Warning: This post contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones has been a revelation for women ever since it premiered in 2015. Not only did it present us with a deeply flawed and traumatized protagonist, it dealt with her history and insecurities head-on.
In Season 2, we still have a host of varied, complicated women; from Carrie Ann Moss’s struggling Jeri Hogarth to Rachael Taylor’s unraveling Trish to our newest character, played by Janet McTeer. It’s a pivotal role with DEEP complexity and physicality, the likes of which is rare for women in action shows – especially women of a certain age.
McTeer is first introduced as Dr. Leslie Hansen, a scientist linked to the ominous IGH, but we quickly learn that there’s far more to her. She has abilities like Jessica’s, but dialed up to 11; with her super strength comes a rampant rage – a dissociative disorder that’s a side effect of the experiments IGH actually conducted on her.
When that switch flips, she becomes incredibly volatile, but with an almost childlike fixation on the source of her distress. McTeer communicates all this with a clenched jaw and unwavering gaze – and that’s before all the stunt work.
“That was fun, you know, the idea of being someone who works really hard to control her emotions, control herself,” McTeer told Mashable at the Season 2 premiere in New York. “She doesn’t know how to do that particularly but she tries very hard in all kinds of different ways and doesn’t always succeed.”
And then there’s that Episode 6 reveal, the shaky word a disbelieving Jessica says after tracking her quarry back to the house where she lives: “Mom?”
At first, turning this new character into Alisa Jones feels like a bit of a MacGuffin for Jessica’s quest to figure out exactly who or what she is. The tragic loss of her family is one of Jessica’s most formative experiences, like so many other superheroes. It’s infuriating to think her mother was alive this long and that their paths never crossed. Alisa didn’t even seek her out.
Episode 7 addresses all of that in flashbacks, but it’s still maddening. Especially with an ostensibly retconned dead boyfriend plot for Jessica that ends up being her mother’s fault (that jacket reveal though…:crying emoji:).
As the season builds to a climax, it’s hard to reconcile those revelations with a forced mother-daughter vigilante bonding subplot. Sure, there’s a tenderness to Alisa tending her daughter’s bullet wound that we haven’t seen Jessica experience before, but Mama Jones is a ticking time bomb and combustion is all but inevitable.
By now, we know how this ends: Alisa goes rogue (Jessica with her, for a time) and there’s no reeling her back in. By the final episode, she’s lost the only person who could help her scientifically and joined Jessica in the dead boyfriends’ club – she also murders a detective in a surge of violent energy reminiscent of Kilgrave himself.
“I’ve never seen a woman play a part like this,” McTeer said. “I’ve seen men do it very often but you know, I’m a middle-aged woman, so that was fun. Hard, harder than playing it when you’re 25 because it’s very physical, but still great.”
“You do something like this and you hope someone will go ‘Oh, that’s a good idea, let’s do another one!'” she added. “‘Does an FBI agent have to be a man? Let’s make it a woman. Does that person really have to be a man? Let’s make it a woman.’ I’d like that to happen more.”
If any show was going to do it, it’s this one.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
Starring Kelsey Grammer & Kristen Bell
When a workaholic young executive (Kristen Bell), is left at the altar, she ends up on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise with the last person she ever expected: her estranged and equally workaholic father (Kelsey Grammer). The two depart as strangers, but over the course of a few adventures, a couple of umbrella-clad cocktails and a whole lot of soul-searching, they return with a renewed appreciation for family and life. Like Father premieres August 3 only on Netflix.
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