Jessica Jones is, without a doubt, the superhero we need right now. The first season of Jessica Jones explored heavy topics such as dealing with post-assault trauma and the demons that stay in one’s head. The second season of Jessica Jones delves into matters of the heart. Jessica’s identity is called into question as she has to make some difficult decisions about her family. Since season one, her “problem” is that -- and we’re paraphrasing that from her own words -- sometimes she cares too much. This problem is still present in season two.
Though she is an alcoholic with a biting tongue and severe commitment issues, Jessica still, at her core, wants to help people. She is not a paragon of morality, like a certain patriotic shield-wielding superhero that’s also mentioned in the second season. However, she tries her best, and sometimes, that’s the message we need to hear. That being said, there was a lot to like about Jessica Jones’s sophomore season. Who doesn’t like more of the thing you love? But, there were some questionable aspects that we’d like to discuss as well. Let’s look at some things we liked and didn’t like about Jessica Jones season two.
WARNING: Spoilers for the second season of Jessica Jones ahead!
15 LIKE: HERO VS. VIGILANTE VS. MURDERER DEBATE
Jessica Jones doesn’t like labels. However, all throughout the season, other characters attempt to put her in a box, metaphorically speaking. While she has proven herself to be a hero, where there’s a superhero conversation there’s a vigilante conversation. A lot of franchises have delved deep in this complex conversation, most notably Arrow and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. With Jessica’s actions in the second season, she also has to consider if she’s a murderer.
In the first season she had to kill Killgrave, but the deaths she’s directly responsible for doesn’t stop there. She struggles with her identity throughout the second season. While most of us are not murderers (hopefully), the struggle to define oneself and find purpose is something we can all relate to.
14 DIDN’T LIKE: TRISH’S TRAJECTORY
There are some characters you root for so much that when they mess up you want to shake them and scream “What are you doing?!” That’s how we felt while watching Trish’s storyline unfold in season two. We got more of Trish’s child star past, including a Miley Cyrus inspired song about wanting someone “cray cray.” Her struggle in trying to break out of the child star mold into an adult is something we’ve all seen in the tabloids, so we’re on her side.
That is until she starts making some dumb decisions about how to track down IGH. Trish goes rogue, takes combat enhancing drugs without thinking of the side effects, and by the end of the season, she has lost Jessica’s trust completely. We understand that not all characters are going to be likeable, but Trish’s jealousy-driven ambition to be a hero was just painful to see unfold.
13 LIKE: WARDROBE
Elisabeth Vastola took over from Stephanie Maslansky for Jessica Jones' season two costume design. According to various interviews, Jessica’s iconic Citizens of Humanity jeans from the first season were discontinued, and there was difficulty in getting more of her signature Acne moto jackets. Vastola kept to the template given to her in the first season, but elevated it.
Vastola chose to use R13 jeans for Jessica because “they’re harder and a little bit more protective, doing a service for Jessica.” Jeri Hogarth’s wardrobe also evolves out of traditional black professional dresses to pants, and culminating in a stunning white dress at the end of the series to signify the journey she’s made this season. As for Trish Walker, she starts playing with darker colors this season, signifying her drive to be like Jessica.
12 DIDN’T LIKE: PACING
Americans are spoiled when it comes to how much content we have in our shows. The standard order for American dramas are above 20 episodes, making it difficult for a newcomer to get into a fandom later. Meanwhile, the British model is around 10 episodes, which means it’s a lot easier to rewatch Doctor Who than the Arrowverse shows. Jessica Jones, and the Netflix Marvel shows in general, have about 13 episodes per season.
What happens with a 13-episode order is that there are a couple of episodes in the middle of the season that drag. This slowdown in the middle is what happened in both Jessica Jones’ seasons. Without a strong villain presence set up at the beginning, the journey to find the villain gets tedious.
11 LIKE: MALCOLM’S REDEMPTION
The difference between Malcolm at the beginning of season one and Malcolm at the end of season two is dramatic. Season one’s Malcolm was a drug addict who would get so high he could barely get into his own apartment. Season two’s Malcolm is set on trying to turn his life around, and he thinks going into business with Jessica is the best way to do that.
Malcolm is key in helping Jessica with clients and apartment repair, but Jessica isn’t a great boss. Malcolm wants to progress more quickly in PI work. By the end of the season, he’s out from under Jessica’s wing and has a job with another PI firm. He’s also got a great suit and looks amazing in it, which may be his greatest accomplishment thus far.
10 DIDN’T LIKE: UNREALISTIC USE OF CELL PHONES
Whenever Trish or Jessica had an emergency, they would call each other and leave voicemails. The characters Trish and Jessica are in the their early 30s, so they qualify as older millennials. We would like to know what self-respecting millennial would leave a voicemail in an emergency situation.
If there is an emergency and someone doesn’t pick up a call, the millennial’s first response is to shoot a text. This allows for the message to literally be right there on the screen when the person looks at their phone. When Jessica keeps calling Trish at the movie studio lot because she thinks a killer is after her, she should have texted in-between the calls. Trish does look at her phone, as we all do, and she could’ve reacted to the news while the action still moved forward.
9 LIKE: THE FEMALE GAZE
Jessica Jones season two has a roster of all female directors, and this is evident in the way certain shots were presented. There were no sexualized cleavage or butt shots done with the female actors. One of the reasons why is the wardrobe was practical and not done for the male viewer’s pleasure. Secondly, with 13 female directors and seven female writers, great care was taken in representing women’s stories and the female perspective.
The only nudity in the second season was partial, and it was of a man! With shows like Game of Thrones that thrives on female nudity, it was refreshing to have only a male character be the subject of nudity. Additionally, it was tastefully done. We would like to thank Eka Darville for lifting weights on-screen and blessing us with his bottom.
8 DIDN’T LIKE: JESSICA HELD CAPTIVE BY A MAN AGAIN
Marvel has been criticized for repetition in the past. One is that in the Marvel films, the villains often turn out to be a dark version of the hero. There’s a play on this idea in season two with the reveal that Jessica’s mom Alisa is alive and a hell of a lot stronger than Jessica -- and more full of rage.
Because of her mom’s return, Jessica is held captive by a male character once again. The whole first season was about Jessica breaking free from a man’s control over her, and it was tiresome to see this repeat itself to some extent in the second season. This happens in the slower moving middle of the season, so it could have done away with without majorly affecting the plot.
7 LIKE: LEATHER JACKET ORIGIN STORY
Jessica Jones season two has a flashback episode to a college-aged Jessica and Trish. In this episode, Jessica has shorter hair, and she owns a shirt with a smiley face on it. While still snarky, she genuinely smiles when she’s with Stirling, her boyfriend who accepts her for who she is.
Stirling is the reason why she has her iconic leather jacket. He encourages her to steal it, and he’s clearly the perfect man for her. Because of his demise (we knew that wasn’t going to end well), Jessica can’t bear to part with her jacket. The name of her business, Alias, is also an homage to her former boyfriend as well. Thanks to this backstory, we know that Jessica is capable of love. Perhaps this will play out in season three.
6 DIDN’T LIKE: LACK OF KILLGRAVE
David Tennant was so brilliant as season one’s villain Kilgrave that he left big designer shoes for season one to fill. Season two’s journey to finding its villain was a slow burn, and we often found ourselves missing Tennant’s magnetic presence. This became even more obvious when one of the episodes featured Jessica having Killgrave hallucinations.
When Jessica started having conversations with her Kilgrave hallucinations, we realized how much David Tennant’s performance impacted the first season of the show. He immediately draws attention and was a solid villain to root against. Season two’s villain was much more sympathetic, and we realized she was the villain much later in the season. While we applaud not following the pattern established in season one, we still missed Tennant’s performance and purple suits.
5 LIKE: COMPLICATED MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIPS
Jessica Jones season two had two complicated mother-daughter relationships. The first was Trish and her mom Dorothy, which we were already familiar with in season one. But in season two, we find out Dorothy was complicit in Trish’s sexual abuse when she was 15. Yet Dorothy is at Trish’s side when she’s on her supposed deathbed. Trish represents everything Dorothy wanted to be, and it kills her that Trish wants to “throw it all away” to make a difference in the world.
Jessica’s relationship with her mom Alisa is even more complicated because Jessica thought she was dead for 17 years. Additionally, Alisa’s rage is nearly uncontrollable, and she’s a murderer. While that’s not relatable to the average viewer, their bickering sessions certainly are, such as: “It’s a bad plan.” “You’re a bad plan!” Inevitably, all daughters have issues with their mothers, superpowered or not.
4 DIDN’T LIKE: DISPOSABLE BLACK FEMALE CHARACTERS
With Luke Cage and Malcolm Ducasse, Netflix Marvel is doing a superb job at representing complex black men in Jessica Jones. These are characters that have developed backstories and motivations. The same can’t really be said for black women in this show, unfortunately.
With its efforts to be more inclusive, especially with women, Jessica Jones is still missing the mark with its black female characters. In season two, we have one who’s a prostitute and one who’s a cop. The prostitute is shoved out of Jerri’s door while the cop is thrown out a window. Inclusion for female characters all too often comes with whiteness. For a groundbreaking feminist show like Jessica Jones, they can do a better with having more complex black female characters.
3 LIKE: CALLING OUT SEXISM AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY
From episode one, Jessica Jones has made it clear that she’s not here for your misogyny. In case we had forgotten, the first episode has Jessica calling out a man for disturbing language when he says, “I never take no for an answer.” This continues throughout the season two episodes.
One of the best clapbacks to sexism happens in a cab ride towards the end of the series. The cab driver is on his phone while driving, and Alyssa asks him to get off his phone. When the driver tells her to “calm down” and “don’t get your panties in a bunch” Alyssa yells, “Panties?! Little girls wear panties! Women wear underwear!” Every single woman has experienced a man telling her to calm down, and Alyssa’s rage-fueled response represents everything we’ve always wanted to yell in return.
2 DIDN’T LIKE: NOT BINGEABLE
Jessica Jones season two has a lot of side characters to keep track of as Jessica goes on a journey to find out the truth about IGH. Because of this and the villain not being clearly established from the beginning, it was hard to binge the show. Jessica Jones season two would have benefited more from a Hulu model.
With Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, they uploaded a couple of episodes at first to grab the viewer’s attention and then released the episodes week to week. This gave viewers the necessary time to fully digest what was going on. Because of its pacing, its plethora of side characters, and its slow burn villain, Jessica Jones season two would have been more successful if it followed this model of release.
1 LIKE: CARRIE-ANNE MOSS’S PERFORMANCE
Let’s all just go ahead and give Carrie-Anne Moss all the awards. The emotional performances she gave this season were phenomenal. Jeri Hogarth isn’t a likeable character, but the writing and Carrie-Anne Moss makes the viewer care about her. For Carrie-Anne Moss’s Emmy nomination, we would like to direct you to the following scenes.
When Hogarth finds out she has ALS, Carrie-Anne Moss reacts without words. It’s all done on her face, and it is so believable. She’s also able to show softness, as she does with a love scene with Inez. The manipulative Hogarth is also just as good of a performance – did she really just convince someone to shoot someone without actually saying the words? Yes she did! All through season 2, Carrie-Anne Moss delivered a spectacular performance of a woman who has nothing left to lose.