Imagine having superhuman strength – and no control over it.
Created, written, and executive produced by Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter and the Twilight series), Jessica Jones is about a female superhero with a lot of strength and the ability to fly, and the consequences of her encounter with a mind-controlling villain named Kilgrave.
Based on the Marvel comics series Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, the Netflix original stars Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) as Jessica Jones and David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, and Harry Potter, of course) as Kilgrave, one of the most despicable characters seen on screen in a while.
The neo-noir crime thriller begins when private investigator Jones finds herself looking for a New York University student who has gone missing. She discovers that Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty) is the victim of Kilgrave, who Jessica believed to be dead, and under whose influence Hope murders her parents. The rest of the season is spent dealing with demons of the past while preparing to fight new ones as Jessica chases down Kilgrave.
Jessica Jones is a gripping, dark and grimy show, featuring a strong, unapologetic heroine in a Marvel Comics universe that is crowded with male superheroes. Jones has anger, superhuman strength and a painful past in which she was controlled by Kilgrave, who, as a result of failed experiments carried out on him as a little boy, emits a virus that compels those around him to do his bidding. Right off the start, we know Jessica is damaged and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but she is also real and imperfect.
In Hope and Jessica, the show has two victims of sexual abuse and manipulation by the same man. While the trauma is fresh for Hope, Jessica is hardened. She has let the psychological, physical and sexual abuse fester, altering her view of the world forever.
The show has been applauded for calling out abuse for what it is. Jessica knows that by forcing her into sex while she was under his control, Kilgrave is a perpetrator of rape, and there is no other way to say it. There is no blame on the victim. The abuse did not happen because she was out alone in the night, or because of what she was wearing, or because she had been drinking. The show lets Jessica be affected by the sexual assault, sympathising with her, but never ever pitying her.
This focus lets Jessica Jones portray the women, who make for more than 50% of the cast, as complicated, powerful sexual beings. Jessica’s lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), who often asks Jessica to use her abilities as an investigator and super-human abilities to further a case, is openly lesbian and going through a divorce. Jessica’s best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor) is a strong woman training to master Krav Maga and telling off the man she has just slept with. Jessica too, is not a prude when it comes to her relationship with Luke (Mile Colter), the bar-owner who with his unbreakable skin is the only other person she cares about (Trish being the first.)
Jessica and Trish’s friendship is one of the most important equations in the show, portraying unconditional loyalty and commitment between women who fight for and support each other.
As Kilgrave, David Tennant is not the goofy doctor anymore, but there is a stark kookiness to his villainy. It is just the way Tennant is. I even liked him when as Barty Crouch Jr, doing the Dark Lord’s bidding in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s surprising, and on some level twisted, that a character as ruthless and evil as Kilgrave has inspired a fan following. It is hard to imagine an actor other than Tennant stirring the mixed reaction of deep revulsion and admiration.
The Marvel comic series has been turned into a contemporary empowering comment on gender, sexuality, abuse and consent. Jessica Jones really is as phenomenal as the reviews have been saying. Luckily, it’s available for bingeing on Netflix in India.