Your favorite lovable, snarky, alcoholic superhero is back, in a second season that starts off strong, even if it can’t reach the heights of the previous season. Spoiler free! If you were a fan of the first season, you shouldn’t be too concerned. For the most part, the things that made the show engaging are still present. It’s a dark noir show about trauma that happens to star a super-powered lead character. Its unique mystery tone hasn’t been lost, and that is perhaps one of the most critical things that makes Jessica Jones succeed where it does. It isn’t generic and it never fails to be what it tries to be. The only thing that’s missing from last season is the more twisted psychological aspect that’s lost with the absence of David Tennant’s Kilgrave. The trauma and PTSD that Jessica dealt with because of Kilgrave last season are still an important part of the show, but rather than flowing from Jessica’s past with Kilgrave, they’re more because of her family’s death and her decision to kill Kilgrave. It feels the same and it’s stayed engaging.
The undeniable heart of the show lies in its title character. Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is as interesting as she is watchable. She’s flat-out a jerk, but what Ritter never fails at is showing the depth behind Jessica’s self-destructive behavior. Where there’s visible damage, there’s sympathy. Combine that with Jessica’s drive for truth, she’s a complex and broken hero who you can’t wait to watch. Ritter hasn’t lost any of the skill in her portrayal, although I do hope she gets pushed in more directions as the season goes on. The supporting cast around her is strong as well. Trish and Malcolm are simply great characters who I’m always interested in. Trish’s development this season in particular seems to be headed in a direction that I’m very excited to see it continue in. But I also took issue with how one minor character was treated in the first couple of episodes. One of last season’s great characters was totally wasted early on and I was very disappointed.
The plot of this season picks up essentially right where you would expect it to. The events of The Defenders haven’t really changed anything; you could pick right up from the end of season one and not miss a beat. Jessica, Trish, and Malcolm begin to investigate deeper into IGH, the mysterious organization introduced in season one that experimented on Jessica and gave her superpowers following her family’s fatal accident. The growing conspiracy around IGH and the other people caught up in their experiments is the driving plot this season, at least for now. It isn’t as engaging as the Kilgrave plot from season one did- the shady evil secret lab isn’t quite as original- but it does immediately establish something I was afraid this season would struggle with: direction. The show doesn’t sit around wasting time before heading in this new direction. It picks right up from where it left off and throws a few new characters and threads while it’s at it.
The only place I feel this is a weakness so far is the new villain they appear to be setting up. This new villain isn’t especially interesting in any way, even in how they test Jessica as a hero. Of course I can only speak of the first five episodes, so I’m hoping some real intrigue and creativity can develop more as questions are answered about the new antagonists.
And if I were to make any more complaints, it would be unremarkable cinematography. Maybe it’s because this season is coming off the heals of The Defenders and its signature use of color to represent its characters, but Jessica Jones feels very visually bland. Way too many shots are practically from the view of random objects, with a third of the frame being taken up by out-of-focus furniture or buildings.
The first five episodes of Jessica Jones season 2 are good, and I easily enjoyed them. They don’t present a steep drop off in quality from the last season. But it hasn’t reached the threshold of must-watch just yet, and there’s a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully the bigger picture of the whole season provides these improvements.
Rating: 8.5 smashed shot glasses out of 10
What did you think of the first five episodes? Love them, hate them? Let us know at SuperBroMovies and stay tuned for reviews of the rest of this season of Jessica Jones.
Jessica Jones is available now on Netflix.