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Jessica Jones, Season Two

Many shows tend to have what’s known as the ‘sophomore slump,’ where their second season doesn’t quite measure up to the excellency of the first season. And while season two of Jessica Jones is still very enjoyable, mainly due to Krysten Ritter’s fantastic performance as the eponymous character, the show does suffer from this cursed issue.

Without delving into spoilers (those come later), the season revolves around a theme of self-discovery. We find Jessica (Krysten Ritter) in her detective agency, Alias Investigations, interviewing potential clients for new cases. When a man who calls himself The Whizzer comes into the agency talking of conspiracies and people trying to kill him, Jessica initially plays him off as insane; that is until he gets murdered by some unknown person. While looking into the circumstances of the death and who exactly this guy was, Jessica soon finds herself thrust into a mystery that forces her to delve into her own past and face her past demons. Aiding her in her investigations is her best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), her associate Malcolm (Eka Darville), and her on and off lawyer friend Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss).

During the course of the season each of her friends/associates undergo a similar self-discovery trip. For Malcolm it’s wrestling with his past addictions and wanting to become a proper private investigator like Jessica. For Jeri it’s facing her recent ALS diagnosis and trying to determine whether or not she will let the disease define her identity for her remaining life.

Trish is where things get a little more complicated. She seems to have several motivating factors throughout the season, none of which really get well defined. Initially she wants to help Jessica with her investigation of the shadowy organization IGH. But then a few episodes later her character arc revolves around her addiction to this new aerosolized drug that no one knows anything about. But then within another few episodes her main focus is her obsession with obtaining superpowers like Jessica which leads her to alienating everyone in her life. And then finally in the last few episodes she’s on a path of redemption, attempting to atone for her mistakes. Towards the end of the season, I didn’t really understand what her purpose was anymore or even why I should care. In fact, this season did nothing but make me like the character less and less as I went, even during her final redemptive arc.

Alright this is the point where I have to throw up the Spoiler Warning as we’re going to start talking specifics.

The main issue on hand for Jessica in this season is the reappearance of her long thought dead mother, Alisa (Janet McTeer). While investigating the organization IGH, the medical facility that saved her from the car crash that supposedly killed the rest of her family and gave Jessica her powers, she tracks down the doctor that actually performed her procedures to finally get some answers. When she arrives at the doctor’s house she’s greeted by some woman and surprise! It’s your dead mother! Turns out that IGH helped her to survive the crash as well but because her injuries were much more extensive than Jessica’s she required much more experimental (read: illegal) treatments. The easiest way to do this without raising any red flags was to just declare her deceased. Now that Jessica has returned into her life she is trying to create an actual relationship with her daughter while trying to prove to her, and herself, that she’s a good person.

Janet McTeer reigns in a solid performance as Alisa. She pulls off the crazed yet caring mother with relative ease. Despite this, the writing for the character seemed a little dull. Like so many other characters this season the writers seemed like they didn’t really know what to do with the character, so much so that they just had Trish kill her off in the final episode simply to create more undue tension between her and Jessica.

Jeri’s entire storyline seemed like filler for the character during the entirety of the season. Early on Jeri gets diagnosed with ALS and is told she only has a small amount of time left to live. This leads to her life spiraling away from her in a hedonistic binge of debauchery. She ends up falling for a former nurse that Jessica found during her IGH investigation that was using Jeri’s apartment as a safe house. At her lowest moment, this nurse convinces Jeri to help get a guy who supposedly had healing powers out of prison so that he could heal her. After a healing session, Jeri comes home one night to find the two gone and her apartment robbed, realizing at that moment that the healing powers were a fraud. She eventually tracks the nurse and her boyfriend down and convinces her, through mere suggestion, to kill him. After this whole ordeal, Jeri returns to work, lets her partners know that she will leave the firm as they were requesting but that she was taking all her clients, which specifically included a Mr. Danny Rand, as well as a large sum of money, and reaffirms her tough, take-no-bullshit attitude.

While I enjoyed watching Jeri go through this self-reflective path, it seemed a little pointless. It almost seemed like the writers didn’t really know what to do with the character so they sent her on this out-of-character self-destructive rampage. The whole story existed just so that Jeri could make the decision to leave her firm and start her own.

By far the best episode of the season was episode 11, the episode following the one in which Jessica accidentally kills the abusive prison guard and is plagued with visions of season one’s psychopath of the hour Kilgrave (David Tennant). David Tennant, despite only being in one episode this season, was as charismatic and show stealing as ever and made Kilgrave just as menacing as before. But this brings up a big red flag as well: What does it say about your show when the best part of the current season is the return of the villain, whom you killed off, from the previous season? No character in season two seemed to quite measure up to Kilgrave. As amazing as Tennant’s Kilgrave was, it put the show in a bind in a way by having every subsequent villain have to measure up to him, a very difficult feat. Time will tell where this series goes in the future and what characters they can bring into the fold that might be able to match the intensity of Kilgrave.

Season two of Jessica Jones is good but it does have it’s issues; for every Krysten Ritter stellar performance there’s a weird, ill-defined Trish Walker character arc. Despite not having known Jessica Jones prior to Netflix’s first season, I find that I’m really liking the character and her world which is why watching this season at times pained me. I’m excited to see where they go next with the show but I’m also very apprehensive.

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