REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 3

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

Starring

Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad)
Rachael Taylor (transformers)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Jeremy Bobb (The Knick)
Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Sarita Choudhury (A Hologram For A
Tiffany Mack (Hap and Leonard)

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Rebecca De Mornay (Mother’s Day)
Aneesh Sheth (New Amsterdam)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
J. R. Ramirez (Arrow)
David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)

The Netflix Marvel Universe, starting last year with yellow-belt step-child Iron Fist and continuing on to the cancellations of Luke Cage, Daredevil, and The Punisher. Unfortunately, the bummer that comes with an ending does hang over Jessica Jones‘ third chapter, but in an oddly fortuitous way that dour tone actually works. This season—which was set to be showrunner Melissa Rosenberg‘s final season anyway—is a dark story, probably the least comic book-y of Netflix’s already grounded and gritty pocket of the MCU. It doesn’t always work and does suffer from the same pacing issues that have plagued, well, pretty much all of these shows. But when it hits, it hits just like its main heroine; violent, flawed, and willing to go where her more moral superhuman peers wouldn’t dare.Rachael Taylor in Jessica Jones (2015)Season 3 opens with its two leading ladies at a crossroads. Jessica is doing her darndest to get her act together and, overall, just be less of an asshole and more of a functioning private investigation. But Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) has dived into the life of a fledgling vigilante after Dr. Karl Malus’ season 2 experiments gave her special abilities. (She’s not quite rocking her Hellcat get-up from the comics, but there are some very clever touches of yellow and purple along with some cats-eye sunglasses courtesy of costume designer Elisabeth Vastola). Jessica and Trish are estranged, but a chance encounter turned violent with a superpowered man named Erik (Benjamin Walker) leads Jessica to the case of serial killer Gregory Salinger (Jeremy Bobb). Salinger, who is absolutely bananagrams out of his goddamn mind, soon makes things very, very personal with Jessica, Erik, and Trish.Benjamin Walker and Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)Ritter is still pretty much pitch-perfect in the title role, one of the best casting jobs in the current comic book era. But the nature of Jessica Jones as a character so reluctant to get in on the action means the quality of her stories is almost defined by the strength of her villain. Season 1 was sensational in large part thanks to David Tennant‘s Kilgrave, with the actor’s charisma drawing you to the character—much like everyone was supernaturally drawn to the character—even as the script revealed him as an irredeemable monster. In comparison, season 2 developed into a bit of a slog Jessica’s team-up with her mass murderer mother Alisa (Janet McTeer) turned the back-half of the story into a largely antagonist-less road trip to nowhere.Jessica Jones (2015)Luckily, season 3’s serial killer Salinger flips the switch by completely stripping away the pretense of a supervillain. He might by Jessica’s most dynamic villain because of how terrifyingly un-dynamic he is. In the comics, Salinger is the second person to take on the title of Foolkiller, a brilliant murderer with a penchant for killing anyone he deems, well, a fool. But Rosenberg and the writing staff have tweaked that background into an extremely recognizable 2019 threat; here, Salinger is basically an internet troll, a man with an inflated sense of ego and rage built from the fact that he’s painfully ordinary. He’s Hannibal Lecter chewing on redpills instead of fava beans. He’s Ted Bundy with a Reddit account and egg-avatar Twitter page. He’s an incel but for having superpowers instead of sex—I guess that would make him an “inhuman”—who hates vigilantes for gaining abilities they didn’t “earn.” At one point, he points the spotlight back on to Jessica by playing the victim. “Perhaps I’m an easy target,” he tells news cameras, “a single white male, and she’s this feminist vindicator.”Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)It all gets borderline on-the-nose, but honestly “on the nose” works when you’re dealing with a character who deserves to get whacked in the fucking face this hard. Bobb—who also impressed earlier this year in another Netflix series, Russian Doll—makes a chilling meal of the role. He does great psychopath, with an ability to say menacing lines with absolutely nothing going on behind the eyes. This story isn’t exactly adding anything new to the serial killer genre—we’re talking chopped up body parts, creepy photo sessions, even a very Red Dragon-esque “Do you see?“—but it is playing with the tropes at a high-quality level.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)It’s an intensely satisfying story when it’s laser-focused on that simple premise, a cat-and-mouse noir tale peppered with the personal dynamic between Jessica and Trish. (A world-weary Jessica trying to rein in an increasingly-enthusiastic Trish results in some of the best quiet work between Ritter and Taylor over all three seasons.) Unfortunately—and this has been the bugaboo for pretty much every Netflix MCU show, other than perhaps the near-perfect Daredevil season 3—it’s such a tight story that it can’t pad out the episode count. I’ve seen eight episodes and the story doesn’t quite click into place until episode 3 or 4. There’s a lot of gear-spinning in those first few episodes; a slew of legal subplots do come into play later, but early on they feel like they’re just giving massive talents like Carrie-Ann Moss and Eka Darville something to do while everyone gets into place. And even then, there are a few wonky leaps that seem a bit first draft-y; a sequence later on that more or less amounts to Jessica and Salinger sending threatening Snapchats back and forth definitely played more menacing on the page than it does on-screen.Benjamin Walker and Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)But still, as an ending, not only to a series but an entire universe, Jessica Jones season 3 feels right in its low-keyness. A significant part of that is down to the fact it doesn’t feel like an ending at all. (Not surprising, considering the fact production was well underway before Netflix started canceling these shows.) It’s not an epic culmination on the level of, say, Avengers: Endgame, but these street-level heroes were never about the bombast, anyway. Jessica Jones season 3 isn’t exactly going out with a bang, but it is bright enough to illuminate the darkest corners of the MCU just one more time.

REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 2

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MAIN CAST

Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
J.R. Ramirez (Arrow)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Leah Gibson (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Janet McTeer (The White Queen)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hal Ozsan (Redline)
Maury Ginsberg (Two Guys and a Girl)
Angel Desai (Black Knight)
Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Wil Traval (Once Upon a Time)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos)
Lisa Tharps (Law & Order: SUV)
Rob Morgan (Daredevil)

The first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a kind of miracle, combining a taut and entertaining superhero narrative with one of the most nuanced explorations of domestic abuse and sexual violence ever put on screen. Krysten Ritter’s prickly, guarded, hard-drinking Jessica is a female superhero with unique significance. Her very existence—a woman with literal super-strength who still fell prey to a male predator—skewers accepted narratives about victimhood, while her determined independence cuts through expectations of how women are “supposed” to act after assault.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)Ritter’s performance in the second season is a few degrees more emotional, as Jessica—prompted by her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor)—finally begins to set in the trauma of her past. That trauma encapsulates not only Kilgrave’s abuse, but the car accident that killed her family and landed her in a hospital where mysterious, horrific, superpower-inducing experiments were conducted on her. And she’s not sad or scared about what was done to her; she’s furious. In an anger management support group she reluctantly attends, participants bounce a ball against the wall to relieve stress while they share their stories. Jessica bounces it so hard she smashes a hole in the wall, before confirming: “Still angry.” Female anger is often stigmatized; women put on a calm face for fear of being labelled crazy or hysterical or a bitch. To see it expressed so openly and so often in a Netflix comic-book adaptation feels faintly revolutionary.Rachael Taylor and Eka Darville in Jessica Jones (2015)That’s also true of the new season’s handling of Jessica’s sex life. When a midtown douche notices Jessica in a bar and leers—“Nice ass”—she wheels around and snaps, “What did you say?” Surely she’s about to kick his ass, you think. Smash-cut to: Jessica having joyless sex with this loser in a bathroom stall, her face a mask, her detachment painfully clear. It’s a stark contrast to her passionate clinches last season with Luke Cage (Mike Colter), which served to show that being raped did not define her. Then, sex was a way in which she reclaimed her body and her selfhood; now, it’s a way for her to dissociate. This coping mechanism is explored in greater depth following the introduction of her new love interest Oscar (JR Ramirez), a big-hearted family man who’s bewildered by Jessica’s resistance to intimacy.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)The plot thread driving the new season is Jessica and Trish trying to uncover the truth about 20 missing days from Jessica’s past: 20 days during which she went into hospital almost dead, and emerged with superpowers. Though she has total amnesia about this time, it gradually becomes clear that her origin story is similar to that of this season’s Big Bad (played by Janet McTeer), a mysterious, preternaturally strong young woman who was subjected to the same experiments as Jessica, and came out a “monster.” The presence of a super-powered villain terrorizing New York yet again only heightens the public backlash against “supers,” although the bigotry faced by Jessica and others like her is the one place where the show’s allegories feel clumsy, particularly in a scene where someone pointedly refers to “you people.”While the new season—at least for its first five episodes—lacks a threat as propulsive and engaging as Kilgrave, its ensemble also feels better served. Carrie Anne Moss’s steely, high-powered lawyer Jeri Hogarth, by now a mainstay of the Marvel TV universe, is propelled in a rich, moving new direction by some unexpectedly brutal news. And Trish’s history as a child star takes on new complexity when she’s forced by necessity to seek out a producer who assaulted her when she was a teenager. The moment in which Jessica confronts this particular creep, and denounces “pricks like you who think you can take whatever, or whoever, you want” would have been a thrill no matter the context, but in this Time’s Up moment in Hollywood it’s a particularly cathartic standout. As a female superhero whose anger makes her powerful, and whose trauma has no impact on her strength, Jessica Jones has never felt more essential.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 3

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)
John Barrowman (Reign)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Aubrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
Karl Yune (Real Steel)
Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine)
Peter Stormare (American Gods)
J.R. Ramirez (Power)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
Christina Cox (Defying Gravity)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Glee)
Amy Gumenick (Supernatural)
Nick E. Tarabay (Spartacus)
Jill Teed (Highlander: The Series)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Kelly Hu (The Scopion King)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Vinnie Jones (The Cape)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Austin Butler (The Carrie Diaries)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Marc Singer (V)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Francoise Yip (Andromeda)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)

Season 3 certainly started off on a strong note with the premiere episode, “The Calm.” That episode laid out the general status quo for team Arrow post-Slade uprising. Ollie had saved his city but found himself struggling to find meaning in his existence outside of putting on a costume and shooting criminals full of arrows. That struggle was complicated with the addition of a new recurring player in the form of Ray Palmer, a charismatic businessman who managed to steal both Ollie’s company and the affections of Felicity. Coupled with the debut of Peter Stormare as a much superior new version of Count Vertigo and the cliffhanger murder of Sara Lance.Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins emerged as the villains of the season, when we get to episode 8 & 9 we the one-two punch of “The Brave and the Bold” and “The Climb” had great momentum . The former offered the first extended crossover between Team Arrow and Team Flash, and the results were as fun as fans of the two shows could have hoped. The latter, meanwhile, saw Ollie journey to Nanda Parbat and confront Ra’s al Ghul in the flesh. Their clifftop duel easily ranks among the best action scenes in the show’s three-year history. The choreography was solid. being a mid season cliffhanger left fans hanging over christmas.Stephen Amell and Matt Nable in Arrow (2012)Ollie’s friends believed him to be dead and found themselves defending Starling City from the seemingly invulnerable crime lord Brick (played with gusto by Vinnie Jones). The three-part Brick storyline was another highlight for the season. Ray Palmer was a great addition to the show. He brought a charm and a sense of humor. Even when Ray’s ongoing story arc seemed tenuously linked with the rest of Team Arrow, the character’s sheer entertainment value and his dynamic with Felicity justified his presence. The fact that we got to see Ray evolve from billionaire industrialist to full-fledged superhero in his own right was a bonus.  Arrow continues to serve as prime breeding ground for other DC heroes to emerge.The show also deserves credit for the overall quality of its special effects and action choreography. That’s an area where Arrow has consistently improved over time as the budget has grown and the cast and crew have grown more experienced. A number of action scenes really stood out this season, whether it was the first glimpses of the A.T.O.M. suit in action, the epic street riot in “Uprising,” or the fateful duel between Ollie and Ra’s in “The Climb.” Looking back, the one action sequence that stood out more than anything this year was the shot of Roy running through a pipe while gunfire exploded behind him in “Left Behind.” There’s a growing cinematic flair to this show that never gets old.The season led to the showdown between Arrow and Ra’s Al Ghul, the resolve brought new dimensions to the character which will lead into the upcoming 4th Season. John Barrowman was also a great return addition to this season being a full time player, changing from villain to anti-hero. Katrina Law was always great to see again, every time she shows up you know it will be a great episode.Arrow continues to become a a shining beacon of the DC Universe and with season 4 on its way, it’s here to stay for a while.