WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2, streaming now on Netflix.
Although there was grousing online about the slow start of Jessica Jones Season 2, the pace quickened with revelations about the private investigator’s past and her powers, Trish Walker’s obsession with the shadowy IGH, and, oh, yeah, Jessica’s mother, who didn’t die in a fiery car crash but is instead a murderous superhuman. Amid all of that, there was also room for satisfying character arcs for Jeri Hogarth and Malcolm Ducasse, with all of the threads coming together in the heartbreaking season finale, “AKA Playland.”
While Trish, Jeri and Malcolm each makes an important choice in the final episode, Jessica’s is taken away from her. But in the end, they end up in much different places than when they began the season, emotionally, at least.
After having spent the past 17 years blaming herself for the car crash that killed her family, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is confronted with not only the truth about the origin of her superhuman, but also with a woman who has her mother’s voice, perfume and same bad taste in wine, but a different face. Horribly injured in the accident Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer) was saved from certain death by Dr. Karl Malus of IGH, who also treated Jessica. However, she required so many gene-editing treatments that she emerged from a coma five years later a different woman, physically and mentally. Although much stronger than her daughter, Alisa flies into a murderous rage that makes Jessica’s anger issues seem almost charming by comparison.
So by the time mother and daughter are unexpectedly reunited, Alisa has already committed a half-dozen murders (mostly in an effort to erase any links to IGH and her lover Karl), with no indication that she’s capable of stopping. In a gut-wrenching decision, Jessica turns her mother over to the police, and then attempts to secure for her an easier sentence (life in prison versus isolation at The Raft). When Alisa escapes, she kidnaps Jessica and the two flee north in an RV, stopping only to rescue a family from a car crash reminiscent of their own; under vastly different circumstances, perhaps they might’ve been superheroes — a team, even.
Avoiding pursuing police, they end up at the beachfront Playland amusement park, which holds sentiment for both of them, from happier times long ago. But instead of escaping by water on a boat, as they intended, Alisa instead powers up the Feris wheel, the ride she and Jessica used to enjoy together. When Jessica warns the police will see the lights, Alisa flatly replies, “Let them come,” resigned to her fate and determined not to be responsible for her daughter’s death. “It’s good that it’s here.” It’s certainly noteworthy that the scene is flooded with blues and purples, tones so closely associated with Kilgrave. But here it’s her mother he tries to spur her into action, saying, “Hero isn’t a bad word, Jessica. It’s just someone who gives a shit and does something about it.”
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