Week of December 11, 2022:

AKA Ladies Night (Jessica Jones s1 e1) released November 20, 2015 (where to watch)
AKA Crush Syndrome (Jessica Jones s1 e2) released November 20, 2015
Scott Hardie | December 31, 2022

AKA Ladies Night: This is somehow even better the second time. I have long admired Jessica Jones as the MCU's best and perhaps most underappreciated show, and I remember it starting with a bang. The fate of poor doomed Hope Shlottman and her parents at the end is sickening, but what hits even harder is the show's depiction of PTSD. I don't have the psychological expertise or life experience to judge the real-world accuracy of the show's portrayal of the condition, but it's certainly very potent dramatically. That's why I love Jessica's final decision in the episode so much, and consider it one of the best moments of the series: We know the magnitude of the threat facing Jessica and how very badly she wants to run away from the portal back into Hell that just opened up in her life, but her conscience won't let her. She's an immensely sympathetic hero, and the show establishes her very well in its first hour. The material with supporting characters like Jeri, Malcolm, the upstairs neighbors and so on is all well done too, if minor. To me, the only false note in the episode is the romance with Luke Cage, which feels forced because of the comic-book relationship between them. Maybe the actors merely lack chemistry, but I don't buy their mutual attraction. (original opinion 8/10, today's opinion 9/10)

Discussion topic: There's speculation online that Spheeris's insult to Jessica ("you're one of them") as she lifts his car was a nod to the Inhumans storyline playing out over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To me, the line seems like merely a reference to superhumans in general, especially in the wake of The Avengers which was also set in New York. How did you take it?

AKA Crush Syndrome: What strikes me watching this again are the little details: The streaky paint job in the police department, the photos hung on the wall in Luke's bar, the scuff marks and uneven grouting in Jessica's bathroom, the flickering light in the subway. These places feel lived in and specific, not sterile and generic and boring like many other TV shows. (That's except for the sets that are supposed to seem posh, like Trish's apartment and Jeri's office.) And the music! I *love* the jazzy background score to this show. It's so moody and rich. I could listen to it for hours. The show was nominated for two Emmys for its music and won one, so here's appreciating the fine work by the music department.

Another thing that I love is that the show is seriously interested in Jessica as an investigator, as much as Daredevil was interested in Matt's work as an attorney and perhaps more so: Rather than her super-strength or "super-jumping," Jessica's real "powers" are her resourcefulness and cleverness on the job. I have always been fascinated by private eyes on-screen (which I attribute to seeing Chinatown in my adolescence and being transfixed by the coolness of Jake Gittes), so I have a soft spot for entertainment that depicts an investigator moving so quickly and intelligently through the (sometimes extra-legal) business of their profession. I like how the show portrays Jessica's work, and I like that the show is far more interested in her brain than it is in her brawn, which is refreshing in this genre.

As for the story in the foreground, it's hard to comment when I've seen the whole season and know the solutions to most of the show's mysteries. Let's just say that at this early point, I consider the show successful at making the pace feel appropriate as Jessica's investigation begins. But not every scene works: The "kill me" request, while creepy, is an overused trope, and Jessica might not have attacked the handyman fixing her front door if he hadn't been working with all of the lights off in her apartment. (original opinion 7/10, today's opinion 8/10)

Erik Bates | March 19, 2023

I've gotten so far behind on my reviews, that I'm having difficulty remembering what each episode included. With that in mind, and with the assistance of Scott's comments and Wikipedia plot summaries, I'm going to make an effort to catch up on Season 1 of Jessica Jones, and then get into a better rhythm.

AKA Ladies Night: Ok, looking back, I can't believe the parent murders were in episode 1. This was a good intro to the series. It's so dark and gritty, and Krysten Ritter is fantastic.

Scott, I was trying to figure out what it was about Luke Cage that wasn't setting well with me, and I think you hit it on the head that it's the relationship. Mike Colter is a good actor, and decent in this role, but that relationship just felt forced. Even if it's inevitable based on the comics, was it absolutely necessary to jump into it in episode 1?

AKA Crush Syndrome: Scott, I, too like that while Jessica is indeed gifted with super strength, the show for the most part overlooks that and focuses more on her abilities as an intelligent, resourceful person. I think the most-used use of her super strength is opening locked doors by... turning the knob extra hard.

Scott Hardie | March 20, 2023

Yes! The death of the Shlottmans really demonstrates to the audience the horrifying stakes involved with Kilgrave, and I think including it in the first episode was the right choice, as with Jessica's gut-wrenching choice to stay and fight. Together, they definitely set the tone for the series.

I like Mike Colter immensely, but I'm not sure that he's the right actor for Luke Cage. I can't find it now, but I saw some interview he gave about the part. Firstly, he said that he didn't want to accept it even though it would be a huge career boost, because he likes talky parts and didn't want to get typecast as an action star or as a muscle-man who only communicates with his fists. (His first co-starring role in a feature film in Plane seems to validate his fears.) He also said that after long conversations with the writers about how Luke thought, he decided to underplay the action scenes: Since Luke's super-strength could easily make a fist-fight fatal, Luke would prefer to slap away attackers and knock them down rather than truly hit them, and you can see this in the bar brawl in "AKA Crush Syndrome." But that sense of Luke holding back informed the rest of Colter's performance, too: He internalizes most of Luke's feelings rather than showing them, such as bottling up his anger instead of raging out loud for instance. And far be it from me, a white man who's never been in legal jeopardy, to tell a Black man how to express anger publicly, but it does wind up feeling like Luke is too quiet, too mild, too stoic, too inscrutable. I'm probably biased because I don't like it when actors internalize their feelings and show little on the surface (Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale often do this), but the all of this information combined makes me wish that someone else had gotten the part of Luke who might have brought a livelier energy to it and embraced it as what it is instead of resisting it. And I say all of this without even getting into the lack of chemistry between Colter and Ritter, which is a whole extra problem with the casting.

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