“And Then There’s The Matter of Your Bill.”

It’s interesting. I work night shift and sleep during the day. My sister works evenings and sleeps during the night. I work two weekends a month. My sister works three weekends a month. We never have the weekend off together, so there’s really only one weekend every month that we’re both working . . . and yet Netflix has somehow managed, once again, to pick that precise weekend to release Jessica Jones, ensuring that it would take much longer than our little geek hearts would like to marathon the shit out of it.

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I think what I’m trying to say here is, “Screw you, Netflix.” But also, kind of not? Cause while Jessica Jones isn’t perfect, it’s still pretty damn awesome.

DISCLAIMER:

Mild to moderate SPOILERS here. I won’t reveal any big plot developments before the Spoiler Section (where I will also discuss big happenings in Daredevil, so beware), but if you haven’t watched the show yet and have been religiously avoiding any analysis/criticism/praise of the show, you should probably also skip this review. Cause there are, like, Themes and Issues. We will definitely be discussing the Themes and Issues.

SUMMARY:

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter)–super strong, can kinda/not really fly, not terribly nice, and drinks like a damn sailor–is just trying to make it one day to the next as a private investigator after surviving a horrifically traumatic experience at the hands of Evil-as-Fuck Kilgrave (David Tennant). But when the previously assumed dead Kilgrave returns, Jessica has to decide if she can rise to the role of hero and get rid of her nemesis once and for all.

NOTES:

1. So, I really enjoyed Jessica Jones. I think it’s got some plotting problems, particularly in the second half, but there’s a whole lot I think this show does amazingly well, including some stuff I’ve never seen from Marvel before. Let’s look at our heroine first.

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It’s not surprising that Jessica Jones is so different from the other Marvel female leads, considering how little competition there is in that department. If we’re talking only heroes or heroines who are the undisputed lead of their own movie or television show (and haven’t simply been a lead in a team story like Agents of SHIELD or X-Men), well. For boys, we’ve got Wolverine, Spiderman, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Daredevil, and Ant-Man. For girls, we’ve got Agent Carter. And now Jessica Jones.

Out of any of them, girl or boy, Jessica Jones is easily the most antihero of the bunch. She’s flawed as hell: mean, closed off, regularly makes poor life choices. She’s also funny and sympathetic and, most importantly, a person. Whenever anyone talks about likable characters, there’s always that one dude who rolls his eyes because he equates likable to infallible, but Jessica Jones fucks up all the time and yet I still give a damn about her. That’s the difference. (A small rant: the only time in the whole series when I didn’t like Jessica was in the pilot, when she was spying on people and the show stops to have a funny at the idea of fat people exercising. Man. I’ve never seen that joke before, and I don’t have any idea why the idea of exercising in public sometimes makes me uncomfortable. In related news, bite my sweet chunky ass, show.)

Krysten Ritter does a fantastic job in the role. I read the entire Alias omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis in like two days and fell in love with it, so I was really hoping Ritter would make it work, and she does. It’s funny, too, because the first thing I ever saw her in was Veronica Mars, and man, Jessica Jones is about as far away from Gia Goodman as you can possibly imagine. It kind of makes me want to rewatch the second season now, just to giggle.

2. What makes Jessica Jones so great isn’t that she’s an antihero, or at least, it isn’t just that she’s an antihero. (Female antiheroes are generally less well-tolerated than male ones, though, so yeah, it is kind of nice to get a woman who just doesn’t give a shit.) It’s also that she is a victim who isn’t only a victim.

One of the things I like about this show is that we get to see Jessica’s life before Kilgrave, as well as after. I like this primarily because we find out that that she wasn’t some perfectly happy, well-adjusted, disgustingly sweet girl before suffering a trauma that turned her into this completely different person. Trauma affects everyone differently; what it doesn’t do is turn you from one one-note cliche into a different one-note cliche, and using rape as a lazy shorthand for Loss of Innocence is cheap and kind of gross. That’s not what Jessica Jones does here. This is very much a survivor’s story, and it’s her story, not her rapist’s or her parents’ or her boyfriend’s. That’s excellent to see.

3. And it’s important to note, too, that Kilgrave is a very different kind of villain than we’ve seen from Marvel before.

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The vast majority of Marvel villains are boring as hell, and their motivation usually falls under one of the following: wants revenge, wants to destroy the world, wants to make the world a better place (which, generally, means ruling it with an iron fist). There are, of course, examples of good villains who are motivated by any or all of those things, but so many of them are predictable and flat. I’ve found myself pretty bored by even the ones who were endlessly praised, like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, who never struck me as terribly original and, in all honesty, often seemed unnecessarily over the top. (Sometimes, just for fun, I still like to hiss, “This CITTTTTTTY.”)

But even if Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance worked for you, as it worked for many, I don’t think you can argue that Fisk brings anything new to the table when it comes to villainy and the types of superhero stories we tell. Kilgrave, though. Kilgrave is basically the personification of male entitlement. Other Marvel villains have certainly been entitled little shits–Loki, for instance–but the way their stories are crafted are entirely different. Loki wants adulation on a macro-level; he wants a throne on top of the world with all of humanity on its knees. He doesn’t need his subjects to love him; he just wants their obedience and fear.

But while Kilgrave is also all about power and fear, he’s after a different kind of control, more insidious and, in a way, much more commonplace. Take this bit of dialogue here between Kilgrave and Jessica:

Kilgrave: “We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.”
Jessica: “Yeah. It’s called rape.”
Kilgrave: “What? Which part of staying in five star hotels, eating in all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”
Jessica: “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my godamn head.”
Kilgrave: “That’s not what I was trying to do–”
Jessica: “It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. You raped me again and again and again.”

Or this, a moment later:

Jessica: “You blame bad parenting? My parents died. You don’t see me raping anyone.”
Kilgrave: “I hate that word.”

I doubt Loki would have responded like that, insisting that how he raped her makes any difference, or going so far as to delude himself into thinking that he didn’t rape her at all. Loki wants to be king; if he’s going to rape anyone, he probably just figures that’s his right. Kilgrave, though, doesn’t like the word, because he–like a lot of rapists–doesn’t think that’s what he’s actually doing; he thinks of himself as somehow better than that. It’s that same idea that husbands can’t rape their wives, or that prostitutes can’t be raped by their clients, or that date rape is somehow a lesser form of Real Rape. None of it is actually rape, people like Kilgrave incorrectly argue.

What makes Kilgrave particularly successful as a villain–and Jessica Jones as a story–is that it’s not just, like, The Man Who Raped Jessica Jones Has Come Back! Will She Defeat Him? Go Cry In a Shower Till a Man Rescues Her? Get Raped Again? It’s not just about one traumatic act–Jessica Jones is a whole study in abuse dynamics and victim blaming. Kilgrave doesn’t just want to kill our hero (or break her publicly only to kill her later, a standard silly supervillain trope). He wants to (figuratively and literally) control her, own her, possess her body and soul. He wants her to perform for his every whim and desire, and that, that is a story that Marvel has not yet told.

Kilgrave is easily the creepiest and certainly one of the best villains Marvel has ever had. He’s watchable because he’s David Tennant and has some of the funniest lines in the series, but he’s also a gross, possessive, emotionally abusive stalker, and I was very relieved to see that the show in no way let him off the hook.

4. One of my other favorite things about Jessica Jones: Trish.

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I’ll be honest: I wasn’t actually expecting to like Trish. A heroine’s non-powered BFF? Not always the best character on a show, and I was very afraid that she’d end up bitching at Jessica the whole time about, oh, not being the right kind of hero, or never being there for Trish, or thinking obviously stupid things were more important than Kilgrave. There are so few good female friendships on TV, and I wasn’t actually expecting this to be one of them.

But Trish and Jessica might actually have one of the best female friendships I’ve ever seen. For starters, Trish isn’t annoying and does understand how priorities work. She doesn’t have powers, but she’s not completely useless, either, and that’s always nice to see. But also Trish and Jessica share a complicated history, one that doesn’t revolve around a man they both love or anything like that. They’re not always happy with one another, but they fight for each another, love each another, and it’s really great to watch, especially as the series progresses. Like I said, it’s hard enough finding shows that feature female friendships, much less ones where the heroine’s most important relationship isn’t romantic in nature.

(Supergirl is trying to do this, too, I think, with Kara and Alex, but so far I don’t think it’s been quite as successful. They’ve had some nice moments and I have liked the last few episodes more than the first three, but I’m still struggling with some of the dialogue, and other than just being annoying, I think that the love triangle bullshit is damaging. Trish is more important to Jessica Jones than Luke Cage; there’s no doubt in my mind. Alex vs Jimmy Olsen, though . . . I don’t know. I think that’s hazier, even though it absolutely shouldn’t be.)

5. Of course, it can’t all be fannish squee and OMG.

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So, this is Simpson (Wil Traval). And Simpson kind of sucks.

To detail exactly why Simpson sucks, I’d have to spoil stuff, so we’ll save that for later. For now, I’ll say that while his character doesn’t start so bad, he goes downhill pretty quickly and never recovers. Simpson’s subplot feels rushed and mostly inconsequential, to the point where I feel like I could excise his character from the show entirely with only a few changes. And he makes decisions that, for one reason or another, I just don’t buy. The outline is there–I can see how the arc was supposed to go–but the emotion behind the driving action just isn’t. Whether that’s a writing flaw, an acting flaw, or a bit of both, I haven’t yet decided, but Simpson’s definitely a problem for me here.

6. And as much as I love the Jessica Jones vs. Kilgrave story, I think it’s a little stretched out over thirteen episodes. Ten might have been perfect, but at thirteen there are some repetition and convenience problems, so I think it should either have been a shorter season altogether, or there should have been a little more procedural/case of the week stuff earlier on. Everyone knocks a show for the Case of the Week formula, but sometimes I think it can be used well, and I’ll admit, I was kind of hoping to see a little more of it after reading Alias. (Of course, the case I most wanted to see would never have happened, but Christ, I would have given anything to see it cause, like, it includes Captain America. And a sex tape.)

7. As far as other characters on this show:

Malcolm (Eka Darville)

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For the most part, Malcolm works pretty well for me. When he first popped up, though, I was definitely like . . . huh . . .  because he’s very much a different character in the comics. And while I couldn’t stand that character and wanted him to change, the way the show changed him seemed pretty random to me and possibly verging just on the side of casually racist. But then the story turned, and Malcolm suddenly got a lot better for me. I think my only real problem with him is in the penultimate episode of the series, where he has a change of attitude that I didn’t fully buy, didn’t seem particularly necessary, and only lasts for an episode anyway. But that’s definitely a writing thing, not an acting thing.

As far as acting goes, I think Darville’s pretty good. Bonus points for the fake American accent, a sentiment that cannot at all be shared by his Aussie cast members. Rachael Taylor? Wil Traval? You guys aren’t fooling anyone.

Luke Cage (Mike Colter)

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. . . you know, I don’t have any real deep thoughts about Luke Cage. It’s not because he’s bad or anything. Mike Colter is totally solid in the role, and I’m minorly interested in seeing his show now. (An aside: what do you mean, ‘minorly’ isn’t a real word, spellcheck? If majorly is a word, ‘minorly’ should absolutely be a word. Fuck you, red squiggle line. I do what I want.) If any relationship could be considered ‘complicated,’ well, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones certainly fit the bill. But that’s about as deep as my analysis goes: he has some nice moments and he’s fairly attractive and . . . yeah. That’s what I’ve got.

(Actually, while Colter’s clearly good looking, I personally much prefer Eka Darville. Then again, I tend to like less muscles. This is just like How to Get Away With Murder all over again, when everybody ws busy fanning themselves over Billy Brown’s truly ridiculous washboard abs, and I was all like, “Eh, that’s way too big for me. Let’s go back to Jack Falahee or Conrad Ricamora, shall we? WAY more my type.”)

Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss)

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Jeri is quite the ice-bitch. Carrie-Anne Moss plays her to perfection; she is sharp, conniving, and not particularly moral, but certainly not an out-and-out villain, either. She is a character with a ton of power and I generally enjoyed watching her, even when she makes some spectacularly terrible decisions. Honestly, my favorite thing about Jeri is probably that she’s a lesbian because her story (which deals primarily with her secretary girlfriend and her extremely bitter ex) is the kind of thing you usually see given to a straight male character. (In fact, Jeri is apparently a man in the comics.) It’s kind of a boring story, given to a guy; plus, as Jeri is not straight or a man, you get three more complicated female characters in the mix, which is great.

All of Jeri’s messy divorce stuff is handled pretty well, particularly since the show never takes the easy way out and makes one character the victim and one character the villain. For instance, on paper, Wendy (Robin Weigert) is a pretty good human being: she’s a doctor, helps the poor, etc., etc., but she’s also pretty awful during this dispute. You can feel sorry for both of the characters while knowing they’re both totally dicks to one another.

8. Finally, before Spoilers, I just want to say that while I enjoyed the fight scenes well enough, none of them really stood out to me, not the way they have in, say, Daredevil or Agents of SHIELD. It certainly makes sense that they wouldn’t be the same, as Jessica Jones is a powerhouse, not a ninja or secret agent, but still, there are only a couple of fight scenes that really made an impression, and I feel like that mostly had to do with the characters involved, less with the choreography itself. It’s not a huge complaint or anything, just that I wouldn’t mind a few more iconic fight scenes in the second season.

That being said, the way Jessica opens up the series is probably iconic enough.

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Jessica Jones doesn’t take any major plot lines from Alias, I don’t think, but one of the things that does directly transition from page to screen is the opening.

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“And then there’s the matter of your bill.”

Love it.

There’s a lot to cover here, and I should probably try to do so in some kind of ordered, chronological fashion to make sure everything makes sense . . . but first, I feel that I need to calmly and objectively address a small thing that occurs during the series and how I, with complete rationality, feel about it.

CLAIRE. CLAIRE IS THE BEST. CLAIRE AND JESSICA ARE THE BEST. CLAIRE AND JESSICA AND TRISH (WHO IS ALSO THE BEST, BUT NEVER MET CLAIRE) NEED TO HAVE A LADIES NIGHT AND DRINK A WHOLE BUNCH AND KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS. PLEASE PLEASE SOMEONE WRITE ME THIS FANFIC PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.

Okay, I feel better now. Moving on.

Let’s first talk in more detail about the things that I don’t think work.

A. Kilgrave is captured one too many times.

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Jessica, Trish, and Simpson temporarily capture Kilgrave pretty early in the season. Of course, they lose him almost immediately, but still it’s pretty awesome, mostly because it’s just so surprising. Later, they successfully capture him again, this time actually getting him into the Glass Box of Doom until Jeri fucks everything up pretty royally, letting him escape and pretty much getting Kilgrave’s Mom dead, Ex-Wife Wendy dead, and Girlfriend Pam arrested for murder. (Poor Pam. I feel super sorry for her by the end of this story, and I would very much like to see a scene in Daredevil, Season Two, when Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson get her acquitted.)

(Also, as a complete aside: I’m totally amused that nobody in the Kilgrave Family gets to use their natural accent. I’m pretty sure they’re all supposed to be English, but Mommy Kilgrave is American, Daddy Kilgrave is Australian, and David Tennant himself, of course, is Scottish.)

Anyway, that’s all fine. My problem occurs in the very next episode, when Jessica Jones almost immediately gets the upper hand and knocks Kilgrave out, only to lose him for the third time because of an ill-timed mob of stupid people acting stupid. And the thing is, I feel like I kind of get the idea here: victim-blaming happens even among victims, and it’s not like Jessica Jones has entirely endeared herself to the group, but it all feels so rushed and heavily convenient, particularly since this all happens right when Hope is on the verge of finally becoming free. Naturally, Kilgrave escapes AGAIN and Hope ends up dead. (Oh, show. How you are on the nose with your subtle naming practices.)

(I haven’t really talked about Hope yet, and honestly, I’m not really planning to past this paragraph. Erin Moriarty is fine in the role, but can we be real here? The character is basically a giant plot device, and her only actual purpose–other than causing Jessica guilt–is to make sure Jessica can’t murder Kilgrave until the proper time.)

B. Malcolm is super disappointed in Jessica Jones, at least for one episode.

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So, Malcolm has this whole crisis of faith thing, feeling like he can’t help anyone, which is fine, I guess. I mean, I get it, and there are decent reasons for him to feel pretty damn depressed about life. But this is also when Malcolm, who has been one of Jessica’s most loyal supporters till now, suddenly turns against her, and it all feels pretty silly and manufactured. You know, it’s another moment where everyone shits on the hero, and guys, at this point I’m pretty sure Jessica’s already been shit on enough. And there’s just zero need for this particular semi-confrontation, since Malcolm’s real emotional conflict is clearly with himself, and he gets over the whole thing in literally an episode anyway. It’s not a huge stumbling block for me, but it all does feel a little cheap.

C. Simpson, however, is absolutely the worst.

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So, we are initially introduced to Brainwashed Simpson. He tries to kill Trish, thankfully does not succeed, feels guilty as hell about it, and that all works. He and Trish also started having sex, which is also surprisingly fine, and he and Jessica butt heads a bit, which is totally cool, at least initially. All until Kilgrave escapes (the first time), and then we start having problems.

A lot of it, I think, is that I just don’t buy Simpson’s whole ‘Kilgrave Must Die, No Matter The Cost’ thing. I want to, I mean, I get it: Kilgrave controlled Simpson, nearly made him murder somebody, has absolutely horrifying powers, etc., but Simpson’s opinion on the matter is so rigid it mostly just comes off as flat. Again, I’m not sure if it’s entirely an acting or a writing problem, but I never buy this rage Simpson supposedly has, and it bugs me that he never even addresses the potential problems with killing Kilgrave. Like, it’d be one thing if he thought about it and ultimately dismissed Hope as a casualty of war–see, this is the problem with naming somebody Hope, sentences like that–but Simpson doesn’t even seem to acknowledge those problems, which makes him read like a pretty cheap foil to Jessica for me.

Cause, in a way, Simpson is almost as much of a plot device as Hope. After all, it’s Simpson’s supposed desperation to stop Kilgrave that’s the big instigating factor in his decision to go back to his Ominous Military Past and start taking his Super Aggression Pills again. Which, unfortunately, is a whole other problem because that subplot is pretty poorly handled. It kind of comes out of nowhere, is rushed as hell, and doesn’t actually affect much of the primary action.

Actually, almost everything Simpson does feels like it could have been either written out or handled by a minor secondary character with not much difficulty. Now that I think about it, I almost wish Simpson had been killed in Kilgrave’s first escape attempt; I’m not entirely convinced anything he does afterwards is even remotely worthwhile. The only thing I think I’d miss is the bit where Trish herself takes the Super Aggression Pills, and I can’t help but feel like those could have been introduced some other way.

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It was almost, but not quite, as awesome as Alfred on Super Pills in Injustice, Volume 2. Are you people reading that shit? I heart it SO HARD, you guys.

I’m sure this will all become important eventually, either in the second season of Jessica Jones or later in The Defenders, but that doesn’t mean Simpson isn’t a serious problem for me this season. Probably the biggest problem with the whole series, actually.

D. Especially because Simpson unnecessarily kills Detective Clemons (Clarke Peters).

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It just feels like a really cheap death. Simpson’s turn to the Dark Side happens way, way too fast for me, so I didn’t buy this moment at all when it happened. I was annoyed because I like Clarke Peters, but also because it felt so deeply unnecessary. It reminded me a bit of Ben’s death in Daredevil, except that Ben’s death felt like a natural part of the storyline, like a reasonable consequence of actions that he was a part of. Not to mention we spent a lot more time with Ben. We know about his motivations and his fears and his sick wife and all that. Clemons, on the other hand, doesn’t get anywhere near that kind of screen time, but I think his death was supposed to have a similar emotional impact, like, it seems like that’s the only reason it happened, not because the story demanded it but because the writers wanted to hit you emotionally with the death of a character you kind of care about, but isn’t the main hero, her love interest, or her best friend. Mostly, it only succeeded in irritating me.

Now, that’s a lot of straight negativity, I know. Like I said before, I don’t think Jessica Jones is perfect. It has some serious plotting and convenience problems for me, things that remains issues no matter how well they handle other stuff. At the same time, though, none of those things ruin the show for me, and how they handle the other stuff is a really big deal.

So, let’s circle back to finish up with some more positive thoughts about Jessica Jones.

A. Seriously, Trish and Jessica are the best.

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I was happy when it quickly became apparent that Trish wasn’t going to be some cliché harpy, but I still didn’t expect to actively like her character as much as I did. I love that she has her own emotional shit, separate from Jessica’s, to work through. I really like the story with her mother and how it echoes the themes of the show, the cycle of abuse. (I also enjoy Rebecca De Mornay’s performance, and was annoyed with myself for not initially recognizing her.)

I was also immediately intrigued by Trish’s mystery bruises, and super jazzed that she was training to be a hero. She doesn’t have powers, but she can still kick ass. She gets her ass kicked too, but isn’t completely useless. It’s pretty awesome.

And all that alone would have been enough for me to declare Feminist Victory!, but in the last episode, when Jessica says, “I love you,” to Trish as she’s facing off with Kilgrave . . . man, you guys, that just . . . that just meant the world to me. Cause you’ve got to understand: I really do like some romances and I ship certain characters like whoa, but Hollywood’s obsession with romantic love drives me nuts sometimes because it so rarely affords the time to show other kinds of love. The idea that romantic love means more than the love you have for friends just annoys the shit out of me, probably because that’s never been true in my own life. I don’t think I’m alone in that regard, nor do I think that makes me broken. So yeah, I’m happy that, at the end of the day, this isn’t a story about Jessica and Luke; Luke’s important, and that’s great, but really, this is a love story between Jessica and Trish. That matters to me.

B. I kind of enjoy how there’s never any big moral dilemma about killing people. Like, in Daredevil, that’s Matt’s whole thing as a Catholic, right; he spends the entire season fighting with his desire/fear of killing Wilson Fisk, but Jessica Jones clearly doesn’t give a shit about any of that. The only reason she doesn’t break Kilgrave’s neck immediately is that she’s trying to save Hope; once Hope is dead, murder is back on the table. (SEE? Fuck you ironic fuckers. Hope is the worst name in the WORLD.)

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman snap a character’s neck before. Just as a side note.

C. The Jewel outfit shoutout? Perfection.

D. Finally, I really do like the last shot of the season, when Malcolm steps in, like, ha, I will be your secretary/sidekick whether you like me or not! (Okay, that’s not really the tone, but still.) Their relationship is interesting, and I’d like to see it develop further in the second season, provided we can forego the manufactured drama of 1×12. (Also, we can just get rid of Robyn. I kind of don’t need to see her ever again.) But just in general, I like this last scene because it ends the series on exactly the right tone. Jessica Jones is a superhero show and also a noir show, and obviously, those are two of my favorite things. It’s great how seamlessly they blend here.

QUOTES:

Jessica: “Clients hire me to find dirt, and I find it. Which shouldn’t surprise them, but it does. Knowing it’s real means they’ve got to make a decision. One, do something about it, or two, keep denying it. Shoot the messenger. Tell me I’m getting off on ruining their already shitty lives. Option two rarely pans out.”

Pam: “Jessica. Did Ms. Hogarth ask you to stop by?”
Jessica: “Yep.”
Pam: “You’re lying, aren’t you–”
Jessica: “Yep.”

Jessica: “Phew. I questioned my whole worldview for a second there.”

Hope’s Friend: “She’s not missing, you know. She’s just holed up with that guy.”
Jessica: “There’s a guy?”
Hope’s Friend: “Of course there’s a guy. Why else would a best friend crap on you?”

Jessica: “It’s people like you who give people like you a bad name.”

Jessica: “They’d rather call you crazy than admit I can lift this car, or melt your insides with my laser eyes, which won’t leave a trace . . . laser eyes. Moron.”

Luke Cage: “You’re a PI?”
Jessica: “I’m just trying to make a living. You know, booze costs money, usually.”

Luke: “So what have you detected?”
Jessica: “Well, I can tell from the residue on this bar that four years ago a man named Horace had buffalo wings.”
Luke: “His name was Melvin.”

Jessica: “Again, I don’t flirt; I just say what I want.”

Trish: “I want to meet Madeline Albright.”
Zack: “I want to meet Channing Tatum, but I’ve never tried to book him on the show.”
Trish: “Yes, you have. He said no.”

Jessica: “Would you put day drinking under experience or special abilities?”

Jeri: “You’re coming across as paranoid.”
Jessica: “Everyone keeps saying that. It’s like a conspiracy.”

Jessica: “I don’t give a bag of dicks what kinky shit you’re into. Just be into it quietly.”

Luke Cage: “Lot of booze for such a small woman.”
Jessica: “I don’t get asked on a lot of second dates.”

Malcolm: “You use sarcasm to distance people.”
Jessica: “And yet you’re still here.”

Malcolm: “You look bad.”
Jessica: “I need money.”
Malcolm: “You can have my TV.”
Jessica: “Thanks, Malcolm. You keep it.”
Malcolm: “I stole it.”
Jessica: “I figured.”

Jessica: “I don’t get you. You have money, looks, a radio show, creepy if not adoring fans, and you’re a freaking household name. What more do you want?”
Trish: “To save the world, of course.”

Clement: “Any idea how a coed from Nebraska gets a gun?”
Jessica: “Wal-Mart?”

Jeri: “The real world is not about happy endings. It’s about taking the life you have, and fighting like hell to keep it.”

Jessica: “You’re the first person I ever pictured a future with. You’re also the first person I ever shot in the head.”

Jessica: “You shoot at me. I’ll pull the bullet out of my ruined jacket and shove it up your ass with my pinky finger, and who do you think that’s going to hurt more?”

Jessica: “You think you’re the only ones who have lost people? You think you’re the only ones with pain? You think you can take your shit and dump it on me? You don’t get to do that! So you take your goddamned pain and you live with it, assholes!”

Neighbor: “She was the strangest tomboy. She wore princess dresses with high tops.”
Kilgrave: “Really? I can’t get her to wear a dress for the life of me.”
Jessica: “I’ll wear one to your funeral.”

Jessica: “Don’t look at him, don’t talk to him, and don’t listen to him.”
Jeri: “Because he’ll mind-control me.”
Jessica: “No, because he’s an asshole. His powers don’t work through a mic, so you’d have to go in the room. Don’t do that, either.”

Luke Cage: “I protect me and what’s mine, but that’s it. Being a hero just puts a target on your back.”

Luke Cage: “You still get points for doing good.”
Jessica: “Not near enough to cancel out the bad.”
Luke Cage: “Way I see it, most people have both going on. Just depends on which wins that day.”

Jessica: “It’s not that. I just really need to get some drugs.”
Trish: “Graduating from alcoholism?”

Jessica: “Trish, what are you afraid of?”
Trish: “Not much anymore. Except clowns, but that’s just common sense.”

Trish: “I let you fight my battles for too long. When you left–”
Jessica: “You became a ninja?”
Trish: “Krav maga.”

Trish: “I hate feeling this way. I don’t know how you handle it.”
Jessica: “It’s called whiskey.”

Jeri: “You know who people hate more than litigators? Puppy killers.”

Pam: “She won’t wait. She wouldn’t listen.”
Jessica: “I couldn’t hear you over that print.”

Jessica: “The last people referred to me wound up dead in my elevator. If Audrey Eastman follows the same path, she won’t be able to pay her legal bills.”

Jessica: “If you wanna talk, or something, they all meet tomorrow night.”
(Simpson makes a face.)
Jessica: “Yeah, I’m not into it, either.”

Simpson: “I had GI Joes until they all burned.”
Trish: “Burned?”
Simpson: “They went into battle to save my sister’s Barbie and melted into one big clump.”
Trish: “That’s terrible.”
Simpson: “Hey! They accomplished their mission.”
Trish: “By dying?”
Simpson: “They rescued Barbie. I mean, the Dream House was gutted, but she had insurance.”
Trish: “You used actual fire? You torched a Dream House?”
Simpson: “I was committed to the scenario.”

Trish: “I might shoot you by accident.”
Simpson: “It’s worth the risk.”

Jessica: “I will not stay in a house with slaves.”
Kilgrave: “Aw, now you’re just being sanctimonious.”

Kilgrave: “I have a conscience. It’s just more selective.”

Jeri: “I’m sorry.”
Wendy: “Well. I’m going to have to ask you to say that with cash.”

Jessica: “You good?”
Malcolm: “You care?”
Jessica: “Just don’t want to be another reason for you to get high.”
Malcolm: “Don’t need a reason.”

Jessica: “You can’t improve on an asshole by making it bigger.”

Luke Cage: “Jessica Jones, you are a hard-drinking, short-fused mess of a woman, but you are not a piece of shit.”

Jessica: “Knowing it’s real means you’ve gotta make a decision. One, keep denying it, or two, do something about it.”

Jessica: “Smile.”

CONCLUSIONS:

Totally different from any other superhero story, Marvel or DC. Convenience problems, yes. Pacing problems, yes. But a great heroine, a great villain, a great female relationship, a lot of three-dimensional female characters, and some really stellar thematic work.

MVP:

Krysten Ritter, I think, because the show relies so heavily on her performance. But David Tenant and Rachael Taylor get some serious props, too.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B+

MORAL:

You can deny, or you can act. And hint: you should totally act. But either way, there should absolutely be booze.

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7 Responses to “And Then There’s The Matter of Your Bill.”

  1. Bryan says:

    Colter as Luke really worked for me here, especially that first fight scene in the bar. He’s a black man with strength superpowers, and it’s handled so well. He’s absolutely calm and in control of the situation. He strikes only when he has to, and he does everything he can to keep from breaking anything. It was so very much not what I expected that it delighted me. I can’t wait for his show. (but I loved everything you said about Kilgrave the walking MRA’s comment section and female characters, too.)

    • I didn’t think about that, but you’re right, it’s a nice touch. I’ll say what I said to my friend on Kate on Facebook: I didn’t mean to come off as TOO apathetic. I really did like Luke. He just wasn’t my favorite part of the show or my least favorite part of the show, and when it came down to analyzing his character, I just realized I didn’t have any real deep thoughts, one way or the other.

  2. Teacups says:

    I liked this a whole lot.

    I’ve read a whole lot of stuff about how accurate the depiction of Kilgrave’s stalking and abuse is, if you remove the superpowers. Which is fantastic. I can’t speak to Kilgrave, but I will say that Trish’s mum also felt like a very authentic abusive manipulative parent to me. It was actually kind of

    Another thing that I think made Kilgrave a unique villain – and Jessica Jones a unique superhero show – is that he’s very small-time and unambitious, as Big Bads go. Though he leaves a trail of pain and suffering behind him, he was never presented as being a threat to more than a handful of people at a time – even most villains who are only concerned with revenge or whatever on the hero generally threaten to take a city down with them as collateral. But Kilgrave has no plans to take over/destroy the world, the city, or even the neighbourhood. Indeed, his ambitions don’t go beyond material wealth and having his crush like him back, just like millions or billions of other people.

    None of which undercut how truly menacing he was as a villain. A million is a statistic and all that, so watching him very casually and unnecessarily force people to injure themselves because they were annoying him, or as security against Jessica, was far more effective than – for example – Ra’hs or Slade having a crack at wiping out Starling City as a side effect of their obsession with Oliver. Slade was a great villain, but yeah.

    I found Will’s storyline to be okay. I basically read it as a sort of take on the Alpha Male persona. Like, I think Will was someone who very much saw himself that way, reacted to being victimised by A) trying to regain control over what happened, especially by destroying Kilgrave, and B) redeem himself in his own mind by casting himself as the Ultra Manly Hero of the story, and Trish as the love interest he needed to protect. He only became more set in these goals and views over time, as they repeatedly failed to take down Kilgrave. In fairness, some of his negative qualities in this arena – shutting people out in a misguided effort to protect them, insisting on doing things his way – are fairly similar to Jessica herself.

    I did really like that he was ultimately right that they needed to kill Kilgrave instead of trying to contain him or use him to free Hope. Like, if Will didn’t care enough about the collateral damage of taking down Kilgrave, Jessica cared too much – in the sense that she was so caught up in trying to save Hope and Kilgrave’s other victims that he was able to go free longer, killing and hurting and traumatising many more people.

    As awesome – like, ridiculously, completely AWESOME – as it is that the show had three lesbian recurring characters, large parts of their storyline felt a bit out of place to me? Moreso at the beginning of the show, when almost every scene had Jessica in it. The few scenes that didn’t have her in them were strongly tied in to the Kilgrave plot – except for the ones about a recurring character’s affair with her secretary and would-be divorce from her wife. I had no issue with the love triangle scenes that Jessica was in too, or with the ones which were linked to the rest of the plot – which was mostly the stuff about Jeri started trying to harness Kilgrave’s abilities to make Wendy back off. But the ones where like, Jeri tried to take Pam to the restaurant she’d proposed at? That kind of stuff stuck out a bit from the rest of the show.

    Anyway, I also felt pretty sorry for Pam, although she shouldn’t have had a very hard time getting off on those charges, if she’d talked to Jeri. All they would’ve had to do was remove Kilgrave from the story and pretend Wendy attacked of her own volition. However, since she said that she had no idea who Jeri was, I’m presuming that this is not what happened. As such, I would be very much in favour of this idea for a Daredevil crossover.

    Have you read any of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? I’m not sure if it would quite fit with the tone of the show, but I have a wild, desperate hope that the titular character is going to at least guest star on JJ. I know she’s in Jessica’s comics somewhere. I wonder if there’s fanfic of this anywhere?

    • Teacups says:

      …Actually kind of uncomfortable to watch, is what I meant to say about Trish’s mum.

      Someday, I’ll remember to proofread things.

      • Meh, proofreading is overrated. (Okay, it’s totally not. But since I often fail in this regard, I suppose I’ll allow it.) 🙂

        I completely agree about Trish’s mother. Also, about Kilgrave–I read a review once criticizing his total lack of ambition, like, they didn’t understand why he hadn’t tried to conquer the world yet, given his power. But I thought it worked perfectly because he didn’t need to conquer the world. He could just easily live the life he wanted by forcing the immediate people around him to do whatever he asked, essentially getting anything he could ever need or hope for by leaving a string of broken people in his wake. That felt very real to me. And yeah, he was menacing and insidious as fuck. (Which I don’t think he could have been if he wanted to be King of the Mountain. The more global and Big Time the villain, the more cartoonish they seem to be. Kilgrave, on the other hand, was personal and invasive and worked perfectly for the story.)

        I like the idea of Will’s storyline, but it just felt too rushed for me. The fact that he was right about killing Kilgrave is good, but I still feel like they’re missing steps with him.

        I have not yet read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but I’ve heard it recommended several times, so I might check it out sometime this year.

      • Teacups says:

        Yeah, I definitely felt like his lack of grand-scale evil plans made him feel a lot more real. Not many people know someone who genuinely, seriously wants to take over the world or shit like that (er, outside of video or board games, anyway) with a plan and everything. Or if we do, they don’t express those desires.

        But we’ve all known people who tried to force their romantic or sexual desires onto someone else. And we’ve all known adults who still act like bratty, spoiled children, and get angry when they don’t get what they want.

        That’s fair, about Will.

        Squirrel Girl is my favourite comic ever. One of the main characters writes fanfiction wherein Thor is a cat, and he has a little hammer that looks like a cat. And she meets Thor and gets to ask him questions to research her Cat Thor fic. I mean, there’s a lot of other terrific stuff about it, but her obsession with Norse mythology kitty AUs is the high point for me.

        If you read it, can you tell me what you thought of it?

        • Squirrel Girl sounds pretty excellent. I don’t know when I’ll read it–I’m not really supposed to get anything else until I actually get my To-Read pile at something semi-manageable–but when I do, I’ll let you know what I think of it. 🙂

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