March eighth marks the return of arguably the thematic pinnacle of Marvel’s television lineup in Jessica Jones season two.
Season one placed the criminal noir inspired superhero ahead of it’s MCU counterparts by taking complex themes and questions surrounding sexual violence, alcoholism and outsider status, and shaping them into the underpinnings of the very show itself.
The second season of Jessica Jones holds tight to the idea of “consequence from action” at the heart of it’s narrative, and instead of creating these monolithic devices for characters to overcome, consequences are pondered, debated and often rejected. The negative human reaction to sexual violence isn’t trite or displayed for gratification because showrunner Melissa Rosenberg “went there.” No, much like the consequences of physical violence, Jessica Jones handles these touchy and timely subjects as a bleak but known reality, accompanied by doses of superhuman abilities and witty one liners.
Kristin Ritter’s performance again anchors the show, while a capable supporting cast of new and familiar faces carries out various subplots with casual ease. In the first five episodes, it’s J.R Ramirez that stands out as Oscar, the building superintendent raising a young son who has an uneasy relationship with Jones. Ramirez proves to be funny and entirely capable of the heavy lifting that comes with the dark narrative territory.
The deft ability to send a clear message (things are not okay, shut up, sit down and listen) while also producing the memorable set pieces and haunting character moments are what make Jessica Jones easily the best television Marvel has in its stable of shows.
Carrie Moss gets more screen time in a well-developed subplot that so far, is heading in an interesting direction. But unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Rachael Taylor’s Trish, through no fault of her own (the writing for her isn’t great) has turned from a compelling and strong character into a strong, compelling character with absolutely nothing to do. She makes illogical decisions that seem out of character and very Hollywood-esque. Hopefully her arc improves in the later half of the season.
What is compelling though, is the villain role that hasn’t totally been filled by the end of episode five. Everyone Jones has a confrontation with in the first few episodes—which is pretty much everyone—is nuanced and while we might not like what they do, the reasons are understood. Jones’ past once again plays a central role in the narrative, and the show takes it’s time doling out information. There’s actual conversation to be had, dialogue that doesn’t necessarily drive the narrative forward, but provides a break in the clearly defined path that Marvel shows tend to follow.
Season two also continues to cover some dark ideas that its inaugural twin did so well, namely the line between saviour and monster; the shades of grey are on full display, and while not subtle, are effective nonetheless. At this point I have some ideas as to where the show will go, but it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong and Rosenberg is more thoughtful of a storyteller than I originally thought.
Of course you should watch Jessica Jones season two when it comes out in March. I can’t say whether it surpasses the original offering, but that really doesn’t matter because it’s another 13 episodes of a TV show that breathed new life into a boring television lineup (looking at you Marvel). Once I’m able to watch the last batch of episodes I’ll update this review with some final thoughts and a more precise recommendation.