Jessica Jones Season 2 Review 2

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

**This Article Contains Spoilers for All Of Jessica Jones Season 2 And Prior Events. Click Here For A Spoiler Free Review Of The First Five Season 2 Episodes.**

“I hate starting at the beginning.”

Going into the season, most people worried that the lack of Kilgrave would bring the show down.  I mean after David Tennant’s performance, and what he did for the show, how could you top it? Or even compare to it?  Well, even with the issues that season two has, I can say that it easily stands alongside their freshman run.

Krysten Ritter is a star, and she was born to be Jessica Jones.  Her performance throughout season two was breathtaking, and so tragically well done that you can see the copious amounts of emotional stress that Jessica was dealing with at any given point.  Her struggle this season can be boiled down to the fact that she had to aid the antagonistic forces, and she hated every moment of it. Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to do otherwise. Her mother was back from the dead.  She had a chance to have something she had dreamed of for 17 years. This constant emotional strain and confusion was by far the strongest element of the show, and it made for some of Jessica’s best, most vulnerable moments.  As a viewer, it was amazing to be able to experience that strain and confusion with her.

It’s hard to tell a story anywhere near as personal to Jessica as Kilgrave.  One might have said it was impossible. But the introduction of Alisa did just that.  Bringing back someone thought to be dead is a cliched idea, and usually plays out as such.  Not here. There was a raw emotional story to be told, and both Krysten Ritter and Janet McTeer were expertly prepared to show us.  While I still stand by the opinion that the mysterious build-up to our mystery monster didn’t work as efficiently as it did for Kingpin, the actual identity and reveal of Alisa certainly worked.  It was harrowing learning how Alisa was saved, and how she came to be. Watching her attempt to connect with Jessica was heartwarming, but at the same time distressing, due to the nagging feeling that none of it would end well.

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Janet McTeer as a mysterious figure. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

As I’ve noted, It’s hard to follow Kilgrave’s act, which is why I enjoyed their direction this season.  There wasn’t a clear villain. Everything was both morally and ethically grey. Not only when it came to Alisa, but IGH as a whole—right down to Dr. Karl Malus.  What I really enjoyed about Karl was that by the end of the season, I still never felt that he was a villain. As I mentioned in an episodic review, I saw him as a hero going about his goals the wrong way.  He truly only ever wanted to help, and use his advancements in science to achieve these goals. Yes, some of those experiments were illegal, and some granted superpowered side effects, but they were all in the name of good. His relationship with Alisa also really humanized him, and what they had seemed to be a genuine—though complicated—connection. With that said, I do think that in aiming their focus on Alisa and Karl, the show did forget about IGH as a whole.  I mean, shady stuff still happened at IGH. A company still existed that ran illegal experiments on unwilling people, and I feel like there is some important information that we’ll never get.
From the beginning of the season, I sensed that a build up to Trish’s Hellcat origin was the goal, which was very exciting. Trish’s first few episodes were fantastic, and we really got to see a new side of her.  But then she started her inhaler addiction. The show lost it’s way with Trish. She spent five or more episodes running around looking sickly and yelling at people. She had no true direction or purpose. The show hit a wall, and they hit it hard.  I did question if Trish’s storyline was truly lost. Then she kidnapped Karl, and her motivations were revealed. All she has wanted was superpowers. She feels (literally) powerless to and unable to do anything important, especially having grown up with an abusive mother and a superpowered sister.  It was a fantastic revelation that made perfect sense within her character.

Yet the show did a poor job showing these things to the audience.  Those episodes wasted on Trish’s inhaler addiction could have been better used to build up to these reveals.  They could have shown us things that would make us start to piece together her emotional landscape. By the end of the season, she became compelling again.  Which is a good thing too, seeing as we are witnessing the origin of another vigilante in Hellcat. It’s also good that the audience not be at odds with Trish, seeing as the relationship between Jess and her will be the emotional foundation of their future stories.

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Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker (left) and Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones (right). Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Even now Trish and Jessica’s strong familial bond is something the show consistently leans on.  While the show did lack focus on the two of them in the middle of the season, both the beginning and end of the thirteen episode run excelled when it came to Jessica and Trish.  They’re both seriously messed up, each with their own personal jealousies and underlying issues. Yet, they are the most important people in each other’s lives. At the end of the day, they will both be there for each other.  It’s that last point that threw an interesting curve ball at us when Trish was the one to kill Alisa. It’s a really tragic turn of events, and I cannot wait to see it play out further.

Now if Trish’s story hadn’t stumbled, I would say that she had one of the best arcs outside of Jessica.  However, that honor belongs to someone else—Malcolm. Malcolm was given the chance this season to carve out his own part of the show, and his character became one of the best aspects.  From nothing, Malcolm quickly asserted himself, and came into his own. It was great watching him flourish, and get fed up with how Jessica treated him like nothing. His separation from Jessica and Alias was well earned, and was a powerful moment for his character.  That whole scene with him and Jessica in the hospital dishing it out in their first honest conversation still sits up there as one of the season’s best moments. Also, the show did a wonderful job at fleshing out the addictive tendencies that he deals with, and even plays in to it without realizing it.  

Hogarth’s storyline throughout the season was fantastic, and helped add complicated layers to the character.  Her struggle with ALS was a great way of throwing Hogarth into a struggle that not even someone like her was ready for. It led to us seeing this powerful woman in such a vulnerable and fragile state.  Becoming so open backfired on her though, as she was completely torn down by Inez and Shane’s con. Her ruthless payback was really shocking, and nailed the fact that Hogarth is not one to be messed with.  If anything, this season almost served as a re-origin story for her—one that smells like a villainess being born. I don’t think there is a version of the future that doesn’t involve Hogarth becoming a major thorn in Jessica’s side.

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Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Now while Hogarth’s story was great, and really helped evolve the character, it felt disconnected.  At the beginning they started to lead her path into the other narrative threads in Jessica and IGH. However around halfway through the season, Hogarth’s journey very much became its own thing.  It was entirely disconnected from any other aspect of the show. Even when they started to bring back her vendetta against her firm, it still felt like it was in it’s own world.

When it comes to the new supporting cast on the show, the most important one was clearly Oscar (J.R. Ramirez).  His relationship with Jess looks to be a huge part of things going forward. While their whole relationship started very sloppily, their connection was given time to breath once the the show eased its grip on the two of them.  That slow burn did wonders, as by the end of the season I could buy them as a thing—something I couldn’t early on. Though let’s face it, they’re doomed for failure. You have Luke Cage to blame for that.

People like Inez Green (Leah Gibson) and Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen) were solid additions to the show, but both didn’t made the strongest lasting impressions. Pryce Cheng served a purpose earlier in the season, but was essentially forgotten about for the rest of the show.  Yes, they randomly brought him back to snipe Alisa, but I don’t think that makes for a good example. With Inez, she was the stronger of the two. But at the end of the day, I feel like we really never got to know anything about her. She became a plot device to further Hogarth. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but she never existed outside of any other character (mainly Hogarth). I think there is great potential to bring Inez back in the future, to see how Hogarth’s manipulation has shaped her and possibly even start a vendetta storyline. Pryce is also posed to be a part of the future, and I hope that he gets more meat on his bones when that time comes.

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J.R. Ramirez as Oscar. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

With this season there’s a lot to love about it.  But if you haven’t noticed, there are also plenty of places that it was lacking.  Where the show excelled, they would often find a place to stumble (Trish’s addiction). Many plot elements would be introduced suddenly, only simply to move characters from A to B (serial killer Dale). Supporting cast, like Pryce Cheng, would awkwardly be forgotten about for episodes at a time. Had the writer’s been able to iron out these wrinkles, this season easily could have stood a chance at topping season one.

No, the sophomore run can’t top their freshman outing.  But Jessica Jones’ second season doesn’t miss the mark. Yes…it may falter here and there, but where it excels, it really hits home.  When it comes down to it, Jessica Jones has the strongest emotional foundation of any of the Netflix shows. Krysten Ritter gave some of her best performances as she dealt with the emotional confusion and tension of Alisa’s return.  The different, more morally and ethically grey conflict in both Alisa and IGH was a breath of fresh air—even if I still feel some IGH questions were left unanswered. The season ends leaving plenty of intriguing plot threads dangling, and I can only hope we get more Jessica Jones sooner rather than later.

What did you guys think of the season?  Make sure to leave your thoughts down below in the comments!  For all of our Jessica Jones Season 2 coverage and reviews in one place, make sure to check out our HUB!

Bonus Notes:

  • It is a little annoying how disconnected the Netflix shows are feeling.  They occupy the same world, so you would think they could stop going out of their way to avoid other elements.  I mean you could watch this season (and The Punisher), and you’d have no idea that The Defenders happened.
  • I still believe a great foil to Jessica and the issues that the show generally deals with would be the schizophrenic Moon Knight.  He would be a great Antihero for Jessica, and probably Trish, to go up against.
  • Kilgrave’s small role in this season was expertly done, and led to some of the show’s best moments as Jessica’s psyche was breaking.
  • The season did often hit similar notes as it’s freshman run, and often around the same time.  I mention this down in the bonus notes, because I don’t felt that it had a super negative impact overall.  However, I did notice it—and I feel that they’ll need to switch it up going forward.
  • I guess I won’t be considering Alisa the MCU Typhoid Mary—a direction I thought they were heading in. Doing so would be a negative for Alisa, who I think works wonderfully as a character on her own.  Typhoid Mary is a much different beast.

Jessica Jones Season 2 is now available to stream exclusively on Netflix.