Is Jessica Jones a hero?
Anyone who asks her that would get a scowl and a lot of eye-rolling, if he’s lucky.
She thinks about the next job and the next swallow of bourbon. This time, though, she’ll have to deal with a clever and deadly psychopath who is out to ruin her image.
Meanwhile, Trish Walker wants to be a super-powered vigilante, and Jessica is really against it. However, this new threat convinces them to work together again.
However, the real villain in the first half of the season is someone else who causes a lot more damage.
It’s been a year since Jessica’s super-powered but homicidal mom Alisa was killed by Trish (although people think Jess did it). Jess had gotten a lot of business out of it, but also unwanted attention of her abilities. At least she has a new assistant named Gillian (Aneesh Sheth), but Jess’ relationship with Oscar has ended quietly. Dating is always tough for a super-hero.
She’s also followed by a cop named Costa (John Ventimiglia), who is making sure she stays clean. Actually, this relationship is pretty interesting, and should have started sooner in the series.
She winds up meeting a guy named Erik (Benjamin Walker), who thinks he’s an expert on burgers. It’s later revealed he has an ability to sense the level of evil in anyone. Unfortunately, he uses it to blackmail people to pay off gambling debts.
Malcolm (Eka Darville) has moved on, working as an investigator and fixer to Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) . At first, it’s basically baby-sitting problematic clients, but it gets a little darker. More on that later.
Two things surprise Jessica in the first episode. First, Dorothy Walker (Rebecca De Mornay) wants Jess to look for Trish (Rachael Taylor). Considering how season two ended, Jessica doesn’t want to, but she does. She’s stunned to learn Trish is doing what Jess does: trying to stop crime with unusual powers. That experiment Trish did on herself helped her become more nimble, and she can also jump off a window and land on her feet. This doesn’t mean she will become Hellcat, but she just wants to be the hero Jessica doesn’t like to be.
Of course, Jess is furious over this, but Trish is gonna do this anyway.
In fact, the second episode, directed by Krysten Ritter, centers on Trish’s heroic journey as she sees it. It’s done very well, as an origin story. It also reveals her mistakes, and the fact she has to do a shift at a home shopping channel to pay the bills.
The other shock is Jessica gets stabbed by a masked man…
This puts her out of action for quite a while, mainly because her ability to recover is hampered without a spleen.
She eventually learns the would-be assailant is Gregory Sallinger (Jeremy Bobb), a wrestling coach who is smart and deadly. He considers Jess a fraud, and vows to destroy her. As the story continues, it’s revealed he is very capable. His family life is dysfunctional, but he claims the pain made him strong. It’s interesting the main nemesis is not super-powered, just scary (which can be even worse).
Before the season concentrates on Sallinger, it looks at Trish’s efforts to catch a guy named Brant who allegedly stole a statue to sell it. She’s able to stop him, but Jessica is also there. Their relationship gets really tense, and actually come to blows.
At this point, it’s hard to sympathize with Trish when she tells Jess to get past Alisa’s death. Even if the cops could have killed Jess and Alisa, and Trish thinks she saved Jess by killing Alisa, asking Jess to “just let it go” is too much. Maybe Trish wants to be a hero because she feels guilty for what she did, but it doesn’t make her one. At one point, she saves Erik when he nearly gets killed by gangsters, but she almost kills one of them accidentally. Trish is no Jessica Jones, and she has to face that.
While this is all happening, someone emerges as the co-villain…Jeri Hogarth. She is reunited with Kith (Sarita Choudhury), a former lover who is now married. Jeri stops at nothing to get Kith back, and it may be related to her battle with ALS. Jeri doesn’t like the fact her body is failing. She prefers to be in control, and thinks taking Kith away from her husband Peter will do just that. This is where Malcolm comes in. He does things he’d rather not do, like hacking into Peter’s computer to see what he does between classes.
He gets dirt, but not enough for Jeri to win. Eventually, Peter is exposed as an embezzler, and kills himself on video. Before dying, he accuses Jeri of protecting “supers” like Jessica, Daredevil and Luke Cage, and insists she be investigated for what she does for them. Kith also rejects Jeri. This will play a big part in what happens for much of the season. Jeri thinks she has to save her firm and preserve some control before her body fails her.
Later, Jessica finds some proof that Sallinger may be responsible for the deaths of several people, even finding body parts in a train car. However, she is almost killed when some poisonous chemicals are dropped in the train car. Trish, luckily, is there to save her. That’s when Trish wishes she didn’t kill Jess’ mom and Jess wishes her mom didn’t wind up being a killer. It’s a great scene, and reunites two women with a common purpose: taking Sallinger down.
Then things heat up. Sallinger kidnaps Erik because he was being blackmailed. He spends a lot of time saying what a fraud Erik is, but Erik manages to get himself free and hit him. Jess and Trish get there to save Erik, and he files kidnapping charges against Sallinger.
Guess who gets him out of jail? Yep, Jeri Hogarth, who’s just doing this for her image.
That doesn’t stop Jessica. In episode seven, she heads to Sallinger’s home town to see if there’s some dirt. She and Trish learn a wrestling teammate of Sallinger’s been missing for years. They find the body….under a gazebo at the backyard of his parents. That is COLD.
This emboldens Jessica, as she has a very interesting confrontation with Sallinger in the middle of his wrestling coaching session with some kids.
However, she and Trish may be in trouble. Jeri is interested in finding a “second female super” who attacked Sallinger, and Trish barely escapes being identified. However, Malcolm knows, and doesn’t know what to do.
Even though the overall plotline is more complicated than last year, it’s much better than the “mother issues” that dominated last year. It raises question on who is a hero, and who gets to define one. Jess never wanted this, but she is doing the best she can. Trish thinks being a hero will repair her past, but it threatens her future. Erik just made the wrong choice with his not-quite “spider-sense”. Also, Malcolm wonders if the price he pays for doing Jeri’s dirty work is worth it, or if can afford it.
Also, Jessica gets to play narrator on the show. It’s a great way to learn her inner conflicts and this whole “reluctant hero” thing. Even Trish gets to do it for an episode.
The second half, though, may include some major conflicts and a shocking tragedy. Let’s just hope Jessica will have the last word, and that it won’t be last we see of her.
P.S. io9.com has an interesting article about Aneesh Sheth, and why her presence is a big step for the TV side of the MCU.