This Jessica Jones review contains spoilers.
Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 10
The episode opens with a haunting scene and ends with a shocking one, but in between it feels like the story is going a little off the rails. For the first two and a half minutes, the only sound was the heavy clank of Alisa’s many chains. Jessica races the clock to make sure her mother will take a deal that would keep her mother incarcerated in as humane conditions as possible, allowing them to maintain a relationship. Meanwhile, Jeri learns the truth about her healer, Malcolm tries to do the right thing, and Trish crosses a line.
This season has struggled to find its center, and this episode exemplifies that. The closest thing I can find to a through line is the idea of whether Jessica is a monster or not, whether she’s just a killer now. While that’s an interesting idea and a worthwhile one, by this far into the season it should be more clear what questions the season seeks to ask and answer.
Malcolm’s struggle this season has been his desire to be taken seriously while living the kind of life he wants. He once again tries and fails to set some boundaries with Trish. I liked the concept of them together, but it turns out she has been a wrecking ball on his life. He hit the nail on the head when he said they’re each trying to fill the hole in their own soul.
All the secrets are finally revealed between our core trio, which should set them on the path toward work together, but this episode throws us a major curveball. Trish taking out Malcolm was shocking – I’ve enjoyed the narrative of an imperfect Trish struggling with her inner demons, but this is further than I thought they’d ever take the character. Her manipulation of Malcolm escalates throughout the episode, but it’s subtle enough and we like Trish so much that up until the moment she knocks him out, it still feels like there will be some other outcome, and some other reason.
I genuinely don’t know what will be left of Trish’s life when this is all over. Jess, on the other hand, continues to be in a good place with Oscar, showing that even though her life may be a mess right now, she’s come a long way. She’s not who she used to be, and I think she’s doing a lot better than she gives herself credit for, considering everything that’s happened.
Another surprise is Jeri’s vulnerability here. It turns out Inez is the shark, and Jeri is the one who was used. Carrie Anne Moss’s performance, especially when she realizes she has not been cured, is devastating. It turns out hope was the biggest con of all, and the thing that hurts the most when lost.
The corrections officer is certainly easy to hate. This guy yelling, “self defense” while kicking a woman who’s down and temporarily blinded is every shitty, violent law enforcement official. While his death is meant to raise the stakes, but he essentially exists just to be a device. Jessica has been wondering if she’s a killer, and his accidental death will likely force her to confront that. But it feels a bit hollow and out of nowhere, considering he was killed in the same episode that introduced him.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what isn’t working as well with this season of Jessica Jones. I think part of it is that there’s too much mystery in the first five episodes, leaving the audience feeling untethered. It would work to have either what happened to Jessica or the identity of the villain be a mystery. But with both as open questions, there was nothing to anchor us in the journey.
The creative team has talked in interviews about how there will never be another villain like Kilgrave, so instead they have multiple. I get that logic, and it worked well for Agents of Shield last season. But having one minor baddie after another, especially ones who seemingly come out of nowhere like the warden, makes the season feel fractured, with villains who feel tacked on. The storyline with Jessica’s mother was a natural outgrowth of the IGH mystery, although IGH did suffer a bit from having Jess and Trish work their way through a few too many IGH goons a bit too quickly before it settled in. The whack-a-mole approach isn’t as rich to watch, and the audience experience has suffered this season because of it.
We’ll see how the rest of this plays out, but throwing the kitchen sink at us isn’t working for me so far. I’m inclined to think that sticking to just the origin story and mother angle and examining them more deeply, or otherwise centering the remaining conflict there, would be stronger.