I think I said this when the second season of Jessica Jones was released, but it bears repeating. It’s hard to obtain perfection, even harder to keep that in balance.
Jessica Jones is a series that is cursed with the perfect first season. It landed at the right time with the right subject matter and the right people helming it. The first season, like other Marvel-Netflix shows, did have moments where it lagged, but they were also interesting. It was just a perfect first season. Honestly, with the Marvel-Netflix shows dead and buried, it was probably the best season out of all of them (with Daredevil season one and Luke Cage season two tied for second).
Given that the third season of Jessica Jones is the last hurrah for this era of Marvel storytelling, I find myself wishing for more. Or, at least, I can see the bad and the good more clearly. It’s hard for me because I still find the casting and the characters to be great, full of a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities. I… I just wish they had a more interesting story and antagonist to go up against.
Jessica Jones season three, rightly, focuses on Jessica (the ever perfect Krysten Ritter) and Trish (Rachael Taylor) and their relationship. It examines heroes and vigilantes and the ever-shifting moral landscape within the characters. It’s an interesting examination, which branches out from their rift in the second season. Trish wanted to have her own powers and be special in her own right. She was so certain of doing “the right thing” that she killed Jessica’s mother. It destroyed their relationship. Now in season three, both Trish and Jessica are trying to figure out what it means to be a hero in today’s society. More importantly, they both wrestle with their own morals and instincts regarding the situation.
That is way more interesting than the serial killer plot with Gregory Salinger (Jeremy Bobb), who is about as compellingly written as your average Criminal Minds serial killer. To Bobb’s credit, he tries. It’s just not as genuinely terrifying as Kilgrave (David Tennant) or as emotionally wrought as Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer). Yes, Salinger does get under the skin of the characters, but even so… it’s just not great. Jessica Jones’ final hurrah would have probably functioned better with Salinger as being a three-episode bad guy or something, rather than stretching it.
As always, Jessica Jones shines when it digs into character psychology. Two episodes this season are Trish-centric, which provide an interesting counterpoint to Jessica. The two have always had differing philosophies. While the narcissism and certainty that Trish should be the one who is special was not a good look in season two, it is still interesting to see it explored and given grounding in this. (We get to see Trish as a child during It’s Patsy! and it explains a lot about her state of mind.)
I don’t want to get too big into spoilers because Jessica and Trish’s difference of opinion and philosophy in heroism are the meat of this season. It also shows how easily one can go down a dark path, even with the best of intentions. That’s great to see, really fascinating to watch as well. I just wish there was less Salinger involved with it.
That’s no surprise though. The cast of Jessica Jones remains one of the strongest on television. Eka Darville and Carrie-Anne Moss are also great in their roles, but suffer from some lackluster stories. Jeri Hogarth (Moss) gets on an anti-super kick, but I wish there was more build-up and something more satisfying from it. New major cast member Benjamin Walker also brings a lot of depth to their characters as well. Though Walker’s Erik Gelden does suffer from some inconsistency with his motivations.
My personal favorite of the new characters, however, is Aneesh Seth’s recurring character Gillian, who is Jessica’s new assistant. I just love her and she brought a lot to the proceedings. I wish she was there more as well. Also good to see a trans actress cast in a trans role. How you do LGBT+ representation here folks.
I think that it’s a pity, ultimately, that Jessica Jones ends with a whimper rather than a bang (and a pretty bummer yet also hopeful ending). I don’t regret seasons two and three, imperfect as they are. I just wish that there was some way to get back to the heights of that first season. Granted, capturing lightning like that in a bottle, it’s pretty impossible.
We don’t know if we’ll see the Defenders characters return on Disney+. It would be nice to get some better closure for them. All I can hope to salvage from this interesting yet a little lackluster season of Jessica Jones is perhaps the much-deserved Emmy nomination for Krysten Ritter.
Give. It. To. Her.
Season Grade: B-/C+