and/or use it. If Jeri hadn't done it, some other person would have, because frankly the ability to order people to do your bidding is very tempting. If the possibility actually existed, I can see a lot people trying what Jeri did. And of course it would probably turn out just as bad.

I also really liked how this was an origin story of sorts, not of how Jessica got her powers, but how she became a hero and developed a network of people to help her. She's pretty set now, has a shark of a lawyer (though a certain other firm would nice also or perhaps She-Hulk), an assistant in Malcolm, who's fulfilling his role as a helper, and Trish, who gets to play the hero she wants to be. Plus it's a great premise, with JJ as a private eye dealing with normal or super powered cases.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


But we're not talking about the general public Jessica interacts with. We're talking about SHIELD and HYDRA, organizations created to deal with super beings, who employ and regularly interact with them, and who (as noted by straight) have seen mind control in action.

Yes, but we're also talking about Kilgrave. Basically the only thing we ever see Kilgrave seriously concerned with, other than Jessica, is "not getting caught". His first and foremost concern during that entire hostage standoff Jessica drags him to? Making sure none of the people that see them say anything about them. He went to great lengths to obtain that USB drive precisely because it was the only proof of his existence. And at one point when he's trapped in the hermetic cell, Jessica remarks that Kilgrave has literally spent his entire life avoiding cameras. This is a guy who regularly sits in the security camera blindspots when he goes out to eat at a restaurant. Think about what that says about how paranoid Kilgrave actually is, underneath that "carefree" exterior.

So this is not just SHIELD** falling asleep at the switch and just not noticing a mind-controller on the loose in NYC. This is Kilgrave using every inch of his considerable smarts and abilities to avoid attracting the notice of organizations like SHIELD. And push comes to shove, they finally do send someone to investigate him, well, all he has to do is say "Hey, you're going to forget you found me and report back to your superiors that there wasn't anything to find, the mind control stuff was all nonsense." Heck, it's entirely possible that before this show started, he deliberately went out of his way to control some SHIELD agents and make sure he was erased from their database of powered people. (If it was after he first met her, perhaps he even had Jessica erased from their database as well?) Because being that kind of careful and paranoid is completely in character from what we see of him, especially early on (in later episodes, his desire to be more powerful and control Jessica overcomes his desire to keep a low profile, but by then you can just say that Jessica killed him before anyone from TPTB could catch up with him). The long and short of it is: It's not just "they didn't notice him", it's that he actively didn't want to be noticed.

It's also worth noting that the threat of Hydra/SHIELD/the ATCU/whatever paramilitary government organization is rounding up the freaks this week is basically the answer to Greg Nog's complaint about why Jessica spends a lot of time running and doesn't just leap over tall buildings in a single bound all the time (y'know, aside from the reason of the show's budget). She also wants to keep a low profile, though she's more casual and less outright paranoid about it than Kilgrave. Same with Luke Cage - until Jessica came along, it seems like pretty much all he ever did with his superpower was break up bar fights between drunks. A bunch of drunks who got their ass kicked by a huge bartender probably doesn't raise any red flags even at the most excruciatingly thorough of superpower-tracking-organizations.

**assuming we're in continuity with Agents of SHIELD, then both SHIELD and Hydra have been utterly decimated since the events of CA:TWS. So neither one has the manpower or budget, currently, to chase down every possible superhero lead, no matter what they could do in the past. But there's the ATCU which is the new government taskforce whose job is to do exactly that, and you can make a pretty strong case that even if it isn't Hydra or SHIELD specifically, there's always gonna be some shady organization like that around.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, there's a sharp divide between whether Hope should be saved by capturing instead of killing Kilgrave. The series works for me because I'm firmly behind the idea that Hope absolutely has to be saved somehow.

Those who think Hope should be sacrificed or is at least not a major concern seem to enjoy the show less, for obvious reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:18 PM on November 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, there's a sharp divide between whether Hope should be saved by capturing instead of killing Kilgrave. The series works for me because I'm firmly behind the idea that Hope absolutely has to be saved somehow.

Those who think Hope should be sacrificed or is at least not a major concern seem to enjoy the show less, for obvious reasons.


Ok, bear in that I stopped watching this show at some point so I may have missed something, but while I support saving Hope,

A. Jessica and her pals manage to get a bunch of people killed in the process of doing this, none of whom apparently matter too much. I count the soldier guys and the old lady with the bomb as well as her weird neighbor as casualties of the "don't just kill the guy" strategy.

B. When they do capture him, they proceed to immediately do a bunch of shit that would make any confession completely inadmissable in court, not to mention that anyone watching the tape would just assume that they're torturing a guy into pretending to do whatever they want.

I did stop watching during B, so I may have missed something. (and apologies if this has already been hashed out in the episode threads)
posted by selfnoise at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I think you could make a really great show with Matt Fraction's recent run on Hawkeye as a template. Jeremy Renner might be too expensive, though.

I'm really crossing my fingers that this is essentially what the Iron Fist series will be. The Fraction/Brubaker/Aja Immortal Iron Fist is like a proto-Hawkeye in a lot of ways and the first story arc of that series would be a perfect bridge between the street level stuff and the more mystical things hinted at in Daredevil.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:01 PM on November 30, 2015


Heh. Imagine if Simpson pulled one of those sonic thinggies Jeff Bridges was running around with in the first Iron Man out of Black-Ops storage. The show would have been over in ten minutes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2015


Playing in the same universe as the big Avengers and SHIELD-level stuff doesn't necessarily mean that you have to involve them, but the universe has these loose rules where if Action A doesn't get the obvious Reaction B you lose some verisimilitude... VERY widespread and active rumors of a superpowered asset that could be a game-changer for whoever controls him should provoke a response. And it's really not a big flaw by any means, but if you've got rumors of a mind controller being spread on the number one talk radio show in NYC, an open call for previous victims by a large law firm, tons of news coverage specifically about this girl's allegations that she was mind controlled by a guy with powers, and yet no response from groups who are there to respond to this kind of thing, especially a group like HYDRA that could potentially accomplish its entire agenda with this guy in hand... hang a lampshade on that or something, don't just leave it to be No-Prized away. Have Kilgrave get out of a close scrape with agents, or have Jessica have to lie her way out of questioning by someone Coulson-esque because she doesn't trust anyone but herself to deal with this. Hell, have Kozlov's team drop a bit of dialog that shows they're looking for but one step behind Kilgrave when they come to scoop up the beaten-down Simpson, they're clearly with one of the bigger players and very close to this whole situation.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:29 PM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


PEOPLE DON'T REALLY BELIEVE JESSICA UNTIL THEY'VE EXPERIENCED WHAT SHE WENT THROUGH.

A lot of this reminded me of the various scientific studies about how men tend to just not believe women when they say things, period.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:49 PM on November 30, 2015 [21 favorites]


Hi! Let's talk about the physics and biophysics of super-strength! ...Seriously, forget about it man, it's comic book science.

I know, it's no biggie. Also it hadn't even crossed my mind until they try to start explaining things with science on the show. Mind control - no problem.. Wears of in 12 hours.. hmm ok. It's a virus.. Uh.. wait a sec. Now dad's going to superpower the virus... (by this time I was back on board because it was getting so far away from real science that I just ignored the science altogether).

Like when Star Wars introduced midi-chlorians: we were already sold on the Force but their shit explanation drew people out and un-sold it.

I guess unavoidable to some extent here if the virus pays into the plot here, and thanks Sangermaine for fleshing out the mechanism of the virus a little more clearly. But I guess my point is that when fiction tries to sell junk science by explaining it with real science, they often have the opposite result.
posted by p3t3 at 5:08 PM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, my favorite moment in the show was actually when Luke and Jessica first talk about having superpowers, and they just quickly breeze past it with: "Accident. You?" "Experiment." I was like, GOOD, THAT'S ALL WE NEED TO KNOW.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:49 PM on November 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm still one episode shy of completion, but I'm feeling pretty let down by this series (which, I promise you, I was very much looking forward to watching). Like many of the other people in this thread, I feel like there was a really solid six-episode series to be made here, before the writers realized that they could double the number of episodes by making the characters dumb as all fuck. That was less disappointing to me than two of the other creative decisions that they decided to pursue.

First, part (arguably the largest part) of what made the Alias comic enjoyable was that Jessica was someone whose past touched on the sprawling Marvel continuity and then she'd washed out. She'd spent time chilling with the Avengers and went to high school with Spider-Man; that sort of thing. So her story was a way to get a semi-insider perspective on the Marvel continuity at large from its outer edges. Marvel's movie continuity is now getting large enough that there's room for that sort of storytelling, and it was a let-down for that to be skipped over in order to go straight to the Kilgrave stuff. Which leads me to my biggest problem with the series…

I feel like anyone who's looking at this series as being in any way progressive is arriving very late to a conversation that has been going on in the comics community for a very long time now. Comic book fans, particularly those coming from a feminist perspective, have been complaining about "rape as origin story" for decades. Furthermore, in the Alias comic, Jessica made it explicit that Kilgrave had never physically sexually assaulted her (although what he did was just as vile). After decades of comics fans saying that they'd like to have fewer female characters whose backstories were defined by rape, Marvel's very first headlining cinematic female character gets a show where the rape is boosted as a story element over the source material.

I'm not a person that feels like an adaptation needs to be 100% faithful to the source material, but if the adaptation must change things, I'd prefer that they’d be changes for the better.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:01 AM on December 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a long-time SF fan I feel your pain. But I think fans in the comics community are gonna have to make the same journey the SF community made two decades ago and accept that large media properties are always going to be made for the mainstream audience and not the more specialized SF or comics community. So those properties are typically going to be 20 or 25 years behind the conversation being had in what are, unfortunately, niche communities.

All of that is to say that I think JJ can very much be seen as a progressive visual media property even if it is behind the conversation that the comics community itself had since the 80s.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 PM on December 1, 2015


(ie Jessica Jones-the-show is made for peope (like me) who had never before so much as heard of Jessica Jones before Netflix announced the series, not for people who were already very familiar with her backstory.)
posted by Justinian at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


After decades of comics fans saying that they'd like to have fewer female characters whose backstories were defined by rape, Marvel's very first headlining cinematic female character gets a show where the rape is boosted as a story element over the source material.

While this season obviously dealt a lot rape and assault, I don't think the character of Jessica Jones is defined by it at all. Clearly rape and ordeal with Kilgrave has shaped her, but one of the joys of the show was that the character wasn't and isn't rigidly defined. She had found work as a PI satisfying in some way, but it's people seeing her as a hero and hiring her to help them that will define her going forward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


To me, in a lot of ways, Jessica Jones is the Marvel show that I've been waiting for -- not only a show that shows more than tells, not only a show that features a lead that isn't a white dude and that features characters who are not straight, but a show with a nuanced, thoughtful treatment of what power and abuse and entitlement can do. It blows Daredevil out of the water.

I mean, just compare Kilgrave and Kingpin. They're both stock supervillain types. They're both played by well-known white dude actors having some fun chewing scenery. Who was more interesting and more emotionally affecting? Kingpin and the overemoting and the beating in of people's heads with car doors that we've seen in so many violent movies? Or the slow-grow horror of seeing Hope smile at Jessica with the gun in her hand, or Kilgrave waltzing into a family's home, and the slow pool of liquid seeping out from under the closet door because there are two hungry children inside, and one of them just pissed her pants because she is incapable of disobeying Kilgrave?

Daredevil was kinda fun, but it didn't reach out and grab me. I walked away halfway through the Kingpin stuff and never looked back -- Jessica Jones, on the other hand, I mainlined in the course of a week. It isn't flawless, but it's the best-written thing Marvel has done in a long, long, long time.

As a side note, there's a lot of discussion of how good the show is on ladies, but it's shockingly lacking in WOC with an important role all the way up to Claire Temple. We also got 13 episodes of about 46 minutes or so each, and I'm pretty sure that at no point do two people of color talk to each other about something besides white people, so it's a fail on the racial Bechdel test, too.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:22 PM on December 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


I say "Nuts" to the people who want this to be somehow more integrated into the rest of the MCU. I haven't seen Agents of Shield, but as far as I'm concerned, I want them to keep these Netflix series as far away from the shitty, forgettable movies as possible. The shows are just so much better than anything they've put out on the big screen.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is a misunderstanding of Kilgrave's powers. It's not his voice that gives him control, it's proximity to him and exposure to his virus (which, yes, you'll just have to accept and move on).

It's clearer towards the end of the show when the father specifically says not to look at Kilgrave, but if you're in range he can control you if he can communicate his will to you in some way.


Yeah, re-watching episode 10 and scientist Dad specifically says Kilgrave emits micro particles in the air. At that point, he has you, but then needs to communicate his will somehow, usually voice obviously. Presumably if he can gesture, then can still command the person.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on December 1, 2015


So lip-readers are controllable, but how about people in full-body hazmat suits? It's an interesting superpower in that it relies on both clear communication and also exposure of the airborne particles.

There also seem to be some loopholes that weaken the power, like putting a bullet in your mouth can be interpreted as "in your head." So there is potential to misinterpret &/or reinterpret the commands?

Not sure why I'm still even thinking about this still.. I suppose because it is a more interesting power than most of the comic characters I've seen- If you figure out the loopholes, he's a total weakling, sitting with his face duct-taped in the corner, but if he gets control of a situation he's wreaking all sorts of havoc and mayhem.
posted by p3t3 at 6:01 PM on December 1, 2015


I'm pretty sure that at no point do two people of color talk to each other about something besides white people, so it's a fail on the racial Bechdel test, too.

Luke talks to that lady about Reva's mysterious death circumstances, and Luke talks with the married lady to say he doesn't want to have sex with her anymore since she's married.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:03 PM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that at no point do two people of color talk to each other about something besides white people, so it's a fail on the racial Bechdel test, too.

The nurse and Malcolm talk about several things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 PM on December 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was watching the nurse and Malcolm pretty closely, and my takeaway was that they were talking about Jessica and/or Matt and their respective relationships with the other person either directly or indirectly the whole time. But maybe I missed something?

On Luke and the lady who gets him the MTA file, and on Luke and the lady he's been sleeping with -- in my book those both go down as non-passes, because the husband turns out to be a white dude, as does the bus driver. Which, admittedly, might be a more stringent version of the racial Bechdel than most other people use.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:48 AM on December 2, 2015


I was watching the nurse and Malcolm pretty closely, and my takeaway was that they were talking about Jessica and/or Matt and their respective relationships with the other person either directly or indirectly the whole time. But maybe I missed something?

Malcolm and Claire talked about what their skills were and that they function as connection or sidekicks to Luke and Jessica.

Later, after Luke wakes up, he and Claire talk about a lot about Jessica.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not sure why I'm still even thinking about this still.. I suppose because it is a more interesting power than most of the comic characters I've seen-

It's also a "Can't look away, it's so creepy" power. For instance, his writing "help me" on the glass of the cage? Sure it was to mess with the video, but also, it could have been to test and see if the seal was really airtight.
posted by happyroach at 8:45 AM on December 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Feminist Frequency: Some Thoughts on Jessica Jones
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:45 AM on December 2, 2015


Not sure why I'm still even thinking about this still.. I suppose because it is a more interesting power than most of the comic characters I've seen- If you figure out the loopholes, he's a total weakling, sitting with his face duct-taped in the corner, but if he gets control of a situation he's wreaking all sorts of havoc and mayhem.
p3t3

I thought the show was actually pretty good about this until the end, in that Kilgrave was clearly very aware of his vulnerabilities and tried to account for them by surrounding himself with bodyguards and failsafe suicide-captives to dissuade direct physical assaults.

I wish the ending had been more about that, about Kilgrave setting up this elaborate construct of controlled guards, cops, and captives and Jessica concocting a plan to trick him into letting the captives go and isolating himself so she could have killed him. I thought the show was going that way because Kilgrave was shown using his powers in increasingly large ways as he powered up, yet after the injected that mega-dose that was supposed to have almost killed him and presumably amped his powers to ridiculous levels he was back to doing his old tricks. I thought it would end with him taking over a nuclear power plant or something full of school kids on a field trip and threatening to kill everybody and blow the plant unless Jessica submitted to him.

What the the hell was the point of all that build-up about Kilgrave increasing his powers if he didn't end up actually using his new greater power? The final scene showed him controlling maybe a few dozen people, which he was already shown to be able to do in the beginning of the show (the restaurant scene where he was looking at real estate listings on a computer and made everyone in the restaurant be silent).
posted by Sangermaine at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


IMO, Kilgrave was increasing his powers specifically to try to re-assert his control over Jessica. That he was simultaneously increasing the range and duration of his abilities was a side-effect rather than a goal.
posted by Justinian at 11:50 AM on December 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, someone clarify this for me, re: Kilgrave's powers. They take 12 hours to wear off, and they stay active even when he's sleeping, yes? But presumably, the drug that Simpson shoots him with (and later Jessica injects him with) causes them to immediately cease effectiveness? I mean, that's why he didn't want to go under during the kidney replacement surgery; he had to make sure the doctor stayed under his control. Or was it because the surgery would take longer than 12 hours? Anyway, so presumably also as soon as he dies, his powers cease to be active, yes? Because otherwise, he could still have had any number of failsafes ("If you don't get a phone call from me telling you otherwise, kill yourself in X hours" where x<duration of his amped-up powers).
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:28 PM on December 2, 2015


Surgical anesthesia renders you unconscious which isn't the same as asleep, and it was stated that this would immediately end his control. How going unconscious causes a virus to stop working is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2015




I really enjoyed this series, especially the first half dozen episodes, but the scene on the wharf just reminded me that I didn't think David Tennant was right for this role or maybe it was the writing for his character because I never found it believable that he would be so obsessed with Jessica.

In theory, yes, a man with the power of mind control wants to control the one person out of his grasp, but I believed it more, he was more frightening when he was seen briefly in flashbacks or talked about by the other victims. Once he took center stage, he got a bit tedious. I think it was because of his OTT line reading, rolling his eyes, "C'mon Jessica" exhortations. He was bored and flippant and if he had managed to get Jessica under his control again, he would've tired of her within a week.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:34 PM on December 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


He was bored and flippant and if he had managed to get Jessica under his control again, he would've tired of her within a week.

To me, this is a lot of what makes him a fascinating train-wreck of a villain: the knowledge that even he won't be happy if Jessica loses.

There's a pretty good comic book story where Dr. Doom captures Kilgrave and harnesses his power to take over the world. [Spoilers for Emperor Doom here] He finds it unsatisfying. When the Avengers rally and are about to destroy the machine imprisoning Kilgrave, Doom's hand hovers over the button that would flood the chamber with nerve gas and thinks, "Perhaps it would be wiser to let fate decide." Instead he flees to fight another day.
posted by straight at 9:31 AM on December 3, 2015


There also seem to be some loopholes that weaken the power, like putting a bullet in your mouth can be interpreted as "in your head." So there is potential to misinterpret &/or reinterpret the commands?

I don't think a controlled person could do that of their own initiative. It's only when Kilgrave isn't present that Jessica could sometimes convince a person they'd carried out the command when they hadn't.

What the the hell was the point of all that build-up about Kilgrave increasing his powers if he didn't end up actually using his new greater power?

Am I the only person who thinks he genuinely had Jessica in his power at the very end and it only broke because he asked her to say the thing "she would never say"? That interpretation is the only way it makes sense to me that she would stand there and let him violate Trish with that "kiss me like you mean it" command.
posted by straight at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't call it "Kilgrave fandom," but when he told the old man at the news stand to throw hot coffee in his own face, I laughed out loud. There was just something in Tennant's delivery that cracked me up.

I did find him to be an intriguing villain, although I thought they brought him in too early and had too many "caught him! oops he got away" plotlines. Maybe 8-10 episodes would have been better... but anyway. And I liked Tennant's performance, but I like Tennant from Doctor Who so that's to be expected. But I think he is -- not sympathetic, exactly, but understandable, and pitiable from a certain perspective. He was tortured as a child; that it was to save his life doesn't really matter because, as a child, he wasn't cognitively equipped to understand that. To him, it was just his parents inflicting pain on him. Then, suddenly to develop the power to command people to do what you want -- again, at an age where even a child with a relatively normal upbringing has immense difficulty with impulse control, and is still demanding and narcissistic, not fully submitted to the "reality principle," as Freud would say -- to have the power to make your demands reality... well, it would screw anyone up. It would stunt your moral development because you'd never have that negotiation with the world and with other people where you learn how to subordinate your own self-centered demands and see the world from others' perspectives.

I think everyone can't help but fantasize about what they'd do with Kilgrave's power. I was imagining just a sort of banal usage for it, but that could have such amazing impact: imagine if teachers suddenly had this power, so that when they told students, "go home, read this material, study it carefully, take notes, do your homework, come to class prepared to discuss," that the students actually DID it. It'd be a utopia.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who thinks he genuinely had Jessica in his power at the very end and it only broke because he asked her to say the thing "she would never say"? That interpretation is the only way it makes sense to me that she would stand there and let him violate Trish with that "kiss me like you mean it" command.

Maybe, but I thought Jessica allowing it was a sort of tragic sign of how much she needed to become like Kilgrave in order to finally defeat him. She kept trying to protect Hope, but it didn't work. She knew that in order to take out Kilgrave, she would have to use her friend, just like Kilgrave used her, in order to trick him.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It'd be a utopia.

You must have a very high opinion of teachers.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:12 PM on December 3, 2015


Well I was being a little bit hyperbolic, obviously, but I was suggesting that a world in which students actually did all their work diligently would be a utopia for teachers.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:53 PM on December 3, 2015


Am I the only person who thinks he genuinely had Jessica in his power at the very end and it only broke because he asked her to say the thing "she would never say"? That interpretation is the only way it makes sense to me that she would stand there and let him violate Trish with that "kiss me like you mean it" command.

I didn't take it that way at all. I think the whole show was about the cycle of abuse and violence and its aftermath, and Jessica being willing to risk Trish in that way plays right into that theme.

This goes for the complaints about the "idiot ball" catch-and-release business with Kilgrave over and over again as well. It's a stand-in for the abusive relationship. To an outsider, what the person who is in an abusive relationship has to do is simple: they have to break ties, get away from their abuser, stop answering the calls or texts. They just fucking have to end it. It can be frustrating to be an outsider because from the outside it is so clear what the person has to do. All of the outsiders in the show can see that Jessica needs to kill Kilgrave. That's the simple, clear way to solve this problem.

But Jessica has to explore the whole space of possible actions before she can do the clear, simple thing that will solve the problem. Maybe she won't have to kill him if she can just do this. Maybe if she does that. Maybe this other thing. She only kills him when it becomes clear that nothing else will work. So the catch-and-release business was frustrating to watch, and frustrating to the outsiders in the show, because everybody else can see how it has to end, but Jessica still has to get there.

With every step, Jessica crosses another line, sacrifices another part of her dignity, does something she wouldn't do, because she is avoiding that big step of killing him. And, by the end, she has crossed so many lines and sacrificed so much that she has nothing left but to become who he has always said she was: a murderer. And not just a murderer: the final sacrifice is to allow Tricia to be violated by Kilgrave ("Kiss me like you mean it.") Tricia is arguably the most important friend Jessica has, and she allows her to come within feet of being trapped by Kilgrave. Jessica uses Tricia as an instrument to get what she wants, in exactly the same way that Kilgrave uses people. (Note, too, that this is foreshadowed in how Jessica uses Kilgrave's parents. She has already crossed that line, the difference is that now she is crossing it with a friend and not two strangers.) Letting Kilgrave violate Trish in this way is the last line that Jessica crosses, and the tragedy of it is that she crosses it willinglly. She participates in Kilgrave's abuse.
posted by gauche at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2015 [16 favorites]


Huh, I saw it Jessica's trying to capture Kilgrave as a way of trying to Hope, because damnit, no way had saved her (Jessica), so she was literally going to try everything to save someone who was in a worst situation.

Along the way, she does things that she normally wouldn't do yes, but that's ok, because she's doing it to Kilgrave, who's done so much to her, Hope and others. Jessica never had a problem with killing Kilgrave, or didn't for long. She was just trying to avoid it to save Hope.

As to Trish, she willingly volunteered to go with Jessica in that final showdown and with good reason: Kilgrave needed to be killed and Jessica needed help in making that happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2015


I saw it Jessica's trying to capture Kilgrave as a way of trying to Hope, because damnit, no way had saved her (Jessica), so she was literally going to try everything to save someone who was in a worst situation.

I buy that that's what Jessica is telling herself. But the obvious objection there is that she hasn't thought the plan through. It won't work. And the reason she can't allow herself to admit it won't work is because she is unwilling to face the alternative, which is that there's no good way out, no way to undo the damage that her abuse has wrought. She wants to make it right, yes, but that's because she can't yet admit that it can't be made right. The whole "why doesn't she just kill him" question is a stand-in for the real-world question "why doesn't she just leave?"
posted by gauche at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's probably a good thing that Daredevil never got anywhere near Kilgrave. I wonder if the former's heightened senses could make him vulnerable to Kilgrave from farther away -- if he inhales the microbes from Kilgrave from farther away and then hears him from farther away...
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:20 PM on December 4, 2015


In addition to all the other aptly-handled depictions of the dynamics of abusive relationships and of rape, I had a terribly sad moment recognizing something more ordinary.

It was during a bit when Killgrave is pulling one of his many escapes from a chase or being followed, and he is using his powers to have random people in passing do things that benefit him circumstantially. (Not sadistic or violent commands, just convenient manipulation.)

Huh, that's pinging something for me, what is this reminding me of?

Oh right. Every workaday incident of casual sexism ever. Where some man is taken with the upmost of seriousness and authority for absolutely no good reason -- even if he makes no sense, is completely disingenuous, makes a totally empty statement, repeats literally word-for-word something a woman just said as his own idea, is assigning work to people that he doesn't supervise, etc. And if you cry foul and question why everyone is blindly accepting this behavior, you're ignored and tsk-tsked.
posted by desuetude at 8:55 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Finally finished last night. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot!

So I don't know anything about Nuke, but is Simpson going on "Red Pills" from the comics explicitly, or is that a reference to MRA shit?

Here Is Everything Jessica Jones Drinks In "Jessica Jones"

Jessica Jones drinking game: Whenever Jessica Jones drinks, you drink.
posted by ODiV at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The red pills are gimmick from the Daredevil comic book Born Again, which is pretty great and highly recommended.

Since the tv show introduced him into Jessica Jones world, it'll be interesting to see if he becomes a nemesis of hers or Daredevils.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2015


What the the hell was the point of all that build-up about Kilgrave increasing his powers if he didn't end up actually using his new greater power?

1) The main point of Kilgrave increasing his powers was for him to be strong enough to control Jessica again, increasing the effective distance and duration when he used his powers on everyone else was just a side benefit (and honestly I saw Kilgrave & his dad's interest in the increase of time and distance as more about the testing process, the only way to gauge if the treatments were actually working without confronting Jessica.)

2) He did use his increased powers - he was able to command every single person in the entire hospital to find and kill Jessica via the intercom system. This wasn't something he could do previously.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:01 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also think that some of the stuff people are dismissing as "filler" is actually there for some fairly legit reasons.

The first would be (as others have pointed out) the parallels and resonances between Jessica's relationship to Kilgrave and many of the other relationships between characters - Hogarth and her wife and secretary/lover; Trish and Simpson; Trish and her mother; Robyn and Ruben; Jessica and Trish's mother; Kilgrave and his parents. The show is examining power dynamics in relationships along multiple axes and in the context of multiple kinds of relationships.

The second would be that I think that compared to DD and Agent Carter this show is setting up many things for future seasons and/or Luke Cage/The Defenders. The story and character arcs of DD and AC are "completed" in a way that if there was never another series of either the story would still be "finished." (I mean, many people want more of both, but there aren't many crucial elements that are left hanging - the stories could stand on their own.) Whereas in JJ we've seen so much of so many characters, and the characters have been so heavily affected by the events of the season, that the writers have a lot of room to move in future series. For example, we've now seen that Hogarth is at best amoral, maybe even borderline sociopathic, and she's ending the series as a widow, with her fiancee in jail, and about to get forced out of her high-power law firm. There's a lot of places you could go with that character and her uneasy alliance with Jones. The same with Trish and her relationship with her mother (and why does a talent agent specializing in child actors have massive files on a mysterious medical corporation, hmmmm?), and Trish's yearning to be a hero; and with Robyn needing to figure out how to function without her brother; and Malcolm's struggles with addiction.

IOW, it feels to me like the show is committed to continuing in a way that the other Netflix Marvel shows weren't, quite. Simpson and IGH and Jessica + Luke are the obvious big things left in the "to be continued" file, but we saw so much of the secondary characters in order that their actions in future series would have firm roots in the events of this season.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also I'm waiting for the obvious Yuletide crossover that will result where Malcom is in Sherlock's 12-step meeting somehow.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:06 PM on December 11, 2015


soundguy99: Remember though that in Daredevil there was some explicit set-up for what appears to be the Defenders storyline: in the episode with Stick, Stick's master asks if Daredevil will be ready "when the doors open" -- presumably something to do with the "war" that Stick is part of and that will be part of the Defenders main plot.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:59 AM on December 12, 2015


Oh, sure, no disagreement - I'm not saying that DD or AC didn't leave any room for further shows or tie-ins with other MCU things. Just that you could read JJ's willingness to focus on secondary character's arcs and the amount of things possibly left unresolved as being slightly more willing to treat this series as the start of a group of stories. Like, while of course I've got no idea about Netflix's contracts with Marvel, I could see the DD writers being told, "Well, we hope we get to do more, but just in case . . . ", while the JJ writers were told, "We're definitely planning on doing more, go ahead and write as if we'll be picking stuff up from where we left off."
posted by soundguy99 at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2015






For those who've seen Daredevil and are interested in speculating: Any thoughts on whether or not the "Black Sun" weapon that we see in DD is at all related to the videos of the experiments on Kilgrave and other children that Reva had? Will this somehow tie-in to the overall threat than brings the series together?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:33 PM on December 13, 2015




Any thoughts on whether or not the "Black Sun" weapon that we see in DD is at all related to the videos of the experiments on Kilgrave and other children that Reva had?

I doubt it. I had the feeling that Black Sky's power was something mystical in nature.
posted by homunculus at 9:40 PM on December 15, 2015


Yeah, Black Sky is very strongly hinted to originate with one of the Marvel Universe's two mystic East Asian factions - either the magic ninja crime ring The Hand, or the ancient interdimensional kung-fu city of K'un L'un.

Anyway, I just finished binging the show with Mrs. Fish, and really really liked it. I think I liked Daredevil more, but they're very different things. The way they committed to the abuse metaphor was impressive and made the show much more affecting to me even if it also strained disbelief and/or led to the characters doing dumb things (because a pair of emotionally damaged loners who disregard personal danger, a former child star turned talk-show host and a psychopath cop would always make smart decisions). In particular, the part where nobody believes Jessica about Kilgrave until he hurts them too....yeah. On the nose, but in a good way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:06 PM on December 27, 2015 [2 favorites]




It took me until the last few episodes, but I actually appreciated what the show was doing with the Weird Incest Twins, Robyn and Ruben. It took these two super off-putting characters who could've just been a goofy "only in new york!" joke, and developed them as people with recognizable, sympathetic inner lives. It depicted them both as people worthy of compassion, who had pain that meant something. I was really surprised by how moving I found Robyn by the end, despite her being half comic relief.

I see it as part of the show's effort to undermine our expectations about who is worthy of our attention, and at what point someone is no longer important in a story. It consistently introduces characters who're seemingly simple props in Jessica's plot - such as Hope, Malcolm, and Will - who, in most dramas, would serve their purpose and then fuck off. But in JJ they have agency, they surprise us, they make choices about the events they're involved in. Each of them has a complex character arc.

Even with the true extras - like the people Kilgrave controls - Jessica Jones takes the time to remind us of their humanity and set them apart as individuals, and they always feel like more than just cannon fodder as a result. The gossipy neighbor, the couple that owns the penthouse, etc.

For a story about rape culture and how people deal with victimization, I think it's so important how concerned Jessica Jones is with undermining a lot of our assumptions about who is worthy of our attention.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:20 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


I liked it quite a bit, but the idiot ball was being passed around freely towards the end of the series. Sort of understandable given Kilgrave's skill as a manipulator, but a lot of the time it felt like the plot just running the clock. The theming seems even stronger than DD, and the human story is definitely the strongest thing to come out of the MCU.

A really well done aspect is the emotional trauma and paranoia that comes from abuse. Kilgrave is a sort of extended metaphor for the influence of the patriarchy, and with that in mind, anyone could be under that influence, even people who seem neutral or friendly at first. They play with this idea quite a bit, to really great effect.

Top notch performances all around, and pretty solid (if fairly workmanlike) direction. There were a few great action scenes, like the close quarter apartment fights that happen from time to time. Overall, though, it suffers from a lot of what the other MCU material does, though, which is really flat, boring camerawork.

My overall impression is that it's the best of superheroes on film that I've seen (apart from the Burton Batmen and if you want to count it Guardians of the Galaxy). It's the 'gritty' part of post-Watchmen comic media done right, and I'd say it's (for my money) the high point of the genre so far. That's very, very faint praise, and I don't want to undersell it: JJ is good on its own as a speculative fiction story, even absent the super hero genre.
posted by codacorolla at 9:24 PM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Season 2 confirmed.
posted by octothorpe at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]








Art of the Title: Jessica Jones
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:19 AM on March 3, 2016


So, I'm well aware that I'm late to this particular party, because I'm having to take the show very, very slowly. I'm presently only up to episode 3.

I've just gotta say, as someone who went through an abusive relationship in my life, and spent... years being pretty noticeably damaged to folks around me, that this show hits way, way close to home.

So I'm taking it in small doses.

But I'm pretty impressed by someone's writing or research here.
posted by Archelaus at 11:52 PM on April 17, 2016


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