Jessica Jones has officially come and gone, and is undoubtedly a huge success for Marvel. After debuting last month on Netflix, the show received critical acclaim. The first Marvel adaptation to focus on a female character, the show was widely lauded for its careful depiction of Jessica’s PTSD following months in captivity during which she was repeatedly raped and forced to kill by Kilgrave. The first season had its flaws, but was overall a pretty decent effort from Marvel. But now that the most ardent of Marvel fans have likely made their way through all thirteen episodes (you can catch up on my reviews here), it’s time for attention to turn to season two. Keep reading for the top five things I hope to see in season two.
More women of color. Jessica Jones has a cast with several women, which is great. But all of them are white, which is not great. The sparse appearances by a couple black women here and there don’t amount to anything significant for women of color, who are largely neglected in the show’s landscape. Marvel’s consistently a let down when it comes to people of color, and Jessica Jones highlights the enduring issue of women of color being excluded even when men of color aren’t. Malcolm (Eka Darville) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter), both black men, have large roles in the show, but those are not without their issues. Luke’s story is particularly troubling, and Jessica Jones will need to make some serious changes if it wants to make Luke/Jessica a viable romantic pairing. Though I’m excited to see Malcolm and Luke again in season two, if the show is really concerned with its depictions of women being realistic and layered, it’s going to need to broaden its scope beyond white women. Jessica mentions Angela Del Toro, another private investigator whose comic book alter ego is White Tiger. She’s just one example of the many characters Jessica Jones could choose to include next season to resolve this issue, but until it does Jessica Jones, being called by many a “feminist” outing for Marvel, isn’t doing anything feminist by pretending women of color don’t exist.
Less Will Simpson. The last we saw Simpson he was being taken away, though apparently still alive. There was no concrete resolution to his arc after Jessica and Trish thoroughly knocked him around, and I’m actually quite fine with there never being one. Few characters have been so instantly unappealing as Simpson, even when he was still technically on the right team. With so many promising characters in its season, Jessica Jones attention to Simpson sucked up valuable screentime, and while Simpson ended up being a pretty astute example of gross men being gross, but we already had Kilgrave so I wasn’t really dying for another violent and creepy man to watch.
More Jessica/Trish. The one continuous bright spot (save one unfortunate incident that still gets on my nerves) was Jessica and Trish’s friendship. The finale is particularly heavy on the importance of Jessica/Trish as a unit, and with Marvel being so light on female friendships, Trish and Jessica are nice to watch. Though Jessica’s superpowered and Trish isn’t, there’s a lot of material that can be found in their longtime friendship. Jessica worries about Trish being in danger, but also only trusts Trish to be at her side when the going gets especially tough. Trish’s own superhero canon makes it more than likely that the two of them can take their partnership on the road, and with Trish’s mother re-entering her life in the back-half of the season, I’m looking forward to Jessica having Trish’s back against her abuser in the same way Trish had hers.
A more content Jessica. I don’t expect the show to abandon its rough edges in favor of sunshine, rainbows and a smiley Jessica, but a Jessica who feels a little safer in the world would be nice. Throughout the season, Jessica was looking over her shoulder in anticipation for Kilgrave’s next attack, but without him Jessica’s character has more flexibility. She’ll find her way to new Big Bad eventually (likely the IGH clunkily dropped into the last few episodes), but until then I’m looking forward to a Jessica who can find life after her abuse. If season two goes the suspected direction of unraveling the mystery of how Jessica got her powers, it would also be the perfect opportunity to allow Jessica to flourish as a hero. With her attempt at superheroism tainted by Kilgrave, him being gone will allow her to take on that role again. She’s not very eager to do so at the end of the season, but with some time maybe we’ll see Jessica trying it out again. Rediscovering what she had before Kilgrave could end up being a big part of Jessica’s recovery. Bonus points if Jessica shows some interest in the survivors’ group. This article does a great job explaining why Jessica’s aversion to the group is realistic but also troubling.
Better inclusion of the MCU. Despite being part of the larger MCU, Jessica Jones is mostly bereft of any significant nods to it. The few indications we get that Jessica indeed lives in the same NYC the Chitauri attacked and where Daredevil made local news or the same universe where Captain America and Tony Stark will soon butt heads in Civil War, are sloppy. Simpson seemed partially geared to build up Civil War and a case against powered people. Not to mention that weird “AKA 99 Friends” episode that had Jessica targeted by some anti-superhero types and is never brought up again, making it an awkward attempt at linking the show to the films. Luke Cage and Claire Temple are the only nods to the linked Defenders universe, and apparently no one (not even popular radio personality Trish) has heard of the very-publicized Daredevil. We assume the Jessica Jones arcs are beginning after Daredevil’s already defeated Fisk, and Claire’s appearance make clear that she’s already met, been romanced by and has broken up with, her “friend”. So why doesn’t anyone else know he exists?
And as a bonus!
More P.I stories. Jessica’s a solid private investigator, but we don’t get to see it much. Three of the ten episodes really nod to Alias Investigations being, you know, a business that Jessica relies on to make a living. In the finale, her office was hit with phone calls from potential clients, and surely some of those can be used as stories next season. Even if they don’t play into the main arc, the show could do what Daredevil did when it still allowed Matt Murdock some episodic cases that tied into stopping Fisk. The show did a good job by introducing Jessica to Hope via her P.I business but eventually abandoned it; “AKA 99 Friends” (ugh) momentarily resurrected Jessica’s job, but it was gone soon later; and the last we saw of it was Luke coming to Jessica for help finding someone.
Let me know in the comments what you hope to see in Jessica Jones second season, and I’ll see you back here next fall to see if any of my dreams came true.