It was one of my favorite shows of 2015, and it took so long in coming back that it’s even more disappointing that the second season of Jessica Jones turned out to be as dismal as it was. Perhaps losing both Kilgrave and Luke Cage was a blow the show simply could not sustain.
The driving force of the first season of Marvel’s noir-esque Netflix series was Jessica Jones’s battle against her former abductor and rapist Kilgrave (David Tennant), who rapidly ascended the throne of the very best onscreen Marvel villain (in movies or television), and without his presence in the second season, it’s undeniable that the show lost a significant amount of focus. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is still a hardboiled, hard drinking PI, but her bitterness and anger seems to lack concentration. In Kilgrave’s absence a new villain has to be formed, and the backflips the show does to forge a meaningful identity and relationship to Jessica for this season’s antagonist (Janet McTeer) strains credulity and really wears itself thin by the time the climactic part of the season rolls around. Story beats regarding Ritter and McTeer’s relationship repeat themselves multiple times over the course of the last 4-5 episodes, to the point where I was genuinely wondering if I had accidentally rewound the tracking order.
Then there’s Trish. Oh, Trish. Jessica’s best friend and wannabe sidekick (played by Aussie Rachael Taylor, still struggling mightily with an American accent) suffered a brutal character assassination this year in terms of a writers room that clearly despises her, or perhaps was simply battling itself regarding a plan to turn her into a half-baked villain of sorts. At least, I hope that was the intention, because that’s the only way Trish’s actions throughout the season even make a smidge of sense. Trish antagonizes and bothers Jessica about her past, is revealed as having a hidden agenda, ruins another addict’s life and then bizarrely decides to ruin Jessica’s life even further, for absolutely no apparent reason, and for an outcome for herself that seemed intended to reveal a new hero's origin. Umm, are you kidding me? Trish Walker is so beyond dead to me that I never want to see her again, much less root for her to get what she wants.
So, did anything work this season? Well, even though Geri Hogarth’s terminal illness subplot was severely disconnected from the rest of the show, Carrie-Anne Moss played it convincingly and managed to turn her diabolical lawyer into a somewhat sympathetic figure, and there was one flashback episode to Jessica and Trish’s past that revealed an interesting backstory, but I honestly can’t pinpoint much else here. Ritter is still a capable and compelling antiheroine, but saddled with too many miserable and repulsive supporting characters this season (including a totally bland and anti-charismatic love interest in the new super named Oscar- for the love of god, please don’t bring that guy and his annoying kid back).
This season was a real bummer. Let’s hope the next one figures out some way to right itself.