The fierce return of ‘Jessica Jones’

Lorraine Ali
Los Angeles Times

Arguably the most popular character of Netflix-Marvel’s superhero franchise, Jessica Jones finds the fiercest battle is internal when she returns Thursday for Season 2 of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones.”

The superhuman strength she once hid is now public knowledge after her epic battle in Season 1 with mind-controlling madman Kilgrave (David Tennant). Jones (Krysten Ritter) fell under his spell, and he used her formidable force as a weapon, threatening New York and humanity, until she ultimately defeated him.

Now the press, law enforcement and the public can’t decide what to think of Jones, the hard-drinking PI whose superhero “costume” is often the same rumpled jeans and T-shirt she slept in the night before.

Is she an avenger, criminal or victim? The scrutiny is wreaking havoc on the misanthropic Jones, who would rather hide out at her local bar, drinking away past traumas that include the sexual abuse she suffered while under the influence of Kilgrave.

Marvel's Jessica Jones (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

When the series debuted in 2015, it preceded the fall of film mogul Harvey Weinstein and the rise of the #MeToo movement. Upon its return, Jones is now among the millions of American women whose anger and sense of justice are upending the landscape.

Dealing with that anger constructively without self-destructing is Jones’ greatest challenge when she returns for 10 new episodes filled with salty language, bourbon and brute strength.

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The brilliantly executed comeback of an already smart series is the perfect parable for our times. Guilt, rage and self-doubt can fell the strongest of women, especially if their enemies know how to manipulate those weaknesses.

Jones, of course, must also now contend with a new round of foes tied to her past, as well as the fans and lookie-loos who line up outside her Alias Investigation office/apartment door each day in hopes of hiring the famous “vigilante chick.”

Her one-liners here are as acerbic and sharp as ever. Example: A jock-ish PI from a competing agency offers her a place in his agency. She refuses, he persists.

“I never take no for an answer,” he says with the confidence of a man who always gets his way.

“How very rape-y of you,” she replies in that sardonic deadpan that makes her the scrappiest of all the Marvel-Netflix superheroes.

“Jessica Jones,” which is headed up by Melissa Rosenberg (“Twilight”), helped popularize the streaming service’s comic book franchise of series that kicked off with “Daredevil” before Jones’ debut, then went on to introduce “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist” and “The Punisher.”

The drama’s return has been highly anticipated, and it’s no coincidence that Netflix chose to break its usual protocol of Friday series releases by dropping the new episodes Thursday (March 8), a.k.a. International Women’s Day.

Season 2 gives the heroine the space to grapple with issues lost on most of her male counterparts – such as being maligned for being too powerful – and come out swinging with the knowledge that her actions have lasting repercussions beyond the mangled body of that car she flipped or that brick wall she reduced to a pile of rubble.

Without giving anything away here, and there is a lot to give away in the four episodes available for review, her story this time around is rooted in a mystery: How exactly did she get her powers?

We already know from Season 1 that she was the sole survivor of a car accident that killed her family 17 years ago. She woke up days later in the hospital with surgical scars and super strength.

Now, lifelong friend Trish (Rachael Taylor), with whom she was raised, is pushing Jones to get to the bottom of the mysterious IGH medical organization that treated her, and perhaps others, as guinea pigs.

Trish, a lifestyle radio host who aspires to be a serious journalist, has her own motivations. Namely, a ratings-winning series of stories.

Jones doesn’t want to dig into her painful past until pushed by a series of bizarre events, one involving a character named the Whizzer. And she soon discovers that getting to those who altered her body so many years ago won’t be easy, as they are seemingly protected by the other “monsters” they created.

Cold-blooded attorney Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Jones’ neighbor, recovering addict Malcolm (Eka Darville), also return with key roles.

It’s with their help – and a hard journey through her own baggage – that Jones begrudgingly realizes that no matter how many butts she kicks or bars she smashes, she still needs the help others.