“Kilgrave isn’t coming back and there are no more good villains…”
“Season 2 was a let down and was too boring to get through…”
“Trish got annoying and Jessica’s mom was weird…”
Whatever the reasons you have for staving off watching the last season of Jessica Jones, pass me the remote for a short soapbox minute. Let me tell you three reasons why you should still care about Jessica Jones. (Hint: They all have something to do with women simply being badass.)
Krysten Ritter’s directing debut (AKA Indispensable)
Women behind the camera
Jessica Jones has always had a strong leadership of women behind the scenes, and this season is no different. In this final season, we see lead actress Krysten Ritter as a director — a role she absolutely crushes. Ritter directs the second episode, “A.K.A. You’re Welcome,” which mainly focuses on Trish Walker, Jessica Jones’s sister-turned-superhero. This episode begins the set-up to Jessica and Trish’s eventual and inevitable conflict in their ideals of heroism.
In this episode, the camera follows Trish and the story is narrated by Trish, a narrative opportunity that may have only been taken because Ritter needed to be behind the camera in order to direct. This season flips viewers’ point of view for only one other time in episode 11 “A.K.A. Hellcat,” where all the scenes we’ve observed Trish are inverted so that we understand how Trish’s tragedy. With these two episodes, we see both Hellcat’s rise and fall. In these Trish-centric episodes, a feature distinct to this season of Jessica Jones, we see what Trish is up to beyond Jessica’s eyes. These episodes highlight how the sisters’ individualism and lack of communication foreshadow their ultimate separation.
And perhaps that is another reason why Ritter’s directing contributed so well to Hellcat’s storyline. Having played Jessica’s character for so long, Ritter is able to better contrast Trish to Jessica. Neither Jessica’s nor Trish’s story is complete without the other, and their differences underscore what makes their character’s unique.
Ritter’s directing in “A.K.A. You’re Welcome” is no walk-in-the-park either. While watching the episode, you wouldn’t even recognize that it was directed by a first-time director. The episode is a montage of stunts, monologues, silent humor, and visual storytelling, with a healthy balance of interaction and dialogue between strong-minded characters. Significantly, the episode reveals the backstory of everything Jessica uncovers about Trish in the first episode, including Trish’s seemingly erratic unsent draft email to Jessica, and fills in the gaps of the story succinctly.
If not the whole season, at least watch the second episode so that Ritter’s work can be fully appreciated!
Women discuss how to be a hero (AKA Womanpower)
Jessica Jones gives plenty of screen time to host philosophical and moral debates on what it means and what it takes to be a hero. We see characters questioning their own and each other’s “good”-ness and “right”-ness. And time and again, they cross their own gray lines in order to make their ends justify their means. This discourse mostly occurs between or revolves around Jessica and Trish, who, at the end of the day, follow very different paths.
Women taking the spotlight
Of course, these kinds of deliberations on hero-ness have been done before in many stories and worlds even beyond the MCU. But isn’t it great to see two women having that conversation? Isn’t it nice to see two super-powered women discussing about their identities, responsibilities, or goals anyway? We occasionally get to see women combining forces and powers to kick some solid ass, but many times that all feels intentional and a little shallow.
Women face complex situations everyday and self-evaluate their actions and decisions. And we know they do not always come to the same conclusions. Isn’t gratifying to also see women arguing over questions like these rather than just love and relationships? Only recently have women been celebrated in having the superhero title — let’s praise a moment when two superwomen to talk out prioritizing justice and fairness, morality and legality, ethics and integrity.
Together and apart
We have the great privilege of appreciating Jessica and Trish’s teamwork, something that we’ve always anticipated coming, especially given their undeniably strong relationship. Their tight bond ironically juxtaposes their opposing approaches to heroism even further and creates a more emotionally compelling story for them. Many may describe Jessica and Trish’s relationship as deteriorating, but in my opinion, this season demonstrates the exact opposite; it is only because they love each other so much that they continue to break their own moral codes for each other. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is how our antagonist for this show, Gregory Sallinger, knew exactly that and thus knew exactly how to best bring the worst in the two of them to ultimately hurt each other, despite everything the sisters did to stick together.
Strong women with strong character (AKA Represent!)
Critics long heralded Jessica Jones as the superhero series with strong female leads. But it’s not just Jessica and Trish who embody the strong characters in this show. Especially in this final season, we see women gracefully living their lives and smartly achieving their own ambitions. We see them in action. We see them plan, execute, and manage. A few examples:
Jeri and Kith
Despite setbacks in her physical health, Jeri Hogarth works herself nearly to death in order to keep her soulmate Kith Lyonne (Sarita Choudhury) safe and to prove her love and devotion. Jeri is unabashedly a woman-loving-women and we consistently and continue to see that openly portrayed consistently throughout the series.
In this season, we meet Zaya Okonjo (Tiffany Mack), who may as well represent the quintessential conflict between career and relationship for many women. Zaya is a budding lawyer employed by Jeri. She is a highly educated and incredibly accomplished woman who wants the best for her future. Zaya continues to build her life to its maximum potential, while understanding the questionable ethics of her law firm. Her relationship with Malcolm Ducasse eventually comes to a close when Malcolm begins to doubt the integrity of his work for Jeri and Zaya bluntly asks for him to choose between career or ego, as she has.
One of the best treats to see this season is Gillian (Aneesh Sheth), who takes over Malcolm’s position as Jessica’s secretary/assistant/publicist/everything-really. Gillian is a trans woman, portrayed by a trans actress, but the true beauty of Sheth’s character is that Gillian’s trans identity is never addressed or pointed out. Gillian simply exists, functioning like any normal person in any normal job (well, as normal as being Jessica’s assistant can be). Even more gratifying is seeing no grand self-congratulation or autogenous pat-on-the-back for the Jessica Jones series for having included a trans character.
Gillian’s identity is not sensationalized and was not at all used as marketing, which is more than we can say for Marvel’s history of breaking headlines without breaking walls (cough, the Avengers: Endgame split-second cameo, cough). Instead, Gillian plays a distinct and memorable role, and while secondary to the story, she banters with Jessica in the office and serves to remind us of Jessica’s rather brash and defensive nature, which proves important as we see Jessica suffer personal losses this season. But most importantly, Gillian is a character that just happens to be trans, not just a trans character.
In conclusion… (AKA Just Watch It!)
The season is not without its flaws. The show starts incredibly slow (a crime of many Netflix series). But the story quickly takes on a life of its own mid-season, as we see characters dig themselves into deeper chaos, despite doing what they deem is best at the time.
And you know what? The season is a wonderful end of both Jessica Jones as a series, and as a last hurrah to the Netflix-Marvel collaboration. Give it a chance and watch it!
As we greet the finale of Jessica Jones’s story, what were your favorite or most memorable moments from the series? Any quotes that you can’t stop thinking about? Tweet us @geekgalsco and reply in the comments below!
Featured image credit: Netflix