The first reviews have arrived for Jessica Jones season 2, and while they praise the cast it seems the series still suffers from Netflix’s pacing issues. Netflix has had a lot of success with their original series, especially when they’ve teamed up with Marvel. Though Iron Fist and even The Defenders had their detractors, Daredevil and Jessica Jones won countless praise for their first seasons. As such, anticipation has been high for the return of Krysten Ritter’s show, especially as the Jessica Jones season 2 trailer proved everything we loved was coming back.
Though Ritter and the supporting cast gathered praise and the show’s focus on life after sexual abuse was one of the boldest things a comic book show has done, David Tennant’s Kilgrave was also a big part of season 1’s appeal. While Jessica dispatched her abuser in the finale, we know Kilgrave is back thanks to some images and teasers from the show. They appear to be all in Jessica’s head, but they also ensure some continuity between the episodes. But when it comes to the early reviews of the new season, it seems the character’s absence removes some of the show’s dynamism.
The first five episodes of Jessica Jones season 2 were sent out to critics, and they’ve begun weighing in on the show. Though many are quick to claim the charms and intensity of season 1 are till present, it’s clear that critics miss Kilgrave. And Netflix’s notorious issues with episode and season length also mean the new season has some pacing issues. Check out a roundup of early reviews below, along with new images from the season:
Collider – Allison Keene – No Grade
The first episode (out of five sent for review) is clunky, both in its dialogue and its pacing (more on that in a minute). But what it does achieve is a new investigation for Jessica that keeps things personal. One of the great triumphs of the show’s first season was how we watched her deal — or not deal — with her PTSD from the abuses of Kilgrave (David Tennant), an evil she defeated in the finale. The show is certainly missing him as a driving force, but there’s still a lot for Jessica to process, going back to the death of her family as well as her abduction and torture during the illegal experiments that gave her powers. She’s a cool girl who doesn’t care, until she has to — and then she does, deeply.
Indie Wire – Liz Shannon Miller – B
There was an undercurrent of terror throughout “Jessica Jones” Season 1 that gave the series a darkness and dynamism which elevated it over previous Marvel series; Season 2 lacks that in its first five episodes. Yet there are still eight to go, which is plenty of time for Jessica to make bad decisions in her fight to do right. And one thing remains unchanged — her story is singularly hers, uncompromising and unapologetically all about what we’ve come to love about this character. The point of Jessica Jones isn’t that she’s a hero, but that she’s still standing despite everything that’s happened to her, and everything she is. So even if her story takes its sweet time to get going, we’re still glad to be on the journey with her.
Polygon – Susana Polo – No Grade
The episodes available to press presented a show that told its story too slowly, and a story that was difficult to become invested in. I can admit: I’m going to stick it out until the end, because of the goodwill Jessica Jones bought with its first season. And also because the fifth episode showed a bit of an upswing, by finally giving our villain the time and space to be properly frightening to the world.
Den of Geek – Delia Harrington – No Grade
Jessica Jones Season 2 is a different animal from the electric first season, but that’s to be expected, and is largely a good thing. The sophomore season brings with it a deeper sense of our main characters, which couples well thematically with the central mystery of the season, the origin of Jessica’s powers. One of Marvel’s most successful shows, Season 2 breaks new ground without forgetting what made it so compelling to watch in the first place.
The Mary Sue – Marykate Jasper – No Grade
In sum, this season feels less binge-worthy, thanks to its story and villain problems. But I still loved getting to reunite with these characters. This is still very much a series with something to say—about trauma, about women’s anger, and about trying to survive without losing the person you want to be. In the era of peak TV, when so many series are technically well-crafted but not necessarily showing up with something to say, that makes Jessica Jones so worth watching for me.
Empire – Dan Jolin – 3/5
Krysten Ritter’s still on top acerbic, deadpan form, and the (mostly female) writers’ room is generous and proficient with its one-liners. When a cocksure alpha bro-dude struts into Jessica’s office, announces he’s another private eye who wants to buy her out and says he doesn’t take no for an answer, Jessica retorts, “How rapey of you.” So while the plotting feels like it’s back-stepped towards the super-vigilante conventional, she at least remains the most textured and spikily interesting of the Defenders — one whose guilt, self-loathing and rage at least come served with a potent dose of wit.
It’s a shame that Jessica Jones seems to be slow going in parts, but that’s long been a problem for Netflix. Most of their original shows sag in the middle and even throughout episodes, from Daredevil to Altered Carbon. When it comes to season 2 of Jessica Jones, it seems the absence of Kilgrave robs the show of some momentum. Then again, a series built around exploring a character’s life after trauma and abuse should hardly need to rely on the abuser to keep things interesting.
It could be Jessica Jones is still settling into its place post-Kilgrave and we may find the show actually snaps into focus following the early episodes. Indeed, some reviewers note that episode 5 shows promise, so perhaps season 2 of Jessica Jones has inverted the pacing problem: starting out slow and finding its footing before delivering on the promise of season 1. Luckily, fans won’t have to wait much longer to judge for themselves.
Jessica Jones season 2 debuts Thursday March 8 on Netflix.
Sources: Various (see links)
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