Saturday, 21 November 2015

Review - 'Jessica Jones', S01E02 - 'AKA Crush Syndrome'

The previous episode of Jessica Jones had ended with the very clear indication that everything Kilgrave had done to Hope (Erin Moriarity), the young woman who Jessica had been hired to find, had all been intended as a part of Kilgrave's elaborate plan to hurt Jessica. It had been Kilgrave himself, after all, who had directed Hope's parents to Jessica - and, it was Kilgrave's own intent to leave Hope somewhere he knew Jessica would find her. The fact that he had left Hope with a final order to murder her own parents had seemed like the final part in this phase of whatever Kilgrave has planned for Jessica.

This episode, though, makes it explicitly clear that this is a very personal matter for Kilgrave. Here, we learn that Jessica had only been able to escape from Kilgrave, in the first place, due to a fortunate accident that left Kilgrave severely wounded. Jessica had, until recently, believed that Kilgrave had actually died in that accident - but, he obviously hadn't. And, now, Kilgrave is angry with her, in particular.

Jessica had wanted to run in the previous episode - but, now, with Hope being held responsible for the murder of her own parents, Jessica is the only one who even has any reason to believe that she is actually entirely innocent. So, despite her own fears that she might end up back under Kilgrave's control, Jessica sets out to prove that Hope was actually the innocent victim of a man with the power to control people's minds.

The problem, though, is how to actually prove that. Jessica's lawyer acquaintance (and occasional employer), Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), isn't even willing to consider taking on Hope's case until Jessica can prove to her that Kilgrave actually exists (the fact that she is even willing to consider the possibility, in the first place, can be attributed to this show being a part of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, of course). So, now, Jessica is required to learn how Kilgrave could have survived the accident that she believed had killed him, in the hope that it will lead her to the proof she needs.

This is all very interesting, overall. It is definitely great to see the consequences of a villain with mind-control abilities be treated so seriously, too. The trauma that Jessica suffers as a result of her own experiences is still very much evident - leading to moments where her typical resolve will momentarily crack, and we catch a glimpse of exactly how afraid of Kilgrave she truly is. And, now, we see much the same from Hope - a young woman haunted by the death of her parents at her own hand, while she had no power to stop herself from pulling the trigger. We still don't know anything about who Kilgrave actually is - but, at this point, we don't really need to.

There's also a clear element of paranoia, here, as Jessica clearly has no way of knowing who could be under Kilgrave's control. So, while it does feel like a fairly conventional move to have Jessica try to push away her closest friend, Trish Walker (Rachel Taylor), for her own protection, given the circumstances, it does actually feel warranted, this time.

One aspect of Jessica Jones that I was eager to learn more about, going in, was exactly what role Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was intended to play. Obviously, it's common knowledge, at this point, that he will be the star of the next Netflix series - but, there did seem to be some unanswered questions about the character's status, here. Would he already have his own superpowers, for example? Or, would he still just be an ordinary man? Well, those questions were all answered by this episode - much sooner than I would have thought. Luke Cage, it turns out, is already very much indestructible - as we learn during a very entertaining 'bar brawl' that Luke and Jessica find themselves involved in.

Jessica's own powers had been treated in a very matter-of-fact manner, so far. They are simply another part of her that the audience was expected to accept. But, Jessica's clear shock at the idea of Luke also having superhuman abilities is definitely interesting - as is the indication that this was likely the reason that Jessica was investigation Cage in the last episode. Clearly, the audience will be given the opportunity to learn more about each of them, and what they can do, as they learn more about each other.

The second episode of Jessica Jones does a great job of maintaining the level of quality established by the first. The show, clearly, intends to set a much slower pace for itself than we had with Daredevil - and, seems likely to be much lighter on large-scale action sequences, as well. The 'bar brawl' scene, for example, seemed to lack the level of polish that the audience would have come to expect from Daredevil - with Jessica, herself, even coming across as not terribly effective in a fight, despite her strength. This might feel like a bit of a shame - but, it could also be entirely fitting. It seems clear, after all, that Jessica probably lacks Matt Murdock's intense martial arts training - so, it wouldn't be fair to expect her to be able to pull off the same stunts.

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