10 Thoughts on Jessica Jones – AKA Crush Syndrome

Things are starting to ratchet up in the Jessica Jones universe. More groundwork is being laid, characters are coming out of the woodwork (and cockroaches out of sinks), and Jessica is getting closer to finding Kilgrave. After yesterday’s episode, Jessica is intent on finding a way to prove that Hope isn’t culpable for killing her parents, but rather was under the thrall of Kilgrave, who was controlling her mind. This leads Jessica down a rabbit hole where she poses as a nurse, visits a suicidal stroke victim, chases down a doctor in hiding, and discovers that there is someone else like her in her life.

Here are some thoughts.

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1. A bit of a slow start

This seems to be a running theme so far in the show. We get a little time to breathe in the world before jumping right into the plot. It makes sense to do it this way. The writers bring us down a long and looping cause-and-event trail that requires understanding who every person is if you’re going to follow it. That little extra breathing space at the beginning of each episode allows us some room to make sure we understand who everyone is; what’s going on with each character. So far, it’s working.

2. This is a very unique hero/villain dynamic

Okay, well, not unique. But it is intriguing. Many superhero/supervillain dynamics are based on the dichotomous relationship between mind and body. That is, one of them will have powers of the mind, the other powers of the body. This means that an out-and-out confrontation wouldn’t really work. Batman could beat the shit out of Joker and Lex Luthor could create a plot so complicated that Superman couldn’t even begin to guess at it. What’s unique about the relationship between Kilgrave and Jones, however, is that while Jones’ power is super strength, she also happens to be crazy intelligent. If she was just strong, Kilgrave would have been able to weed her out and start controlling her at will. So while he does have the upper hand when it comes to strength of the mind, she’s no lightweight either.

3. I wonder how courts work in the Marvel universe?

We know that basically any sort of power is possible, right? This is a universe where the Hulk and Thor and the fucking Vision exist and people know about it. Wouldn’t the possibility of mind control be a reasonable thing to assume existed? How do you adjudicate something like that? I guess that’s part of the concern in the Marvel Civil War arc.

4. I love how slow the dissemination of information is

Last episode, we learned who Kilgrave was and that he had controlled Jessica. This episode we learned how she escaped from him and how he survived being hit by a bus. In a lesser show, we would have gotten all that information in one burst of exposition from Jessica, probably when a friend asked her “What happened to you???” Allowing us to be fed information slowly, the tension is built at a steady pace that is slow enough to keep us guessing, but fast enough not to lose our interest.

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5. Cheating seems to be a very prevalent theme

Luke inadvertently sleeps with a married woman. Jeri, a powerful female lawyer contact of Jessica, is cheating on her wife with her secretary. Again, this may just be a trope of the noir genre coming to fruition. Someone is always cheating on someone else in those kinds of stories. It makes sense that it would happen here as well. But it does seem to be circling some larger ideas about the nature of cheating and what it means to these characters and how they interact with each other. I imagine that that theme will begin to blossom a bit as the series continues.

6. The casualness of her powers is breath of fresh air in the MCU

In every single Marvel movie, when we see a character use their powers for the first time, it is a massive spectacle. Think about the first time we see the Hulk transformation. Or the first time Groot goes all crazy tree. In most of the MCU, the powers of these heroes is what you come to watch. But in Jessica Jones, her powers are almost incidental. There was no fanfare the first time we saw her leap up onto a second story fire escape. When she pulls off padlocks on some lockers at the hospital, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s refreshing to see a superhero who is guided by her character rather than her powers.

7. Every New Yorker got a moment of wish fulfillment this episode

Jessica’s upstairs neighbors are loud. Really loud. The kind of loud that could drive a body to do some drastic things just to get some sleep. As a resident of Brooklyn, I understand noisy neighbor syndrome. Basically any person you ask in the city would tell you the same thing. If they can’t, then they’re the noisy assholes. Watching Jessica march up the stairs and tell those jerks to shut the fuck up was a fist-pumping ‘fuck yeah’ moment. If only I had super strength, then I would walk across the hall and break my neighbors stereo. And maybe a couple of their teeth. But I digress.

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8. Luke Cage 

So, it turns out the man who Jessica slept with is also a super. His skin can’t be broken and it would appear he has super strength. And his name is Luke Cage. That surname sure does sound familiar. Any relation to one-eyed puppet master? As a non-expert on Marvel, I couldn’t tell you. But I’m sure many of you already know.

9. This show loves a good fake-out

Trish, Jessica’s TV talkshow friend, gives her a call near the end of the episode. As they’re talking on the phone, Trish’s nose starts bleeding over the strains of some ominous music. Obviously, we’re supposed to think she’s been brainwashed by Kilgrave and that Jessica’s best friend is in trouble. But then we see her go to the other room where her trainer is waiting for her. It was a bit of a head scratcher, really. Why did we need to be led to believe she was being mind controlled? And why do we need to know she’s being trained in anti-mugging techniques? I don’t know, but I’m glad she wasn’t under Kilgrave’s sway. And I like that the show is into teasing us.

10. And, of course, David Tennant

His name is in the opening credits. We didn’t see him in the first episode. It was pretty clear he was going to be Kilgrave. But that didn’t make his entrance into the episode any less thrilling. Watching him control a family into making him dinner as he took over their house was utterly chilling, but at the same time really fucking cool. Now that Tennant is on board, it’s hard to imagine this show going off the rails.

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