I’m sharing my overall thoughts about Jessica Jones season 2, with comments on themes, acting, directing and the season in general. There are spoilers ahead.
As it did last season, Jessica Jones hits hard on themes of rape and sexual violence. It was addressed directly by the women characters, but also implied in many ways because of pain and anxiety the women carried with them.
The theme of addiction worms through many characters stories. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) uses alcohol to excess. Strangely, when she was in jail for over 24 hours she didn’t show any symptoms of withdrawal. I wondered about that.
Malcolm (Eka Darville) still struggles with the heroin addiction Kilgrave (David Tennant) put in his head. He fights it by keeping busy and having lots of sex with women whose names he doesn’t remember. As Jessica puts it, he’s traded one addiction for another. Malcolm wants to learn to be an investigator and he’s fighting to stay clean in order to do that.
Trish (Rachael Taylor) deals with the seductions of the drug that Will Simpson (Wil Traval) used last season to make himself super strong. The drug makes her feel invincible. It was hinted at in the first season, but it becomes abundantly clear in season 2 that Trish’s life with an abusive mother (Rebecca De Mornay) and a super powered sister drive her to seek powers herself. She almost kills herself trying. There’s a hint at the end of the season that she might have achieved some.
This season is about identity. Jessica wants to learn more about where she came from, but she’s also defining who she is now. Is she redeemable? Can she control her abilities? Does she stand for something good? Is she stronger than her demons?
Jessica’s central conflict revolves around family. There’s no clear cut villain like Kilgrave. She’s dealing with her internal demons and her rediscovered family. It’s a more amorphous thing to struggle with and create compelling drama around. Jessica has a family with Trish, but it’s not a perfect relationship. Yet Trish is the one to do the unthinkable for Jessica, because she knew Jessica could not.
Jessica’s reunited with her biological mother (Janet McTeer). Her mother is so like her and so unlike her. Her mother also received enhanced abilities in the same place Jessica did. Her mother cannot control her abilities and Jessica knows she’s murdered several people.
Jessica’s terribly conflicted. She feels a pull toward her mother, but she has a moral center that guides her. It makes for great drama between them, but not the kind of exciting conflict we expected after season 1 and after Jessica Jones’ role in The Defenders.
I think this is at the root of comments I’ve seen that season 2 isn’t as good as season 1. Season 2 doesn’t have as much action. It’s different. Not lesser.
The Hero’s Journey
Consider the long arc of Jessica’s story in seasons 1 and 2. She’s been a reluctant super hero at best. She’s broken in so many ways. Her life is a disaster, her relationships precarious. Connecting with her mother in season 2 heals a lot of the broken places. It opens her up. She releases the pent up love she’s guarded for so long. She feels something that booze can’t dull.
Because of the love – and the grief – that Jessica experiences in season 2, she’s finally ready to move on. To become the powerful woman she can be. To embrace her inner super hero.
The hero’s journey for Jessica in season 2 is an internal one. In fact, all the story arcs in season 2 are personal and internal.
All the Praise in the World
In performance terms, Krysten Ritter is fantastic as the cynical, depressed, sarcastic, anger bomb that is Jessica Jones. I don’t suppose an actor from a Marvel series will be considered for an Emmy, but Krysten Ritter just kills in this part. Every breath, every glance, every movement is perfection.
Everyone was on top of their game in performance. Carrie-Anne Moss was powerful. Rachael Taylor played on the edge to perfection. Eka Darville was charming and lovable this season. Janet McTeer was brilliant – she’s absolutely compelling in this role.
I offer praise to everyone in front of the camera in Jessica Jones. They all were believable and real and hit all the right notes.
A million kudos to Jessica Jones for using all women directors in season 2. I loved all the female directing talent. Perfectly done. So many times as I was watching I admired a brilliant shot or a subtle use of the camera to make a point.
A big thank you to series creator Melissa Rosenberg for developing this complex woman, Jessica Jones, for television.
The music was subtle and suited, especially the theme used for Jessica.I like the jazzy undertones used for each character’s signature music. The music could be big and dramatic when needed, but I loved the quieter layer underneath very much.
This season was lighter – as in light, actual light. There were more daylight scenes. There was a brightness to season 2, which was emphasized by the lighting. Many demons needed to be conquered by the characters in season 2. Lighting up their world emphasized their journey.
Every episode has accompanying comic book cover art like this gorgeous work by Colleen Doran. Each of the pulp fiction art works is by a woman artist.
The cliffhangers at the end of each episode weren’t as compelling in season 2. They didn’t drive me to watch the next episode right now. I appreciated that because it’s much healthier for body and soul to get up after an episode, make a cup of tea, hit the bathroom, move around a bit.
But I do think that lack of compulsion to want to binge right this second contributed to the sensation that perhaps season 2 wasn’t as exciting as season 1. There was no chance I wouldn’t finish the season. I just took more time with it. There was some heavy material to process in season 2, it wasn’t one fight scene after another.
That heavy material was needed to bring Jessica Jones willingly into the pantheon of action oriented, world saving heroes. Here’s to a heroic Jessica Jones saving everyone’s ass in season 3.
What did you think of season 2?