Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Simply put, the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was one of the best project’s produced on Netflix’s platform. The second entry into Marvel’s Netflix corner of their cinematic universe took audiences by storm as its darker, more thrilling story of a broken hero suffering from PTSD, abuse and alcoholism provided a more intimate look into a more realistic side of a universe filled with gods and billionaires fighting aliens. The concept of a superhero is always evolving and the Melissa Rosenberg-created drama transcended the genre.
This past week, Jessica Jones saw its sophomore season debut on Netflix and fans were excited as ever to see what Marvel’s resident asshole hero of New York had in store for us. Being very much in line with its Netflix sibling series’, Jessica Jones season two once again captures the conflicted morality within our lead heroine beautifully while also evolving the overall nature of the series, becoming increasingly darker but still more exciting. It is an incredibly slow build, a common issue or positive tactic, depending on who you talk to about these Marvel Netflix shows, but once the ball gets rolling, season two of Jessica Jones is filled with enthralling performances, a complex narrative and a message very much in line with the current change going on in Hollywood right now. This is a female superhero who performs for no one, not even the viewers.
Jessica Jones season 2 picks up six months after the end of The Defenders. For Jessica, after finally playing the role of a true superhero for a change, she finds herself struggling to adapt to a normal life. While initially thinking that killing Kilgrave would put an end to her trauma, in actuality, it merely allowed for Jessica to forget for a small amount of time, as she returns to who usual ways of coping, drinking and meaningless sex. With a fully operational P.I agency, Jones takes on a new case involving another enhanced individual and the shady organization IGH, which gave Jones the powers she has deemed, a curse. From there, she becomes part of a larger, more dangerous threat that forces her to come to grips with confronting the past she continuously ran away from.
Similarly to the first season of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones’ second outing feels like two different plotline’s pushed together into one, mostly consistent story. For the first six episodes of the season, the show takes an extremely slow build to the real narrative, which has Jessica confronting her past. Until that point however, we are left without a substantial villain for Jessica to fight against. The first season of Jessica Jones was largely defined by David Tennant’s incredible performance as Kilgrave, the man who made Jessica into the person she is today. It was a fantastic sight to see Jessica finally get her revenge on the purple-suited psychopath but now that he’s gone, the hole he left behind can definitely be felt, at least in the beginning. This does not mean that we need another Kilgrave-type villain, but without a clear path, viewers are stuck wondering what direction the show is going, bringing the energy level in the series down a few notches. But, as I said, once episode six debuts, it is full steam ahead and the show proves why it should still be hailed amongst Marvel’s best.
If season one was about surviving deep suffering, season two is about the aftermath and the impact it has one you. Throughout the show, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg observes feminist rage from several unique angles, namely through Jessica and the women in her life. The major villain of the season may not come until later on, but that is only because it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. From the point-of-view of our series lead, Jessica must move past the emotional and physical abuse suffered at the hands of Kilgrave to delve deeper into her muddy origins. Jessica’s former “partner” Jeri Hogarth is seen grappling with news that has a massive impact on her life, and learning to deal with how to proceed with her future. Jessica’s best friend and sister Trish Walker is still battling demons of her own, ones she could never seem to escape. All three women are prime examples of what makes Jessica Jones such an enthralling series. It is not afraid to ask the multifaceted question of what happens when our coping measures that we have built (despite them not being helpful), stop serving us and begin tearing us down. These strong female characters forgo the common tropes of what a female character should be in a story. They are tough, fragmented individuals and they do not care who knows it. They will fall apart and the series once again does not shy away from showcasing real problems women face, even if they have wealth and power or have superpowers.
Clearly though, no character would be exciting to watch without the actor/actress bringing the character to life and Krysten Ritter once again performs phenomenally as Jessica Jones. Even with the slow build, it is clear that this was a role Ritter was born to play as she dives deeper into what makes Jessica tick and the trauma she continues to repress. Perfectly delivering hilarious and meaningful one-liners along the way, Ritter gives viewers a cold, hard look into the face behind the vigilante “hero,” where you really feel the agony and misery Jessica lives with every day. Rachael Taylor returns as Trish Walker and makes for a solid anti-hero-like character. Like Jessica, Trish is also dealing with lingering problems that she carries with her as a massive weight and, despite a few shaky sequences, Taylor’s portrayal of the future New York superhero Hellcat allows for the viewer to feel some kind of sympathy, even when the decisions made by her are borderline unforgiveable. The actress who stole the show however is Carrie-Anne Moss as ruthless New York lawyer Jeri Hogarth. As I said above, Hogarth receives life changing news and she almost instantly becomes someone with nothing to lose. You will sink your teeth into the journey Hogarth goes on this season as we watch her mercilessly and magnificently go to depths to solve her problems that you may not have thought were even possible. Finally, Janet McTeer stars as the series’ main antagonist (who will not be mentioned to keep this spoiler free) and proves to be a worthy adversary for Jessica. Where Kilgrave hurt Jessica more emotionally, McTeer’s villain is one that hits close to home for Jessica, making this an even bigger psychological battle than the one seen last season. It is the seasons McTeer shares with Ritter that are the most thought-provoking and action-packed this season has to offer.
While the season is not without its flaws, one of the biggest from my perspective is its complete lack of mention for the events of The Defenders miniseries that debuted on Netflix last summer. It is very surprising for the first Marvel/Netflix season of 2018 featuring an actual Defender to not mention the catastrophic events that engulfed New York. In some ways, it is understandable as Melissa Rosenberg has stated that the season would place more focus on Jessica’s past than building on her battle with The Hand. But does that mean that no one in New York discusses the undertaking of their city? In a universe that prides itself on its connections to other shows and films, it is weird to see Marvel still taking a more separated approach when it comes to these Netflix series’.
Perhaps the best part of the season though is the fact that Jessica’s origin story is finally finished being told. Season one was one piece of her past coming back and this season is the same. Going forward, Jessica will learn how to control her emotions, her powers and, most importantly, her life as she strives towards attaining some kind of normalcy. Origin stories are great but after this season, there are so many possible avenues for a third season to go. Jessica can now explore new aspects of life with the knowledge she has learned while letting the past die.
The show is once again beautifully shot and much like the other Netflix shows, the lightning is handled beautifully. As purple graces the screen, viewers will be engulfed in the dark, brooding nature of our tortured heroine, elevating the emotion and signifying that something both scary and exciting is about to come our way.
This is not a spoiler as it was confirmed a long time ago but I figured I would mention this at the end. David Tennant does return for one episode this season. I will not say which episode but it is, by far, the best of the season and one of the best episodes of Marvel’s television history. Tennant is still incredibly entertaining and terrifying in the role as Kilgrave and, like Wilson Fisk’s quick return in Daredevil season 2, provides fans with at least a taste of the tenacity Tennant brought to the role.
In the end, despite its problems, the second season of Jessica Jones is a solid outing for the character as we enter a new era for female superheroes. In a time where the film and television industries are experiencing seismic shifts in diversity within male-dominated genres, Jessica Jones stand tall amongst her fellow Netflix siblings as the series that embraces the more complex nature of what it is truly like to be a superhero with a broken past. Pacing issues aside, this season finally sets Jessica up for a future that does not involve beating herself up mentally every night about each wrong or horrible move from the past. Each character grows in their own way and can now take on new adventures while still keeping in line with darker, grittier nature of Marvel’s version of New York. It is not the nicest road getting there, but the future is bright for Jessica Jones.
Nick’s Rating – 7.7/10
What did you think about Jessica Jones season 2? Let us know in the comments down below!