Ugh. The last several days have been extremely unpleasant. I was hit with a stomach bug and spent several days out of work – and a good portion of that hurling in the bathroom. And seriously, I’m talking vomit everywhere. Oh yeah, at one point I threw up so aggressively I seem to have sprained something in my neck. And now I know just how often one uses their neck muscles in normal, every day activities.
On the bright side, this time spent out of work (and not ralphing in the bathroom) did let me finally watch the entirety of Jessica Jones. So there’s that. Let’s break it down.
Jessica’s Depiction as a Rape Survivor
This has been talked about at length ever since the first day that this show aired, so I don’t think I need to go into too much detail. But the nuanced and layer depiction of Jessica Jones – of someone who was raped and traumatized at the hands of Kilgrave – was incredibly powerful. That trauma was with her at all times. The strength and struggle of continuing on, of survival after it was over, was constantly present. And it was always, always about her. How Jessica dealt with it. How it changed and mutated Jessica. How is continued to torture her. How she rose above it. Rape is too often used as a cheap and easy plot devise, a way to give female characters some sympathy, and it’s becoming pretty despicable how casually it’s forced on our female characters. But when the story is told like this, when it’s not about the rape but the recovery, it’s can be a pretty powerful combative to those others.
Hand in hand with the above is Kilgrave, our story’s villain. Kilgrave was fantastic. He was both charming and terrifying, captivating and horrifying, occasionally sympathetic and totally irredeemable. Villains are hard. Too much sympathy, and you find yourself rooting for them (or simply wanting the story to be theirs). Too little and you’re wondering why you should care. Kilgrave walked that fine line perfectly. He had trauma in his past and it twisted him, but that trauma certainly didn’t excuse his behavior. And the fact that more than once it was suggested (or even carried out) that suicide was the only way to best him, the only way to be rid of him, just made him all the more chilling.
Jessica’s our main girl and I have to say I am invested in just about every relationship she has currently. From Trish to Luke to Malcolm to Jeri even on down to Claire. Every one of them was complex and messy with Jessica fucking them up left, right, and center. But those people are worth something to her, and they’re worth something to me as characters, and I am invested in her continuing to navigate those murky friendship waters.
This Wasn’t an Origin Story
By the very first second of the very first episode, Jessica is already established as who she is. She’s already got her powers. She’s already got her PI practice. She’s already been traumatized out of her role of hero. She’s already out there doing her thing. We didn’t have to spend half the season setting all that up, and instead were treated to the delicious unfolding of her backstory and her connections with Luke and Trish as the current story went on.
The Not So Good
This is literally the only part of this show I had a problem with. Malcolm as an active drug user was great. He was a great character. But one afternoon of detox forced on an addict by a friend does not a recovery create. The fact that after that detox we never once saw Malcolm have any kind of…I don’t know, cravings, mood swings, slip ups, illness, nothing at all, was just so very, very unrealistic. Recovery, especially from something as hard as heroin, is an incredibly long and difficult process, and one that is never ending. The fact that the show did such an incredibly job as showing us the long game of recovery for rape, abuse, PTSD, etc. but then dropped the ball so far with heroin addiction was pretty disappointing to me.
Okay, not really a not so good thing. I actually quite liked him, it’s just…I hope there’s not an older, grizzled black man who’s getting ready to retire and who reluctantly forms a relationship with the female lead of Luke Cage. Because he’s going to die.
Hopes for Season Two
With that last seen of a thoroughly beat Jessica just letting the phone ring until Malcolm picked it up for her, I’m super excited for the next incarnation of Alias Investigations. And hopefully next season we actually get to see it. Because so much of this season was focused just on this one case, and with Kilgrave being such a personal villain, Jessica’s actual work as a PI only made a few brief appearances. I’d love to see a few early “cases of the week” to lead into next season’s big bad.
Leading out of that, I’m looking forward to seeing Malcolm and Jeri’s roles in Alias Investigations. Malcolm came back to stay with Jessica and seems to have set himself up to be her not-sidekick. And after the fall-out of Jeri’s big mistake with Kilgrave, I imagine she’s going to be strongly rethinking her place and her purpose.
I also kind of hope we haven’t seen the end of Pam. I kind of want Jeri to try and fight for her? Try to help her beat those pesky murder charges.
More Luke and Claire. Duh. They both had great rapport with Jessica (and Luke has to come back and marry her someday, right?) and were definitely seasonal highlights.
And maybe in Season Two Malcolm can actually become a recovering addict instead of miraculously cured one.
Okay. Bring on Season Two.