Deep into season 2 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, DoYouEvenComicBook’s Carolyn Breton and Cheryl Gustafson reunite to slice and dice the back half of a season that proved to be frustratingly lukewarm and undercooked at best. SPOILER ALERT!
Is this justice?
Between Alisa dropping bodies and Kilgrave whispering encouragement in her ear, it’s a miracle Jessica Jones doesn’t just unleash her powered self and kill anyone in her way. Thankfully, Jess keeps it together and listens to her better angels. But when it comes to justice, is the only true justice found inside the law? The back half of this season challenges us, and Jessica, to recognize the line, the moral ground, and try to stay there. How well did these latter episodes bring that to life?
Carolyn: Jessica is always struggling. Her murder of Reva haunts her. Then she killed Kilgrave, People want to hire her to kill. Still she firmly believes it’s wrong, even when her own mother is telling her that it’s okay. I wouldn’t say that Jessica has faith in the law, but to her killing is wrong. Even though the only way to keep people safe can sometimes be to eliminate the threat (KIlgrave and Alisa).
Cheryl: I think all the Defenders (I don’t actually know about Danny Rand as I didn’t watch Iron Fist) try to avoid killing, with Matt Murdock most vocal about it. All recognize that in some cases, taking a life is the only option. But I think each of the deaths weigh on Jess, as they should. I think Jeri’s form of justice was much more malicious than anything Jessica’s ever done. Jeri would have rebounded from her losses. Her justice was more about pride. I think if Jeri’s storyline had any point this season was to show us that when wronged, how we respond says everything about us. Jeri might be powerful, prestigious, and put togehter but deep down she’s a horrible person. That’s a foil for Jessica who is not prestigious or remotely having her life together, but deep down, is a better person for her struggles.
Jessica Faces Her Demons
The boxes of her family’s ashes a stark symbol, Jessica has put her trauma and pain and mystery surrounding her childhood accident and her powers for too long. Those secrets will out, even if she doesn’t want to go there. By the back half of the season, everything is in full swing. What’s the significance of her finally facing them?
Carolyn: Even though facing the past might not change who Jessica is, at least now she knows why she is the way she is. If she chooses, she can start changing her behavior, like say a family dinner.
Cheryl: For me, Jessica has been an unwilling participant in so much of her life (the experiments, living with Trish and her mother, the relationship with Kilgrave) and now it seems she’s an unwilling participant in learning her own truth. Can’t blame her for hiding, for trying to control how she experiences her own life. That said, hiding that long, drinking that much, isolating herself so fully, there’s no happy ending there. Of course, there’s no guarantee that facing those demons will result in a future happy ending either.
Carolyn: Do you think she’ll stop hiding behind alcohol?
Cheryl: Possibly, she could also just switch from one crutch to another, like Malcolm did. I’d like to see Jessica explore why she chooses to work as a PI, to act heroically, even though it sucks most of the time. Is it just because she’s powered? I don’t think so. I’d like to see her shake off her demons more, acknowledge how they shaped her, but move on to a better understanding of herself and why she’s willing to be a hero at all.
Alisa: “Hero” isn’t a bad word, Jessica. It’s just someone who gives a shit and does something about it.
Mothers and Daughters
There’s so much to unpack when it comes to Jessica and her mother. Where to start?
Carolyn: Alisa has some problems giving up control. Any hint of someone taking control or not listening to her and she turns into a rage beast.
Cheryl: Which makes me wonder how much of that was just amplified by her experiences after the accident? Was she such a short tempered rage monster before and Jessica’s just blocked it out? Then I wonder how much of Jessica’s rage plays out in a similar way? Jess has legit reasons to be angry at the loss of control (since most of her teen and adult life was marked by people trying to control her) and I don’t think audiences would begrudge her for raging once in awhile. To me, Jessica’s alcoholism is a deflection, a way to channel the anger so she doesn’t use it on others, so she doesn’t lose control. Ironically, and I think unbeknownst to Jessica, the drinking has taken control over her life and keeps her isolated. I had a hard time connecting Jessica to Alisa as mother/daughter. That woman wasn’t really Jessica’s mom, not anymore, she was something beyond. What do you think?
Carolyn:I agree. They don’t have that mother/daughter feel. There’s a huge disconnect because they don’t know each other and have vastly different morality. I actually saw the same dynamic in season 2 of another property Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The character Quake finds out that she has a dad who is the villain Hyde.
Cheryl: I find interesting the way the season set up the two different mother/daughter relationships. We’ve seen Trish and Dorothy’s rather unhealthy relationship play out for two seasons now, with no evidence, really that Dorothy was ever fit to be a mother. The accident and years after left Alisa twisted and no longer fit to be a mother either. Both daughters suffer for this yet both cannot full cut their mothers from their lives. Perhaps that’s why Trish did what she did, even though it was wrong. Trish truly believed she was protecting Jessica. Maybe she was. Thoughts?
Carolyn: I think Trish was right. Jessica was going to destroy herself for the sake of her mother. Trish was doing what she had to to protect her sister the same way Jessica was doing what she had to to protect her mother.
Jessica: Main Street, Birch Street
Jessica & Kilgrave: Higgins Drive, Cobolt Lane
Kilgrave: I know all the quaint side streets of your mind, Jessica, every dark little alley.
Jessica: I just need sleep.
Kilgrave: I’ll be in your dreams, too. I’m inside you forever.
Kilgrave: It’s never out of sight, out of mind with him.
Although Jessica snapped his neck, effectively silencing him forever, at the end of season 1, we learn Kilgrave has never really left Jessica.
Carolyn: PTSD doesn’t go away. You can learn coping techniques, but it’s still there. I once said that I would never be completely free until my abuser was dead, but this season reminds me that it’s not accurate. Kilgrave is still with Jessica, even after death. The lessons he taught her, good or bad, are with her. Death didn’t change that because her brain is mapped differently after the abuse. There are new neurotransmitter connections wired in. It’s actually a scary thought. Jessica is as free as she ever will be, and she’ll never be completely free. It’s a dark thought.
Cheryl: It’s a very dark thought in an already dark world. I will give it to the show, the way they used Kilgrave, as a combative part of Jessica’s own mind, was a smart move. Like you said, PTSD doesn’t go away. I was glad to see Jessica rise above his baiting taunts. Gives me some hope for her future as a character. Do you think we’ll see more of him in future seasons?
Carolyn: I don’t see why not. He’s still in her head and he said he’d always be there when she needs him. What do you think?
Cheryl: Selfishly, I always want more David Tennant on screen. He’s so good as Kilgrave it would be a crime not to have him back in one form or another. On behalf of Jessica, any return makes me sad as it means she’s at a very low point.
What’s next for Jessica? Hopes and dreams for season 3
Season 2 ends with a number of possible leads to a season 3: Jessica is eating actual food with Oscar and his son, sort of family style. That’s new. Trish can catch things with her feet. Jeri is set to take over the world, again, with her new law firm. Is there anything worth hoping for? What does the show need to do to return triumphant?
Carolyn: I want Hellcat. I feel there is still more to explore in the relationship between Jessica and Trish. I think Cheng would make a great villain for the next season.
Cheryl: I’m down for Hellcat, too. It’s all Trish has ever wanted and I’d like for her to see that it’s not all its cracked up to be. Jessica’s known this and I’d like to see how Trish handles things when she finally gets what she thinks she wants. I’m at a loss for future villains as so many, outside of Kilgrave, are tied up in the Spidey-verse. Jessica’s Alias Investigations should prove fruitful for run of the mill villainy but I’m left wondering who, from Jessica’s world, can fill Kilgrave’s shoes. Aside from her villain, I’d like to see Jessica keep some of her personal growth/awareness.
Carolyn: The problem is that Jessica doesn’t have much of a Rogue’s Gallery. They’ll have to create new villians or take from other Rogue’s Galleries.
Cheryl: Which could be cool, I’ll keep an open mind.
I liked the episode with David Tennant. Jeri Hogarth’s story arc was very well written. The romance was bland. The villain was annoying. The Hogarth story didn’t connect very well to the main plot. The ending left me feeling bad. Everything was different but the same. For a season that focused on character growth, they somehow managed to reset all the growth and leave us back where we started. After the stellar 1st season, I found season 2 to be a disappointment. It wasn’t as bad as Iron Fist or Inhumans, but I expected better.
On one hand, the return of Kilgrave was well timed and powerful. Tennant’s grasp of the character continues to be spot on and by spot on, I mean, vile, treacherous and persuasive. It broke my heart to think that’s who Jessica sees in her lowest moments. Imagine never being free of that asshole. Ugh. I’d drink too. Also, the set up for Trish as Hellcat is good. I’m excited to see how two powered people, with very different perspectives, handle superhero-ing in NYC. Those couple of good things aside, I didn’t think Alisa had to die. She could have pushed Jessica out of the camper and rolled west. I wanted her to have a chance to forge her own life, post-Karl. It would have left a possible reunion with plenty of room for conflict down the road. This show has a habit of killing off the best villain, and without a Kilgrave to keep in the back pocket, this show needs to cultivate better villains. Alisa had the makings of a good one, but alas, gone too soon. Overall, I felt underwhelmed by season 2. Not planning a rewatch. Reviewing all our discussion, I should like this show, on the whole, more than I do. That’s a stark change from season 1. I found season 1 immensely enjoyable, binge-able, and rewatchable.
As it stands, Jessica Jones is the only Marvel offering lead by a woman. From the jump, and through season 2, Jessica Jones developed a strong point of view, took care to show women in realistic light. Every woman on Jessica Jones has been created with their own conflicts and complications. No woman on Jessica Jones is a Mary Sue. No woman on Jessica Jones is one-dimensional or shallow. So, as women, Carolyn and Cheryl held extremely high expectations. Season 2 did not meet those expectations, despite strong performances and interesting conflict
Carolyn: 3 of 5
Cheryl: 3 of 5
Read about Jessica Jones s2e1-6 here.
In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999). When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter. She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.