This Jessica Jones Season 2 review contains NO spoilers. It is based on the first five episodes.
Jessica Jones Season 2 so far could be summed up by something Trish says to Jessica in the first episode: “Kilgrave isn’t the only ghost inside your head.”
This season shows us a Jessica Jones who’s trying to put her life back together after finally ridding herself of her biggest demon, Kilgrave. But the past has a funny way of catching up with everyone, and Jessica finds that she can no longer ignore the big questions around how she came to be who she is. The story also spends more time on the daily slog that is recovery, whether from addiction, trauma, or physical illness, which necessarily means a slower pace.
The biggest challenge facing Jessica Jones Season 2 is the utter success of season 1. The first season was such a perfectly plotted story that it’s hard for anything else to measure up. Things don’t seem so tightly focused early on, and they probably aren’t. But the farther into the season you get, the more the pieces slide into place. And even if they didn’t, this cast and this world is such a satisfying place to spend some time that I wouldn’t care.
Season 2’s Jessica is a bit gentler – or more accurately, she’s more willing to be vulnerable. We still get plenty of snark, but there are more conversations where she cuts through the bullshit with the people who matter to her, and even with a few who don’t. This honesty is a welcome character development. The Jessica of the comics was never one-dimensional, but perpetual sarcasm can play that way, particularly during the long stretches (or whole episodes) when there’s no voiceover.
To go along with this shift in Jessica’s tone is an overall visual shift in the series. It’s brighter now, thanks in part to more of the show being set outside during the day. We spend less time in dark barrooms with Jess, though that still happens. Even those dark interiors and night shots are opened up a bit. Notably, Jessica’s apartment is the cleanest and least-decrepit we’ve ever seen it, thanks in large part to Malcolm. Hell, she even has matching sheets and artwork on the wall!
It’s also clearer when Jessica is using her powers, and the effects look better. Between the dark, shadowy visuals and the desire to undersell the “super” aspect, season 1 often left viewers genuinely confused as to what powers Jessica had and when she used them. Here, the effects are better and her powers read cleanly, though still low-key. We also catch glimpses of other powered folks, which lets the VFX folks stretch their legs and adds necessary texture to a Hell’s Kitchen that we know is home to more than one “gifted” individual.
Don’t get too worried, though: personal growth on Jessica Jones looks like throwing bodies through other people’s doors, instead of her own. But there’s still plenty of breaking stuff and playing with people like they’re ragdolls. It also means contemplating – but not actually – pummeling her anger management support group. Hey, baby steps!
Most of the old favorites make their return: Malcolm makes good on his commitment to join Alias Investigations, much to Jessica’s faux-chagrin. Trish is still Jessica’s ride or die, though that relationship brings tension as Trish tries to pivot to hard news instead of just lifestyle puff pieces on Trish Talk. And then there’s Jeri, perhaps the most changed. The steely-eyed HBIC we knew from season 1 is gone, replaced by a woman faced with consequences for perhaps the first time in her life. Jeri could have easily been a one-note character (and sort of was, in her incarnation as a man in the comics), but the season 2 theme of all actions having consequences forces Jeri into some personal growth, kicking and screaming. Carrie-Ann Moss delivers big time, and the script doles out the perfect amount of Jeri’s storyline each episode.
Involving Malcolm more centrally in the show’s events is a winning move – actor Eka Darville continues to excell with charm and heart, bringing an earnestness and a much-needed moral center to the show. Trish was set up to fill that role when the show first started, but by the end of season 1, Trish’s own history clouded her judgment, and at times she seemed more like Jess than she would like to admit. That trend has continued this season, as Trish tackles some of her own demons.
Trish comes more clearly into her own, as she asks herself who she wants to be, independent of Jessica, her mother, Simpson, or anyone else. And as Jessica gets her shit together, Trish has to face the reality that her life might not be quite so picture perfect when Jessica isn’t there to make her look so good in comparison.
There are a few new characters, though the verdict is still out on how much they add, particularly since after five episodes, it’s unclear who is friend and who is foe. Trish gets a dreamy love interest who has some thoughts on her career, their future together, and when it’s an inappropriate time for Jessica to be calling. Jessica has a new building super, named Oscar, who has a son Vido who loves powered people. Oscar has his own secrets, but his authority within the building sets him up to be an obstacle to Jessica, particularly whenever trouble happens to catch up with her. Finally, Jessica gets some competition in the form of Pryce Cheng, a tattooed PI who is apparently classier than Jess, but has murky motives of his own.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is a different animal from the electric first season, but that’s to be expected, and is largely a good thing. The sophomore season brings with it a deeper sense of our main characters, which couples well thematically with the central mystery of the season, the origin of Jessica’s powers. One of Marvel’s most successful shows, Season 2 breaks new ground without forgetting what made it so compelling to watch in the first place.
Jessica Jones Season 2 premieres on Netflix on March 8.