Jessica Jones returned this weekend with a highly binge-worthy season. While season one felt straight and to the point this new chapter lacks focus and that ends up seriously bringing it down. Minor spoilers ahead!
Let’s get this out of the way first, Krysten Ritter is fantastic and Jessica and fills her performance with depth and sorrow and joy. But an actress is only as good as the material they are given. Sadly Ritter was faced with bringing to life a story with not much life to it.
When we first catch up with Jessica she is still the hard drinking, morally shady private investigator she was in the first season. Other than acknowledging the fact that there are other super powered people living in the city there’s almost no mention of the events of The Defenders (and we’re probably better off for it). The first half of the season plays it pretty straight as someone is killing off “super” people in the city and Jessica must find the killer.
While it’s a little by-the-book as a plot device it’s still a fascinating one and totally within the wheelhouse for a superhero noir. But rather than bask in that and give the audience a mystery to solve the show comes right out and shifts the focus of the story into a mother-daughter bonding show. It’s such a radical tonal shift that it almost gives the audience whiplash.
Because the show doesn’t know where to go with the plot it instead moves its focus to the contributing characters and flounders. Between Malcolm (Eka Darville), Trish (Rachel Taylor) and Jeri (Carrie-Ann Moss) there should be a ton of B-story material to go around. Where season one gave each of them interesting arcs that tied together the second season ditches that in favor of diving deeper into their own lives. Yet that backfires and, somehow, makes them feel more one-note. There’s no reason for the audience to spend as much time as it does with Jeri and other than one creative scene she shares with Turk her arc feels like it could have been mostly cut.
The character that suffers the worst of the season is Trish. While she was interesting in the first season the writers have turned her into a needy addict this time around. Played out for a few episodes that can be fascinating and a good contrast to her squeaky clean persona but it makes her quite annoying after 13 episodes.
By the time the season ends we find all of our main characters in distinctly different places then where we met them and that’s satisfying, but the journey to get there was too tedious. The season could have cut at least three episodes and been just as powerful. Hopefully season three course corrects and brings Jessica back to either the world of crime fighting or noir. The series has so much potential, it’s a shame to see it wasted.