Jessica Jones, Season 3
Final Score: 4 / 5
Season two of Netflix’s Jessica Jones was an unmitigated mess. The storytelling was weak, the characters were inconsistent, and the villain just wasn’t compelling enough. This was such a shame after the sheer excellency of season one. Season three, the show’s final season, has finally landed and with it came a lot of expectations, not only after the awful second season but also due to the fact that this was the last of the Netflix Marvel shows as they had all been cancelled. Jessica Jones season three not only manages to send the Netflix Marvel era off on a high note, it manages to redeem the series as a whole.
The season begins with Jessica (Krysten Ritter) returning to her private investigator roots taking on the odd job here and there. One day Dorothy Walker (Rebecca De Mornay), Trish’s mother, comes to Jessica asking for help as Trish (Rachel Taylor) had gone missing. Initially refusing as she was still upset over Trish killing her mother, Jessica eventually agrees and begins tracking Trish. After a confrontation, Jessica discovers that the process that Trish underwent in the previous season succeeded and she obtained powers. As the season proceeds, Jessica is attacked and seriously injured. While tracking down the person responsible, she stumbles upon a man named Gregory Salinger (Jeremy Bobb), an extremely intelligent and extremely dangerous serial killer. Over the course of the season, Jessica teams up with Trish and begins tracking down and attempting to stop Salinger from killing anyone else. This season sees the return of Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss), Malcolm (Eka Darville), Detective Costa (John Ventimiglia), and the introduction of Erik Gelden (Benjamin Walker).
Before this season was released, Netflix released a short teaser that showed a much darker version of the show than what we had seen in the past. And oh boy they weren’t kidding. This season was dark, much darker than I was anticipating. But this darker approach worked incredibly well. The private investigator setting fits this darker narrative perfectly.
The biggest issue that I had with season two was the weird character development throughout the season, specifically with Trish. Trish had at least four different character motivations over the course of thirteen episodes during season two. The writers seem to have learned from their mistakes though as the writing for all the characters this season was much improved from the previous season. I’ll come back to Trish’s character arc in more detail in the spoiler section below, but this season deals with her getting used to her powers and the responsibility required to be a hero.
The villain this season was one of the best of any season of any of the Netflix Marvel shows. Although Salinger doesn’t possess any powers or special abilities himself, he still manages to be a formidable foe to Jessica. I’ve found that Jessica works best with villains that are physically less menacing then herself. In season two the main villain was her mother who also had strength and powers and she was a much flatter, more dull character. Kilgrave from season one had powers, but his biggest strength over Jessica was his intellect and cunning. This same idea is seen with Salinger. Throughout the season Salinger is constantly two steps ahead of Jessica, playing with her and causing her to do exactly what he wants just by understanding who she is as a person.
The biggest issue I had with this season was pacing. There was a steady incline in the action and the story up through about episode 7. Salinger has been established as a massive threat and it doesn’t seem like Jessica can stop him. But then things come to a screeching halt as the following three episodes are dedicated to showing what Trish has been up to in the background. This ultimately has a point, but it’s just such a jarring change of pace where they literally sidebar the main story and villain for a quarter of the season.
Alright it’s spoiler time. The biggest overarching story of this season was the rise and subsequent fall of Trish as she obtains the mantle of Hellcat. Early on she wants to be a hero, but not an unwilling hero like Jessica was. Eventually teaming up with Jessica, she begins to make a difference as a masked vigilante. This all changes when Salinger murders her mother. After this, Trish begins to take an even harder stance on crime, even becoming judge, jury, and executioner. After going on a rampage, killing multiple people, and holding various people hostage, Jessica ultimately stops her and hands her over to the police where she’s taken to The Raft. This entire character arc was a massive departure from what we saw in season two, but it was fantastic. There is no one moment where Trish goes from hero to villain, instead taking a slow burn and having this develop throughout the season. It’s fascinating to watch this slow descent into madness until the final moment with Trish where she finally realizes that she has become the villain.
Unlike the rest of the Marvel Netflix shows, the writers for this season were able to actually give the show a proper ending. The Punisher and Jessica Jones were cancelled at the same time, but it was too late for The Punisher to give the character a proper ending (although the ending for season two still managed to end things nicely). This season ended with Jessica handing Alias over to Malcolm and about to hop onto a train down to Mexico. As she’s about to accept her train ticket, she hears Kilgrave’s voice egging her on to just walk away and give up everything. As a final fuck you to Kilgrave, Jessica decides to stay in New York and continue being the hero that she’s become.
Jessica Jones season three was the end of an era, but at least it was able to send things out with a bang. The darker, more sinister story was a hell of a ride from start to finish. The improved character development was sorely needed and very welcome. I’m very sad that this show is over as I feel that, like Daredevil, the show finally found its footing and could have gone excellent places, but I’m at least happy with the ending that we got.