Netflix Marvel Retrospective – Jessica Jones Season 2

Welcome back to my retrospective. We are now entering what I like to call “Phase Two” of the Marvel shows on Netflix. It’s basically the final seasons of all the shows. This phase also didn’t quite have the critical acclaim as the others, sadly. The hype was gone, there had been quite a few bumps in the road, and some of the later seasons didn’t quite break new ground like the first seasons did. Unfortunately, Jessica Jones season 2 started this period. Let’s see what the season did right and wrong. And as usual, there will be spoilers.

A Drop In Quality

Do you remember what happened this season? If you’re having trouble, you’re not alone. Writing this entry, I had vague recollections of Jessica’s mom, Hogarth getting sick, and there was some rival PI hounding Jess. I recall the character arcs for Malcolm and Trish as I felt they were quite strong but other than that, much of the season was uneventful. I had to go back and watch a few recaps to jog my memory.

There were some nice set ups to things that didn’t quite go anywhere. This season explored Jessica’s darker side as she had to deal with anger management. This culminated in her accidentally killing a violent prison guard and imagining Killgrave speaking to her but not much more came from this. Once she got over it, so did the show. It says something that perhaps the strongest episode this season was one in which the villain from the previous season kept showing up as a hallucination.

Another aspect I was looking forward to this season was getting answers to Jessica’s origins as the previous season set up the mysterious IGH organization. Now, I’m glad they avoided the typical “government organization invested in super soldiers”- trope (mostly) but what we got was pretty lackluster. I thought it would be something more than an old hippie and some disgruntled nurses. They could have made it a bit more interesting like possibly leaning into the old hippie thing to the point where it’s some crazy commune or a new age cult or something. While the plot allowed Nuke to come back to the show, not much came of that since he was killed offscreen after one episode. I admit I found it humorous that they used this plot to introduce The Whizzer as that character was a bit of a surprise to see in a show like Jessica Jones but for the most part, I had trouble investing in the story once IGH was revealed halfway through the season. That leads me to the next problem.

The Lame Villain

One of several thrilling confrontations with the Big Bad.

So the big bombshell of the season was that Jessica’s mother survived the car crash many years prior and essentially turned into the typical stronger, evil version of the hero thanks to IGH. It also went into soap opera territory by explaining that a little plastic surgery now made her mother look and sound like a completely different person. Like Jessica, it was revealed the process that gave her powers also gave her rage issues. While Jessica was just snarky and mean, her mother often flew into fits of anger and smashed anyone or anything that had the misfortune of being nearby. While this was not her fault, we were meant to be against anyone who thought she was dangerous and needed to be separated from society. I never felt she was as sympathetic as the show made her out to be. Sure, there were episodes that explored this world’s hatred of superhumans as depicted by the aforementioned abusive prison guard or the threat that she might be sent to The Raft. Those were pretty dire situations and certainly, she deserved to get proper help as opposed to getting locked up with supervillains. That said, Jessica’s plan to just have the two of them go on the road for the rest of their lives and hope her mother stopped killing people wasn’t exactly the best idea either. There’s a middle ground is what I’m saying. Beyond that, her mom didn’t really have any sort of grand scheme or anything, so many of the episodes consisted of her mom freaking out and escaping, only for Jessica to chase her down and convince her to let her help.

And again, the doctor behind IGH wasn’t really an evil man and was in love with Jessica’s mom, so he didn’t have any sort of evil plans, either. The worst he did was accidently creating supervillains in the typical “What has science wrought?” fashion. Once the IGH mystery was solved about six episodes in, the entire season just spun its wheels without much of a satisfactory ending. The first season had Killgrave as the main villain and it was a joy to see Jessica finally take him down even if there were several redundant episodes before we got there. This season, nothing much happened and then it ended, making it the biggest offender of the Netflix Problem, in my opinion.

And sure, Jessica and her mom had a couple of team ups as she tried to rehabilitate her, but they weren’t very exciting. One episode had the two of them trying to help Jessica’s love interest after his ex-wife took their son. This consisted of them going to the bus station and just taking the son off the bus with little detective work involved. Another episode had them helping a family who had been in a car accident but it never felt like anyone was in any danger and not much came from it.

I thought we might at least get some good fight scenes since Jessica was going up against a villain with super strength but their “fights” usually consisted of her mom just shoving Jessica into a wall and running away. I know this show isn’t meant to have a lot of big slobber-knockers, but the first season at least managed to have about two good fights, so it’s not too much to ask, right?

But I actually liked the supporting cast this season.

While I loved Jessica’s story in the first season but didn’t like the supporting cast arcs, it was flipped this season. I didn’t care for Jessica’s arc, but I was heavily invested in Trish, Malcolm, and Hogarth. The three arcs paralleled and overlapped each other nicely while also having enough of a connection to the main plot to not seem like filler. Trish especially took an interesting turn.

Her first appearance this season consisted of her doing an “It’s Patsy” inspired birthday for a little girl (but really for the parents), degrading herself for a bit of information for Jess, which was a good indication of what she would be putting up with in the coming episodes. As the season progressed, she found herself being forced to do more fluff pieces for her talk show, her mom gave her a surprise engagement party, and she was briefly stalked by her ex. This culminated in Trish relapsing. As a teen star, she was addicted to pills but this season saw her addiction going into even more dangerous territories. In the first season, Trish showed admiration of Jess’ power and was taking Krav Maga to learn self-defense as she no longer wanted to be a victim of abuse. There was a scene where she was forced to take one of Nuke’s pills and was enthralled by the brief boost in strength, asking if Jess felt that way all the time. In this season, she ended up in possession of Nuke’s entire supply after he got murdered and once things began going sideways for her, she gave in to her old habits/desire for Jessica’s strength. It was a great set-up for her turn as a vigilante and antagonist in the third season once she killed Jessica’s mom. Oh, and we got a flashback to Trish as a pop star singing a stupid song called “I Want Your Cray Cray” which was honestly pretty funny. One of the really memorable scenes this season involved Jessica imagining Killgrave singing the song.

As for Malcolm, he started the season working for Jessica, but like Trish, soon got fed up with his job after Jess put him through multiple demeaning and potentially dangerous situations. It was a nice parallel to Trish, especially once he realized she was an addict due to his own past as a drug abuser. Eventually, the season ended with him as a PI working for Hogarth, which made him a nice bridge between the supporting character arcs.

As for Hogarth, she learned she was dying from ALS so her main storyline involved her being scammed by a former nurse from IGH and her boyfriend who pretended to have the power to heal her. Once she found out, her revenge was really cold. It was another interesting parallel to Trish who was also seeking justice in her own way. Carrie-Ann Moss plays a good anti-villain. Or just a villain depending on how you look at the character.

Final Verdict

So yeah, I thought this was probably the weakest season of any Netflix Marvel show and yes, that includes the first season of Iron Fist. I’ve wanted to re-watch every season of every show at least once except for this one. It was just so dull. It had a nice segue to the third season when it came to Jessica’s supporting cast but otherwise, I just didn’t get much out of it. Anyway, Luke Cage season two is up next.

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