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TV Review: Marvel's Jessica Jones - Season 2 (Full Season Wrap-up)

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Click here to read our previous reviews for Marvel's Jessica Jones

SYNOPSIS: New York City private investigator Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is beginning to put her life back together after taking down her tormenter, Kilgrave. Now known throughout the city as a super-powered killer, a new case makes her reluctantly confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why.

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REVIEW: Jessica Jones is a difficult show to review. In the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it may be the most disconnected. Even within the Netflix MCU series, Jessica Jones' second season barely mentions anything that occurred in their underwhelming crossover event, The Defenders. Even as far as MCU references go, the most direct connection we get is a mention of The Raft, the superhero prison we saw housing the losing team at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. But where Daredevil and Iron Fist both built towards the major showdown with Elektra and The Hand, Jessica Jones spends more time referencing Jessica escaping the clutches of Kilgrave and eventually defeating him. In my first review of the opening half of this season, I mentioned that Jessica Jones would not be converting non-fans with this season and I absolutely stick by that analysis. In fact, the viewers who gave this run a shot probably gave up five episodes in due to the extremely slow development of the season-long storyline. But, those who stuck with the show would also have been divided because Jessica Jones is the least comic book-inspired Marvel property to date, and that is a very good thing.

If you have seen the entirety of season two, you know there really is not a villain here. In fact, there is no mystery to solve in the same way that there was last season. Around the halfway point, we learn that the mysterious woman Jessica has been tracking is, in fact, her mother. Alissa Jones survived the car crash and was saved by Dr. Carl Malis and given abilities like Jessica. There was another patient at IGH as well who had the ability to heal which brings Jeri Hogarth's terminal diagnosis directly into the storyline alongside Jessica. We even get a flashback episode right in the middle of the seasom that shows how Jessica and Alissa were saved. It turns out that the nefarious experiments that led to Jessica's abilities were not quite as ill-intentioned as we thought, but isn't that how all mad scientists justify their ambitions? Ultimately, when the entire season is taken as a whole, it is very uneven and definitely not as satisfying as the first. But, it does work as an incredibly timely portrait of various modern women dealing with very modern problems.

Because this season is more about the characters than the story, the focus is not squarely on Jessica. There is a healthy amount of development for Trish Walker who succumbs to her past demons. With the abrupt death of Will Simpson early on (a character I was hoping for a lot more of, to be honest), Trish takes the performance enhancing drug that turned Will into a maniac last season. Quickly, Trish exhibits addict tendancies including withdrawal symptoms.which raises concerns from Malcolm Ducasse. Malcom was a tangental character last season but here he becomes a kindred spirit to Trish and the pair eventually become lovers. Trish is on a crusade to bring down IGH which eventually puts her at odds with Jessica. Is amibition the real villain this season? Jealously? There is clearly a love shared between the adopted sisters but that does not stop them from being at odds. It is nice to see Trish become more than just a sidekick and it gives actress Rachael Taylor a lot more to work with. In the context of the show, Trish works but I would honestly have loved to see her become her comic book counterpart, Hellcat. The potential for that transformation is teased at the end of the season, but a very different Hellcat than the hero we are used to seeing.

Janet McTeer also gets one hell of a role in the form of Alissa Jones. At first, I expected her to be just another doppelganger type villain like we commonly see in many MCU foes. Instead, she is just a mother trying to retain a relationship with her daughter while fighting the madness inside. She is a murderer, yes, but her motivations are very layered. This makes her one of the better characters on any of the Netflix series. Even Dr. Malus is more than just a bad guy. The real bad guys here are in the shadows with IGH still serving as a shadow corporation whose true motives remain unknown. Without a physical villain this season, many of the early twists end up feeling like red herrings without a concrete payoff. These misleading moments are one of my biggest problems with the season as they lead nowhere and waste a lot of screen time early on. If the show had combined the first few hours into one quick intro, the season definitely would have worked better.

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We also get a new layer added to Jessica's personality. While she does open herself up to a relationship with the superintendent of her building, that feels forced after several episodes of the pair hating each other. Jessica was much better with someone like Luke Cage, but that may be impossible after her actions this season. Towards the end of the season, Jessica kills the prison guard who was torturing her mother, an act that brings back the spectre of Kilgrave. Seeing David Tennant return as his smarmy bad guy is a welcome addition to this season but it does beg the question of what it means for a hero to murder someone. We scoffed at this concept in MAN OF STEEL when Superman killed Zod, but here it raises so many more questions. Usually, Marvel characters only kill the villain. While this guard was clearly a piece of shit, his death will haunt Jessica through the rest of the season and likely have bigger repercussions into the future of Jessica Jones' series run. Kristyn Ritter is even better at portraying her broken character than she was last year and her interactions with the voice of Kilgrave show just how much more this show can be than a comic book adaptation.

Jessica Jones second season is good but not as good as the first. The characters are all better, but the story is sorely lacking in the needed punch that has helped all of the other Netflix/MCU shows reach their finale. The final episode is a satisfying one and proves that not all Marvel adaptations have to be the same. The implications of what happens in this story is not a world-changing event that could kill millions but a much more personal one. You could easily remove any comic book or superhero elements and this season of Jessica Jones works as a purely noir drama. It is very well executed but lacks enough of a punch that we know Jessica is able to deliver. Here's hoping that next season is a little more ambitious than this one or at least gets moving more quickly than this one did. There are a lot of story elements that needed attention that did not get it (Jeri Hogarth's illness, Trish's relationship with Griffin, and Jessica's sparring with Pryce Cheng). There is a lot to like about Jessica Jones and she has grown as a character thanks to what happens this season but it is not enough to bring on fans that should be watching this show. it does succeed in debuting while MeToo and other empowering movements for women are gaining steam, even if some moments feel far too on the nose.

NEXT ON JESSICA JONES: All Season 2 episodes are now available to stream on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com

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