20 March 2018

REVIEW: Jessica Jones Season 2

I do not own any of these images.

Season 2 of the popular Marvel show Jessica Jones recently dropped on Netflix, and it did not disappoint. The television side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now fully established, with two stellar seasons of Daredevil, season 1 of Jessica Jones, seasons 1 of Luke Cage & Iron Fist (easily the weakest link) and of The Defenders which brought all of the New York 'vigilantes' together. Let's not forget the most recent show to debut, season 1 of The Punisher

Season 2 of Jessica Jones tackles emotional trauma, hard truths and the what makes a hero? question. Instead of focusing on crime fighting action sequences JJ delves into character driven story-telling, giving secondary characters such as Trish, Malcolm & Jeri proper arcs. Each character has an individual story-line with each thread eventually being woven in to the main plot of the season : IGH, the people behind illegal human experimentation of which Jessica was a victim of.

Despite a few halts throughout, overall season 2 of JJ is a success and definitely worth watching. The lead Krysten Ritter still successfully carries the show but the secondary characters receive much more screen time this time round. This season is more relevant than ever following recent cultural & political movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, putting women at the forefront in front and behind the camera. This review contains very minor spoilers!

  • Character driven storytelling
As I mentioned previously this season is widely character driven. Each character is battling their inner demons, whether it be emotional trauma, a recent life changing health diagnosis or an unhealthy ambition. As each individual confronts their situation we begin to understand their strengths & weaknesses and how either one can be used against them. As the show progresses each character arc slowly entwines with the main plot of the season: IGH.

Jessica's past comes back to haunt her as she is forced to confront her situation. She's an alcoholic with powers, and following the events of the previous season Jessica fears that she will become an unstable murderer who uses her powers for evil (repeating 'That's not me' when she is mistakenly arrested for a gruesome crime). This season we see her grow, we see her struggle to move forward and come to terms with her self-imposed isolation, and we see how she deals with this emotional trauma. Jessica reflects on her self-loathing and her past, and the last sequence of the season reflects this growth and paves the way towards a (hopefully) brighter future. Krysten Ritter truly shines in this role, she is the driving force of the show; I'm struggling to put in to words the brilliance of her interpretation of Jessica Jones, so here are some quotes that articulate my thoughts so brilliantly:

“Season 2 of ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ does all it needs to — which is to say, it brings Ritter’s fantastic interpretation of Jessica Jones back to TV, with every ounce of shadowed malice and explosive desire on display. Ritter’s Jessica is a gender-bending mishmash of noir character traits — femme fatale and hardboiled detective rolled into one.” - Sonia Saraiya, Variety

“Another actor might find these obstacles insurmountable, but like her character, Ritter clears them in a superhuman bound. Even when the story has ground to another halt, you won’t want to take your eyes off the screen … Although it stumbles in the darkness that it goes to great lengths to establish, ‘Jessica Jones’s’ second season sheds light on societal ills while also lighting a way out for its protagonist.” - Danette Chavez, The A.V Club

Trish Walker has a larger role this season with a huge character arc. Her obsession and desire to achieve greatness inevitably leads to her downfall: every aspect of her life begins to spiral out of control. This season tackles the question of what does it take to be a hero? In Trish's mind, you need superhuman powers to be a hero - and she will stop at nothing to achieve them. Her ambition creates a rift between her and Jessica, who does not share the same opinions.

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them..."

This season also explores the side effects of having powers - not just the physical aspect, but the psychological one : we hear the retelling of the famous quote 'With great power, comes great mental illness'. Once again, the show vaguely references other enhanced people whether that be those affected by IGH or others within the MCU.

Malcolm and Jeri also have bigger roles this season. Malcolm is working alongside Jessica, keeping himself busy and trying to move forward with his life and career after the events of the previous season. Unfortunately he is underappreciated by his friends Jessica & Trish, a hard truth which eventually drives him to take another path where he will be valued. Jeri receives a life changing health diagnosis which is tied to the main plot of the season. This story-line allows the audience to learn more about her character and her past, giving us a better understanding of her personality, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Jessica Jones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Although season 2 follows The Defenders the events of that show is only mentioned once throughout the season. With so many interconnecting shows, it's only normal various characters pop up every now and then. Yet, with so many MCU characters based in New York (Peter Parker for one) we do start to wonder whether film and television will ever intertwine (with so many street crime-fighting heroes in one city, surely they must run in to each other every now and then). Captain America is mentioned twice in this season of JJ thanks to Jessica's new neighbor and his son (there was also a brief mention of him last season as a little kid dressed up as him).With Infinity War now only a month away, is there any chance of seeing Jones, Murdock, Rand or Cage by The Avengers side?

Once again Jessica Jones has a huge cultural resonance. The first season premiered in 2015, 2 years before the #MeToo mouvement and the Weinstein scandal, and it's strength and leading force has always been with it's complex female characters. This season is more relevant than ever as it continues to shed light on cultural movements and shifts within our society in a way that doesn't feel forced or exploitative. Season two was also released on the 8th of March which is also International Women's Day and all 13 episodes were directed by a woman! 

Have you seen it yet? What are your thoughts?


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