Review: Netflix’s Jessica Jones explores trauma and manipulation

Note that the writer is mid-season on episode 7 and would like readers to be cautious of spoilers.

Following Daredevil in April, the Marvel-Netflix collaboration brings us Jessica Jones. This heroine, with only 28 comic book issues and few appearances, is a fresh production in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as there are less expectations over who and what Jessica Jones is supposed to be about. In an early ad campaign, flyers were posted throughout New York Comic Con 2014 asking “Who is Jessica Jones?”

Jessica Jones is a flawed superhero suffering from what appears to be PTSD. The series begins with Jones, already having gone through her superhero phase, to burnt out and working as a private investigator. Minutes in, you can gather that this production explores a darker side than what we’re used to getting from Marvel.

The entire season of Jessica Jones arrived on Netflix on November 20, 2015. Jones, played by Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad’s Jane) has a grave weakness to the show’s villain; Kilgrave played by David Tennant (Doctor Who) wields the power of mind control. His mind control works in such a way that his victims are aware of his control but cannot do much else. Kilgrave, initially believed to be dead, stalks Jessica Jones through using other victims to get his work done for him. He picks out people and essentially destroys their lives. When he’s “done” with someone, he tells them to “leave” which, more often than not, means to kill themselves as was the case with police officer Will Simpson (Wil Traval) before Jones rescued him.

The series premiere begins with a young college student named Hope Schlottman (Erin Moriarty), presumably missing, but is actually under the seductive powers of Kilgrave. From the start, we catch a glimpse of the same abusive cycle that was held on Jessica Jones. Creator and show runner Melissa Rosenberg deserves credit in how she portrays abuse and PTSD in which the audience learns of Jessica’s therapy with a shrink who suggested to her to rehearse the names of streets that she has lived on as a child. Under two instances, despite Jones’ frustration in dealing with trauma, she gave this same piece of advice to Hope before she killed her parents under Kilgrave’s control. Jessica later starts a survivor’s support group, although not actively participating in it for the therapeutic benefits. She chooses to handle her troubles at the bottom of a bottle instead.

This is a show that involves superheroes in their own right. Patricia Walker (Rachael Taylor), Jone’s best friend openly expresses that she wants to save the world, and once upon a time, wanted to prep Jones into becoming a traditional super hero, even donning a mask and suit. The Avengers, particularly the Hulk and Captain America, are mentioned more than once as Jessica Jones is based in the streets of the Big Apple. Episode 4 AKA 99 Friends references a client who tries to kill Jessica Jones–and subsequently all superheroes for that matter, because her mother died during the invasion of New York City by aliens (during the Avengers).

Jessica Jones boldly takes on feminist aspects as many can compare Kilgrave to abusive men. He stalks his prey, has photos taken and even asks her to “Don’t forget to smile,” a statement that can be well-meaning but can often take the form of harassment. His need for control is insatiable as very often you’d hear remarks such as “Men and power it’s seriously a disease. Perhaps the most controversial part yet is when Hope discovers that she is pregnant with Kilgrave s child, hires a fellow inmate to attack her in hopes of a miscarriage. Instead of inducing a miscarriage through violence, Jones smuggles her in an abortion pill with a warning that there is no going back, to which Hope takes it. Hope described her baby “growing like a tumor” and every second signified her rape happening over and over.

Jessica Jones delves into sexual abuse and trauma with the success in that its women are working to have control of their own lives. This production will be followed by Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, and finally into Marvel’s The Defenders. Until then, this is probably the best show you can watch this season.


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