Warning: There are some major spoilers in this, so proceed at your own risk!
As I started thinking about this post and what I wanted to say, I realized two things: 1) I never ended up reviewing the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and 2) I’ve never actually reviewed the second season of a show before. The cause for the latter is predominantly because either I, the Mysterious Mr. C, or both of us will lose interest as the storylines become more repetitive or more contrived. The reason for the former is a bit more complicated.
Though C and I started watching the first season of the Netflix series the weekend it premiered in November 2015, we stopped about halfway through. I’m not entirely sure why at this point, but I feel like it had something to do with Kilgrave (David Tennant). Many people seemed to swoon over this villain, but I could only handle so much of his sadism. I did eventually finish all 13 episodes, but there must have been at least a year and a half between viewings.
As for the second season, I had a completely different reaction. Once again, I seem to be in the minority, but this time, it’s because I really loved (most of) the story arc.
While some people have complained about the pacing of the show, I never felt like it moved too slow or too fast. Yes, some episodes did have more action than others, but to me, even the ones that were less fight-heavy were critical to the overall story – especially as they started filling in Jessica’s and Trish’s backgrounds.
Since I haven’t reviewed this show before, let’s do a quick recap: Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is the lone survivor of a fatal car accident that killed the rest of her family. When she was released from the hospital, she discovered that she now had super-strength. With no remaining family, Jessica was adopted by Dorothy Walker, the worst kind of stage mom, who basically pimps out her daughter Patricia “Patsy/Trish” (Rachael Taylor). Trish, a former television star and pop singer, is now a radio talk show host, and she often uses her platform to antagonize Jessica’s enemies. In the first season, that was Kilgrave, a psychopath who was able to control people (including Jessica for a time) when he spoke. In the second, it’s a company called IGH, which seems to have been behind Jessica’s enhancements, and one of their other “experiments.”
Jessica, a private investigator, is a pretty closed book and while Trish’s drug problem was discussed in the first season, the focus seemed to be more on the here and now. This time around, it was more squarely on their pasts. The seventh episode (“AKA I Want Your Cray Cray”) in particular shows Trish at the height of her stardom, which is actually a pretty low point, while Jessica’s antics explain her ever-present moto jacket and the inspiration behind her firm’s name, Alias Investigations. It also delves more into the bombshell revelation that dropped at the end of episode six – *AGAIN, SPOILERS* – that the big bad is actually Jessica’s mom!
Based on the quick takes I’ve seen on my Twitter feed, many people didn’t think this villain was as compelling as Kilgrave, but come on! Revealing that Jessica’s mother is actually alive, but that she’s insanely strong and goes into rage-induced fugue states where she kills everyone she perceives to be in her way?! That presents so many more interesting dynamics to explore. And you really see Jessica struggle with what to do – her mother is a monstrous murderer, but she’s also her mother. It’s a dilemma that most of us can empathize with and it prompted me to wonder what I would do in a similar situation. Answer? Essentially the same thing as Jessica – attempt to get my mom someplace where she can’t hurt anyone else, and then make a run for the Canadian border when that plan goes horribly awry.
Of course, the season isn’t perfect and there are a number of sub-plots that don’t add much to the story, but I still appreciated seeing what the other characters were dealing with. Unlike the Marvel movies, where being a superhero is the job, in the Marvel universe of television shows – at least those on Netflix – powers, more often than not, come second. To me, that makes everything feel more realistic; life is hard and messy, and though it’s cliché, when it rains, it really can pour. At the same time, the season does end on a semi-hopeful note, with Jessica finally letting some of her walls come down. And that’s life too: surviving all sorts of hurts, disappointments, and traumas, but coming out the other side and still trying to find the good in people.
Maybe that’s why I liked this season so much. Instead of ending with Jessica saving the world, it closed on Jessica saving herself.