Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 1 Review: “AKA Ladies Night”

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones is unlike any other Marvel television series or film that I’ve ever seen, and that’s a good thing. By airing on Netflix, the show is given much more creative freedom than a lot of its fellow Marvel projects, and while that allows it to be darker in its content and fouler with its language (you won’t catch Phil Coulson or Captain America talking the way that Jessica does), it more importantly provides Jessica Jones with the ability to explore more emotionally rich and challenging topics in a style and tone that’s all its own. The combination of the themes present in Jessica Jones, and the manner in which the series tells its story, is what make its so distinct, even from its fellow Netflix drama Daredevil; both shows may be painted across the dark and dangerous canvas of Hell’s Kitchen, but despite any atmospheric similarities they possess, Jessica Jones remains unique and, throughout its series premiere, “AKA Ladies Night,” excellent.

Jessica Jones‘ first hour tightly focuses on its titular heroine (I don’t think there’s a single scene that doesn’t feature Krysten Ritter), illustrating how damaged she is from the trauma she experienced in the past. Jessica struggles throughout her days working as a P.I., spying on people “boning,” as she describes it to Luke Cage, and drinking nonstop to try to numb the pain of the tragedy the befell her. However, even though she keeps trying to silence the flashbacks that continue to haunt her, Jessica’s traumatic memories resurface when she investigates the case of a missing girl, Hope, whose disappearance bears many similarities to the horrible situation that Jessica herself went through at the hands of the villainous, mind-controlling Kilgrave (David Tenant, who barely appears in this first episode, although just the echoes of his voice are menacing enough), who she had believed was dead.

Ultimately, Jessica is able to find Hope, using the clues that Kilgrave left for her, and reunites the girl with her family, but the story doesn’t end happily. While Jessica initially believes that Hope is free of Kilgrave’s control, she realizes, just a moment too late, that he still holds power over her, as Hope murders her parents inside the elevator of Jessica’s building. After first seeing the scene, Jessica runs out of the building and goes to catch a cab to leave the city, to escape Kilgrave, but in the hour’s final moments, she turns around, her faced determined, walking back into the complex and choosing option two: “Do something about it.”

Throughout “AKA Ladies Night,” Jessica Jones is, at its heart, a story about battling and overcoming trauma. Jessica has been through a tremendously awful ordeal, a tragedy that still haunts her in very real ways (visualized perfectly by Kilgrave’s creepy whispering in her ear or his slight touch on her shoulder). Kilgrave took full control over Jessica, leaving her defenseless against his bidding, and causing her to fear the possibility that it could ever happen again. No one should ever feel powerless in their own body and be forced to do things that they don’t want to do; that type of evil leaves raw, painful scars that may become less painful over time, but only truly begin to fade away when you use them to make you stronger.

And strength (and I’m not talking about her super-powered abilities) is exactly what Jessica displays in “AKA Ladies Night,” particularly in that final scene. To live through trauma, we cannot just try to dull it or forget about it; instead, we must make the bravest decision of all: to face it and fight against it. Jessica’s promise to “do something about it” is a declaration that she will no longer let her tragic past control her life; she’s going to face the past, she’s going to fight the pain, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of Jessica Jones‘ first season to see how she finally overcomes it.

Other thoughts:

  • Ritter is absolutely outstanding throughout all of “AKA Ladies.” She brings much of the same snark and bite that she had on Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23, along with the soulfulness that she displayed on Breaking Bad. It’s an incredible performance, and this show wouldn’t work without her.
  • Mike Colter also makes a strong first impression as Luke Cage in the couple of scenes that he shares with Ritter. I’m excited to see more from him.
  • As a big film noir fan, I love absolutely everything about the tone and style of Jessica Jones. It’s straight-up neo-noir, with Jessica as our hard-boiled detective, and everything, from the cinematography to the music (which is excellent!), help make the series so wonderful and unique. Makes me want to go pop The Big Sleep or Double Indemnity into my Blu-Ray player right now.
  • Marvel hasn’t produced too many great villains on the big screen, but with Kingpin in Daredevil and Kilgrave in Jessica Jones (at least from what we’ve seen so far), they’re doing a hell of a job at giving their Netflix heroes some strong foes to fight against.
  • Little details, like Jessica not being a morning person, or the cheap whiskey she drinks, or even her joke about her “laser eyes,” really make her stand out as a character. She’s not a Marvel hero that is defined by her powers, and that’s wonderful to see.
  • This will be my first and only review on TVOvermind for Jessica Jones (although I may have some additional thoughts once I finish the season). Jasef will be taking you through the next two episodes, with Nick, Randy, and Hunter covering the final 10 hours. Be sure to check back for those review over the next week and a half, and I hope everyone enjoys the show as much as I loved this premiere!

What did you think of the series premiere of Marvel’s Jessica Jones? Comment below and let us know.

[Photo via Netflix]

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