Marvel's Jessica Jones showrunner answers burning questions about the ending, season 2's biggest twists
Was Trish justified in doing what she did? Why did [SPOILER] have to die? Who wrote 'I Want Your Cray Cray'?
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from season 2 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Read at your own risk!
In season 2, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) faced the, well, mother lode of threats. (Sorry.)
Janet McTeer’s mysterious character turned out to be Alisa Jones, Jessica’s thought-dead-mother-turned-genetically-modified-rage-machine, who went on a murder spree to protect her lover and creator, Dr. Karl Malus (Callum Keith Rennie), only to lose him anyway when Trish (Rachael Taylor) makes him perform genetic surgery on her. (Oh, Trish.) In the end, Alisa kidnaps Jessica and tries to leave the country, but ultimately accepts her fate as a woman who will always be seen as a monster.
Yet, just when Alisa and Jessica are finally having a heart-to-heart, Alisa gets shot — and by Trish. So in one fell swoop, Jessica loses her mother and her sister, but by the end of the season, she’s (tentatively, carefully) found a new family: one with Oscar (J.R. Ramirez) and his son.
Still, is Jessica really in a good place by the end of the season? Was Trish justified in pulling the trigger? And why did Alisa’s story have to end there? Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg answers those burning questions — including one about Trish’s pop single “I Want Your Cray Cray,” because why not — and breaks down the end of Jessica’s harrowing season 2 journey below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the ending. The final scene finds Jessica having dinner with Oscar and his son, seeking a family out after she lost hers. What did you want people to take away from that last shot?
MELISSA ROSENBERG: I wanted to end on a place that had a glimmer of hope, that moved her forward on a little bit. She doesn’t end where she begins. So while she’s lost several people from her life, and that is tragic and painful, there’s still a hint of her taking a first baby step toward opening herself to people.
What’s running through her mind in that scene? Is she in a good place or just trying to be in one?
She’s trying to be, you know? Some of her mother’s last words to her were of hope for who she could be, and she’s allowed, for the first time, this connection with her mother. She felt for a moment connected to someone, and I think now that she’s felt that, I think she wants to at least try to move toward closing that in her life.
Speaking of Alisa, what made you want to delve into this mother-daughter dynamic this season, and how did the character transform as you were writing her?
We were examining the question of “Who am I?” and the extension of that is “Am I my parents? Am I my mother?” It’s that nurture versus nature question. We were choosing to make this character an extreme version of Jessica, an unchecked version of her. It’s a mirror for Jessica and it sort of awakens her fears about who she might become, or who she might be, so that’s a really big part of it.
Why was it important for Alisa to die? Would the story have worked if she went off to prison at the end of all this?
There’s a lot of reasons for [her death]. I think it was the natural arc for Janet’s character, so I think we were serving that character for sure. We were also serving the relationship of Jessica and Trish, because ultimately, what the series services is that friendship and betrayal. It really shakes up their relationship in a way that, moving forward, we have many, many more stories to tell there, but it also really defines both of their characters in so many ways.
Jessica sees the shades of grey — she so desperately wants that relationship — whereas Trish sees things in black and white and is justified in many ways in doing what she did, very much in the way Jessica was justified in killing Kilgrave [played by David Tennant] in season 1. Trish is simply doing what Jessica did at the end of season 1, so it’s an interesting journey.
They mirror each other in many ways, beginning with their mommy issues, if you will. But when it comes to Trish, what was running through her mind exactly when she kills Alisa? Did she want to prove she could be a hero or did she think she was protecting Jessica?
It was both. Trish has this incredible drive to be a hero, to do something powerful and helpful, because she herself as a child was vulnerable to all sorts of ills. She’s really on a deep level wanting to feel strong and powerful and safe, and wanting to provide that for others who have her kind of experience, so there’s a genuine heroism in her, but there’s also something borne out of damage, that really fuels her ambition and why she’s so desperate to be someone.
So far, I’ve seen a lot of comments from fans online who are annoyed at Trish for doing what she did and think she was too self-righteous in thinking she could save everyone and be the hero. What would you say to defend Trish at this point? Like, the first comment on the Reddit thread about the finale is “F— Trish.”
[Laughs] Well, the journey we wanted to take that character on is to dive into her psyche in terms of what “hero” means to her. In her mind, she was saving Jessica and taking a mass murderer out of the world. For her, it was really justified, and she really sincerely felt that Jessica was in danger. From Trish’s point of view, it looks like Jessica’s possibly being attacked, and her experience with Alisa has been nothing but frightening, so that’s how she perceived Alisa. That’s how everybody does, except Jessica.
Jessica isn’t making the best choices here. The idea that she can save mom and keep her in check wherever they’re running off to is very wishful thinking. So while we’re with Jessica and we’re with her great need and desire for a connection and a relationship with her mother, if you step back from it, I don’t know if that’s the wisest choice. And we really wanted to leave it in a place of ambivalence.
In Trish’s final scene, we see her manifest her powers and smile. Are you setting her up to finally become Hellcat?
All I can say is, I always want to leave a season with doors open, so then if we come back for season 3, we have somewhere to go. You never want to box yourself in, but you do want to lay some groundwork. That’s all to say, I don’t know. [Laughs]
One last burning question about Trish: Who wrote “I Want Your Cray Cray”?
[Laughs] That is probably the worst song ever, but I love it. That was [executive producer] Hilly Hicks Jr. The goal was to really [laughs] reflect all the busy actors and actresses who go from being a child star to having that one pop album be released with that one song that has one lyric. Hilly came up with “I want your cray cray,” and Sean Callery, our composer, came up with the music. And that’s Rachael singing, by the way! We had her really auto-tuned — so many of these “singers” aren’t really singers — and we shot a whole video.
And amazingly, Rachael Taylor, who is not a professional dancer at all, she got in there with the choreographer and the other dancers, and she rocked it. I was like, “Really? You’ve never studied before?” But yeah, we wanted that kind of really over-sexualized silliness.
Jessica’s relationship with Trish falls apart because of Trish’s betrayal, but Jessica also loses Malcolm (Eka Darville), who stops working for her after being treated poorly one too many times. What did you want people to take away from his journey?
Malcolm’s series journey is really a coming-of-age story, with the overall theme again being — for everybody — “Who am I?” That’s a real pragmatic question for Malcolm. “What is my role in the world and how can I contribute?” This season he really tries to build something with Jessica. He sees her as his mentor, it’s very younger brother/older sister dynamic that she has with him. So this is him really growing up a little bit over the course of this season and shaking off some of that naïveté. I think he leaves this season older and wiser and ready to deal with the real world in a way, and Jeri Hogarth is as real world as you get.
Jeri too has had a difficult season. Same question: What did you want audiences to take away from her story? She’s not getting any better, is she?
Yeah, that ALS is still there. That character has always spent her life accruing power and money and control, but the thing we wanted to do was show there’s only so much power, money, and control you can accrue, and it will not ultimately save you. It’s an illusion to a large degree. She has very little control in the world. So when that gets stripped away from her, she’s left with this sort of profound question of, again, “Who am I and how do I face this?” Because all of the power, money, and control won’t take this away.
Now this is a small thing but, moving away from the story, I was curious about why Captain America finally got name-dropped this season. Usually, the Avengers and film characters are mentioned via nickname — Jessica called him the “flag-waver” in season 1 — so what changed?
We were really just following the characters in the story. There was no intention going in to mention it or don’t mention it. It seemed natural the young boy would be a fan of Captain America, and I think if we were writing even outside of the Marvel Universe, that would be his thing. There’s no goal or restriction [on mentioning the MCU].
Just to wrap up, I do have to ask: Where are you guys with a season 3? Anything to share?
Absolutely nothing. [Laughs] Nothing to share.
Got it! In that case, anything else you want to add?
I’m just excited for people to see the whole thing. It was really designed differently from season 1, like a 13-hour movie, you know? Every piece builds on the other, and it gains momentum. It’s not a repeat of season 1. The characters are definitely coming off of season 1 but it’s its own animal, and I hope every season will be its own animal.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.