Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Trauma Through A Screen

After killing Kilgrave (David Tennant), kick-ass PI Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is now outed as a vigilante hero in her neighbourhood Hell’s Kitchen and around New York City. Her best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) urges her to investigate her past and IGH, the company that gave her powers. Meanwhile, another PI Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen), wants absorb Alias Investigation at the request of Jessica’s lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss). When Jones comes face to face with a speedster call “Whizzer”, she finds he was given his abilities by IGH. When he’s killed, she traces his medication to an abandoned building where she remembers being experimented on.

With great power comes great depression, comes great anxiety, comes the infinite bout with mental health. There is no other character in the MCU that fights with themselves the way Jessica does. No other adaptation has explored the concept of what committing to heroism can do to the mind and mental state, though Netflix’s Daredevil, has come close. However, that series tends to focus more on the physical ramifications of hero work, shown through the badgering of Foggy’ Nelson (Elden Henson) and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), judging Matt (Charlie Cox), when he comes  back stabbed and worse, after encountering serious threats like The Punisher or ninjas like Nobu.

Krysten Ritter plays Hell’s Kitchen PI in Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’
(Jessica Jones, Netflix)

Miss Jones (Ritter) spends the entirety of season one and most of season two running from ‘being a hero’, and does much of the same thing in The Defenders too. And I think this may be why Jessica and Matt have so much chemistry and get on well. Their relationship is one of the most compelling in that show. They’re two sides of the same coin (and I’d love her to appear in Daredevil’s third season). Whilst Matt (Cox) looks to violence to quench his guilt, Jessica feels so bad about violence that she suppresses her feelings. Matt endures like a Catholic while Jones does what many depressives do, numbs the pain, often with whiskey for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

All the heroes of these shows have demons. Matt has the slippery slope of Elektra and Frank Castle. Luke Cage has Carl Lucas and that previous life. Jessica had Kilgrave and what he made her do. Season 2 brings her baggage to the surface, as her demons lie within. Much akin to all the solo Marvel-Netflix shows (apart from season two of Iron Fist), Jessica Jones suffers from that bloated thirteen-episode structure. These shows need to be three episodes shorter. Whilst season one of Luke Cage seems to elongate at the tail, season two of Jessica is at the start which had many people I know quitting early. Yet, if you stick it out and be patient, you’ll see it’s worth the wait.

Jessica Jones and her thought-dead mother (Janet McTeer) in the Marvel-Netflix show
(Jessica Jones, Netflix)

Jessica Jones is a victim of circumstances who has had awful things done to her without consent and that sort of trauma leaves its mark, often internal, and invisible to those looking from the outside. But she’s made choices too, sometimes the wrong ones and these grey areas are at different places on the morality scale. These ethical dilemmas inhabit every part of Jessica’s environment. Trish, Malcolm (Eka Darville) and Jeri are tempted throughout the season, often blaming others for decisions they made to survive. Season two does a good job at developing these characters, giving them more to do and a reason why I should care if they live or not.

Carol-Ann Moss gives a subtly awesome performance as cut throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth who may not be so cut throat in later seasons, as she was forced to experience some humility. Also, I really liked how Trish was depicted this season as well. My favourite arc was not Hogarths, nor was it Jessica and her mother biological mother (Janet McTeer). It was Trish with her addiction, which could possibly lead up to her becoming the vigilante known as Hellcat. Who knows if Marvel-Netflix will go that far? It showed us why she was such wreck. However, they better not green-light a Hellcat spin off before we get either ‘Luke Cage and Iron Fist’ or ‘Misty Knight and Colleen Wing.’

While season two loses some of its umph because of its snail-pace start, once it gets going, it proves unpredictable (mostly) and shocking, setting up for what could be an excellent TEN-episode third season. This is a third season that will look more to Jessica’s possibilities as a hero and testing her limits. Instead of focusing on the past, it would be good to have a series that focuses on who she has become and who she is now.

There are wounds on the human mind that cut deeper and more hurtful than any physical injury that bleeds