Anger is as much a part of Jessica Jones' persona as her leather jacket and a bottle of whiskey. She's a powerful Marvel superhero, but her costume is less colorful spandex and more sarcasm, rage and heartbreaking vulnerability.
Season 1 of Jessica Jones introduced the titular character played by Krysten Ritter and dropped viewers into her world of dirty New York City apartments, late night private investigating and struggling to defeat a sadistic villain.
The long-awaited second season premieres Thursday on Netflix and pits Jessica against her own inner demons rather than a physical villain. Ritter is still ferocious as Jessica. Her sneers, snarls and eye rolls seem to have even more bite this time around.
With some serious pushing from best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Jessica is forced to dig into her past to find the people who gave her superpowers and why.
It's an interesting choice for the show that's part of Netflix's Marvel universe, which mostly steers clear of rehashing origin stories in favor of pitting anti-heroes against shady villains and their own personal problems.
The result is a slow burn sophomore season with flashes of emotional intensity and heartbreaking insight into why Jessica is the way she is — super strong and super angry.
"I'm angry, and I'm not sure there's anything I won't do anymore," she says in one scene.
By the opening of Season 2, Jessica has already defeated some formidable enemies. Her most recent stint as part of the Defenders alongside Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage resulted in the destruction of an evil criminal organization. And two years ago in the critically acclaimed Season 1, she overcame the cruel mind control of Kilgrave (David Tennant) and killed him.
But as she learned after her tortuous time in the abusive hands of Kilgrave — who raped her and forced her to murder — there are massive gaps in her memory that need to be filled in order for her to fully understand her powers and eventually heal.
"Kilgrave isn't the only ghost inside your head," Trish tells her.
Those ghosts are the details surrounding the institutional torture and experiments that somehow gave her superpowers while she was in a coma following the horrific car crash that killed her parents and brother.
In the five episodes sent to critics, an intriguing mystery takes shape related to mysterious organization IGH and its history of human experimentation.
All eyes are on Jessica and Trish, but the new season is peppered with more time spent with lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) and Jessica's PI assistant Malcolm (Eka Darville). At least during the first five episodes, their personal lives fail to make an impact on the overarching story. The same goes for the new characters: rival PI Cheng (Terry Chen), Jessica's wary superintendent (J.R. Ramirez) and Trish's journalist boyfriend (Hal Ozsan).
Speaking of Trish, her story continues to be dragged down by her clunky stardom and the toxic relationship with her mother. She takes more of a leading role in the investigation of Jessica's past, but there's still no hint to her becoming the yellow spandex-wearing Hellcat like she does in the comics.
Netflix continues to pack its Marvel lineup with increasingly complex and relatable characters. But it continues to stretch their stories into 13 episode-season when they'd be better contained to 8-10.
While starting at the same glacial pace as the first season, Jessica Jones picks up some steam in the fourth and fifth episodes. There's a mysterious new character that just might be the key to everything. Jessica actually a grows a bit by checking her own knee-jerk violent tendencies and going to anger management.
Confronting her anger and trauma and learning to accept her past may not be the juiciest superhero story to come out of Marvel, but it's what makes Jessica Jones' second season a solid addition.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.
Jessica Jones Season 2
3 a.m. Thursday, Netflix