Jessica Jones premiere recap: 'AKA Start at the Beginning'
It’s been two and a half years, but Jessica Jones is finally back! The last time we checked in with Krysten Ritter’s moody titular private investigator, she was teaming up with Netflix’s other street-level Marvel heroes to fight ninjas — which is a sentence that feels slightly ridiculous to write because of the four original Marvel shows (not counting The Punisher), Jessica Jones was the most grounded. Sure, the first season featured a villain with mind control powers, but the story dealt with real, important issues and not dragon bones and resurrections. Thankfully, the slow season 2 premiere brings Jessica back down to Earth; however, it also introduces a story line that makes me worried about the new season.
The new season opens with Jessica tailing Rafi, a pizza delivery guy who is cheating on Mave, his girlfriend/manager. Upon seeing evidence of his infidelity, Mave asks Jessica to kill Rafi for her. “He’s a bad man. You’re a vigilante superhero,” says Mave, trying to convince Jessica to do the deed. Clearly, everyone in the city knows what she did to Kilgrave. However, as we come to find out, being called a “superhero” is the last thing Jessica wants, and she flips out. Even though she needed to kill Kilgrave, she’s still haunted by the deed, and each time someone calls her a superhero (which happens quite a bit in the episode), it triggers her because she feels guilty about what she did. I appreciated the fact that the show chose to focus on the aftermath of season 1 instead of Jessica’s experiences in The Defenders.
As always, Jessica, our emotionally damaged hero, can’t deal with all the guilt and all the other feelings, so she’s trying to ignore them by drinking more and taking on cases for a—hole clients (she doesn’t want to risk caring about another client). Unfortunately, Trish is making it hard for Jessica to ignore her problems and everything about that superhero life.
In the wake of everything that went down in season 1, Trish has become all about the superheroes. That’s literally all she talks about on her show these days, even though the lack of any major recent developments has caused a drop in ratings that concerns her producer. But Trish refuses to abandon this topic because she’s determined to investigate IGH, the mysterious company that’s responsible for giving Jessica her powers and making Will Simpson go crazy. Trish needs Jessica’s help to dig through this mystery, but Jessica refuses because the last thing she wants to do is open that traumatic door. Trish is so desperate that she even uses Jessica’s family’s ashes, which Jess never got rid of, to change her mind, but it has the opposite effect. Jessica threatens to cut Trish out of her life if she doesn’t back off. The suggestion from all of this is that Jessica was screwed up before she met Kilgrave, and it’s time for her to confront those scars.
The next day Jess meets with a series of potential new clients, who range from sympathetic (a dying woman wants to reconnect with the son she put up for adoption years ago) to a conspiracy nut and another man named the Whizzer, who claims someone is trying to kill him because of his super-speed powers. I loved the client montage because it’s a hint of what this show could be — a well-written and acted series with interesting episodic cases. I pray the show follows through on this and we get a few standalones to help this season avoid season 1’s mid-season slump. Anyway, Jessica’s most interesting meeting is saved for last: Pryce Cheng, the owner of a bigger private investigation firm, pays Jessica a visit and offers to buy her out because he wants to eliminate the competition. Obviously, Jess says no. (Next: Jessica opens the door).
At first, Jess thinks she can beat Pryce by simply tailing him and digging up dirt, but there’s no dirt to be found. Since Jessica declined his buyout offer, Pryce decides to start poaching her clients, which gives Jessica the smart idea to do the same. Her pitch to one of Pryce’s sports clients — my superpowers allow me to go where Pryce can’t — seems to work. Pryce retaliates by bringing up Kilgrave, which sets Jessica off and she attacks him. She comes very, very close to crossing a line, but she stops herself before bloodying him up even more. Needless to say, Jessica gets arrested, but thankfully Trish (and her new boyfriend Griffin) shows up to bail her out. They offer to hang by her side, but Jessica just decides to go home and mope on her own.
The next morning the Whizzer accosts Jessica at her apartment/office again. But this time he has a gun and demands that she protect him from a “monster” trying to kill him. Apparently the same people who gave him powers created the monster. Jessica still doesn’t believe he actually has superpowers, until they’re activated and he starts zipping around her office (the container with her brother’s ashes breaks in the commotion). Even though I knew the Whizzer would play a role in jumpstarting the season’s mystery, I didn’t expect the show to actually give him superpowers. Jess chases him out of the building and arrives just in time to see someone or something drop a ton of scaffolding on top of him, leaving Jessica standing over his bloodied body.
This latest traumatic experience comes close to breaking Jessica, who retreats to her office and curls up on the floor, which is covered in her brother’s ashes. When Malcolm shows up at Alias, where he now works, too, Jessica snaps out of her stupor and decides to finally investigate the Whizzer’s claims. She searches his bag and finds a lead, which takes her to an abandoned Industrial Garments and Handling (a.k.a. IGH) building. Jessica snoops around and comes across a lab, which triggers her memories of being in a lab after her parents’ accident — and of a disfigured monster there, too. After much cajoling, Jess has finally decided to open that door to her past.
As we reach the end of the season premiere, I find that I have mixed feelings about the forthcoming new season. On the one hand, I’m very excited to have Jessica Jones back, mostly because it means getting to spend more time with this layered and flawed person, whom Ritter plays perfectly. On the other hand, I’m not terribly interested in diving into Jessica’s origin story, which is what the season clearly plans on being. In the words of The Leftovers, I’d rather let the mystery be there. Instead of focusing on the past and over-explaining, the show should turn its attention toward the future. But I’m not ready to write this season off just yet. There was enough to enjoy in the episode (particularly all of Jessica’s comebacks) that I’m open to seeing more.
- Welcome to EW’s recaps of Jessica Jones season 2. Like Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher, I’ll be tackling this season with my colleague/friend Christian Holub, who’s handling the even-numbered episodes this season. I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts on this season.
- Another development in the episode: We find out that Jeri hired Pryce to hire Jessica because she couldn’t do it herself since she and Jessica are on the outs. However, that plan fell through, so now Jeri has decided to represent Pryce in his lawsuit against Jessica for assaulting him, for reasons I assume will be made clear soon.
- Jeri, who is also being sued by the secretary she was sleeping with last season, receives some shocking medical news in the episode; however, we don’t find out what’s wrong with her.
- Trish’s ex Will Simpson is following her around.
- Pryce: I never take no for an answer. Jessica: How rapey of you.
- “I hate smug. I could slap smug.”