“Jessica Jones” recap (1.1): Who can turn the world on with her smile

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Welcome to your new Jessica Jones recaps. Please settle in and pour yourself a bottle of whiskey or two. I’ll be your tour guide through this new Netflix series based on the Marvel comic. Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times, lest Jessica has to rip one off.

Now the first thing you’ll notice are the wonderfully noir opening credits. If you didn’t know already that you were about to watch a show about a hardscrabble private detective living in the mean streets of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, you could probably guess from its stylish, Rear Window-esque theme. But you probably knew, because you aren’t living under a rock. And even if you were, Jessica probably lifted it with one hand already and threw it at some idiot who probably deserved it.

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Now meet Jessica Jones: The aforementioned hardscrabble private detective who excels at “looking for the worst in people.” She puts an unhappy client through her door’s plate-glass window because sometimes dudes need to be put through the plate-glass window. Amirite, ladies? Also, Jessica’s broken front door is practically a recurring character on this show.

Jessica Jones is like the Yin to Buffy Summers’ Yang. Both are tiny women with unprecedented strength. Both pair caustic wit with kicking ass. But while Buffy started out as the sunny cheerleader at the homecoming game, Jessica was the dark dropout smoking underneath the bleachers.

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Krysten Ritter, with her jet-black tresses and pale skin, is like a grown-up Wednesday Addams in a leather jacket and skinny jeans. Her Jessica has resigned herself to the fact that people do bad shit. So, like any good misanthrope, she avoids dealing with them–until she can’t.

One of those cant’s is with a powerful lawyer and frequent client. And, for those keeping score at home, that means less than 4 minutes in and we have our first lesbian sighting of this series. Now meet Jeri Hogarth: The aforementioned powerful lawyer and frequent client and also a gay lady with a chic alternative lifestyle haircut. Carrie-Anne Moss, girl, you are a sight for sore eyes.

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After trading various barbs with each other, Jeri gives Jessica the job of serving a summons to a sleazy nightclub owner, as if there is any other kind. Jessica goes about this task with phone calls on the toilet, sorority girl shtick and sheer muscle. It’s a sampling of how she deals with most cases–minus perhaps the sorority girl shtick.

We also get our first glimpse at Jessica’s hard-drinking ways. But her considerable nightcaps do nothing for her circadian rhythms, or sleep cycle. So our restless heroine gets up and heads back into the darkness with a thermos full of her good friend Jim Beam.

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This is also our first glimpse of Jessica’s “special skills,” which involve jumping from the sidewalk up several stories to a fire escape with ease. That she has an iron liver is also heavily implied. From her vantage point she surveys the sad assortment of humanity still up at that hour, as well as the handsome Luke Cage. We technically don’t know he is Luke Cage just yet, but since he is getting his own Netflix series next year, it’s no big secret either.

We’re not sure why Jessica is watching him, but as the neon lights around her flash to purple and a shadowy male figure appears out of nowhere to whisper ominously into Jessica’s ear, we know it’s nothing good.

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Damaged characters are nothing new on television. But, by and large, the most acclaimed anti-heroes of the contemporary small screen have tended to be men. Tony Soprano. Don Draper. Walter White. Whether Jessica will be worthy, or more likely allowed, to enter that critically adored pantheon is unclear. But, goodness, if I’m not already rooting for her to break through into that boys’ club with her bare hands.

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