It really doesn’t seem like two years since the debut of the first season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. Mostly it’s because I saw Jessica again in last year’s Defenders. I checked my archives to see what I might have said about the first season here on WordPress. The answer? I said nothing. The first season premiered about a month before I joined the site, and a long time before I began writing reviews. It really has been over two years.
Short review of the first season: I loved it. It introduced Mike Colter’s Luke Cage, and David Tennant as the Purple Man, Kilgrave, as well as the believably badass Krysten Ritter as Jessica. The season-long arc was about how Jessica was dealing with being a survivor of both mind-and-body rape at the hands of Kilgrave, and how she ultimately defeats him. We also learned some of Jessica’s backstory, which was doubly important for me because she didn’t exist as a character when I was reading comic books and I knew nothing about her. We learned that she somehow survived a terrible car accident that killed the rest of her family, but we really didn’t learn a lot about how she gained her superpowers. She then went to live with teen superstar Patricia “Patsy” Walker, who she thinks of as her sister. Walker (Rachael Taylor) goes by “Trish” as an adult and has her own popular radio talk show, “Trish Talk.” Jessica, who works as a private investigator these days, does a lot of work for lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss).
This cast of characters—minus Luke Cage and Kilgrave (although, come to think of it, Kilgrave does make an appearance as a hallucination)—is also on-hand for Season Two. It occurs to me that Ritter may be the only American in the cast. Carrie-Anne Moss is Canadian, as is Callum Keith Rennie (who plays Dr. Karl Malus). Rachael Taylor and Eka Darville (who plays Jessica’s “associate” Malcolm) are Aussies. Janet McTeer (who plays Alisa, Jessica’s mother) is English. I’m not implying anything here, except that they are all believably American on the show, and I’m now doubly impressed with their acting talents.
This season is about the relationship between mothers and daughters, only about as far from Gilmore Girls as you can get. Trish wants Jessica to investigate IGH, the company responsible for giving Jessica powers, because Trish is featuring powered individuals on her radio show to boost her sluggish ratings. Since the Kilgrave incident, the entire world knows that Jessica is a powered individual now. Jessica’s newfound notoriety and Trish’s radio show leads to a meeting with Robert Coleman, a nebbishy guy who claims to have superspeed as a result of experiments performed by IGH. He calls himself “Whizzer,” which is an Easter Egg for older Marvel fans, who can remember a speedster by that name. This version of the Whizzer dies in a rigged construction accident, and Jessica traces his medication to an abandoned building where she has memories of being experimented on as well.
Part of the season is occupied with the twin related mysteries of what IGH was doing, and what is the “monster” that’s going around killing people related to IGH, like the late speedster Mr. Coleman.
Way leads to way, and Jessica eventually discovers that a Dr. Karl Malus was the mastermind behind the IGH experiments. And, along the way, she discovers that the “monster” is Alisa Jones, who she once knew as “Mom.” Both Jessica and Alisa were saved from death after the car accident by the IGH genetic experiments. Alisa is even stronger than her daughter, but is subject to fits of rage and psychotic episodes. She kills several people during the course of the season. Mother and daughter are eventually reunited, and I choose not to ruin how things end.
Other parallel plots in the season. Jeri Hogarth learns that she has ALS and is being forced out of her law firm by her partners. She grasps at superpowered straws for a possible cure.
Trish Walker becomes addicted to her ex-boyfriend Simpson’s IGH-produced stimulant. She’s had addiction issues in the past. This performance enhancer, and a certain jealousy she has over Jessica’s powers, makes her seek out Dr. Malus to undergo the IGH treatment herself. She almost dies during the interrupted process, which doesn’t seem to give her any powers (although there is a suggestion during the final episode that something is different about Trish now).
Malcolm Ducasse is promoted to Jessica’s “associate,” and he’s been trying to learn the p.i. business from her. Malcolm undergoes a transformation himself during the season, and finally stops taking Jessica’s constant abuse. He is in an interesting position at the season’s end that may put him in direct opposition with Jessica. More fuel for the next season.
The season ends with Jessica in a relationship with her landlord Oscar, but at odds with those she had considered her “family.” I have no doubt that she’ll continue to find ways to get into trouble if there’s a next season.
This was good television. I did not binge-watch it, taking about a month to watch it all. The acting was excellent and the story was never boring. The character Jessica Jones manages to be interesting and off-putting at the same time. I want to see more of this hard-drinking, hard-hitting superpowered private investigator/super-antihero.
This is a mature-rated superhero show, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the kiddies. But, if you’re an adult who also likes comic book television, you’ll find something to like here as well.