When the Daredevil Netflix series first debuted, it was a complete surprise. Not only was it having to work against a previous work of the same name that was universally considered to be, at best, mediocre, but it was also in need of distinguishing itself from the main Marvel cinematic universe. Luckily it did both rise above the Ben Afleck movie, but carved out a piece of turf that fits right within the rest of the established world. Jessica Jones was the next to follow; this series had to also tread lightly considering most of the audience did not know who the character was, and had to follow up the excellent first season of Daredevil. The tile of this article should give away the answer to the question if the series was successful or a flop.
The first season of the show was a great introduction to the cynical, unapologetically alcoholic character of Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter. The self-destructive Private Investigator was never without her whit or her flask. Imbued with super strength after a childhood accident that left her orphaned, Jessica lives out her life in her apartment and business accompanied by her junkie best friend, Malcolm and former child actor, step-sister Patsy Walker. If she is not sleuthing for spare cash, she was using said cash to buy more booze. However, Jessica would drink to forget; she would try to forget her past, and her time with the man she despises with all of her being, Kill Grave.
Kill Grave, played by David Tenant, is a meta-human that can make anyone, do anything that he speaks. This character was maliciously charismatic, mixed with dark sadism in his torment of his victims. Jessica’s relationship with Kill Grave is, at the bare minimum, complicated, and through the first season was always interesting to watch and see the end result of the interaction between the two. Jessica, being the only one to resist Kill Grave’s control, she becomes the sole focus of his emphatic obsession, because he desires genuine love from Jessica that she would give by her own free will. You might be wondering why I am going on about the first season, well because after watching the first three episodes of this recent season, I feel that some similar road work is being paved over a second time, if you catch my drift.
Off the bat, I will continue beyond episode three of this new season, with that being said I would to point out a few nit-picks. We start with Jessica Jones, post-Defenders, with her on another job to catch a cheating partner. She is confronted with her past vigilantism, and begins to be faced with her past and the origin of her powers. My fear from the first episode was that Jessica would re-tread the old super hero trope of the hero exploring their existential crisis of whether they are a hero or a killer. This, as far as I have seen hasn’t been extended past episode one. However, there is a criticism that I have to mention, not just as a strike against Jessica Jones, but in many stories, selective timing of past trauma. I have never had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and I understand that for the sake of a pacing of a show you cannot linger on certain aspects of a single character, but it there is something to be mentioned that Jessica spent all the time in Defenders and never touched upon her traumatic experience with the surgery that gave her powers, but again I digress.
This plays into my earlier fear of treading over all ready covered territory. We already had Jessica recover from past trauma with Kilgrave and her actions while under his control, and she closed that chapter in her life with definite conclusion. What I am getting at is that this feels a bit like character digression for the sake plot progression and not having a static character. Now I don’t mind more character development, but not at the expense of any development gained in the past. I am still intrigued to follow where the rabbit hole goes as Jessica attempts unravel her own past, and the mystery brought to her door step, will keep me watching past episode three.
I have also brought up the villain from the first season, because he was set up better and more imposing due to the clear and present he had on Jessica Jones. It was more than likely the performance of David Tenant that supplanted him as one of the most interesting villains in the Marvel Television Universe; but it was his insistent need to possess the main character he wants her to love him in a genuine fashion, and not through force of his own will. He has quite a viewpoint on his world, and how he should use his abilities for his own selfish purposes. His back story was completely sympathizing and his methods of trying to acquire Jessica’s affection are beyond maniacal and twisted. The supposed villain of the second season does also have an intimate position within Jessica’s back story, however, from what has been revealed about the new villain, he or she, or it has been set up as a classic movie monster in terms of its capabilities.
The second season does have a hook though, the mystery and the theme of redemption. I am a sucker for a good mystery, and the longer I watched, the more questions began to arise that I want to have answered, and that is always a good sign for a series. The theme of redemption is also something that I like in most stories, and is not in Jessica’s character arc, but other character as well. Harper Hogarth, the unrelenting attorney played by Carrie-Anne Moss, finds herself seeking redemption for her callous transgression after a life altering even, no not the death of her wife like in the first season. This theme, while predictable of its’ presence, is still able to draw me in and will have me watching after episode three.
However, the mystery of the story is really what has kept me interested: a trail of bodies, illegal experimentation, and a looming threat over Jessica and her comrades. The end of episode of three ends with a revelation, and a thickening plot that leaves me wanting to the finish out the series. Yet the antagonist is a threat, but as said before, is more of a movie monster that is physically imposing rather than an intellectual threat. That is why I enjoyed Kill Grave whenever he was on screen. He was much more of an interesting foil to Jessica, and was genuinely frightening in his abilities
While it may seem that I dislike a lot about the second season, you would be false. While I do have my small criticisms, but it does not detract too much from greater package. The elements that made the first season memorable are still there: the dead pan humor, the mystery of the investigation, and as the first season did, we see how average people negatively react to super powered humans. As I have said throughout the article, I plan on watching