This Jessica Jones review contains spoilers.
Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 1
The bitch is back.
Jessica Jones, everyone’s favorite surly ex-superhero turned hard boiled private investigator, returns after taking down Kilgrave. While much is familiar here, she is not the same woman she was the last time we saw her. Her actions in season 1 weight heavily on her as does her newfound celebrity, but it seems our unmasked heroine would rather keep her head down, do simple jobs, and forget everything that happened.
Jessica chafes every time someone refers to her vanquishing Kilgrave – she thinks of herself as a killer now and doesn’t want to, and fears what else she may be capable of. This newfound vulnerability brings to the fore a greater emotional depth that Krysten Ritter has always played as lurking below the surface. Jessica faces some of the same pushback that Black Lightning is experiencing: people want to know why she slayed her own personal demon but won’t take down theirs. This fits nicely into Jessica’s worldview that no one ever gets ahead by doing anything nice for anyone.
Jessica and Trish spend this episode dancing around questions that Trish wants answered and that Jessica wants to forget: who made Jessica and how? Trish’s show has been all about powered people since Kilgrave, and she’s eager to learn more about Jessica’s condition, so much so that she’s willing to moonlight as Patsy in exchange for information. For her part, Jessica doesn’t want the attention, and repeatedly tells Trish that her radio show and other efforts are impeding her ability to heal. When Trish shows up with the ashes of Jessica’s family, the latter calls out the former for the seriously low blow. This sets up a new dynamic, with Trish as the one overstepping bounds, and Jessica attempting to be more grounded.
Of course things aren’t all self-actualization with Jessica. She’s still drinking heavily, and she’s taking easy, forgettable clients so she doesn’t have to think or feel too much about ethics. As was suggested at the end of last season, Malcolm has joined Alias Investigations. Jess isn’t thrilled about it, in her typical surly way, but Malcolm is good at both his job and looking out for his boss, which Jessica appreciates even if she never says it. Jessica is still violent and volatile, her outbursts unpredictable to everyone except the audience.
Jeri is sick. And alone. She knows that blood is in the water professionally, and she’s reeling in her personal life, now that she finally has to deal with the fallout of her disturbing choices in season 1. Her wife is dead, and her secretary/former paramour Pam is suing. I’m hoping for more depth from Jeri this season and if this episode is any indication, we’ll be getting it in spades. Carrie-Ann Moss gives an excellent restrained, wordless performance when her character reacts to the news that she is sick.
This episode introduces a few new characters. Trish has a love interest, on-camera reporter Griffin from ZCN. He’s got a great accent, a gorgeous head of hair, and seems like a nice guy, so Jessica and I are both suspicious. In Jessica’s building she has a new Super named Oscar, and his son, Vido. Malcolm’s role from the comics changed when it was aged up to an adult, and it seems that Vido will now be filling the role of cute, excitable, young superhero-loving neighbor. And finally there’s Pryce Chen, also gorgeous, a high-class PI who wants to put Jessica out of business.
While it’s fun to watch Jessica throw people and threaten them, the series is very much grounded in the reality that powered people would have to live in on a daily basis, which means that assaulting Cheng lands Jessica in jail, with a lawsuit on the way courtesy of her old boss, Jeri. Jeri is always up to something, though what, exactly, remains to be seen.
While Krysten Ritter plays snark well, the emotionally affecting moments land better than some of the humor, which is still fun, but less refreshing now that so many more delightfully dark women populate our screens. Two of the high points in this episode are also the most emotionally stirring: Jessica’s exchange with Malcolm (with the latter in a DeRay-style blue puffer vest) when her brother’s ashes are scattered on the floor, and Jessica’s reaction to Whizzer’s death, coupled with the realization that the guy she deemed a looney was actually telling the truth.
Jessica and the audience are left with nothing but questions: what is the monster they made? Who is “they”? Is it the same people who had Jessica for 20 days back when her family died? What did they do to her?