This weekend, A.V. Club contributor Caroline Siede is watching all of the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. After she’s finished with an episode, she’ll post a quick response. Though she’s working straight through the season, she’ll be taking some breaks, too, posting five reviews on Friday, four reviews on Saturday, and four reviews on Sunday. Weigh in on this episode in the comments below or discuss the whole season on our binge-watching hub page.
“AKA Crush Syndrome” (season one, episode two)
Jessica Jones isn’t a “fun” show in the traditional sense. In fact it’s downright depressing compared to giddy Marvel movies like Iron Man or Thor. But there are elements of the series that make it, if not fun, than at least enjoyable despite its heavy subject matter. Which is good news for anyone planning to spend a sizeable chunk of their weekend in its grizzled world.
Most importantly, Jessica is great at her job. A lot of comic book properties focus on heroes learning to use their abilities, but Jessica is already a seasoned pro when it comes to investigating. Watching her fake a friendship with a sorority girl in the premiere or pose as a frazzled nurse (newly-transferred from Grey’s Anatomy’s Seattle Grace Hospital) injects some dry comedy into the series. And the fact that Jessica immediately thinks to snap a picture of the dialysis machine manufacturer makes me both like and respect her.
She’s also incredibly self-aware on a personal level, which helps her brooding act go down a lot smoother. Throughout this episode people keep warning Jessica that her surly attitude won’t earn her a lot of friends. And she keeps telling them that’s exactly how she likes it. When her upstairs neighbor snarls, “You’re all alone so you have to pick away at other people’s happiness.” Jessica snaps back, “Lady you’re a very perceptive asshole.”
But despite how much I love Jessica, the episode around her isn’t nearly as engaging as the premiere. We learn some new information—Luke Cage has superpowers (which 99% of the audience probably already knew), Trish Walker is putting herself through intensive self-defense training, and Kilgrave is terrified of being put under anesthesia—but “AKA Crush Syndrome” loses some of the flourishes and film noir styling that made the premiere so beautiful to watch. And without those visual distractions, the show’s occasionally stilted dialogue is even more noticeable. (The idea that heroes have “one weakness” may work in a comic book but not in the more grounded world of this show.)
Thankfully there’s a little more action to spice things up as Luke and Jessica take down a riled-up rugby team like they’re paper dolls. I’ll always enjoy shows that feature small women performing inexplicable feats of strength (shout-out to Buffy and Supergirl), and I get a little rush every time Jessica breaks open a door, rips off a combination lock, or knocks out a spastic sportsman.
“AKA Crush Syndrome” also gives us our first sustained look at Kilgrave’s powers (though not his face) as he commandeers a family’s apartment. Watching the initially confused family start amiably fulfilling his requests is truly terrifying and has me longing to see more of Kilgrave (and not just because I’m a big David Tennant fan).
Even if this episode isn’t as solid as the first, the best thing about binge-watching is that I don’t have to linger on its weaknesses for long. So let’s get a move on, shall we?
Stand out moment: Luke Cage not even flinching as someone (unsuccessfully) tries to shove a beer bottle into his neck. (Honorable mention to the time he shoves a circ saw into his hip. Basically, Luke Cage is the best.)
Marvel Cinematic Universe connections: None that I could spot
Excitement to start next episode: 6/10
Hamilton lyric that sums up my binge-watching mental state: “I’m willing to wait for it.”