When Jessica Jones first debuted on Netflix, it was well received by both critics and fans. The show managed to find a balance between its noir detective style and comic book elements. This gave it its own enjoyable and unique tone. What really made the show stand out though, was that it was a cast led by women and highlighted sexual assault and trauma. Between its depiction of abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and its writing, the series became a hit. Jessica Jones fans were left wanting more and after 3 years, they finally got it. Jessica Jones season 1 was pretty great; it had a complex and compelling hero with an interesting story, supporting cast, and villain. However Jessica Jones season 2, while entertaining and decent, does not match up to its predecessor.
The series starts off as Jessica continues to be the sardonic, alcoholic, private detective we’ve come to know her as. She is trying desperately to ignore her past and not even harder not to be called a hero. She just wants to keep her head down and survive. However, after a tragic event, she realizes that she has to face the figures from her past to understand what was done to her.
Now most people reading that plot summary have likely gotten deja vu from dozens of other movies and tv shows. That’s because this plot formula has been done over and over again. What made the first season of Jessica Jones so good was the novelty that its story had. Not only did it have real world applications, but it was well-written, well paced, and unpredictable. Season two of Jessica Jones, however, gives the audience a cliche, “tragic hero looks into her past” type of story. The freshness of season one was missing in its sequel. This season’s plot is lackluster and often makes it hard to care about the story. It also makes one wonder if the build up in the previous season was worth investing in.
The writing of Jessica Jones has its good and bad qualities. The pacing is well-done because much like season one, it moves slowly. While some viewers may complain about it, it actually fits the investigative aspect of the show. Jessica Jones, at its core, is a detective series. It does not need the fast pace of an action and/or adventure series. For Jessica Jones, the easing tone adds to its atmosphere. However, the plot often becomes convoluted throughout the season. It times it feels as though its just edgy and dark just for the sake of being edgy and dark. The twists also feel as though they’re just there for shock value. Most of them do not come across as organic to the story. While the writing can be choppy at times, this season does have some very good and interesting moments.
Jessica Jones still has a strong portrayal of the damaging effects of trauma. This season shows how trauma can touch every aspect of a person’s life and warp their perception of the world. It also has a powerful depiction of how addiction and recovery can cause similar issues. The series’s interpretation of these two aspects does not force itself into the story. Rather, they subtly show up in characters’ behavior. Addiction, trauma, and the recovery from them are also represented, with visual aspects that differentiate them. This illustration makes both the plot and its characters more compelling.
The characters of this show also have their good and bad qualities. Krysten Ritter continues to shine as the super strong P.I. Her performance stands out among the rest of the cast as she immerses herself in the role. Jessica, as a character, walks the line between interesting and apathetic. She’s portrayed as a mean spirited, angry, and verbally abusive character who often takes her issues out on the people around her. This characteristic makes it difficult to root for her. Although, once she opens up and shows the level of distortment that her trauma has had on her mind, we start to sympathize with her. While, it doesn’t make you exactly want to be in her corner, it does make you understand her as a human being. The supporting characters of the show, such as Malcolm (played by Eka Darville), Trish (played by Rachel Taylor) and Jerri (played by Carrie Ann Moss) all have times where they shine. Although, there are also times that their motivations and development feels forced.
The season’s villain is not as strong as Kilgrave. They pale in comparison, in terms of everything from actor performance, to character development, and writing. Their motivations come across as confusing as the plot. Their presence is not really felt throughout the series either. However, when their motivations and connection to Jessica becomes more clear, they become much more interesting. This season’s villain is not just evil to be evil. They are fleshed out characters with elements that make them sympathetic.
Season 2 of Jessica Jones gets a 3 out of 5 stars. While the season does have some good qualities, it is not something you need to set time aside to binge. Too many times, the show becomes dry and boring. In short, if you want to watch it then go ahead, just don’t expect anything groundbreaking.
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.