This review is spoiler free and encompasses only the first five episodes of season two given to critics by Netflix
Jessica Jones is back, but with a trail of mediocre Marvel TV offerings—Punisher aside—has Netflix hit their stride again? Jessica’s second season lands with a resounding yes.
Jessica’s actions in her previous season, and Defenders by extension, have been working against her. She is a well known figure, and most of the people she meets are throwing around terms like “superhero” and “vigilante”—terms that serve as a trigger for her. Not only does she hate the attention, she hates the labels. The spotlight has made it hard for her to deal with the things that still haunt her, traumatic thoughts that are pushed even more to the forefront of her mind.
Things like becoming a killer by ending Kilgrave’s life, the death of her family, and the twenty days she lost right after her tragic incident weigh heavily on her. All of this is shown with finesse, and it’s easy to connect with her struggles fairly quickly. Krysten Ritter is given the chance to dive even deeper into Jessica’s damaged psyche, and her performance excels because of it. Now don’t you worry—even though her psyche is in a rather questionable condition, her trademark dry wit and sarcastic bite are still very much intact.
The main conflict this season comes in the form of the mysterious company IGH—who are believed to be responsible for experimenting on Jessica, and potentially others. Even without the presence of David Tennant’s star role of Kilgrave, the show succeeds at keeping the audience engaged and connected to this new story. While there’s not much I can say in regards to anyone in particular, someone is introduced within the first five episodes that looks set-up to become the lead villain. They receive a Kingpin style tease, however I don’t think it works quite as efficiently this time around. Especially after Tennant, the lack of a specific face/personality for most of the early episodes can make you miss him (even if the plot itself isn’t uninteresting).
When IGH isn’t in play, there are various other conflicts that the crew is dealing with. Conflicts that put focus on other parts of Jessica’s world. Like focusing on the fact that Jessica has a business in Alias Investigations, or that they live in a world of super powered individuals—something that tends to be left in the dust. Especially when it comes to Alias investigations, the focus is a welcome one. I felt that Daredevil forgot about their law firm one too many times, and ended up pushing it to the side.
The standout of the first five episodes for me was Rachel Taylor as Trish. Trish Walker gets a much deserved spotlight, and is almost battling Jessica for screen time. Trish gets fed up with always being treated as if she can’t handle herself, so this leads her to attempting to forge her own path in her quest for answers. She also holds the strongest development so far when it comes to everyone but Jessica, and her journey this season focuses on her figuring out who she really wants to be.
Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and Malcolm (played by Eka Darville) are the other returning faces to the this season, and both get substantial focus. Hogarth is suddenly thrust into a very personal struggle, a plot line that does wonders in further fleshing out the emotional nuances of her character. As for Malcolm, he has become what is essentially a support pillar for both Jessica and Alias Investigations (even if she doesn’t treat him the best).
There are plenty of newcomers to Jessica’s world as well. Pryce Cheng (played by Terry Chen) comes in as a rival PI looking to buy Alias Investigations out. Oscar (played by J.R. Ramirez) is Jessica’s new superintendent, and we quickly learn that he may not like the idea of having a powered individual in his building. Inez Green (played by Leah Gibson) is someone Jessica meets—for better or worse—in their investigation into IGH. There are more to add, and all of them hold their own against the rest of the great cast, with each playing an important part. So far, there isn’t any character along the same lines of the terribly written neighbor Robyn from the first season—and thank God for that.
Jessica Jones’ second season looks to be a great addition to the Marvel Netflix library, and it is posed to cement her show as one of Marvel’s best. While the strength this time doesn’t lie so much in the antagonist forces at play, the emotional foundation that the season creates for both its characters and plot more than makes up for it. If the rest of the season can maintain this quality, then we sure are in for a treat.
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Jessica Jones Season 2 will be available to stream exclusively on Netflix on March 8th.