Jessica Jones Season Two: Reviewed
By Grace Gay
Jessica Jones returned to Netflix recently for its second season, and continues to affirm its place as the best Marvel television show by far. It yet again managed to transcend tropes of the superhero genre and incorporate elements of noir detective stories, all while exploring family dynamics and Jessica’s continual struggle with PTSD.
While the first season was undoubtedly more touching and impactful, as it mainly concerned Jessica confronting her supervillain rapist, this season is still driven primarily by the emotional investment of the audience in the characters. In the current climate, the importance of Jessica Jones cannot be underestimated: both on screen and behind the scenes, the show is led by women.
The main cast of Jessica (Krysten Ritter), her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor), Jessica’s mother (Miriam Shor), and a handful of others is largely women. And for the new season, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg used female directors for all the episodes, as well as a 50/50 gender split in the crew. I shudder sometimes imaging how awful Jessica Jones would have been if handled by someone like, oh, say, Joss Whedon. Instead of a feminist show only in name, the heart of the show beats with women’s stories. And never does it hide the horrors of womanhood or the anxieties that come with being a powerful woman.
The major conflict in this season ends up being what to do with Jessica’s mother, a superhuman with anger issues that lead her to kill. Honestly, the villainy of it all isn’t very compelling. I cared about the plot because I cared about Jessica, but her mother was never fully compelling to me because there was ultimately no way she could ever have a relationship with Jessica. Part of the problem also lies in the fact that the show’s strength is not in dealing with seedy government organizations; it’s in dealing with people living in pain.
I enjoyed seeing Jessica’s interactions with the landlord the most, as it showed a human side to her rarely seen, but the relationship that was once at the core of the show—that between Trish and Jessica—felt deeply absent and missed in this season. Trish’s character arc was ridiculous to the point of absurdity. In all, this season unfortunately continues to have some of the same problems that have marred the show since the start: too many episodes feature slow plotting, unnecessary cliffhangers, and plot lines that lead nowhere—like that of the lawyer Jerry Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss).
Other character development was dynamic and earned. Malcolm’s (Eka Darville) screen time is frustrating but ultimately rewarding, considering his struggles in the first season. In the end, he arrives at a new position that I’m excited to see more of (And not just because Eka Darville is a beautiful man).
Without a doubt and unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the show is Jessica. Finally discovering the details of her backstory and watching her struggle with the secrets revealed this season is, in a word, heart-wrenching. Jessica’s conflict with her identity as a killer after Kilgrave’s death is really interesting. Later, when she has to kill out of self-defense, her reaction adds layers onto what we knew of her inner world in the first season, as we see Kilgrave return as an embodiment of the evil she sees within herself. The central struggle with her mother would have been greatly improved by bringing in these elements of life and death into their relationship, instead of her mother never questioning the murders she commits.
Despite the dead end plot lines and the missteps in character development, the relationships and characters within this show are still compelling. I love how Jessica Jones—broken, angry, and impulsive—is allowed to be all of those things and still be a complex character. For Jessica pretends to be a hard woman to cope with her terrible world, but like the rest of us, she’s got a huge heart hiding behind all her pain. Presenting that kind of a woman is exactly what television needs and what women around the world deserve to see right now.