Jessica Jones season 3 is both ruthless and insightful, and builds up to a finale our characters (hopefully) deserve.
It’s sad to see Jessica Jones go when it gave us the long-awaited female anti-hero we didn’t know we craved. It has consistently delivered high-quality seasons with creative — and in Kilgrave’s case, I would say groundbreaking — storytelling, and excellent characterizations. But it’s also a relief to know that the show is ending the way we dream of seeing our favorites go: with intention, and enough time to tie up all the loose ends.
Marvel knows that Jessica Jones is the strongest character out of all the heroes on Netflix, with the most satisfying arc out of all the Defenders, and it’s giving her a befitting farewell. Season 3, which starts streaming in full on June 14, is ready to take us on one last chilling adventure.
I saw eight episodes of season 3, but I haven’t seen the final five, so I don’t know how it all ends. And the frustration this causes me is enough evidence that the show is doing something right, because I have no idea how these characters are going to get out of the situations this season puts them in!
Still, here are my spoiler-free impressions:
A real noir feel
What strikes me the most about this season is how deeply it embraces noir, through its music — which feels particularly noir to me this season, but I might have just never noticed it enough before — and in its storytelling.
It also has a pretty strong X-Files vibe without feeling so familiar that it’s predictable. The types of scenes we see just feel vaguely reminiscent: long conversations between Jessica and a police detective, witness questionings, mysterious chases in dark places, and hostile press conferences.
As always, Jessica Jones stays particularly down-to-earth, bringing the story to the people who inhabit the streets and are directly affected by Jessica’s choices, which gives us a much more powerful look at the effect vigilantes have on a community.
This is felt more strongly this season than any other by the show’s new villain: a non-powered man who, equipped with a particularly sinister mind, presents a threat that feels just as real as any powered villain would have. The mental toll he takes on Jessica and her allies is a fascinating way to explore how Jessica has grown as she tries to take him down “the right way” — while trying to figure out what “right” really is, as everyone has different definitions of it.
This season, the stakes are high, and you can expect at least one pretty big death. Nothing has ever been sugar-coated in Jessica Jones, and even with Kilgrave out of the picture, things continue to be twisted and disturbing.
More diversity, at last!
The biggest complaint about Jessica Jones, which has otherwise always been a monument to feminism, abuse survivors, and great storytelling in general, has been the lack of women of color in meaningful roles. The only woman of color we saw for more than one episode before now was Reva Connors, who was fridged for the sake of giving Jessica some more angst — definitely problematic, considering historical trends in fiction.
Season 3 clearly makes an effort to be more inclusive and appropriately illustrate the diversity of women in New York. We meet Gillian, Jessica’s clever and wonderfully deadpan assistant (who is played by a trans woman); Malcom’s whip-smart coworker and girlfriend; and Kith, a talented old flame from Hogarth’s past.
While none of these characters are main characters, they have importance in the show and hold their own every second they’re on screen. It’s a good move after their failed attempts in the last two seasons, and one that manages to transcend tokenism by giving each woman a compelling story.
Will anybody ever learn anything?
This question plagued season 2 as Trish spiraled out of control, Hogarth had to reckon with her own fragility, Malcom repeatedly faced the demons of his past, and Jessica struggled with her own sense of identity.
Season 3 starts right where we left off. Trish has fully embraced her white savior persona, and frustratingly, the new powers she has developed are only helping her justify misguided decisions. Couple this with the painful tension between her and Jessica after Trish murdered Jessica’s mom last season, and I’m furious at Trish the entire show because Rachael Taylor’s acting is just too good.
I truly wonder if at this point we’re supposed to sympathize with Trish, because between the two of them, Jessica has become much more rational and empathetic. She might be cynical, rude and depressing, but Trish’s particular brand of naivety is extremely infuriating. Still, her actions are starting to have consequences, and I expect the finale to make her reckon with her choices.
Meanwhile, Hogarth isn’t doing much better. Sometimes I wonder why she’s a main character, but she’s so damn interesting that I stop caring about that. This season, her degenerative disease starts to take a toll, and she asks herself some existential questions. But her sickness doesn’t suddenly make her a good person, and in classic Hogarth style, she sets out to find something that will make her happy — only to make a huge effort to ruin it all with her greed. Will Hogarth ever learn, or is she doomed to become her own worst enemy?
Malcom continues to advance his career while simultaneously self-sabotaging himself, but he seems to be on a path to discover what it really means to be a man of principle and define what success really is for himself. He’s a mess, but since you can see his inner struggle, you can’t help but root for him.
A great sendoff for our favorite anti-hero
Jessica continues to be such a compelling character that she loses none of her sarcastic charm as she continues to make great strides in character development. I guess the question isn’t really, “Does anybody learn in this show?” but rather, “Will anyone be worthy of being in the same room as Jessica by the end of the show?”
Jessica has grown in a huge way since we first met her in season 1, but none of the things that made us fall in love with her are gone — they’ve only found a better personality to shine through. It’s a statement to Krysten Ritter’s talent that we can enjoy the Jessica we love and see an occasional sincere smile this season, while we root for her throughout the profoundly unjust situation she’s in.
There’s a very interesting twist that happens early on, and puts Jessica in a much more vulnerable position than she ever has been before. But despite the terrible pressure she’s under, her characteristic stubbornness is finally channeled in the right direction as she starts, in her words, “giving a shit.” She’s finally found hope, in her own way.
With how great the first eight episodes look, I’m sure the final episode is going to be beautiful and bittersweet, while still absolutely destroying my heart. Above all, I hope Jessica finally gets to relax and enjoy her life the way she deserves to, after everything she’s been put through.
Jessica Jones season 3 premieres on Netflix on June 14.
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