TL;DR – This great if slow start to the season that sets everything into place for the battles to come
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
All your life you have been the physically strongest person around, you can jump off buildings and not get a scratch, you bend metal if it was putty, you can punch someone across a room, but none of that protects you from the daemons that wake you in your sleep. This is the life of Jessica Jones, who depending on who you ask is a private eye, a vigilantly, a hero, a drunk or maybe a bit of all of them. With The Punisher (see review) being its own sort of side project, it is the first series of the Marvel/Netflix TV Universe to sort of deal with the aftermath of The Defenders (see review). With that in mind, today we are going to have a look at its opening episode to see how well it does setting up the rest of the season.
So to set the scene, at the end of Season One of Jessica Jones, Jessica did something she has never done before, she killed someone. She walked up to Kilgrave (David Tennant) pretended to be controlled by him and then snapped his neck in twain. While Jessica was distracted by the events of The Defenders, reality has now set in where she is a little famous, treated as a hero but then everyone knows that she can kill if she needs to, dramatically changing how people interact with her. We see that in her first case where a client offers to pay triple her fee to take care of her cheating lover. All of this attention is forcing Jessica to relive parts of her past, leading to her push people away, well more than usual, which does not help when forces at play trying to isolate her even more. As we will see, this is a good set up for the episode as it starts playing at the character relationships that I think will define the season. Now as we go on we will be looking at the episode as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
One of the things that an opening episode needs to do is capture the audience back into the world, something that is even more important in the age of streaming where you can just bug out at the end of the episode, maybe even earlier, and watch literally anything else. So the first thing we get in AKA Start at the Bang is Jessica herself trying to lead a normal, well normal for her, life. She is on the case for a client catching someone in the act, but soon everything starts to fall apart. To begin with, Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen) comes in trying to buy out Alias Investigations, now, of course, Jessica refuses which leads to probably the best line of dialogue in the episode “I never take no for an answer” “How rapey of you”. However, Pryce undeterred by Jessica’s powers then begins to take her clients and ruin her business, he does not like competition. As well as this, Tish Walker (Rachael Taylor) Jessica’s sister has set it upon herself to hunt down the people that experimented on Jessica when she was a child. This is not something Jessica wants pushing her further away from those who care about her. All of this would have put Jessica on the path of self-destruction and it almost did until Whizzer (Jay Klaitz) shows her that she was not the only one experimented on. However, even with all of this, there are hints that there is not just one threat on the horizon for our characters.
This first episode of Jessica Jones kind of moves away from past series like Daredevil (see review) because there is no one big action set piece moment to make you click next episode. Now, this could be a problem if the writing was not good, however, instead of the one big set piece moment like the mob murders in Daredevil’s second season. We get not just one big moment instead we get a number of poignant yet still impactful moments. Like the silence as Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) receives the news she is dreading, or the horror as ashes accidentally get sprayed around the room in slow motion, or that moment when Jessica had gone too far. It is in these quiet moments that the show shines, and also shows its power to move and engage you without the need for explosions, though I assume there will be some at some point in the season. This displays one the show’s strengths, the focus on the characters and their personal battles, all wonderfully acted by one of the best cast on TV at the moment.
In the end, do we recommend AKA Start at the Bang? Yes, we do. It does everything the first episode of a season needs to do, it situates the main characters showing us where they were from last season, it immediately complicates the lives of the characters, and then gives little hints about the future conflicts looming in the horizon. All of this leads to the big end reveal that clearly will reverberate across the season and maybe even further than that. Also, dat opening credit sequence is choice.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Jessica Jones
Directed by – Anna Foerster
Written by – Melissa Rosenberg
Based off – Jessica Jones created by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
Created by – Melissa Rosenberg
Starring in Season Two – Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville, J.R. Ramirez, Terry Chen, Leah Gibson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Janet McTeer & Callum Keith Rennie with Jay Klaitz