Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jessica Jones 2 A Breath of Fresh Air

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Jessica Jones season two felt like a breath of fresh air to me, especially when compared to the other Marvel shows on Netflix. I think all of the Marvel shows to this point have felt a bit bloated, like they could use a few less episodes to make things tighter, and even though I felt that way about this season of Jessica Jones as well, it was less of a problem. The second season of this show was fun and compelling and went in a new direction- and I think it worked. 

This isn't going to be a review as much as it is a discussion post- I just want to talk about a few things that made this show stand out for me. And naturally there'll be a few complaints as well, but by and large the good far outweighed the bad. This is going to be spoilery, so if you haven't watched season two yet, or don't want spoilers, you might want to come back after you've seen the show.  

The thing I liked the most about season two was the lack of a big bad villain. Last season we had Kilgrave, who was of course played phenomenally by David Tennant, and while he makes an excellent villain, I thought it was nice here that the show explored themes of family and redemption, rather than having yet another slow build to a showdown with a villain. Tennant does of course make a brief appearance as Kilgrave, in moments late in the series when Jessica is doing battle with herself, and those moments are electric. And Janet McTeer was phenomenal as Alisa (Jessica's mother)- her performance made me root for her character even as I was a little scared of her, and disgusted by some of her actions. 

Image result for jessica jones 2

Jessica goes through various stages of grief and denial throughout the season, as she struggles with the fact that her mother is still alive, even if she is a danger to those around her. And the scenes late in the season with them together- running together- were so well done. The stakes were so personal- Jessica is pulled in so many different directions even as she tries to reconnect with her mother she didn't know was alive- and it was refreshing to have that be the focus, rather than the usual superheroics and dastardly villain. 

I think the Marvel shows can learn from this- give us more intimate dramas, more nuanced storytelling, rather than the standard formula. I don't think everything worked however- the Trish storyline was a little weak for me. I liked the dynamic between Trish and Jessica, and I think they work off each other really well, so to see them as possible antagonists was a little disappointing. I mean only time will tell what season three will bring, but they look like they're set up to clash. And frankly the decision Trish made, both to seek out powers of her own, and to shoot Alisa right in front of Jessica, were problematic for me. 

The Jeri Hogarth subplot took up a lot of time and seemed unnecessary as well. I get the showrunners wanting to use Carrie Anne- Moss and provide her a springboard, but it didn't really bring anything to the table. And the competitor PI played by Terry Chen was a great addition to the cast, but in spite of some great moments with Jessica and an alliance with Hogarth at the end, it didn't really add a lot either. Still it was nice to see this alumnus of The 100 appear on the show. 

I thought Jessica was a little one note in the early going- I mean she drinks, she passes out or engages in casual sex, she's pretty rudderless- but by the end she showed real emotion, real conflict as she struggled not only with the actions of her mother, but also her burgeoning relationship with Oscar. Which, can I say, I am totally here for? The ending especially was poignant. Jessica may have lost, but she's also gained, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. 

You know what else worked for me? The setting and the general vibe. There was a noir-ish cast to the music, especially when Jessica was alone or wandering the streets of New York City, and her occasional voice-over just added to that. I thought it worked great, and even though several of the Marvel shows have utilized NYC well as a setting, it really seemed to be front and center here. It just added so much. I read somewhere too that the episodes were all directed by women, and as I reflected on that, it made a lot of sense. There was a definite lack of male gaze or gratuitous nudity, and the violence level seemed more reasonable too- again I think Netflix should take note and learn from this. 

For me this was easily the best Marvel show yet on Netflix. It broke the mold a bit, took some liberties perhaps with the formula, and for me that's all good. I hope we see more storytelling like this in the future, and more women directors running the ship. 


  1. I loved the first season and am so eager to start the second!

  2. I'm up to episode 9, when Trish has all her stuff happen. You're right, JEssica does gain a lot in this season, but she loses the two things that added heaps to her in the first season, Trish and Malcolm, which yes I saw spoilers for the last couple of episodes and I don't know how I feel about that exactly. Terry Chen is an obviously great actor, but thus far his character is very one-note. I kinda fastforwarded his scenes.

  3. I keep seeing this on Netflix but have yet to watch. But now...I am ready!

  4. As you already know I'm a Marvel fan, so it's an event to watch the movies, or the series. I agree that Jessica has evolved from when we first saw her and I like that because it keeps my interest. And you're right - the setting just works. Carrie Ann - why?(lol) Glad you enjoyed it. I did too...and now I'm waiting for a new Marvel something.(lol) Hugs...RO

  5. We're only about halfway through this so far, but I'm enjoying it. It does seem to have less filler than some of the other Marvel offerings, which is good. I was totally shocked by the reveal of Jessica's mother.

  6. I've only seen the first few episodes of S1. I was waiting for my husband to watch it then of course got sidetracked lol But now we have two seasons to binge I guess.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  7. I confess that I'm only at the beginning so I skipped a bit but for now I like it I'm curious to see where it is going!

  8. I have got to get to watching this show!

  9. Yeah, Jessica seemed lost in the beginning but she sure changed by the end of the season. And her and Oscar, oh yeah! I really enjoyed this season and I'm sure I'll binge it again. LOL

  10. I haven't started JJ yet, but it's on my list, so I read to the point before the spoilers. I feel like some of my favorite shows have episodes that don't really add to the whole story arc and are kind of a waste of time. Glad to hear it's not too much of an issue with the second series. I'll have to come back after I've started watching. :)

  11. I'm skimming this because I don't want to spoil anything for myself! Jacob and I watch this together, so finding time can be a little difficult. It's been really great so far! JJ is lucky to have such good friends.

    I will agree that David Tennant played Kilgrave exceptionally well. I still get the creeps thinking about him. I also get peeved when I think about what he did to people, like making them jump for his amusement. UGH.

    Do You Dog-ear?

    (what am I going to do with my life now...)

    Trish really annoyed me. Grrr. She's so nosy and her whole attitude on how Jessica has powers but don't use them for good? I mean she's a private investigator...part of much more should she do. Let's see how well Trish does.

    But maybe it's good that something annoyed us about season 2...adds to perfection of it?

  13. Ooh! I will have to check this one out now! I was planning on skipping it because I really didn't like the first season. But it sounds like this one will be a better watch! :)

  14. I really disliked the new Trish plotline. In the first season I found their friendship so refreshing because you don't see female friendships often in superhero shows, I'm annoyed at the new direction. Additionally, I also felt that the Hogarth plot was unnecessary as well. Really liked Oscar, though!

  15. Jessica Jones! I actually binge watched that show in like two days, I would have done it in a day but I needed to work and sleep. Damn first world problems. I was with you in regards to the lack of an overall big bad. When I thought they had one it ended up being Jessica's mom and they storyline was all kinds of convoluted. Like, Jessica's unwillingess to hurt her mom was fair but like... I didn't fully grasp the logic of not handing her into the police. Especially after she killed a cop with her crazy temper. Like, Jessica kept giving her chances she didn't deserve. I suppose, she (thought) she lost her entire family so clinging on to one small vestige of it is understandable. I liked the exploration of family in this and Jessica's own past and her continued grief over her last family... but I do like a big bad in a series, you know? Gives the season something to focus on and her family stuff wasn't quite as all consuming, the stakes weren't as high and it meant some of the episodes felt a little lost. I liked what they were trying to do, though.

    I agree about the secondary characters in this one. Jerri seemed to not play any kind of significant role and I never figured out where her sidestory was really going at all. It was interesting, though, and I liked that far more than what Trish had going on. Jessica and Trish together in the first series was friendship goals (mostly) but we saw an uglier jealous side to Trish and whilst I got where she was coming from I didn't like to see it. Especially when it reached the point of getting abilities (maybe) and killing Jessica's mom. Even her reasoning didn't make sense. Not really. It was weak and she didn't come out a hero like she wished.

    I did like seeing Jessica get a new (sort of) family at the end. That made me smile and I'll be interested to see where that goes next time. Oscar I am totally down for having more screen time. I just wish Jessica's new softer side and potential family didn't come from her sacrificing the one she already had. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

  16. I liked the second season a lot more than I did the first one. Confession time: the first season made me rank Jessica Jones as one of my least favourite Marvel shows (along with Luke Cage). This season showed me there is hope for Jessica yet.

    Ronnie @ Paradise Found

  17. I tried watching the first season a while ago and just never got into it-- but the second season sounds better!