The 3 Biggest Takeaways from the Series Premiere
It’s here! And so is the start of our weekend binge of Jessica Jones.
For those of you who might be taking things at a more leisurely pace, we’ve got you covered: we’re going episode-by-episode both here and over on our YouTube channel with full recap and analysis.
So let’s dive into Jessica Jones episode 1, “AKA Ladies Night.”
This was pretty much a perfect pilot, even if you didn’t know anything at all about Jessica Jones before watching. First, the episode works a contained story: We see Jessica set up as a careless but effective PI, she takes on a new case that pulls her into trauma she’d rather avoid, she spends time trying to avoid what needs to be done, but eventually chooses to get into the middle of a kidnapping, and her heroics bring about a happy ending…almost.
But beyond that, just think about everything this episode sets up. This episode 1 does a great job of nodding to the series’ comic book roots while establishing what’s going to be important for the show going forward, not only for the plot but for Jessica as a character. The arc of the episode is only the first act in a larger story.
1) A Timeline for Jessica’s Trauma
About 3/4 of the way through the episode, Jessica has learned that Kilgrave is “back.” And if you’re not familiar with the comics, all you know about him to this point is that he’s at the root of some really serious trauma Jessica is still dealing with, but it’s plenty. We’ve seen purple flashes of nightmare and we’ve glimpsed how powerful Jessica is, but how scared she is of Kilgrave. The only question is how recent it all went down, whatever “it” is.
Enter the balcony conversation with Trish, apparently an estranged friend of Jessica’s. Trish says it’s “been a year” since Kilgrave was apparently killed. Which doesn’t really seem like that long, especially if you’re familiar with the comics. (And if you aren’t, don’t worry – I won’t be directly spoiling anything.)
But this is important: We know something really bad happened to Jessica about a year ago, and we know Kilgrave is involved. Forget any street level secondary thugs – the villain for Jessica Jones is already being felt center stage, even if he’s still waiting in the wings.
2) This is Personal
Wow, what a reveal at the end of the episode that Kilgrave is the one who sent Hope’s parents to Jessica. Plus, there was this little exchange:
Trish: Why her [Hope]? Is she…gifted?
Jessica: A gifted athlete, maybe. Next best thing? I don’t know.
Not only is Kilgrave not just some random psychopath Jessica encounters by chance, he’s coming after her because of her superpowers – superpowers this episode mostly hides from us.
3) Superpowers Will Come to Light
Probably the biggest takeaway from this episode is what Jessica’s character arc is going to look like this season. Her big internal conflict is about overcoming PTSD – and accepting the responsibility her powers give her.
If you’re not paying attention, this episode could give you a little character whiplash. Half the time Jessica is a take-no-s*** badass, but the other half she’s a scared child. But if you watch carefully, you’ll see that those two parts of her character are balanced on a razor’s edge, and they actually fit together really well.
As I mentioned, this episode doesn’t show us a lot of Jessica’s superpowers. The most we get – and admittedly, it’s a pretty big deal – is her lifting the back end of that guy’s car so she can serve him a summons. But think about this. How did she get to his car? Just a moment before, she outside the club as he went speeding off in his Aston Martin. The only real conclusion is that she flew there.
Superpowers are what make Jessica so confident in situations like this one, but they’re also a big part of what make her so scared of Kilgrave. Remember, he’s interested in her because of her powers. And if he can control her, like he did making Hope shoot her parents, just think about the havoc he could cause. Jessica is such a weapon, if she falls under his control, it’ll be hard for anyone to save her. So her superpowers are the glue that connects the two sides of her character. They’re at the crux of everything that’s going to happen for Jessica, even when they’re taking a back seat to other action.
Final Thoughts and Lingering Questions
How does Jessica know Trish, and what happened to sour their relationship? Trish seems to know everything about Jessica’s life, so she’s going to be very important.
What’s going on with Jeryn Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss)? It looks like she’s married, but she’s obviously having an affair with a younger coworker. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t tie into Jessica’s narrative at some point, the question is just how?
When are Jessica and Luke Cage going to figure out they’re both superpowered?