Marvel’s super-team The Defenders have long played second fiddle to the A-team Avengers, despite rumors of a crossover. Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage have their own share of problems, but they’ve also got the most time to work them out since TV gives so much more opportunity to develop character than a two-hour film.
Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is arguably the saddest and grumpiest of the Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she’s also got maybe the best reason for it. Her psychological battle in the highly-praised first season explained the misanthrope’s general disinterest in humanity, but with Season 2's review embargo lifted, we now know if that scowl ever gets turned upside-down — or if it begins to become contagious to its audience.
Thanks to some season-long introspection and more of what made the first season a favorite among superhero fans, things look like, though not as strong as her debut, Jessica Jones is still worth coming back to.
Here's what the critics have to say:
Slashfilm’s Chris Evangelista calls Ritter’s performance “equal parts droll, damaged, and fierce,” which makes Jones so fun to watch that any issues with the plot fall by the wayside. While there’s poignancy and anger developing under the surface, what made the first season great is back again, as Evangelista says that while “it might be slightly cliched at this point to watch Jessica knock back a staggering amount of booze while providing wry, hard-boiled narration,” it works.
That’s the same noir-tinged flavor that spins the review of Forbes’ Merrill Barr positive. Aside from the stylistic elements, Barr praised the storyline that is “building up to a solid journey that will leave audiences wanting more of the character.” Jones is becoming a deeper and deeper character, which is exactly what fans expect in the second season of a TV show.
Some critics, like IndieWire’s Liz Shannon Miller, were a bit more mixed on the return. While she agrees that the central performance is killer and the side characters having more to do is a boon for the series, she writes that “what doesn’t work is the lack of direction on a plot level.” The narrative is stretched too thin and “at least three episodes too long.”
Empire’s Dan Jolin commented that some of this slog was due to a villain problem. The slow plot “is certainly less compelling than the previous season’s ultra-dark psyche-out, which was driven with malevolent glee by David Tennant’s Kilgrave,” Jolin writes. “This is only underlined by the arrival of a new foe who, in these first five episodes at least, appears to be little more than a stronger, badder and freakier version of Jessica herself.”
Polygon’s Susana Polo agrees: Season 2 “lacks a clear antagonist to compare with David Tennant’s slippery, terrifying Kilgrave.” Without the looming threat, the character development feels a bit “slow and stakes-less.”
Other thoughts come from Collider’s Allison Keene, who says “there’s certainly room for more humor (especially for someone besides Jessica to try and wield) and the episodes could be a lot tighter, but Jessica Jones once again puts character first over super-heroics,” while The Mary Sue’s Marykate Jasper opines that “this season feels less binge-worthy, thanks to its story and villain problems” (Check out more critics' reviews on Rotten Tomatoes' Jessica Jones page.)
Jessica Jones returns to Netflix on March 8.