It was the “smile” heard ’round the world.
After a season of the titular whiskey-drinking, super-strong private eye trying to take her life back, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) faced her tormentor head-on in the finale. Knowing that mind-controlling villain Kilgrave (David Tennant) no longer had control over her, but could harm the ones she loved, Jessica took action, telling best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor) she loved her before breaking Kilgrave’s neck.
What will that shocking final act do to their dynamic in season 2? EW caught up with executive producer Melissa Rosenberg to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the first season, you tackled a number of social issues. What others do you want to showcase in season 2?
MELISSA ROSENBERG: The first season we hit a lot of them — we had issues of choice, interracial relationships, domestic violence, issues of consent. We kind of ran the gamut there a little bit, obviously all about feminism and being a woman in this world. It’s a very feminist show, and intentionally so. We never walk into the room going, “We’re going to hit a social issue.” It was so much about, “OK, here’s what the character has gone through. What does that mean for her?” It comes down to, “OK, she’s a victim of rape, so we’re going to deal with that in a really honest, true and respectful way.”
As it turned out, we came at the end of this like, “Wait a minute, this is about domestic violence. We’re actually making comments on social issues.” It was never our intention going in, and I think the minute you intend to do that, you’re stepping up on a soap box. If you’re digging into the dark side of the human psyche and all the different experiences we go through, and as women we go through, you’re going to find those things. If you treat them honestly and with respect, you’re also going to hit social issues. So I’m not quite sure what the social issues yet that we’re dealing with [in season 2]. We’re just trying to find some resonance for her character and a new place to push her, to give Krysten something new to play and really push the boundaries of the character.
The extraordinary thing is being able to do that in the context of a superhero show. It’s like, “Wait a minute, this is a superhero show and you’re tackling issues of rape and choice?” I guess we are! That’s also a reflection of being on Netflix.
Is planning season 2 more difficult because you need to know what happens to her character in The Defenders first?
Yes, for sure. My colleagues Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie, who are doing Defenders, they’ve shared material. We’ve sat down for many conversations about what are they doing, what’s happening with Jessica? They want my input, they want all the different showrunners’ input on the characters that they’re most familiar with. Marvel was very smart in hiring those guys, because they’re really collaborative. They enjoy collaboration, which is not always the case, and they listen, and we listen to them. We’re really trying to find a way to respond to the things that they want to do, and them to respond to the things we want to do. So far so good. It’s working out. If they weren’t who they were as people, it could be very problematic. But they’re the absolutely right people to do this.
Do you have any sense of themes you want to explore in season 2?
I’m interested in continuing to explore the relationship between Trish and Jessica. That is the core relationship in the piece. It is about female friendship, it is about how friends evolve — they’re sisters, really — and it’s about how they evolve and ping off each other. I’m interested in relationships, whether they be romantic, or family, or friends, or professional — that’s what’s interesting to me, is Jessica in relationship to people.
There are also fans out there who want to see a romantic side to Jessica and Trish.
There are. A lot of people saw that in their relationship. Honestly, I love that people are seeing that. I’m fine with that. It’s not what interests me about their relationship. To me, it’s about their history, and their trust and connection.
How does that relationship change in the wake of what they went through in season 1?
They started off estranged in season 1, and then came together in the most profound way, where Jessica was willing to sacrifice herself for Trish. And Trish was becoming an equal partner in this relationship. There’s always this element between them of Trish has everything — beauty, grace, success and she’s educated — she has everything you could possibly want, except powers. Jessica has the powers. She’s very comfortable with those powers. One of the places that we’re never going is her going, “Oh, I don’t want to have powers anymore.” That’s Bewitched and I’m never going there. That’s our character. It’s an interesting dichotomy of them figuring out there’s an envy involved, there’s support, there’s compassion, there’s frustration. For Trish, it’s, “What I could do if I had your powers.” I don’t think Jess feels that as much. Jess doesn’t care about money or fame or any of that; she would never want any of it. But I think she would love to have the normalcy of her life in some way. Actually, what she envies most of Trish is her heart, I think, because Trish is such a giving, loving person, and is really about helping other people. Jessica just can’t quite get there. I think if she envies anything in Trish, it would be her generosity.
How do you top a villain like Kilgrave? What can you say of figuring out who will be the new antagonist?
Or antagonists, plural. No one is ever going to beat David Tennant as Kilgrave, so you don’t do that. The biggest mistake would be to try to repeat that. You just go, “OK, we’re not doing that, so we have this open to us.”
And who might this be?
I can’t spoil a surprise.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is expected to return in 2018.