Hello all you OBVIOUS FORESHADOWINGS OF SHE-HULK, and welcome to our review of Jessica Jones season 2! Our heroine (?) wouldn’t beat around the bush, and neither will we. Super Hubs leads us off!
(And as always: ~*spoiler alert!*~)
We begin with Jessica exposing another unfaithful husband—which seems to be the bulk of the work she does as a PI—to his wife and rolling her eyes through the subsequent argument. However, this job’s a little different because Jessica’s semi-famous now. Unfortunately her fame comes from the fact that she very publicly killed Kilgrave at the end of Season 1. So the wife thinks the sensible thing to do is to ask Jessica to kill her husband. Jessica, as you can imagine, doesn’t respond to this well. (Eds. Note: I thought that was just a boyfriend, not a husband, given the clear age difference.)
The idea that the public views her as a killer and her lingering guilt over the murders she committed while under Kilgrave’s control are the dramatic threads that propel Jessica’s story for the entire season, and they’re easily the most compelling part of the season.
Less compelling is the entire story with Pryce Cheng, a rival PI sent by Hogarth to try and buy out Alias Investigations for…reasons? I mean, the reason is that Hogarth wants Jessica to be on her payroll because she wants her powers at her disposal. Why she can’t just ask Jessica herself…who knows. Hogarth is shady as fuck and I guess she just doesn’t know how to do things in a non-shady way. The show obliquely mentions that Jessica probably wouldn’t agree to be Hogarth’s personal superhero, but I’m not sure why she thought having a douchelord come and try to Alias would somehow make Jessica work for her. It’s pretty dumb. And douchelord Pryce gets his ass kicked for being a dick to her too often, after which he becomes the Robyn of this season—just goin crazy and assuming Jessica’s evil cus she has powers. Again, it’s dumb.
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Eventually, a weird dude comes to Jessica asking for help cus he says he has powers and he’s being stalked by someone. She ignores him. He dies. She feels guilty. This was a fun way to introduce a ridiculous character from the comics named Whizzer; too bad he died. Also, she clearly sees he has powers but still for some reason doesn’t believe he’s in danger. I don’t really get that part. Simpson comes back and we’re led to believe he’s the killer…for one whole episode before he gets killed by the real killer. Who turns out to be…Jessica’s mom!
The show had been kind of setting this up in the beginning with the incredible emphasis it places on her family’s ashes, but I assumed it was going to be her brother. This was a fun twist and, again, definitely the most compelling part of the season. Seeing Jessica’s interplay with her mom and her worry that deep down she’s a killer, like her mom, is always fascinating. We find out why Jessica and her mom survived the crash and why they have powers and it’s all because of a guy named Dr. Malus (a name that would be incredibly unsubtle if he was more of a traditional villain instead of just a weird hippy with a god complex.)
Much of the season involves Jessica trying to get to know her mother while also keeping her from killing anyone else. She convinces her to go to prison (and we get a shoutout to The Raft from the mainline MCU) and, of course, everything goes to shit. Her mom breaks out, they try to run away, her mom dies. I loved this story. It’s sad and interesting and full of enough action to get your superhero kicks. It’s too bad it’s dragged down by all the other stories surrounding it.
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First of all is Malcolm. He probably has the best story other than Jessica. He’s still desperate to help people and latches onto Jessica—almost like a surrogate little brother for her—as her secretary/private-eye-in-training. She fires him almost every day, they have fun interplay, and he slowly learns how to be a better investigator. When he and Jessica inevitably break it’s actually painful to watch.
Hogarth has a fairly interesting story where she’s diagnosed with ALS and at first is determined to end her life in a bout of hedonism and debauchery until Jessica convinces her to take in another one of Dr. Malus and Mama Jones’s victims—who she falls in love with and convinces to tell her about IGH’s experiments in an effort to find a way to be cured. I spent the whole season thinking Hogarth was going to become She-Hulk. The elements are there! She’s a lawyer who was looking to have weirdo experiments done on her, experiments that had already made two super-strong women! SHE-HULK DAMMIT! (Although I guess a case could be made that Jessica’s mom is She-Hulk; she does get periods of blinding rage that seem to make her even stronger.) Anyway, her story veers off in a direction that I genuinely didn’t see coming and Hogarth gets a horrifying, wonderful Magnificent Bastard moment. So even if the story really brought her right back around to where she started, that makes more sense for Hogarth than a cliche redemption arc. And it was fun to watch. I just wish she’d had more bearing on the main plot.
And lastly, we have Trish’s story. Which—with the exception of the gloriously awful single/music video for her trashy early 2000’s club song “I Want Your Cray-Cray”—was terrible. It can be summed up as such:
It’s real annoying. She’s real annoying. And she pressures Malcolm into TAKING DRUGS! It’s messed up and I hate it. And the worst part: she gets powers in the end. No lessons learned, no growth, just an entitled white woman whining until she gets what she wants. Woo.
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As usual, the show was about four episodes too long. All of these Marvel shows really have to stretch themselves to reach that 13 episodes they seem to be contracted to do. Whenever the show is focused on Jessica, it’s amazing. Even the relatively weak episodes where she kills a prison guard and tries to make it look like suicide (it’s a long story) are elevated by her Kilgrave hallucinations. It’s just too bad a lot of the side characters got short-changed.
Overall, I’d give the season a 3 out of 5. Beloved wife, what are your thoughts?
Okay, honestly, I could spend a lot of time just talking about Trish’s terrible song. It’s really, really bad, and not just in a “Everyone involved is in on the joke” way. Watching the video, I literally can’t tell if Rachael Taylor (who plays Trish) is amazing at conveying stiff and awkward sexuality or if she herself is just really bad and unconvincing when she’s trying to go all “wet pop starlet dry-humping the air in skin-tight latex.” That whole scene in the show is awkward, and I think in a way they didn’t intend.
But outside of that, yeah, Trish’s story is kind of bullshit. SH didn’t even mention how after tricking Malcolm into taking drugs, she shoves him in a trunk so she can kidnap Dr. Malus and have him pump her full of superhero juice. Oh. And all of that is AFTER she fucks him (Malcolm) several times.
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The drugs she’s using, by the way, are an aerosol version of the combat pills she took from Simpson last season. How’d she get the upgraded version? Essentially by stealing the inhaler from Simpson’s corpse. We then get several episodes of her sucking that thing like a teenage boy who has no idea how boobs work, and at no point does she think “Hmm. This is a finite supply, and the person who created it is dead [murdered by Jessica’s mom], so how will I get more?” I repeatedly asked, “What is she going to do when it runs out?” for at least two episodes before it became a relevant plot point. When she kidnaps Dr. Malus, I assumed she wanted him to recreate the drug; earlier, she was shown at some kind of medical center where she’d had the inhaler analyzed in the hopes those scientists could reproduce it. (They couldn’t, and also it contained things that no human should ever consume, aka continued use would kill her.)
So I guess, in a way, I’m glad she didn’t use Malus’s talents for that. But the fact that she’s STILL desperate to be a hero and do what Jessica can’t is insane. I’ll give the showrunners props, though—the stage for all this was set in season one, so none of it seems out of character for Trish. But it rubbed me the wrong way for the whole season regardless. Fully encapsulating white feminism, Trish tries to co-opt the story of people victimized by shadowy operation IGH to prove how great she is and how this should be her stepping stone to something better. This makes it all the more insane that, after putting her life in danger and almost dying, she gets rewarded with powers. I hope that, in season three, she realizes that there’s more to it than just deciding to be a superhero.
Oh! Trish’s story also had a very short side plot that was even more pointless than Pryce Cheng: her relationship with a fellow journalist, Griffin Sinclair. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF HIM?! He encourages her to pursue the IGH story, then gets mad at her for being so ambitious that she’s willing to put herself in danger and blackmail a pedophile she knew from back in her Patsy days (a plot point, by the way, that’s barely worth having in the show), then is painted to seem like he’s going to steal the story only for it to be revealed that he was actually planning a surprise proposal. It’s very weird because how long have the two even been dating? We don’t know! So of course she declines his proposal and they break up. All before the season is halfway over. So, you know, why did we watch it?
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ANOTHER ridiculous Trish thing (because she has so many ridiculous things) is the continued existence of her mother, Dorothy. I get that familial relationships are very complicated, but I really don’t understand how Trish can keep letting Dorothy into her life when she obviously doesn’t give a shit about what Trish wants (and also STILL refers to her as Patsy). Mama Walker has done not one good thing for her in the time that we’ve known her *without* expecting something or trying to insinuate into Trish’s life. From everything we know about her, Trish’s mom is a garbage person who deserves no second (or third or nth) chances. But Trish is constantly handing them out while shitting on the one person who actually cares about her well being (Jessica).
In fact, Trish, who gave you permission to tell Jessica what to do with her life? She’s legitimately got PTSD, and you can’t strong-arm her into being the person you want her to be. Jessica even points out how Trish has too-high expectations for her, as if she wants Jessica to fail and feel like shit.
Sigh. Trish is kind of garbage, and I hope she gets some form of comeuppance in season three.
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Outside of all that, Jessica manages to develop a relationship with her building’s new super. He’s got a son who’s in awe of her and her powers, which is very interesting because it seems like she wouldn’t want the baggage of a child when considering a relationship. And this is extra baggage because the baby mama is alive and dragging the super through a contentious custody battle; she even kidnaps the son at one point, and Jessica and her mom stop them before they can leave town.
(Are you noticing how hard they went on family and family dynamics this season?)
Beyond THAT, there’s the fact that Malcolm ends up working for Pryce Cheng (I dunno why I feel obligated to say his full name). When he and Jessica break for real, they’re technically in the middle of a blackmail case for Hogarth (who wants to blackmail her partners into letting her stay at the firm, which has a clause that can let the partners kick her out for being diagnosed with ALS). Malcolm takes it upon himself to follow through on this, but when he asks Hogarth to have him on retainer the same way she wanted Jessica on retainer, she’s like “Nah, fam.” So he goes to Pryce Cheng, who’d offered him a job earlier in the season, and is therefore on Hogarth’s payroll by proxy. In the final episode, we see the three of them meeting in Hogarth’s office at the new firm she’s starting, and they’re discussing how they may need to do some not-totally-legal stuff for her.
This is upsetting to me. I feel like Malcolm has been the moral center of the show (even when he was a drug addict!), so watching him turn to the dark side—which included mindless, emotionless sex with girls he met online and didn’t bother to remember their names—is difficult. I’m hoping that he doesn’t turn full Hogarth in terms of what he’s willing to do to win. In case you’re thinking, “Nikkie, Hogarth isn’t that bad,” recall how she secretly bought Hope’s fetus in season one and how, this season, she exacts revenge on a previously homeless woman by tricking her into murdering her boyfriend! She’s fucking dark, you guys, and I don’t want her to taint Malcolm too much. SH thinks he won’t turn, but I have my concerns. Especially if Netflix is intent on padding out the seasons with odd filler stories.
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Seriously though . . . Hogarth talks someone into becoming a murderer simply because she was tricked into thinking her ALS had been healed by a powered person. I get that that was a really shitty thing for them to do, just for the purposes of robbing you, but Geri . . . No.
But also. Carrie Ann Moss fucking KILLS IT this season. She sells every emotion that she’s feeling so well. I would give her several Emmys for this season. She outclasses Krysten Ritter while taking up much less space in the series. This isn’t to say Krysten Ritter isn’t also great at playing the emotionally fraught Jessica; Carrie Ann is just doing a lot more than her this season.
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I feel like I don’t have much to say about Jessica’s story arc beyond what SH said. I will mention how I think everything that happens after the reveal that Jessica’s mom is alive (and powered) happens a little too quickly. Instead of the Pryce Cheng business and the Griffin Sinclair stories, I think we could’ve sped toward the reveal and then slowed down after. I really liked the episode after the reveal where Alisa recounts the highlights of her life in the wake of the Jones family car accident. But then it’s like rapid fire after that: Jessica hates her. Jessica helps her allude the police. Jessica saves her from Pryce Cheng. Jessica convinces her to give herself up. Jessica stops her from murdering Trish after she breaks out prison in the wake of Malus’s death (they were “married”). Jessica decides to run away with her. Trish murders her. It’s weird.
And the whole time, Alisa is way too desperate to be Jessica’s mommy, trying to brush off how shocking this must be for Jessica and write off how angry Jessica and ignore how she is effectively another target on Jessica’s back (to be fair, she finally comes to this conclusion at the very end, but damn woman). If they were going to stretch anything out in this season, it should’ve been the development of their relationship. Because I feel like I had to do slightly more belief-suspending/filling in of blanks on my own to make this speedy reconciliation possible.
There’s also just the questionable aspect of Jessica being ready to bail on Trish when Alisa shows up. By this point, Trish has been in Jessica’s post-accident life almost as long as Alisa was in her life pre-accident, so the argument that “Jessica has known her mother longer” is a little ridiculous. But! I will have much more on this in a post that will soon follow this one. (Stay tuned!)
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In conclusion, there was some interesting stuff in this season and some really fucking ridiculous stuff. I can see why people are quick to say it’s worse than season one because the villain (if we really want to call Alisa that) is far less compelling than David Tennant’s Kilgrave. But I ALSO kind of feel like that interpretation is sexist. This season focuses almost exclusively on women and their pain and their relationships with each other, and suddenly it’s failing to build on the first season’s reputation? Grow up, people. And acknowledge that if this season had actively tried to replicate season one, you would’ve railed against it for being unoriginal. I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR USELESS CRITIQUES, AMERICA!
I’m a little bummed that now both Luke Cage and Jessica are coupled up with other people, but I’m sure they’re getting something out of these relationships that will prepare them to eventually get together. At least they’re both in interracial relationships; continue normalizing this, Hollywood!
So there you have it! Our more-or-less cohesive thoughts on the second season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in season three. Will we go back so some crossover with the other Netflix shows, since Luke Cage was in the first season and then Foggy appeared for two seconds in this season? Although I suppose that would mean Danny Rand would have to be the one to show up, and who even wants that?
Until then, we’ll be around, frothing at the mouths as Infinity War draws ever closer.