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JESSICA JONES gets 6.5/10 Anger management

Created by Melissa Rossenberg
Starring Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville

6.5/10

After a successful and critically regarded first season brought the hard drinking, PTSD suffering, niche Marvel character to the attention of the general public, it’s little wonder that Netflix has capitalised on it’s success by launching season two of Jessica Jones. This time we see that Kilgrave (David Tennant) is not the only ghost from the past that the super-strong Private Investigator has to face. As Jessica (Krysten Ritter) deals the consequences of killing Kilgrave in her own dysfunctional fashion, Malcom (Eka Darville) keeps Alias Investigations running, while Trish (Rachael Taylor) delves deeper into the mysterious IGH company responsible for Jessica’s powers. However as a number of leads are brutally killed, Jessica begins to fear for the life of her adopted sister, and thinks there might be another superhuman covering IGH’s tracks.

Season two leans heavily into Jessica’s noir PI roots. Not merely in terms of the score (which now has enough 80s sax to do Mickey Spillane proud) but in the moral ambiguities faced by each of the characters. The world is a vast grey area (with the occasional terrifying splash of purple), and one where a lot of intelligent people make a lot of poor choices, driven by the worst aspects of their nature.

Which is also the strength of this season. The plot and narrative drive are weaker than in the first, and there really isn’t a lot of super-heroics about. Although this is certainly something happening in a world inhabited by superheroes, rather than a look into their world. Sure there are the compulsory Marvel Easter eggs (Captain America, Spiderman, Stan Lee, even Forbush-man are referenced), and a few Marvel characters are part of the plot (The Whizzer, and Dr Karl Malus), but nothing significant beyond the fact that Jessica is often seen as part of a larger problem (a racism metaphor that sits better with the X-Men). Instead season two allows for some great character studies from the main cast, creating a story that isn’t reliant an arc from the comic books for its structure.

Which is the joy of this season. We get to spend time with the characters we grew to love in the first season, and get to know them more. Instead of capes and steroids, Jessica Jones is a world filled with the bungled and the botch. All of them have made bad decisions, which they often continue to make, and all of them are struggling with addiction in one form or another. It is how they deal with this, continue to struggle to work out what is right, and to pick themselves up again that is the heart and soul of this season. Everyone is flawed, everyone is dealing with their own issues, and just every so often, they can be heroic enough to overcome that. At the center of that is Krysten Ritter, who utterly nails the titular character’s “doesn’t give a shit” attitude, while still being able to portray the emotional struggle taking place beneath that facade.

More evolution than revolution, this season advances the show going forward, laying some nice groundwork for the following one. It also allows for a great exploration into the characters’ past giving a further insight into their motivations and the events that shaped them. In all this is a step up in the quality of Netflix Marvel of late, rather than a radical return to form.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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