Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jessica Jones: Non-Spoiler Review of Episodes 7-13

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Last night I finally finished Jessica Jones, and what a wild ride it was!  There are a lot of incredible character moments all through the series, and the second half is no exception.  Several of the characters go through surprising arcs, and a lot of the major characters have their back stories filled in further.

On that last subject, you need to be sure to pay attention to Jessica, Trish, and Kilgrave’s back stories, because there are some significant deviations from the comics which give them a degree of parallelism.  Jessica and Trish’s history gets fleshed out almost entirely, and it is really cool to see how their relationship grew to the level of sisterhood that we see in the present.  This is helped by the young actors in the flashbacks, who do a really good job showing that relationship’s turning points.

Something I was not expecting in this series after the first six episodes was that a significant secondary plot would develop which could serve as an anchor for a second season.  However, that is exactly what happened in the last quarter or so of the season, when another one of the comic book characters who is almost ripped straight from the pages started down the path toward his comic book counterpart’s end.  I had my suspicions about the character from the beginning, but was still quite surprised by the arc that the character took.  I definitely want to see that character’s story explored in greater detail; he was one of the only characters in the entire series whose motivations did not seem crystal clear to me for the whole series.

On the subject of character motivations, it is important to note that this is a very character-driven series.  To take Daredevil as a comparison, Daredevil does an excellent job of developing its characters, but we only fully understand the motivations for Matt and Fisk, with the other characters’ motivations much less developed.  Daredevil is a plot-driven series:  everything that happens is because of the plot.  By contrast, all the action in Jessica Jones is propelled forward by the question of “why?”  “Why are these characters acting the way they are?”  And by the end of the season that answer is crystal clear for every character—even the relatively minor ones!  As mentioned above, there was only one character whose motivations weren’t explicitly clear in this season, but his arc ends in such a way that he is almost guaranteed to turn up again, either in a second season of Jessica Jones or in The Defenders.  That level of character development feels almost foreign to me, given the number of characters involved—and I do mean every character who’s in more than one episode!—and the number of episodes in the season.  I think this, even more than the focus on sex over violence, is what sets Jessica Jones apart as a completely different series from Daredevil.

Speaking of Daredevil, there are quite a few Easter eggs of that series in this one.  One of the Daredevil characters who appears has a very small role; he’s really only there as an Easter egg that shows that Jessica and Matt are in the same neighborhood.  However, the other Daredevil character—and I don’t think it’s a spoiler as she is slated to appear in every single Marvel Netflix series—is Claire Temple, who plays a relatively significant role in the series.  Among other things, Claire gets to serve as a counselor for these heroes, based on her previous experiences.  The possibility of Claire serving as the connective tissue for the Defenders is becoming more and more realistic, particularly because she is thus far the only person who actually knows these heroes.  Unfortunately, anything beyond this veers into spoiler territory, so you’ll have to wait for me to review that particular episode!

I could go on and on about this series, but I think I will leave it here:  This is an incredible series, and one which I highly recommend that you watch.  In terms of mature content, beyond the regular use of crude language there is very little to be concerned with.  If you could handle the level of violence in Daredevil, Jessica Jones’ violence will not be an issue for you.  And in terms of sexual content, my initial assumption was correct:  there is a single explicit sex scene in the second half of the series, with an additional suggested/non-explicit scene, and there really isn’t any nudity to speak of.  So the biggest concern on that end is the first half of the series; get past episode 5 and you should be fine.

So… why are you still reading my non-spoiler review instead of watching the series?

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