How do you define a monster? Yeah, I know, that’s an odd question to ask at the beginning of a review for a superhero show, but to be honest, it’s very appropriate. For some, a monster is a being that tries to hurt it, impede us, make us feel small. To others, a monster is something like addiction, where you try to break free from its grasp, and yet you can’t. And to a few, a monster is who we see in the mirror when we look at it every day. The person we don’t want to be, didn’t choose to be at times, yet, here we are. This is exactly the question that rings out through Jessica Jones Season 2, which is now on Netflix.
WARNING! SPOILERS for Jessica Jones Season 2 lie ahead! You have been warned.
Having watched all six Netflix/Marvel collaborations, you quickly realize how different Jessica Jones is in terms of style, substance, and focus. Where Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Punisher, and Defenders was more action focused with good character stories mixed in, Jessica Jones has always been about great character stories that eventually lead to action. And that’s perfectly fine with me. Because to a character like Jessica, story is everything.
The first season of Jessica Jones focused on the premise of “How far would you go to stop a monster?”, in this case, Kilgrave. But in Jessica Jones Season 2, the question becomes, “Is it so simple to call someone a monster?” Again, an odd question, but as you’ll find out, a very apt one. For in this season, Jessica comes across a person who isn’t just as strong as her, they’re stronger, and while it’s easy at first to proclaim them a “monster”, when certain facts and reveals come to life, it gets harder to make that classification.
With a series as visual and “M”-rated as Jessica Jones is (and trust me, it is), it all falls on Krysten Ritter to make it work. Jessica is not a hero, she’s an anti-hero who has had arguably the worst possible life. Or, as Deadpool once put it, “Life is a never-ending series of train wrecks interrupted by brief moments of happiness”, and that definitely describes Jessica’s life. Granted, it’s better than where she was in Season 01, but it’s not as complete as you might think.
For though Kilgrave is dead, and New York was saved in Defenders, which led to her bringing back Alias Investigations, she’s still struggling with what she is, and who she is. Krysten perfectly shows off both the toughness and vulnerability of Jessica. Making her both completely relatable, and yet someone you don’t want to sympathize with at times. This season really focused on the fact that Jessica’s personality kills relationships, and for once, she acknowledges that, and that’s growth you can get behind.
But the true plotline here is the “truth” behind IGH, the company that gave Jessica her powers. With Trish’s help, they start to peel back the layers, but what it reveals will not be what you expect. I won’t spoil this part, but there’s a key twist that no one will see coming, and it changes the entire complex of the season. Including how Jessica defines herself.
That’s not to say that Jessica Jones Season 2 only focuses on the titular character, for this go around, just about every major supporting character has a sidestory. Malcolm becomes a full-fledged member of Alias Investigations, and even earns some of Jessica’s respect as he helps out where he can. It’s good to see him back to full-form, and he arguably had the best growth of any character this season. Including a major twist in his life that comes by the end of the season.
Jeri Hogarth also has a big arc, one that plays directly into her season 01 arc, and yet is entirely different. She is one of those characters who will make you hate her even when you’re supposed to sympathize her, and that’s a testament to Carrie Anne-Moss’ acting. She’s great.
But maybe the biggest twist comes in the tale of Trish Walker. Whereas Season 01 had her being a literal wing-woman for Jessica, and pushing her to be a hero, this season pushes her down an entirely different path. She becomes a monster all her own when a new addiction ruins her life in numerous ways, and yet, she doubles down on her believes. Trish becomes someone totally different in a way, and yet, as a testament to good writing, it fits entirely into who she is, the life she’s lived, and the life she’s trying to lead. Oh, and if you’re hoping that she’ll become THAT character by the end. She won’t…but she’s getting a lot closer.
For the episodes themselves, they’re a mix of investigations, plot twists, and intersecting stories that will leave you both scratching your head and enthralled depending on the episode. One of my favorites was one where we got a flashback to Jessica and Trish in their teen years, and got to see certain events and how they impacted each of them. Including, how Alias Investigations got its name.
Again, it’s the character stories that really sell this series, there’s a lot of good ones here. And when they hit, they hit, including a certain “mystery character” who I refuse to spoil.
That being said, not everything worked in Jessica Jones Season 2. First off, certain new characters felt more like plot devices than solid new additions. Jessica has a rival PI named Chang who wants to assimilate Alias Investigations. Perfect start of a story right? Well, it starts out that way, but then Chang becomes completely one-dimensional, makes mistakes that is utterly confusing given his reputation, and is frankly pointless in many respects outside of a new storyline for one of the main characters by the end.
Then, there’ Oscar, Jessica’s new superintendent who has a checkered past. He is meant to be an “anchor” of sorts to show that life can get better for people like them. Yet, he’s also a plot device that feels one-dimensional at times. Here’s a hint, he’s a forger of papers…want to guess how many times Jessica goes to him for that?
There’s also a continuity error of sorts in regards to Defenders. Jessica states that she’s “alone” many times, and yet, at the end of Defenders, she said she would be in touch with Luke Cage. Given that he arrived via the first season, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to see him back. Heck, Danny Rand is going to be in Luke Cage Season 02, so why not bring him back for emotional support?
Speaking of comebacks, there was some trepidation over David Tennant returning as Kilgrave. You can relax, it’s for one episode, and it’s done tastefully, and wonderfully.
It also should be noted that this is a very…visual season…and is laced with profanity from top to bottom. If you don’t like seeing and hearing that kind of stuff? This will be a turnoff.
Finally, there is pacing and logic issues with the season. The beginning is a bit slow, and a key Marvel character gets killed off two episodes in despite being built up all of the first season. And by the end, there’s a “plot twist” that is so unrealistic I couldn’t help but shake my head.
Still, for what it is, Jessica Jones Season 2 is another great Marvel/Netflix season. Jessica and much of her supporting cast shine in new and expected ways. If you enjoyed season 1, you’re enjoy this second season.