Jessica Jones season 2 review

Jessica Jones returns for an entertaining, if slightly muddled, second season. Krysten Ritter‘s droll, damaged private eye remains the best character Netflix has in their Marvel line-up, and while Ritter’s work is enough to make season 2 worthwhile, things get off to a shaky start.

Read our spoiler-free Jessica Jones season 2 review below (and look for our spoiler-review a little down the road).

Jessica Jones Season 2 Review

Netflix’s best Marvel show is back. Jessica Jones season 2 kicks-off with everyone’s favorite hard-drinking, hard-punching “superhero” private eye at a crossroads. Last season, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) put an end to the vile Kilgrave (David Tennant), a mind-manipulating psycho and sexual abuser who made Jessica’s life a living hell.

Now, Jessica is dealing with the fallout. While no one has any sympathy for Kilgrave, Jessica is living with the stigma of being a murderer – and thanks to her superpowers and adventures, she’s a well-known murderer. Needless to say, this makes her career as a private eye slightly awkward – like when one client flat-out asks her to kill a cheating husband for a little extra cash. 

Getting rid of Kilgrave once and for all hasn’t healed any of Jessica’s emotional wounds. In fact, it’s opened new ones, and turned her into, as one character says, “a ticking time-bomb.” Jessica’s anger issues increase from episode to episode in season 2, and her life gets even more muddied when she begins to dig into her own mysterious past. Jessica still hasn’t come to terms with the death of her entire family, and in one poignant moment early in season 2, she confronts the containers housing the ashes of her parents and brother as if she were handling something radioactive.

Ms. Jones wasn’t born with superpowers, and her quest to find the mad scientists who blessed (or cursed?) her with her super-strength turns up new challenges, and new threats. Specifically, Janet McTeer, playing essentially a stronger, angrier, more psychotic version of Jessica. McTeer does a lot with a little, letting her simmering rage build and build until it bursts forth in violent, shocking fashion.

As is the case with every Marvel show on Netflix, pacing is a problem for Jessica Jones season 2. The fact can no longer be denied: every season of a Netflix Marvel show is about two episodes too long. As a result, episodes often find themselves spinning their wheels, stretching for time, and delaying the inevitable. You’d think by now Marvel would’ve learned to trim the episodes down and resolve this issue, but here we are.

jessica jones season 2 krysten ritter

Visually, Jessica Jones season 2 is strong. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has assembled a dynamite team of all-female directors this season, and each filmmaker brings their own unique style to the show, often employing tension-mounting shots from a distance, as if some unseen force is stalking Jessica, waiting to strike.

While Jessica Jones remains the best character Netflix has in their Marvel line-up, season 2 gets off to a less-than-promising start. As much as I hate to say a show about a strong female lead is suffering from its lack of a manipulative monster like Kilgrave, Tennant’s presence is missed. The former Doctor Who star was able to craft such a memorable, terrible bad guy that it made Jessica’s quest in season 1 to stop him all the more compelling. Season 2 attempts to compensate by throwing one possible antagonist after another at Jessica.

There’s a rival P.I. (Terry Chen) who wants to buy-out Jessica’s Alias Investigations. Then there’s J.R. Ramirez as the new superintendent of Jessica’s apartment building – he doesn’t take kindly to people with superpowers, it seems, and he wants Jessica out of the building pronto. On top of that there are the shadowy scientists who gave Jessica her powers, and McTeer’s highly unstable character. Of all these potential threats, McTeer is the only one who makes much of an impact, even though she and Ritter share little to no screentime for first five episodes of the season.

Jessica’s story may have stalled slightly, but the storylines of her supporting players receive more room to breathe this time around. Jessica’s lifelong best friend/adoptive sister Trish (Rachael Taylor) is making a mad-grab for higher ratings on her talk show. She’s also has a new man in her life, and it takes less than a few seconds to realize this fellow is probably not on the level. Trish is also dealing with some ghosts from her past – most of which were created by her toxic-as-hell mother, played by Rebecca de Mornay.

Malcolm (Eka Darville), Jessica’s sidekick at Alias Investigations, also gets a lot more to do this season, and is often the only true confidant Jessica has. And then there’s Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri, the high-priced lawyer who occasionally kicks some work Jessica’s way. Jeri finds herself besieged from all sides, dealing with hostile partners, health issues, and the fallout from what happened to her last season.

While it’s nice to give the supporting players more to do, the show’s main draw remains Ritter and her marvelous lead performance. Equal parts droll, damaged and fierce, Ritter is so damn charismatic that she’s able to carry most of the lopsided season with seeming ease, and almost (almost) distract you from plotting issues. Sure, it might be slightly cliched at this point to watch Jessica knock back a staggering amount of booze while providing wry, hard-boiled narration – but it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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