So here’s another thing to get out of the way. And I do sort of mean get it out of the way, because spending very much time on the topic would not be time well spent. I saw the second season of Jessica Jones during the weekend after it came out, and I haven’t rewatched it since. Nor do I feel inclined to. Not because it was an awful twelve plus hours of television, but because it just wasn’t very good. I would easily rank this season as the weakest of the Netflix shows/seasons thus far, possibly with the exception of The Defenders, which I had lots of issues with. On the other hand, while the Defenders actively annoyed me, Jessica Jones season 2 left few impressions at all except an enduring sense of bafflement at some of the creative choices that were made. I have high hopes for the third season that has already been green-lit (with some caveats), but below are my main takeaways from this show’s second outing. Full spoilers ahead!
Jeri Hogarth’s story is the most interesting
Jeri actually has a pretty interesting arc this season. She is diagnosed with ALS in the first episode, and this sends her into a spiral of despair that shows us new and interesting sides of her. When she’s not sleeping with prostitutes (plural, simultaneously), she puts all of her faith in the would-be bringers of miracles that turn out to be nothing of the sort. Meanwhile, her partners are trying to push her out of their law firm, and put in a very Jeri-like effort to fight to keep what is hers.
There is only one problem with Jeri’s story being the more interesting: She isn’t the main character. Nor does her story affect the overall plot in any major way. This doesn’t take away from what’s going on with Jeri, but it does make the main plot points look a bit weaker by comparison.
Creative decision: Mother issues
When it was revealed (about six episodes in?) that the monster woman stalking the streets and killing people was Jessica’s apparently not-dead mother, I may have actually audibly groaned. I admit that this is one of those things where people just differ in what they like. I think the people who did enjoy this season (and there were a few) probably enjoyed or at least didn’t particularly mind this little plot twist. In fact, most who have been critical of this season of Jessica Jones have primarily been critical of the first third of the season being too slow, not so much of what happens after that. I guess this means that the scene that pretty much killed this season for me, finally made it interesting for many other people. Good for them.
You see, I have a general aversion to “back from the dead” twists (I’m looking at you Defenders…), regardless of how they happen. It would have made me take notice in a positive way if Alisa, who is actually a compelling and well-acted character in her own right, had been a sort of mirror version of Jessica, rather than her literal mother. If she had been someone who was also the sole survivor of a similar accident whose life took a very different turn than Jessica’s, where she could have been someone that Jessica might still empathize with, and even project her mother issues onto, without this being too on the nose. Man, that would have been so much better. For starters, it would have been less clichéd and it also would have left fewer opportunities for Jessica to act as out of character as I thought she did in her relationship with Alisa.
Speaking of mother issues, Trish too seemed to be healing her relationship with her mother. This seemed even more out of character for me, and there was very little explanation for it. Yes, at first she gets in touch with her mother because she needs something from her, and there’s no emotional stuff, but gradually she seems to drift into Trish’s life in a manner that seems off. There’s also a point where Jessica admits to Trish that she was jealous of her for at least having a mother (I hope I’m remembering this right). This struck me as very odd. Even if Jessica might have harbored such feelings, once or twice, I doubt very much that she’d actually say as much. Besides, as you might recall from season one, we know that Trish’s issues with her mother are not a simple matter of the two of them falling out, but the result of actual child abuse. It’s as if the writers are milking the mother angle, more than writing from the perspective of what actually makes sense for these character to say and do.
Did you end you viewing of Daredevil season two wondering how these characters were ever going to patch things up after all the hurt they all inflicted on one another? Even knowing that things would probably get better in future seasons, things were pretty bad. Now imagine the writers of this season of Jessica Jones seeing that and going “Hold my beer!” Because what the writers do to Malcolm and Trish, the latter in particular, and their respective relationships with Jessica was just… I don’t even know how to put it. There is no way Trish and Jessica can come back from this. In fact, even trying to bring them back together at this point would just cheapen what happened in this story. The scene at the end of the season where Trish discovers her Hellcat powers could have been a fun moment. Instead, Trish being written as a horrible person for the latter half of the season kills most of the excitement for me. They pretty much destroyed her character. For what? Shock value? Explain to me why the story needed it. Trish’s treatment here is the one thing that brings down the hopes I have for a successful third season-
So, probably not the most enthusiastic of posts, but I still wanted to comment on this season. I realize I never wrote anything about The Punisher, after it came out, so maybe I’ll tackle that too some time. What I really do hope for Jessica though, is that she doesn’t get another season of past issues blowing up in her face. It worked splendidly in season one, but even season two spending that much time bringing up things from her younger years was a serious misstep in my view. She’s a private eye in a world where strange things happen. How about they do something with that? I’d be happy to watch!