Hello! It's time, once again, to visit the mean streets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's New York via Season 2 of Jessica Jones! I’m very excited for the return of the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed PI, as Season 1 of Jessica Jones was my personal favorite of all the Marvel Netflix series so far, and I thought Krysten Ritter's Jones was one of the best elements of Netflix's mostly underwhelming The Defenders series.
I'll be examining these new episodes from my perspective as a longtime Marvel Comics fan and journalist. Today, we kick things off with a look at Episode 1: “AKA Start at the Beginning”; Episode 2: “AKA Freak Accident”; Episode 3: “AKA Sole Survivor”; and Episode 4: “AKA God Help the Hobo.”
So finish your whiskey, and let's get started!
The last Marvel Netflix show, The Punisher, was a conspiracy thriller about trauma and grief that started off slow but took off like a rocket and ended up being pretty fantastic. So it was very interesting to see this second season of Jessica Jones open as a slow-burn conspiracy thriller about grief and trauma. While there were a lot of things I liked in these episodes (and only a couple elements that rubbed me the wrong way), I hope Jessica Jones follows The Punisher’s lead and takes off soon.
Let's start with the stuff I liked: Krysten Ritter continues to be great as Jessica Jones. She's a master at delivering sarcastic lines, haunted looks, and stares of righteous anger.
This season, Jessica’s wrestling with an added layer of guilt on top of the shocking revelations about her past: her taking of a life. In the final episode of Season 1, she snapped the neck of the vile and villainous Kilgrave—and I have no qualms with that. She did it to protect herself, her family, and New York from a vicious megalomaniac. What grounds the show in reality and gives depth to Jones as a character is that despite the justifications for her actions, she's still troubled by killing Kilgrave. It makes Jess's struggles with anger more resonant.
I also really liked Eka Darville's Malcolm Ducasse in these initial episodes. Last season, we saw Malcolm in the grip of his drug addiction, and Darville's charisma and likability made the character's plight especially poignant. This season, he’s clean and growing into a new role: the Watson to Jess's Holmes. It's a role he's well-suited for too. I like that he's incredibly loyal but willing to draw the line on the amount of crap he's willing to take. I also enjoyed his constant need for things to do to keep himself from relapsing.
I was happy to see Carrie-Ann Moss return as Jeri Hogarth. The story they introduced with her trying to find a way to keep ALS from ruining the life she's forged for herself should go to some interesting and poignant places. Though, I’m hoping this side plot picks up some velocity soon because Jeri is most interesting when she's forced to make desperate choices and cover up or atone for them.
The returning character I was the least pleased with is Rachael Taylor's Trish Walker. It was good to see Trish trying to help her adopted sister discover and deal with her past, but she came off as a person with a destructive need to prove herself to everybody. It led to some very bad decisions—decisions that put her in peril. I prefer the more empathetic and supportive Trish. Plus, after dealing with Danny Rand in both Iron Fist and The Defenders, the last thing the Marvel Netflix shows need is another bratty, blonde person making stupid and annoying decisions.
These episodes also introduced a few new characters to the proceedings. I really liked Janet McTeer's mysterious superpowered killer. She's strong enough to throw down with Jess, and her fanatical devotion to the mysterious IGH Corporation is interesting. I also really enjoyed Terry Chen's rival, jerk-ass PI Pryce Cheng and Trish's new boyfriend, Journalist Griffin Sinclair (Hal Ozsan). I'm curious to see how both of these characters develop. Cheng knows how to press Jess's buttons and proves a good foil. Griffin has an interesting dynamic with both Trish and Jess, and I’m curious to see if his shady behavior is a case of being a weasely journalist or something more sinister.
Griffin's suspicious behavior is no surprise given what we know of Trish's romantic choices on the show, but it's also a nice homage to the comic incarnation of the character. The comic version of Trish, Patsy Walker, has two ex-husbands who are infamous for their villainous and sadistic behavior: Buzz Baxter, who became the supervillain known as Mad Dog; and Daimon Hellstrom, who is literally the son of Satan in the Marvel Universe.
These four episodes provided a few fun Easter eggs for comic fans, including the characters of Maynard Tiboldt and Robert Coleman, aka the Whizzer. In Episode 3, Tiboldt appears as a hypnotist who tries to assist Jess in recovering some childhood memories about the experiments IGH conducted on her. The Marvel Comics' version of Tiboldt is also interested in hypnotism, but he uses it to control the minds of unwitting victims as the Ringmaster of the Circus of Crime.
The Whizzer (aka Robert Frank) is actually one of Marvel Comics' oldest characters. He was introduced in 1941 during the Golden Age of Comics and was indeed a speedster who wore a bright yellow costume. He received his speedy superpowers after receiving a transfusion of Mongoose blood. That's why the version of the Whizzer we saw in Jessica Jones had a pet mongoose. The connection goes even deeper than that, though, as the name of Robert Coleman's pet Mongoose, Emil, is a nod to the father of the comics' version of the Whizzer, who shares the same name.
So these first four episodes introduced us to some interesting new characters, reunited us with old favorites, and dropped us into a slow-burn conspiracy/serial killer mystery that heated up as the episodes progressed. Granted, there were some missteps, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment of these initial episodes. In fact, I'm eager to learn more about Season 2's mysteries and character arcs. So I'm off to do just that!
Please join me back here next Wednesday as we take a look at Episodes 5-7 of Season 2 of Jessica Jones!
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