Second season of Marvel’s hit Netflix series fails to present legitimate, clear character arcs

It’s been three years since Netflix released the captivating first season of Marvel’s “Jessica Jones.” Fans rejoiced at the new release of the long-awaited second season on March 8; however, the season was ultimately lackluster.

From a production standpoint, the second season of “Jessica Jones” is fantastic. Each of the 13 episodes is directed by a different woman and the script, although poorly written at some points, exhibits intelligent feminist themes and puts women in the driver’s seat in terms of the narrative. 

What the second season fails to do is adequately represent its main characters and the uncompelling new protagonists. Along with these characters comes wonky pacing to this unnecessarily long, 13-episode run. 

Season two of “Jessica Jones” follows the titular character—played brilliantly by Krysten Ritter—dealing with the fallout of killing season one’s villain Kilgrave—a standout character played by David Tennant. One of the more promising narratives of the second season for Jessica is a struggle of self-identity as a “hero.”

Jessica also copes with her life as a private investigator with post-traumatic stress syndrome after her family dies in a car accident, leaving her as the sole survivor with super strength of unknown origins. 

The season explores how Jessica gained these powers along with some surprising plot twists, allowing viewers to want more. 

Yet, this desire to keep pressing play seems impossible in the beginning of the season. The exposition is drawn out, which although may work for the show’s genre of a “noir” detective series, produces the conclusion that perhaps “Jones” would benefit from a shorter number of episodes. 

Jessica’s main conflict of discovering the origin of her powers presents itself in the first few episodes, but the narrative only comes to fruition halfway through the season in episode six. Contrary to season one with Kilgrave as the big bad, season two doesn’t have an antagonist viewers can root against. 

The lack of a villain nicely breaks the mold of superhero television shows, but it also creates less structure in season two. At times, it was confusing to know what any character’s motivation was. The storyline of Trish Walker—played by Rachael Taylor—was a prominent result of that misdirection. 

Trish is almost a foil of Jessica—she has no powers but wants to change the world. Her gripes are valid in that she wants to be more than just a radio show host, but the execution becomes repetitive, and two of her incredibly dislikable final choices come out of nowhere.

Although not having a villain brings less structure to the season, it does reveal some compelling conflicts for Jessica and even the audience.

The presence of Alisa Jones—played by Janet McTeer—questions the binary of morality; how an act is not simply just good or bad. This concept is refreshing when compared to the presence of Kilgrave in season one, where it was easily recognizable just how evil he was. 

This is what makes season two shine amongst troubling structural content. The presented themes and topics—feminism, sexual assault and harassment, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, addiction, autonomy and self-worth—are portrayed in a respectable way.

While the themes stand out, the execution is rough. Without the direct narrative that comes from a villain’s presence, “Jessica Jones” season two loses a forward motion of its characters and instead becomes a muddled product that is difficult to fully appreciate.

Overall, the second season of “Jessica Jones” deserves a huge pat on the back for its celebration of women. The season was released on International Women’s Day and the all-female directors and strong, complicated female characters are much needed in today’s world of entertainment.