Clarke Peters

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Photo Courtesy Of Netflix

Photo Courtesy Of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

With just over a month remaining in 2015, it looks like it’s a pretty safe bet to declare the new Netflix series “Jessica Jones,” as the best television event of the year. Marvel Studios and ABC Productions have shattered the Comic-Book Movie Genre with a creation that defies boundaries and expectations. This production’s light-years from the Avengers or the X-Men films, it’s not a family friendly blockbuster filled with special-effects and wall-to-wall violence (although this series does not lack for violence.)

Jessica Jones is a suspense/thriller that just happens to have characters with superpowers in the story. It’s a cat and mouse game in which the cat and mouse eventually change roles and a character searches for redemption in all the wrong places. It’s more of a cross between the former FOX series “The Following” and “The Silence Of The Lambs” with a dollop or two of Heath Ledger’s Joker thrown in for flavoring. You can’t put this in the same category as “Captain America Civil War,” which is a win for all as boundaries get dissolved and stereotypes get broken.

Nobody’s going to claim that Jessica Jones is in any way a role-model, however she’s a very strong symbol for female empowerment. Krysten Ritter the actress that portrays her is destined to become a huge star and this will likely prove to be her breakout role. Ritter’s a strikingly beautiful woman with a signature look and plays the character with an almost ever-present sneer on her face. Some smart Hollywood executive should be actively pursuing a deal to team her and Amy Acker in a re-tooling of Lethal-Weapon. It would become a huge gender-bending series and may open some eyes in Hollywood about expanding action roles for women.

The story’s based on a graphic-novel entitled Alias, that Marvel released through one of their comic-book lines aimed at adults and from my brief knowledge of the publication it’s far more graphic than the Netflix production. These characters  have healthy sex-drives, but the production stays away from nudity and the coupling some times seems more like gymnastics than sex. Although violence is a constant in the show it’s comparative to a broadcast-network crime-drama’s and tamer than some.

The series could be rightfully titled “The Restoration And Reclamation Of Jessica Jones,” as the woman we meet at the onset of the series is just trying to make it through each day with a lot of help from her best friend Alcohol. She’s going through the motions as a private investigator, setting up part of her apartment as an office. The Jessica we first encounter’s a victim filled with self-loathing and seeing nothing but pain and ugliness everywhere she looks. It’s got nothing to do with her location it’s the demons inside her head that control her perception.

Jessica would be the lone survivor of a car accident that took the lives of her parents and her younger brother as a tween. This resulted in her being treated by some mysterious lab leaving her with super-strength and the ability to jump pretty high and far (although she tends to land awkwardly.) She also got adopted by the mother of one of her classmate’s Trish Walker, in a publicity ploy to get some goodwill from the audience of Trish’s sitcom “Patsy.”

Dorothy Walker’s the consummate “Stage-Mother From Hell,” constantly manipulating and abusing her daughter. The two girls form a lifelong bond not long after Jessica moved in with the Walkers, when Jessica stopped Dorothy from abusing her daughter by picking her up and throwing her against a wall like a rag-doll. Dorothy’s never forgiven her adopted daughter for that indignity, telling Jessica that her decision to adopt the girl had been the worst choice of her life.

As the girls become adults, Trish becomes one of New York City’s opinion-shapers hosting a highly rated daily radio talk-show, while Jessica goes through a series of menial jobs that are clearly beneath her. Walker’s always tried to convince Jones to use her abilities to help people in the guise of a superhero. Jessica rejects the spandex costume and name that Trish wants her to use, but comes to the aid of a young man when she sees him being beaten by three other guys one night on the street.

She easily takes out the trio and starts to tend to the victim when a rather dapper Englishman with a beautiful woman on each arm starts applauding her actions and calling out bravo. The man’s known as Kilgrave and he’s also gifted with abilities, he can get anybody to do anything he requests just by saying it, however he uses his abilities for nefarious purposes. He’s enchanted by Jessica and takes over her life for the next six-months via mind-control, effectively becoming the psychopath’s unwilling puppet.

The bond between controller and subject breaks when Kilgrave orders Jones to kill a woman who just provided him with a flash-drive buried underground in a steel box. Apparently Jessica’s mind snapped when she took the other woman’s life and started walking away from Kilgrave, who was so focused on commanding her to return he failed to see the city-bus that ran him over and seemingly killed him.

Suffering from PTSD and an experience that if she shared with doctors or law-enforcement would land her either in prison or a mental-hospital, Jessica attempts to rebuild her life as a gumshoe in Hell’s Kitchen. Most of her clients hire her to investigate their wives or husband’s to see if they’re stepping out on them, which often times lead to pretty angry clients when she confirms their suspicions.

The parents of a college coed and aspiring track star Hope Shlottman hire Jessica to help find their missing daughter who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. Jones doesn’t take long to locate the missing young woman but she also discovers that Shlottman happened to be the latest plaything for Kilgrave. The psychopath also planted a goodbye present within Hope a command to shoot her parents to death upon their reunion. Shlottman’s immediately imprisoned for patricide and Jessica’s forced to deal with Kilgrave once again in order to clear Hope’s name and save her from a lifetime in prison.

The man that Jessica saved from the beating the night she first encountered Kilgrave, Malcolm Ducasse now lives in the same building she does and he’s dropped his dreams of being a social-worker, trading them for what lies at the end of a syringe. We’re also introduced to a dysfunctional brother and sister who appear to be in their early twenties as the sister Robin berates her brother Ruben loudly enough that it resonates throughout the entire building. Jones takes a trip upstairs to tell them to lower the volume and Robin looks upon her from that point onward as her mortal enemy while her brother crushes on Jessica hard.

Turns out that there’s a connection between Kilgrave and Malcolm as the Englishman’s not only controlling his mind, he’s supplying Ducasse with his daily fix making Ducasse doubly dependent on Kilgrave. In return Malcolm supplies him with a daily array of snapshots of Jessica. We find out in one scene that Kilgrave possesses hundreds if not thousands of shots of Jones just going about her business in the city unaware she’s being photographed.

Jessica makes the connection and she’s able to follow Malcolm to his meetings with Kilgrave in public venues, that Malcolm doesn’t even know the destination of until he’s told by some stranger from the street that Kilgrave ordered to contact him. Jones, Trish and Walker’s “Friend With Benefits” Will Simpson, attempt to take Kilgrave by surprise and imprison him until he agrees to clear Hope’s name. However their plan falls apart as Kilgrave hired a private security firm to protect him and they grab Kilgrave back.

It does however result in an uneasy truce between Jessica and Kilgrave, starting with an agreement that he’d stop controlling Malcolm in return for Jessica sending him a selfie every morning. Jones handcuffs Malcolm in her toilet and forces him to go cold-turkey to beat his addiction. She saves him once again however as Ducasse stays clean and he becomes perhaps the piece’s most empathetic character. After all that he experienced Malcolm still just wants to help other people.

Kilgrave’s convinced that he can get Jessica to love him without using any of his abilities. He buys her childhood home and recreates it to look exactly as it did when she left it before the accident that took her family in 1999. He assures her that he won’t use his mind-controlling powers on her at all, but if she hopes that he cooperate to gain Hope her freedom she has to agree to live with him willingly in the house. Jessica has some ground-rules such as he’s never to touch her but agrees to move in.

Jones actually gets Kilgrave to stop a tragedy in the making from happening in heroic fashion, as he orders a father and husband that’s holding his wife and children hostage with a rifle to let his family go and surrender to police. Kilgrave actually gets a rush from the look of gratitude he received from the mother after he saved her family. He proclaims that Jessica and he will become a team and he’ll become a hero.

Jessica brings back some takeout Chinese food back to the house to celebrate the days events and insists that the chef and housekeeper that Kilgrave has on staff join them for the meal. Jones’ laced both the chef and the housekeeper’s food with sedatives and when they collapse at the table she takes Kilgrave by surprise and knocks him out with a heavy anesthesia drug. When he wakes up he finds himself in a hermetically sealed room that cuts off his powers to the outside world. Jones has also installed what she refers to as a kill-switch, covering the room’s floor with water that comes up to Kilgrave’s ankles and a button that she can hit zapping him with enough electricity to send him to the floor shaking like a bowl of Jell-O.

We learn that Kilgrave acquired his powers through a series of experiments conducted on him when he was just a child in England. Albert and Louise Thompson a pair of highly trained scientists attempted to save their son Kevin from some mutation that left untreated would have according to them, left their son brain-dead at the age of twelve. Instead they introduced viruses into his system that kept him alive but the torture he went through as a child was horrendous. The experiment resulted in Kevin emitting a virus to all those around him forcing them to do what ever he wished, a very scary power for an angry ten-year-old boy who suffered through a nightmarish childhood to possess. He forced his mother to scorch her face with a hot iron after she yelled at him and the incident convinced Albert and Louise to abandon their child and run as far away as possible.

What ever moral-compass that Kevin would have retained had his parents stayed with him vanished when they did and the boy used his abilities at first to survive. To get enough food to last him through the day and a proper place to rest his head at night. However as he grew older his appetites grew with him, without anybody strong enough to refuse him took what ever and whom ever he wanted until he tired of them and then onto his next conquest.

Jessica locates Albert and Louise Thompkins and convinces them to go with her to see their son. Albert’s reticent at the thought to say the least but his wife convinces him that their son’s their responsibility. Jones secretly hopes that Kilgrave seeing his parents once again will cause him to lose his mind. However because of conflicting agendas of some of the characters, Kilgrave once again regains his freedom after ordering his mother to stab himself to death and for Albert to cut out his own heart.

Kilgrave got badly wounded in the exchange, stabbed and then shot in the same shoulder. He orders Jones’ attorney Jeri Hogarth into driving to the medical practice that she’s got the most confidence will keep this story from ever being know. Jeri drives to the home she shares with her soon to be former wife Wendy whose a physician and although the tension’s so thick in the room you could cut it with a chainsaw, Wendy patches Kilgrave up. Jeri’s intent in bringing Kilgrave to her home was to get him to “persuade” Wendy to sign divorce papers, but when the doorbell rings the psychopath orders Wendy to kill Jeri by stabbing her five thousand times and flees the scene. Wendy’s stopped and killed when Jeri’s secretary and girlfriend cracks her skull open with a stone figurine.

Kilgrave “persuades” the New York City District Attorney and a Judge to clear Hope of all the charges and Jessica’s to pick-up the college student when she gets released the following morning. However an incident occurs that keeps Jones from getting there on time and Shlottman once again falls into Kilgrave’s hands. He contacts Jessica to arrange a trade, he’s willing to give Jones the college student in exchange for his father. However Hope’s so intent on getting Jessica to terminate Kilgrave, she takes her own life by stabbing the stem of a wine glass into her throat.

No longer having any reason to restrain herself this sets up a fight to the finish between Jessica and Kilgrave. The psychopath becomes even stronger and more powerful and soon he’s able to control the minds of scores of people simultaneously. How does Jones defeat this demon, save New York City and the planet and regain her self-esteem in the process.

The role seems tailor-made for Krysten Ritter as she inhabits this character’s skin and lets us see beneath the bravado and snappy comebacks. We discover a woman who refuses to cut herself any slack for her actions while under Kilgrave’s control. One gets the feeling that Jessica would consider it a weakness to take herself out to end all her internal pain, but she would consider death a welcome relief from he daily battles against internal and external demons.

David Tennant does a superb job in the role of Kilgrave, many would have played the part broadly and bigger than life throughout the production. Tennant however plays Kilgrave as refined and a proper English gentleman, so the moments when he does chew the scenery pop and make an impact. Tennant plays the psychopath as charmingly as he portrayed the Time-Lord from Gallifrey, however without any of the whimsy and one can see the contempt bubbling under his skin.

Carrie-Ann Moss looks far more matronly than she did in the Matrix Trilogy and she’s far from being in fighting shape. However she still evokes fear from others in her portrayal of high-powered attorney Jeri Hogarth, a woman that’s every bit as evil and self-centered as Kilgrave. However she’s learned to play the system to make up for her lack of super-powers.

Mike Colter got introduced to Marvel fans as Luke Cage, a man with unbreakable skin and incredible strength who chooses to keep his abilities hidden from most. Jessica and Cage discover each have super-powers when they team-up in a bar-brawl which leads to a powerful sexual attraction between the couple after the fight ends. Cage’s story will be the subject of the next origin story that Netflix and Marvel present and he seems to be a pretty intriguing guy.

Eka Darville may bring the most humanity to the screen in the role of Malcolm. For the first half of the story Malcolm’s a member of the Walking Dead, he seems more like a piece of furniture than a person. However Malcolm makes the most of becoming clean and sober. He becomes one of Jessica’s staunchest allies and he believes in her even when she’s stopped believing in herself.

Jessica will be one of the stars of the Defenders along with Luke Cage and Matt Murdock, a production that’s scheduled to reach homes sometime in 2017. Halfway through this series, I wondered exactly how the creators of this story expected Jessica Jones to become a heroic member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There was no doubt that she had the physical skills to take on all comers, however was she strong enough mentally to overcome her self-doubts and to help others fight injustice? Jessica Jones answered the question to my satisfaction with this voiceover as the series concluded.

“They say everyone’s born a hero but if you let it, life will push you over the line until you’re a villain. Problem is you don’t always know always know that you’ve crossed that line. Maybe it’s enough that the world thinks I’m a hero. Maybe if I work long and hard, maybe I can fool myself.”

 

Picture Courtesy Of ABC/Giovanni Rufino

Picture Courtesy Of ABC/Giovanni Rufino

Warning: Spoiler Alert

When we last saw Doctor Henry Morgan, Medical Examiner for the NYPD, he was coming to grips that for the first time in his over 200-years on this planet, he killed another human being. Morgan had to kill the psychopath that broke into Abe’s shop, or risk both his and Abe’s life, but the man he stabbed was not Henry’s immortal stalker as he believed. Morgan got set up by his stalker to kill this man, as the stalker pulled all the strings. We found out in the closing seconds, that Morgan’s stalker, is Bellevue psychiatrist Dr. Louis Garber, who treated both Morgan and the psychopath. He told Henry he was leaving town for a while but looked forward to talking upon his return.

As the ABC series “Forever,” returned to the airwaves, after being off for the holidays, the episode opens at a restaurant as veteran actor William Baldwin, sits at the head of a table with three more men a woman, who all look like investment brokers. The camera pans to one of the waiters, whose father owns the restaurant and he’s just staring at the table. His father comes over and chastises his son Jason from staring at the customers. The son tells his father the man at the head of the table’s Oliver Clarion, CEO of Clarion Capitol Investments, a firm he’s sent his resume to ten times.

Jason goes over to the table and asks Clarion if everything’s okay and the CEO responds, everything’s excellent. Jason says but it could be better right? How about instead of handing you your bill, I give you a hot stock tip. Clarion laughs and says to tell him what he’s got. We see a graphic stating it’s five-years later, and we hear Baldwin say this kid told him about a Chinese company that produced computer chips and five years later it’s made $83 million for the company. Jason’s dream came true, he’s working for Clarion and Oliver says that Jason’s like a son to him. He then says he spoils his kids and throws Jason the keys to a brand new Aston-Martin. We see Jason and his girlfriend making out in the car.

The next thing we see is Jason’s dead body the following morning, there’s a police team investigating along with a different Medical Examiner than Henry, although Detective Jo Martinez and Morgan’s assistant Lucas Wahl are on hand. The M.E. says the victim showed signs of being intoxicated, he jumped on the rail of the barrier and fell into the river and drowned. Lucas asks if he drowned why aren’t his hands wrinkled. The Medical Examiner tells Jo he’ll have his report complete by the following morning, Martinez asks him why the victim would jump on the rail and the doctor responds the why is her job. She clearly doesn’t like this guy and Lucas feels the same and asks if she misses Henry?

It’s been three-weeks and two-days since they lost saw Henry, as he still hasn’t recovered from the shooting. He’s in the basement doing an autopsy on a rat, when Abe walks in. Abe asks him when he’s going back to work, that he’s had enough time to adjust and he had to kill the man as it was self-defense.  Now we find out that it’s not just the trauma of killing another person, that’s bothering Morgan, it’s the fact that his stalker manipulated him and he won. Abe says the only way he wins, is if Henry remains a hermit. The phone rings and Abe answers to find it’s his old war buddy Marco and he’s Jason’s father. Abe says he’ll be right over, then tells Henry that was Marco’s only child, it’s hard to imagine how that must feel for him.

The following morning the other M.E. meets with Martinez and Wahl and says his final ruling’s accidental death by drowning. Right then Henry walks into the room, says he examined the body earlier that morning and he found too many inconsistencies, to agree with that. The other doctor says to Jo she has a choice accept his report and be done with the case or work with Henry and deal with paperwork and insanity, she chooses insanity.

Morgan and Martinez interview Marco and he tells them ever since Jason joined Clarion Capitol, he changed. His whole life and culture were built around money, that’s not the life he wanted Jason to have. He says he can’t help but think if he had stayed at the restaurant, he’d be alive now. Then he looks at Henry and says he couldn’t protect his son which is a father’s job.

Which sends us on our first flashback of the week, to 1965, as Henry’s wife Abigail worriedly shows Henry that the letter from the Draft Board came for Abraham. Abraham then enters sees the notice and asks if his mother’s excited to have another soldier in the family. Henry responds neither of them are and they have to sit down and talk about it, but Abraham says it’s his decision.

Jo and Henry head to Jason’s apartment and meet his girlfriend Hannah, whose filled with grief. She told them that Jason dropped her off early and told her he was going to enjoy his new car. Henry’s pounding on the floor with his feet, then compliments Hannah for the floor, its white oak, just like the slivers that were found under Jason’s fingernails. He stomps some more, then finds a hiding spot under the floor board, about a hundred grand in cash and a strange shaped key. Jo asks if Hannah knows anything about this and she says no and one hundred grand’s a small sum for them.

The pair then head to Clarion Capitol, and check out Jason’s office, there’s another guy in their that believes Henry and Jo are the decorators he’s hired to redecorate what will soon become his office. He then puts Jason down for his taste, blaming his Brooklyn background. Martinez then identifies herself as a detective and says they’ve come to investigate Jason’s death, the other broker identifies himself as Val Kaplan and says he’ll get out of their way. Martinez sees blood on the carpet and Henry notices the lamp had fallen and says that a fight took place there.

They ask the receptionist to speak to Clarion, but she tells them he’s just about to have his daily pep-talk with his employees. He welcome all his employees from branches across the planet, that must receive a closed circuit feed and then eulogizes Jason, as his Green Beret, the top of his soldiers because he knew the magic word and asks what it is. The employees scream Kill, he gets them to repeat it a few times and then asks, or what to which they respond, Be Killed.

They meet with Clarion and he’s as full of himself as one could expect. He says that he needs to keep the atmosphere ferocious to keep his soldiers motivated. He then responds that many of Jason’s fellow employees, may have resented him and the bond the two men shared. He then says he needs to leave as he has a meeting.

The receptionist Melanie Fontana, tells them that Oliver said to feel free to talk to anyone, Martinez responds she’s not done talking with Oliver. Henry sneakers under Melanie’s desk and ask if she has a long commute, she tells him yes she lives in Brooklyn, near where Jason grew-up. She says they used to joke that they had broken out, then says Jason was a good egg, Henry then asks if she knows anything about the blood on Jason’s carpet.

Jo catches up with Clarion at the elevators and asks about the blood, he says Jason fought with some guy he grew up with. Melanie gives Henry the guy’s name Kevin Cracciola and the address of the body-shop he owns. Morgan heads home and tells Abe the update, but Abe wants him and Henry to visit the guy right then, he tells Henry he wants to help. Henry gives him the strange shaped key and Abe says he knows just the guy to solve this.

The next morning Abe walks into a locksmith’s store and the older man behind the counter stares at him with ice-cold eyes, calls him Abe The Knave and says he doesn’t deal with guy’s that steal an Army buddy’s girlfriend. Abe tells Jerry Charters, the locksmith he needs his help to help Marco and tells Charters that Jason got murdered. Jerry tells him it’s a key to a humidor and to leave it with him and he’ll find out what the key fits.

Meanwhile Martinez and Morgan are at the body-shop talking to Jason’s friend Kevin about the fight. He asks if Jason’s pressing charges and Jo tells him that Jason’s been murdered. As she questions the suspect, Henry looks around the shop and soon calls over Jo, he’s seeing pieces of an Aston-Martin all over the shop, they’ve chopped Jason’s car down and are using it for parts, like the Aston-Martin engine that Kevin put into the Impala, he’s trying to escape in. Henry runs to the street and stands straight in the car’s pathway, Jo knocks him out-of-the-way just in time and Kevin crashes his car.

They bring him in and Martinez pulls Henry aside and asks about the stunt he pulled and Morgan responds he didn’t want him to escape. Jo tells him that’s not his job, but he says that the guy was “manipulating” them, same word he used when talking to Abe about his stalker.

They go in to question Kevin and he admits heisting the car, but he didn’t kill Jason. He waited in Kevin’s garage to get the hundred grand that Jason promised him, then some Aston-Martin pulled into Kevin’s parking spot so he took the car. But he says it wasn’t Jason who parked the car, after looking at photos, he identifies the guy as Val Kaplan. They head to the office and take him away in handcuffs.

Kaplan admits to Martinez that Oliver Clarion called him at midnight, that Jason’s body was in the swimming pool, he retrieved the body stuffed him in the trunk and dumped him near the river. Clarion assured him he’d take care of everything. Jo and Henry arrive at Clarion’s with a warrant and head to his indoor pool, filled with sea-water, Henry pulls the filter and sees the same ground glass found in Jason’s skull. Oliver says to Martinez he thinks he’s very smart doesn’t he, at that point her cell-phone rings, it’s Lieutenant Reece telling her and Henry to head to the station. Jo says Henry’s just found the murder weapon and the Lieutenant responds they have someone who admits to murdering Jason, Melanie Fontana. Clarion grins from ear-to-ear.

Abe and Jerry have located Clarion’s yacht, which holds the humidor and they convince the attendant that they service the humidor and their readings indicate the humidor’s far too moist and they need to reset it immediately, or all of Clarion’s cigars will become garbage. He then distracts the attendant as Jerry opens the humidor, finding a packet of financial records inside.

Martinez questions Melanie and she says Jason tried putting the moves on her and was smashed so he wouldn’t stop. She says he said the reason he wouldn’t be with him was she was sleeping with Oliver. She says it really ticked her off, so she threw a bottle of wine at him, hitting him in the head and he drowned, she didn’t mean to kill him.

Henry heads home to find the over the hill gang sitting at his kitchen table, Abe, Jerry and Abe’s accountant. Abe tells Henry there’s been a major break in the case, tells him they stole the documents and these are the real numbers, they’ve hidden from the SEC. Jason confronted him and Clarion killed him. The usually unflappable Morgan yells at the three old men that by stealing the documents they’re inadmissible in court and he has to call Martinez.

Jo gets the call, tells Henry she’ll call him back and tells Melanie that was a source from the SEC and they’ll soon file suit against Clarion Capitol. She asks Fontana how much Oliver paid him to confess, a million, five million. She then says the Government has forensic accountants who will find the money and she’ll have nothing, then starts to leave the room, but Melanie stops her. She says Oliver gave her 20 million it would get wired the next day.

At Clarion Capitol, the entire staff’s deleting files from computers, gathering all paper documents and Oliver’s in his office smashing a hard drive. The FBI, Jo and Henry enter the offices and the Federal Agents tell everybody to put down their boxes and stand at their desks. Henry realizes Clarion’s in the second floor parking garage and goes after him, Jo realizes what Henry’s done and heads to the garage. Clarion’s heading straight for Morgan when Jo starts shooting at the car and Oliver gives up.

Henry sits and talks with Marco, Jerry and Abe at the house and Marco thanks Henry for all his work. Henry responds that he’s heard Marco’s a big reason why Abe made it home safe from Vietnam. He flashback to 1965, as Henry and Abigail bid Abraham farewell as he’s about to get on the bus to boot camp. As he gets into line, the guy ahead of him introduces himself as Marco and Abraham tells him his name’s Abe. Marco asks are you scared and they both nervously chuckle. Marco says he’s from Brooklyn so he’ll be okay then tells Abe to stick with him, he’ll take care of him.

Later that evening, there’s a knock at the shop’s door and it’s Jo, Henry lets her in and asks if she there to tell him she no longer wants to work with him? She says just the opposite but they’ve both gone through the same experience recently and she tried too hard when she first came back on duty, comparatively to him standing in front of speeding cars. Henry needs to take it one day at a time and she’s there for him. They then go to check on another homicide.

The Story Continues Next Tuesday at 10:00 pm on ABC.