JJ Redux

I finished Netflix’s Jessica Jones series last night, completing the back half in one whiskey fueled binge in which I took one drink of Maker’s Mark for every gulp Jessica took on screen.

JK! I’d be dead if I did that. But I did finish and it was supremely satisfying. And much like when I finished Breaking Bad, I spent today sort of ruminating over what I had seen, basking in the aftermath of the experience.

Actually, I spent more time looking for things to complain about than I did actual basking. I know that sounds petty, but when you’ve been through an emotional experience like a Fargo or Breaking Bad, you know on some level you were so swept away that you probably papered over some weaknesses, but I found very little that bothered me.


Unlike a lot of people, I had no problem with the Robyn and Ruben characters. Were they annoying? Yes. They were exactly as annoying as people that damaged can be, but in the end, I felt they came across as sympathetic. It’s the kind of sympathy you have for a dog who just can’t stop diddling on the carpet, yes, but I don’t think they weakened the series by their presence.

I thought the Kilgrave survivor’s group was a frankly honest portrayal of exactly what would happen in a situation like that. It happens for other groups of victims all the time. And Jessica’s naked manipulation of the group for her own purposes just added more layers to her already complex character.

I also didn’t have any problems with Will Simpson’s transition into Nuke. I felt like the actor, Wil Traval, managed to portray him as so close to the line of sanity throughout the series that it felt organic when he finally took one giant leap over the edge.

The only quibble I had was Kilgrave’s comeuppance. After supremely jerking us around for 13 episodes and building up a tremendous amount of enmity in the process, he goes out with a quick snap of the neck? I get that the whole point was not whether Jessica could physically defeat him, but when/whether she would reach the point where she could decide to do it, but I was sort of hoping she would feed him into a meat grinder Punisher* style.

This show could not have been better cast. It would take more space than I want to devote just to list the names of all the excellent actors who brought the series to life, so I’ll just say that Krysten Ritter so inhabited the role that I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.

And that’s saying something because I came into the series slightly conflicted about her. The first time I ever saw her was in the execrable Don’t Trust The B— In Apt. 23,” a thing so abysmal the stink of it sort of stuck to her in my mind. Then I saw her in Breaking Bad and was impressed, but it wasn’t until the trailers for Jessica Jones that I started to understand her true talent.

The problem with shows like Fargo, Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones and Daredevil is that they make your standard broadcast fare seem lame by comparison. It’s hard to take even the once excellent Black List seriously once you’ve seen Better Call Saul.

These intense, high quality series also enjoy an advantage in that they are limited to 13 episodes, whereas the writers in the room for a show like Grimm  have to come up with season-long arcs of 22-24 episodes. Story fatigue is bound to set in. Just look at how infantile Person of Interest has become or the just plain silly way Castle is petering out its final seasons. On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a point where Breaking Bad jumped the shark.

Down side? You get about twelve weeks of entertainment and then you have to wait nine months to pick it up again.

* My memory fails me. I was sure the scene I’m thinking of where the sadistic murderer who (I think) tortures his victims by dribbling melted plastic onto their skin, is fed feet first into an industrial meat grinder by our leather-clad vigilante was from a 1980s Punisher movie, but I know for a fact the actor wasn’t Dolph Lundgren so I have no idea where this came from.

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