In the second season of Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” the main characters are pushed well past their limits and fail far more than they succeed. All 13 episodes were released on Netflix March 8.
Despite the two and a half years that separate the first season from the second, the second season picks up roughly six months after the Defenders went their separate ways and a year and a half since Jessica killed Kilgrave at the end of the first season.
For anyone who hasn’t finished season two, from here on, this article will be filled with spoilers.
Maybe it’s the time lapse that made the first few episodes feel somewhat disjointed and directionless. Yes, season two immediately picks up cliffhangers from the past season including Trish’s investigation into IGH, the group responsible for Jessica’s powers, and Jessica’s continuous self-doubt over whether she is a hero or if she’s just fighting her mutant nature, but the sub-plots are pointless.
The feud with rival private eye Pryce Cheng never amounts to anything substantial even when he tries to kill the powered woman (powered as in having superpowers, not empowered as in aware of her own self-worth and taking names, but I like where your head's at) killing anyone talking about IGH or in her way. Similarly, the relationship between Malcolm and Trish is annoying at best.
Despite the rough first few episodes, the show picks up when it’s revealed that the season’s villain is actually Jessica’s mother, Alisa, who was declared dead in the car crash that led to Jessica’s entire family being killed and her being taken by IGH. This age-old plot twist was (at least for me) unexpected. I mean, her ashes were on the shelf. Still, while it was not predictable like in many other series, it didn’t feel unreasonable, thus adding an interesting and meaningful twist to a narrative that was lacking in direction.
After the big reveal, the series finally becomes grounded as more of Jessica’s backstory is revealed and as Alisa’s presence causes Jessica and Trish to make big decisions about who they think they are and who they want to be.
One way in which the season shined was in its investigation of female identity. Staying true to her final words of season one, Jessica tries decide if she’s a hero like the desperate people in her voicemails want her to be, or a murderer that even she begins to see as a danger to society.
Similarly, Trish’s desire to be the hero pushes her to follow her ambition while also relapsing and falling back on self-destructive habits that almost get her killed.
Through this collision of their identities and their pasts, Jessica and Trish attempt to determine how they want to be heroes if they believe that they are heroes at all, bringing them to their lowest, most emotionally wrecked points.
Trish decides that she wants supernatural abilities, too, so that she can be the hero that she always saw for herself and that she wanted Jessica to be. Worse, she nearly kills herself to get those abilities. Jessica also tries to get what she always wanted: her mother. In protecting her, she kills an evil prison guard in self-defense after breaking into his home. However, Trish makes a defining decision and kills Alisa right in front of Jessica in order to save her from her dangerous and unhinged mother.
Who is right? Who is wrong? The creators of “Jessica Jones” don’t answer either of those questions, but rather revel in the ambiguity. They don’t try to paint the gray world that we live in as black and white nor do they try to convince viewers that right and wrong or even its strong female characters are simple in any way.
What they do tell us through these defining moments is that the Trish and Jessica of the unannounced season three will definitely be changed women, having taken their first and second lives. We will see them navigating the world after losing their innocence, or at least their naivety, while also dealing with their powers.
The relationships that drive season two of “Jessica Jones” are as messy as they are intriguing, making it worthy of the number one spot on anyone’s ‘Must Watch’ list.
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.