Trish Walker is the real hero; Jessica Jones is a self-centered jerk

Warning: This post contains major spoilers. This is an analysis, not a show review. If you haven't seen Jessica Jones and you intend to do so later, don't read the rest of this post.

I'm generally a fan of Dr. Nerdlove, but I have to disagree with some major parts of his analysis of Jessica Jones: What Can We Learn From Jessica Jones? He seems to take as a safe assumption that Jessica is a natural leader that other characters must support as good allies or not.

When I first watched the series—fully engaging my suspension of disbelief—I had the same inclination. I sided with Jessica (she is the protagonist, after all) and viewed her as a natural leader with allies around her, but upon a second watching, I've realized she's the bad ally, actually, and she doesn't respect anyone else's authority.

Hogarth actually knows the law and is absolutely right that there's no way the taping was going to be admissible as evidence of mind control (at best, a jury would have seen it as a staged hoax or mass delusion). Simpson actually knows spec ops / kidnapping / torture (that's his training, not his mansplaining). And Trish is just an amazing person who has common sense and works really hard.

Jessica Jones keeps insisting that the way to do things properly is to 1. keep Kilgrave alive (even though she kills him at the end anyway) and 2. use evidence of Kilgrave's mind control to free Hope (who ends up killing herself). Multiple times, her friends and loved ones try to talk sense to her (a great moment is Trish saying they can just leave Kilgrave in the hermetically sealed chamber and run off together—good advice Jessica completely ignores), and multiple times, Jessica Jones insists everything has to be done her way. Her insistence results repeatedly in the death of innocents, including but not limited to Hope, the fraternal twin brother neighbor, Kilgrave's parents, Jessica's childhood next-door neighbor, and Wendy.

Jessica is not actually the only one controlled by Kilgrave (in fact, at various points in the series, Trish, Hope, Simpson, Hogarth, Luke Cage, and Malcolm are all controlled by Kilgrave), yet she thinks she is the only one qualified to strategize how to best tackle Kilgrave as a problem. Hope also was abused by Kilgrave for months and yet somehow Hope's opinions don't matter to Jessica (Hope just wants to take the plea for a lighter sentence and for Jessica to kill Kilgrave).

Really, Jessica's just the muscle (not the brains). The only thing she has to offer is her super strength and her eventual immunity to Kilgrave's virus, and yet the whole series she acts as if her abuse makes her opinions and strategies matter more than anyone else's.

As a former English teacher, I never encouraged the "if only so-and-so had done blah-blah-blah" kind of thinking, because what is written is written. The story is the story. It doesn't make sense to say "If Jessica had just listened to Hope and Trish and Simpson, she could have saved so many lives," because if she had listened, the series would have been four episodes instead of thirteen.

I will say, though, even though there are many brilliant things about Jessica Jones (including, as its showrunner Melissa Rosenberg notes, its dealing with the trauma of rape and abuse and not feeling the need to visually depict rape), it can definitely be frustrating to have a narrative continually move forward primarily through the stubborn stupidity of the protagonist. Perhaps Trish Walker (should that series ever come to fruition) will remedy that by having a smart protagonist who faces real challenges (not those that just come about from bad decisions she's made).


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