6 Thoughts on the Second Season of Jessica Jones
I did not like the second season of Jessica Jones. I kind of hated almost everything about it. I am honestly going to sit here and tell you that I found it less entertaining than Iron Fist. You are more than welcome to disagree with me. I hope you enjoyed this season of television. But I did not. Oh man, I did not.
TV Rating: 3/10 – Bad.
I loved the first season of Jessica Jones. It was gripping, exciting, had a very important message and starred some really awesome characters, Jessica Jones especially. So the fact that most, if not all, of the same people could return and make this horrible season is mind-boggling! How did it go so wrong? Why did anybody think this was a good TV show? How can they mess it up this much after such a stellar first season?
Join me after the jump for my thoughts and review on the second season of Jessica Jones! Warning, there will be FULL SPOILERS from the show. And please share your own thoughts on the show in the comments!
6. I didn’t like it
My problems with this second season are based largely on a really boring and off-putting overall story If I were to pick the least interesting things about Jessica Jones, both the show and the character, I would have to say the origin of her powers and her dead family — and the second season was about both of those things. Who cares how Jessica Jones got her mild super strength? Especially when the answer is simply: “a mad scientist experimented on her after an accident”. That’s all we need to know. The origin of her powers does not inform her character in any way. And while it’s tragic that her family died at a young age, that while that does inform her character as an adult in some ways, her family was never more than a concept in the first season. They weren’t characters in their own right. We never got to know them or Jessica’s home life. So to base this season so strongly on those characters is a real misstep.
I’ll be talking more about Jessica’s mom, the season’s big bad, later on this list.
So already, I didn’t care for the two major plot points of this season. And the way the show tackled these plot points was bad, too. We knew from episode 1 that Jessica got her powers from a lab experiment following her accident, so the mystery was already solved. The only thing left for them to do was find the specific doctor that performed the experiment, so the show spent nearly it’s entire first half tracking one random clue after another with no rhyme or reason. I realize Jessica is an investigator, but just because you create a random bread crumb trail of clues doesn’t make them inherently interesting.
Remember when they snuck into a private golf club to interrogate a random guy who sold hosiery? First of all, what did any of that have to do with anything? Did it just seem neat so they put it on? Second of all, why not just wait for him in the parking lot? Then there was a whole subplot about Trish getting abused as a child actor by a sleazy director. That was another bread crumb that was immediately dropped after getting what they wanted. The first half of the season was full of those random bread crumbs that didn’t mean anything or really go anywhere (with the exception of Inez). They were just an excuse to drag out a pretty boring mystery.
And then once the mystery is solved and we know the name of the mad scientist and are introduced to his super-powered killer partner, then what? I’ll grant you, the reveal that the killer was Jessica’s mom was a neat twist, but then everything about it fell flat for me. I don’t know why, but it just never gelled that this was Jessica’s mom. Because, again, it’s not like we had ever spent any time with Jessica’s mom. So it’s not like we were going to be shocked that suddenly she’s a killer. We never knew her original personality. And everything we could have gleaned from Jessica’s memories about her real parents from season 1 was wiped away by this new mom character in that scene where she said Jessica’s parents had a rocky marriage. Jessica specifically points out that this woman is rewriting all the memories Jessica thought she had. So if we have no foundation to build off of, why should we care about Jessica’s mom now?
Especially since the entire second half of the season just goes around and around in a circle of whether or not Jessica should lock the woman up. Episode after episode is Jessica wanting to lock her up, then not wanting to lock her up, then her getting locked up regardless, then Jessica wanting a different kind of lockup, then her getting out, then Jessica wanting to lock her up, then Jessica not wanting to lock her up. Jeez louise.
Worst of all, the twist made Jessica Jones, the best character on the show, wishy-washy. Jessica is known for her independence and her decisiveness, for her bull-headedness. So no, I didn’t find it entertaining to watch as all of that was taken away so that she could get bossed around by her mom.
Maybe I don’t get it because I have a solid, ordinary relationship with my mother and don’t understand any of this mother/daughter stuff. Maybe that’s it. But Jessica Jones waffling back and forth over what to do with her mother does not make for a good TV show. Especially when the answer is obvious: she’s an unrepentant murderer who needs to be locked up and dealt with. Yes, she’s your mom, and yes, the Raft sounds like a scary idea, but that’s how these things are dealt with and that option was available to them at multiple junctures. Instead, multiple innocent people had to die so that Jessica could be wishy washy about her mom.
And yes, there is some quality in a storyline where Jessica worries she might turn into her murderous mother. But that storyline is never resolved! Unless you count the idea that, at the end, Jessica was totally fine with going on the run with her mom and letting all the murders stand. Trish was right in the finale: Jessica was making the wrong choice and she was unable to turn on her mom. Someone else had to take out Alisa Jones. So the answer to whether or not Jessica is turning into her murderous mom is…yeah? I guess?
This is getting pretty long, but there were just so many big and little things I didn’t like about this season. Like the jerk prison guard, Dale. What a cliche! Alisa Jones is locked up for, what, a day or two? And already she’s faced with a cliche evil prison guard who loves to torture and kill inmates? Really? And rather than tell super lawyer Jeri Hogarth, or talk to Trish’s friend the warden, the answer to the prison guard is for Jessica to track him to his home and accidentally kill him? And then successfully get away with making his murder look like a suicide? Just ugh.
Sorry this was such a rant. The rest probably will be, too.
5. Most of the actors are great
I am willing to go out on a limb and say that the cast of Jessica Jones is probably the best cast of the Marvel Netflix shows. Jessica herself is a fascinatingly cool and flawed hero. Malcolm has got a great story and it’s told really well. Trish is probably the best, most interesting sidekick of any of the shows with a really cool and unique personal story and connection to the lead. Then you’ve got side characters like Trish’s mom and Jeri and you’ve got one hell of a cast — and just like season 1, they were all pretty spectacular this season. I have no complaints about the cast.
Though not all of the characters work. The new love interest, Oscar, was too perfect. Oh, so suddenly a handsome, fit man shows up in Jessica’s building with a picturesque kid, a super helpful criminal skill, a super adorable and sexy painting skill, and he and Jessica initially dislike each other? Wonder what’s going to happen! I like that he represents the idea of a nice, normal family for Jessica, but he’s a little too good to be true. And that Pryce Cheng guy had few, if any, redeeming qualities.
4. The villains suuuuuuucked!
Part of me wants to say that these superhero shows don’t necessarily need to have a main, season-long villain. It doesn’t have to be that way…but it is that way. Therefore, the showrunners should have come up with a better villain. Did they learn nothing from their amazing villain in season 1? Kilgrave is arguably the best villain in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe! He was amazing! He brought so much to the table, for the show as a whole, for the main character, for all the supporting characters. Kilgrave was a presence and a menace.
But the new villains in season 2 are just terrible, as characters, as mysteries and as villains. So we start with the idea that Trish is looking into where Jessica’s powers came from, and together they stumble upon the idea that there are other people who got powers in a similar way, and that somebody is killing those people. So there’s a shady, power-granting mad scientist out there, and he’s connected to a killer trying to protect his secrets. Alright, that could be something.
But what do we get? Dr. Karl Malus, a generally polite scientist who apparently created maybe 3 people with super-powers some 17 years ago? And who now just wants to live in peace because he fell in love with one of them? Not very villainous. Also, what’s the deal with his medical technique? He can bring people back from the dead and they end up with super strength? And that one time fear-based super speed? How does that make any sense?! And then some of his patients have severe mental illnesses, but not Jessica? Does Jessica have a mental illness? I don’t think it’s stated anywhere.
I didn’t buy into the Malus/Alisa romance at all. The show kept saying they were in love, but it just didn’t work for me. First of all, there’s the power aspect, in that Malus clearly had power and authority over her, making their love squicky in that regard. Then there’s Alisa’s almost Frankenstein-like anger in her devotion, making it seem more like she’s programmed to love this guy. Obviously that wasn’t the case as the show told it, but they just never came off as a couple. They came off as a scientist and his experiment with a weird devotion/power play thing between them. So none of that worked for me.
And then with Alisa, her role as the season’s big bad falls apart because of the wishy washy mother/daughter thing with Jessica. I’ll get to that more in a second.
Basically, with the entirety of the Marvel Universe to choose from, the showrunners couldn’t have come up with better villains? Not that they have to pick an existing comic book villain, but when you’ve got such a proven catalogue of characters to choose from, why not? Why not go full bore into Malus being someone like the Power Broker, a mad scientist who is actively given people dangerous powers, and Jessica and her mom just happened to have been swept up in that?
3. I hate Alisa Jones so much
I can’t really put my finger on it, but I actively hate everything about Alisa Jones as a character. I don’t know why, but it’s guttural. I’m starting to think actor Janet McTeer did something bad to me in a former life because I can’t stand to even look at her character. I don’t like her face, I don’t like her hair, I don’t like her storyline, I don’t like the reveal that she’s Jessica’s mom. None of it worked for me on any level. She was not a person to me. I never connected with the idea that she was Jessica’s mom. I never had an ounce of sympathy for her or her position at any point in the season.
She was a big, blazing warning sign that should have been properly dealt with right from the get-go. But no. The show had to drag everything out, sending Jessica into weird circles of indecision.
Alisa is an unrepentant killer. Yes, a lot of that is because of the sudden intense anger problems she has as a result of the surgery/experiments, but that doesn’t excuse the constant murder. Especially when she never takes responsibility for that murder. She blames Trish Talk, which is ridiculous. So she already has zero remorse for the nice, innocent people she kills.
When Jessica first learns Alisa is her mom and they’re trapped in that house, with the police on the way, it should have ended right there. Jessica knew everything, she knew her mom killed that first awesome boyfriend, and the cops that Jessica already trusted were on the way. Jessica should have helped them take her mother into custody and then they could sort everything else out afterwards. How many people would still be alive and unharmed? But no, instead, Jessica gets all wishy washy for a bunch of episodes until her mom finally does surrender anyway.
And then there’s this perfectly nice offer on the table where she can stay in the local prison and have a relationship with Jessica…but she won’t go through with it because of the weak, power-warped love she has for that stupid mad scientist character! Just let him get arrested, too, and deal with the repercussions of all of your actions. Lots of people stay in touch with other people through prison. There are ways to make it work.
But no, Jessica is forced to feel the need to start lying for her mother and helping bad people escape custody. Let’s help Malus escape to a foreign country for the rest of his life, because that’s a better option than just going to prison for a couple years!
And to make that even worse, because of Jessica’s repeat decisions to constantly side with her mother against any reasonable solution, Jessica alienates all of her far more interesting and enjoyable supporting characters! Trish and Malcolm were definitely in the right to track down and arrest Malus without Jessica (though yes, Trish had bad intentions, but Malcolm was totally right and Jessica kicked him out). And then Trish took it upon herself to kill Alisa, which was great! Because, like Trish said, Jessica was never going to do that herself! Jessica was apparently perfectly happy with fleeing with her mother the killer so that they could hide out in some foreign country and avoid any responsibility whatever. And in doing this, Jessica banishes Trish from her life.
By the end of the season, Jessica is exactly where she was at the start of the season, only now she has cast off all of her awesome friends and family. All because the stupid villain turned out to be her mom.
Worst villain in the entire MCU. Including Malekith and Diamondback.
2. All the subplots were far more interesting
I really, really did not enjoy the main storyline this season about Jessica Jones and her mom — but I loved pretty much all the subplots! They were great and legitimately fun! Or, if not fun, then engaging!
Trish’s storyline was awesome. She has this undercurrent of envy coursing through her, that Jessica has powers and she doesn’t. That’s a solid motivation for an un-powered sidekick to have. She’s also got the great motivation of wanting to be taken seriously as a journalist. She’s gotten a taste of it on Trish Talk as she delves into the issues surrounding super-powers, and she wants more. She wants to really take on the issues, and I liked the idea that her picturesque relationship with Griffon was built on the idea that Trish wanted to be him. That’s good storytelling!
Speaking as a journalist, our motivation isn’t ratings, no matter how much crazy Alisa Jones insists. In the world of the Avengers, it is a perfectly legitimate motivation to want to expose an evil lab project that kidnaps accident victims and experiments on them. Trish was totally in the right to use her show to investigate IGH and their human abuses. And Trish was totally in the right to want to expand beyond the confines of Trish Talk into real journalism. That this desire also ran parallel to her envy towards Jessica’s powers, and had her falling back on her addict lifestyle with the inhaler, makes for a really great character story arc. And Trish’s journey this season is great to watch!
Then, of course, she’s the hero in the end when she kills Alisa, knowing that Jessica couldn’t and wouldn’t. And I super hope Trish does indeed have powers now to become Hellcat! Can’t wait to see where that goes!
Though I will admit that Trish killing Alisa was a dark move, and I probably only like it because I love Trish and hate Alisa.
Then you’ve got Malcolm and his storyline. He’s doing everything right as well, dedicated to his job, good at it and eager to help both Jessica and Trish however he can. It’s not his fault that Jessica is clinging to her mother in face of all common sense. Malcolm knows that Malus and Alisa have to be stopped and that he can help with that. In the end, he cuts off Jessica like a barnacle and turns himself into a damn fine P.I. More power to him!
Jeri Hogarth’s story was even better this season! Holy cow! The ALS diagnosis was a gut punch and really transformed the character, sending her down some dark and fascinating paths. Then when Inez suddenly shows up in her life, things get even darker, as it looks like Jeri might work against Jessica to use IGH for her own personal gain! Then both we and she get a second gut punch when it turns out Inez and Shane were scamming her? Oh man! I didn’t see that coming, and it hurt like hell! Then Jeri is both clever and smart in getting her twisted, evil revenge. She’s an efficient and competent badass, who ends the season launching her own law firm and not letting her diagnosis get her down!
Again, one of the side characters gets a legitimately cool storyline, with a solid, entertaining ending. Seeing her and Malcolm team up to stick it to her partners was a great way to end out the season.
1. Can the Netflix Defenders be saved?
I’m getting worried about the Marvel Netflix shows. They’re just not good anymore. They have been either bad to merely mediocre ever since they killed Cottonmouth in the middle of Luke Cage. Everything in the second half of Luke Cage was bad. Iron Fist, Defenders and Punisher were bad to mediocre. And now the new season of Jessica Jones, one of the standouts at the beginning, is bad. The storytelling in these shows is terrible! After seven seasons of this stuff, Marvel still hasn’t figured out how to properly fill 13 episodes. The pacing is routinely terrible, there are no big dramatic or exciting moments and they continue to shy away from anything really superheroic or iconic in favor of grimacing heroes.
These Marvel shows now just go round and round for episode after episode, wearing out any interest in the low key villains before building up to a, usually, exciting climax. Nothing ever gets resolved in the middle episodes. They just stretch on.
If this season of Jessica Jones wasn’t a Marvel show, and it wasn’t all available to binge in a couple of sittings, I would have stopped watching at least halfway through, if not sooner. I gave up all of the DC shows on The CW because I couldn’t bring myself to keep caring week in and week out. But I can stand to kill an evening or two binging these Marvel shows. So yeah, I’m going to watch Luke Cage this Summer and I continue to be optimistic about more Daredevil and Iron Fist.
But man, how far we’ve fallen from the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones…