Jessica Jones Season 3 Ending Explained

The Jessica Jones season 3 ending has the unenviable task of bringing the entire Marvel Netflix era to a close. Here's what it all means.

This article contains Jessica Jones Season 3 spoilers.

When it comes to ending a series, it’s hard to stick the landing. There are plenty of plot threads to resolve, the difficult task of balancing satisfying endings to those season-long stories with an overall satisfying way to send those characters off into the sunset, and finally the need to strike the right emotional tone for a sendoff.

On a noir show like Jessica Jones, it can be hard to allow anyone to escape the hard-boiled reality that we’ve just spent three seasons in, yet it’s natural to want characters to grow and achieve some semblance of a better life. On the whole, the last episode in particular feels like it managed to recenter and give the audience a fitting goodbye for Jessica Jones that’s true to her while still allowing her to have grown in the years we’ve known her, the kind of finale that feels like all of these characters will keep on going, even without us to check in on them.

The events stretched out over several episodes and involved quite a few double-crosses and reveals, so we’ve done our best to explain who knew what, who was on what team, and what it all means.

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Capturing Sallinger

Jessica taunted Sallinger that she hadn’t destroyed all of the evidence. Of course, we had seen her do just that – or had we? (We had, we definitely had). But Trish wouldn’t stop trying to kill him and Jessica will never let her sister go – she’s also constitutionally incapable of letting a bad guy go if there’s even a chance at taking him down, so she enlisted her remaining allies to carry out the following scheme.

While Jessica protected Sallinger (because useless Jeri wouldn’t – you picked a fine time to stop helping serial killers, Jeryn!), she put on a bit of a show of pretending to take him out. This served two purposes: it helped her figure out where he got the photo of Trish with a knife to his throat, and it distracted Trish, who was watching from her usual perch on the roof across the street. Amateur move using the same spot, Trish. While Trish was distracted, Malcolm tasered her, Erik was mildly horrified, and the guys zip-tied her and brought her back to her own apartment for safe keeping. Meanwhile, Jessica got the camera from the worm farm.

When Jess and Erik were at the bar, he mentioned something about her spending, “a cozy night in,” which was the tip-off that he was in on her plan. While Sallinger later called her predictable, he was the predictable one. It seems sometime earlier, perhaps before they hit the bar or maybe even before Erik and Malcolm arrived, someone on Jessica’s team setup cameras at her place.

Jess did her thing – you know, drinking and investigating in the dark – until Sallinger showed up, having dosed the bottle of scotch on her desk. She got him talking and kept emoting like crazy, making sure he was happy with his photo of her “truth,” at least 75% was accurate, if not all of it. Once they had what they needed, Jess revealed that Sallinger’s paralytic wasn’t as strong as he thought and Erik burst in the door.

They restrained Sallinger, made a nice loop of the key part of the video, and called Costa to pick him up, which meant Sallinger would be behind bars and Costa would be back in the good graces of the NYPD, since Jess likely felt guilty that his association with her was what got him benched in the first place. While all that was going down, Jessica and Erik went to Sallinger’s place to clean up after Trish’s mess, getting the server, knife, and any other evidence related to her attacks.

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Taking down Trish

Once Trish killed Sallinger, it became clear that Trish wasn’t going to stop, and Jessica had to take her down herself. No doubt the advice from her friend Luke Cage about his difficult decision to send his own brother to The Raft influenced her choice. As she and Malcolm discussed, Jessica was afraid to out Trish’s identity since it would send her on the run and they’re better equipped to find her in New York.

Jessica pressed Jeri into helping/doing the right thing for once, and had Jeri declare on the news that she knew the masked vigilante’s identity and would share it with police soon. Jessica laid in wait for Trish to arrive. Unfortunately, Kith chose this time to show up and was there when Trish came to threaten Jeri, and Kith wound up in Trish’s clutches, so Jeri offered herself in a trade. Trish took the deal, since Jeri has extensive experience helping scumbags leave the country.

At this point, Jessica had a much more successful media appearance, this time of the diy social media variety. As tips for Patsy Walker came rolling in and Gillian, Malcolm, and Erik helped sort them out, Jessica followed a promising lead to an airfield near where Trish was spotted in a car matching Jeri’s car’s description. Inside the warehouse, a guy who works sending coffins to war zones (yikes) was going to drug Trish and send her to Thailand. Since she’s in recovery she declined the drugs for what was sure to be a rough 17 hour flight (that looked like a jug of water and another to pee in – oof) and Jeri took the opportunity to call Jess, who was already there.

Jess and Trish had a long-overdue throwdown. Trish relied on the dark, since she’s not as strong as Jessica (no super strength) but she does have the cat-like ability to see in the dark. Trish clearly still thought she was right, and Jessica asked if Trish would even kill her. When Trish pulled out a knife – shocking them both it seemed – and then plunged it full force into Jessica, who blocked it with her hand, it was an emotionally devastating response. Jessica put her down easily. Jessica was always physically able to end it, she just didn’t want to hurt her sister and had been blinded by her belief that Trish was merely grieving.

Toward the end of the episode, in an emotional scene Jessica watches Trish leave for The Raft. Trish seems happy to see her sister, rather than angry, and it’s clear that Jessica will always be there for her sister, even if she had to do what she previously considered unimaginable and put her away. This, combined with Trish’s shocked moment of realization with Costa that she was the bad guy after all, open the door for Trish to one day come back around to the person she used to be – emotionally, even if her life can never be the same again.

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Saying Goodbye

Kith came to Jeri’s apartment and learned that the fastest way to see Jeri’s true colors is to disappoint her. It turns out doing one or two good things (saving Kith from danger she created, calling Jess when she was already there) are not enough to eradicate a life full of calculated selfishness. Jeri Hogarth will likely die alone, in a beautiful apartment full of money, in an ending of her own creation. After all the choices we’ve seen her make, her request to Jess early in the season to stealthily poison her, and multiple shots focusing on Jeri’s pills and what she drinks, it feels right that she doesn’t get a heroic redemption or a swift death. If you believe anything that Erik, Malcolm, and Jess said to Trish about people being able to be redeemed, it’s possible it could happen someday, but not in the space of this show, and that is as it should be.

Jessica closes up shop and gives the keys to Malcolm, telling him not to screw it up – Alias Investigations belongs to him now. He extricated himself from Hogarth and Associates several episodes back, but he finally owned up to his actions with Zaya, giving her closure and signaling that he’s headed on the right path moving forward. He doesn’t have it all figured it out just yet, but he’s headed in the right direction.

Similarly, Jessica says goodbye to Erik even though he wanted to be together, romantically and heroically. This is one of the tougher needles to thread, as pushing people away is Jessica’s forte and it’s important for her growth as a person that she work on letting people in, including romantically, yet it wouldn’t feel true to the character for her to ride off into the sunset with a guy. And for many fans, it wouldn’t feel right for her to be with anyone other than Luke Cage, in spite of the different journeys their Netflix counterparts have had versus the comics origins.

Jessica Jones gets it right – both the show and the character – as she Throughout the season we got to see Jessica let her guard down a bit and start to rely on Erik, though never completely, and of course she was still plenty suspicious, and with good reason. It helped, too, that the script didn’t force them into any conversations about “what they mean” until the end, unlike she and Luke’s frequent discussions. In the end, she tells Erik the truth: he’s a good man, but she doesn’t trust him enough. But it feels like there’s a parenthetical “yet” handing in the air. Rather than getting his hackles up, Erik heads out to work on that. Even before the coda with Detective Costa, it’s clear that these characters would see each other again someday and that the door is very much open for a relationship to continue or develop.

Jessica clearly made all the arrangements necessary to take care of Hell’s Kitchen as though this was a permanent departure. Malcolm would run the business to help people, and Costa and Erik would work together to take down bag guys. Which brings us to Jessica’s trip to the train station.

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Is Kilgrave back?

The short answer here is no. After she said goodbye to her sister, Jessica went to the train station and bought a ticket for the city closest to Mexico, El Paso, Texas. When the agent handed her the tickets, the lights turned purple and she heard Kilgrave’s voice telling her good, running away was the right thing, since it would leave them defenseless. Kilgrave is definitely still dead, but this was her mind’s way of telling her that she couldn’t really leave. So much of this season was about heroism. And while Sallinger is a murderer, he hit on some truth: she wants to be a hero. And it seems everyone finally figured out that she really is one.

So in a moment of very Jessica defiance and resolve, she completely changed her mind and walked away, back toward her city. As the song playing said, it’s time to live her life. What will she do now? What will her heroism look like? That’s left intentionally vague. She’s more visible than ever before. Her ally Costa is back where he belongs, and she has a new ally in Erik. Malcolm is on the mend and back on her side, where he belongs. I wish we had seen Gillian, but the point is that she doesn’t necessarily need to go back to Alias.

Jessica Jones might just show up in a couple of years with some other heroes we know, on an entirely different screen. In the comics, Jessica shuttered Alias and went on to do other things, working as a reporter and eventually back in a costume again if you can believe it, and was one day a mom, too. As of now, Jessica’s future is whatever you imagine it, and more importantly, whatever she wants it to be. But it’s the future of a hero.