In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to say that when the Marvel shows were released to Netflix in 2015, this was my least anticipated. I looked forward to Daredevil and was thoroughly, fully impressed. Luke Cage and Iron Fist, not so much!
This one, though, grabbed you by the short and curly hairs of your secret places, and wouldn’t let go. I loved it! I can’t believe it’s taken almost a full year to get around to talking about her, but August Murders seemed like a perfect time to write about her, Jessica Jones, Superhero, Private Investigator.
Jessica Jones is a tortured, angst-ridden, super-powered, mess of a woman. (If that sounds misogynistic, my apologies. Anyone who follows this blog must know that both the Mustache and the Beard are men who are in awe of women. We adore women, and are humbled by the inspiration women perpetuate. I offer all 180 some-odd posts of this blog as evidence as to how much we love women. In particular, March was Women’s Empowerment Month, and neither of us felt at all diminished by lauding women.)
Jessica Jones is an American television series created for Netflix by Melissa Rosenburg based on Marvel characters and set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shared with the Marvel movies and the Marvel TV shows. Krysten Ritter plays the titular character, a private investigator with superpowers. She is undergoing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the time she was held captive against her will, despite her superpowers by the villain Killgrave, the Purple Man (David Tennant).
In the beginning of the series, Jessica Jones is just a New Yorker trying to get by as a Private Investigator that really makes her living as a voyeur, capturing images of infidelity by taking pictures of those failed moments of relationships gone awry. She narrates her actions like a noir detective, communicating her disdain for those lives she is ruining with every photo she takes.
Those first few moments, the viewer begins to understand that Jessica lives in the world with people, but she is unconnected to them. She is merely a person that records human error and then gets paid for that service, unhindered by the weight of those failings. In a major way, she is searching for connection.
When Hope Schlottman’s parents enter Alias Investigations, Jessica is sitting at her desk. The door is broken and the father begins immediately to attempt to fix the door. As he is requesting Jessica’s help in finding his daughter, he becomes parental about the broken door. Instantly, this becomes more than a regular case. There will be more required here than to voyeuristically watch. She must actually get to know Hope Schlottman to discover where she might have gone.
Imagine how Jessica feels when she realizes that Killgrave is still alive. She thought, hoped he was dead. He not only is alive, but he has taken control of Hope Schlottman, done to Hope what he had done to Jessica. The Purple Man is so sadistic that he wants Jessica to know what he has done to Hope, and mocks Jessica by planting clues that he has taken control of Hope.
Killgrave never appears in the first episode. The viewer only witnesses the chaos that he leaves in his wake. Jessica investigates where Hope has been, and what she has purchased with her credit card. Jessica gets a sense of deja vu, because Hope has gone to high end stores where she purchased lingerie for a boyfriend that the former room-mate says she resented. Hope went to the address of a restaurant that Jessica recalls she also dined at with Killgrave.
The clues all lead Jessica to a hotel, where she stayed with Killgrave. Wearily, she approaches the room that Hope has booked. Jessica pulls the fire alarm to evacuate the hotel, limit collateral damage. She approaches the room. The door is ajar. She walks in and Hope is lying in the bed unable to move because Killgrave told her not to move and she is beneath his mind control.
When Jessica goes to raise Hope from the bed, Hope tells Jessica through tears that she wet the bed. Your heart breaks for this young woman that has been manipulated and repeatedly violated by the Purple Man. Jessica knows exactly how this young woman feels, because Killgrave mind-controlled her. He repeatedly violated Jessica, too.
Jessica calls Hope’s parents and tells them to come pick up their daughter. The parents meet Jessica at her office. She tells them to hop on a plane tonight. Don’t ask questions. She tells them to go back to their lives taking Hope with them. Hope hugs her. She thanks her. Just as the elevator door closes, Hope removes a revolver from her purse. She shoots her Mom. Then, she shoots her Dad. Hope is alive, taken into custody, one last gift from Killgrave. Hope is alive, in one way, but dead in a far more important way.
That is how episode 1 ends — the two dead bodies of Hope Schlottman’s parents, and the incarcerated Hope. This is just the first episode, where Jessica Jones must wrestle with Killgrave’s manipulation of Hope and Jessica as a blunt force instrument.
If you haven’t seen Jessica Jones you should watch it, because she is a compelling character. She is a noir detective that demonstrates those skills even more often that she demonstrates her superpowers. She is smart and flawed and sympathetic. One doesn’t always agree with the way she gets things done, but you know that she is acting out of a sense of responsibility and empathy.
I think her story goes very well with our August Murders theme this month. Check it out. I would not steer you wrong.