The first season of Jessica Jones premiered all the way back in November 2015. It was epic hardboiled detective story in the style of Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade, and we needed more ASAP. It took Marvel two years and many other Netflix shows to get back to our favorite Hell’s Kitchen boozer. Was Jessica Jones’ season 2 worth the wait?
In short, yes. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a solid outing from Netflix-Marvel, and this is a refreshing return to form. Krysten Ritter’s gritty superhero gets darker in season 2, as she delves into the reason behind her powers. It’s a stark contrast to Danny Rand’s constant whining in both Iron Fist and The Defenders.
Ghosts of Hardship
The women in Jessica Jones are battling with some heavy personal demons this season. Jessica is still reeling from having had to kill Kilgrave. Trish (Rachael Taylor) is forced to face horrible ghosts from her time as a child star. Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) has entered a self-hating cycle after her wife’s death, one ultimately aggravated by frightful news.
Jessica Jones still isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in depicting trauma. These women are haunted by their past and the prospect of their future, but they are also relentless. As the mystery of Jessica’s powers opens before our eyes, the layers of powerless in her past become clearer. Of course, this makes the character’s (figurative) strength all the more fascinating. It also leads to some of the best performances the show has ever seen, particularly from Ritter and Moss. For Ritter, I’d go so far as to say this is the best she’s been since Breaking Bad.
Resilience seems to be the common theme for the three main female characters of the show. Their coping mechanisms vary considerably, which speaks highly of the show’s nuanced and realistic writing, specially for a superhero story.
Jessica Jones is very much a female-led show, and male characters are clearly supporting. Eka Darville’s Malcolm, who is now Jessica’s assistant and protégé, is great, but his role is nowhere near as juicy. Wil Traval returns as deranged Simpson for a short stint, leaving his mark. Terry Chen’s Pryce Cheng, however, seems forced as a character, almost cartoonish. Out of the men, the best part and performance goes to Hal Ozsan as Griffin Sinclair, Trish’s new love interest.
While perhaps Jessica Jones’ weak spot is how the men are written, its well-defined female characters make up for it. Season 2 took its time to arrive, yes, but it also made a conscious effort to be empowering. Notoriously and for the first time ever, each of the 13 episodes was directed by a woman. The season even came out on International Women’s Day!
The Other Defenders
Let’s face it: Marvel needed a success. After Daredevil and Jessica first came out, it seemed this would be the home of gritty street Marvel. While Luke Cage followed that trend with some extra Harlem flavor, the following entries were lackluster. Iron Fist was notoriously bland, with a weak main character and a messy story arc. The Defenders, while fun to watch, wasn’t nearly as good as the first couple of outings. And I, for one, couldn’t be bothered to finish the first season of The Punisher.
Luke Cage returns for its second season on June 22, and Daredevil is expected to hit Netflix later this year. Unfortunately, Iron Fist season 2 is also confirmed, although the release date isn’t clear yet. As for Jessica, although season 2 feels like a return to form, we don’t know if we’ll see her again. There’s still no word on a season 3, nor on a season 2 of Defenders.
Let’s hope we get to see Krysten Ritter punching bad guys in the face for an encore!