Jessica Jones final Season debuted on Netflix last Friday, and all but the most dedicated of binge-watchers will perhaps have taken a week or so to watch the 13-episode Marvel show. Of course, this season is tinged with the fact we know it will be the final Marvel show on Netflix before it even started, so I suppose the question is, is it worth catching up with Jessica Jones Season 3?
I suppose the answer to that questions has some caveats depending on your history with the Netflix Marvel shows up to this point, for me, the answer was yes, I’m glad I watched it. However, if you haven’t caught up with the previous two Seasons of Jessica Jones, then for me this would not be the best place to start watching. You can, of course, catch up with previous seasons of Jessica Jones if you are a Netflix subscriber, and in all honesty Season 1 was far superior to the others anyway, so my suggestion would be to start there and see what you think?
But let’s delve a little deeper into JJ Season 3, and for this review I will be keeping things SPOILER FREE for Season 3, but I will be talking SPOILERS for Season 1 and 2, and thus why I discussed my thoughts on whether to watch this without having seen the previous two seasons above. If you haven’t watched any Jessica Jones Season’s yet, then skip this review for now.
Jessica Jones Season 3 very much feel like a continuation of the story which began in the first season of the show, and perhaps most of all shows based on The Defenders, JJ feels like one continuous story. Normally, that would be a major plus point for me, but I feel as a lead character Jessica herself has often the least interesting arcs of all the characters in the show, even though this season they do attempt to have her character grow over the course of the show. Arguably the character arcs that have the most impact across Season 3 are Jeryn Hogarth and Trish Walker, in fact, I’d argue that this season could have been called ‘It’s Patsy’ and no one would have blinked an eye. But let me just say right off the bat that I found Jessica Jones 3 far superior to the second Season which I rate as the absolute worst of all the Netflix Marvel shows. Yet, that is such a low-bar target that the latest season still has a ton of its own issues to deal with.
Following the events of Season 2, Jessica is still dealing with the fact her best friend and stepsister Trish shot and killed her mother. Now Jessica’s mother as we know probably had to die as she was a killer and even Jessica seemed powerless to stop her, but that doesn’t mean Jessica and Trish begin this season as best friends again. We also know that Trish put herself through a dangerous procedure to give herself powers like Jessica, and as you’d imagine this season heavily deals with Trish both exploring these powers and testing herself as a hero.
Whilst this relationship between Jessica and Trish serves as the backbone of this final season, we also have another antagonist to throw into the mix and the results are a mixed bag. This may, or may not be the result of the showrunners knowing they had to complete the story of Jessica and Trish by the end of this season, but I got a Game of Thrones Season 8 vibe from this. What I mean by that, is that at times the conclusion of the story all felt a little rushed, like they needed more time to smoothly take characters towards the point they wanted. Hence my comments about whether they squeezed some planned Season 4 content into this to make it work?
The new antagonist is not a super-powered individual in terms of physicality, but it is someone remarkably sharp, confident and quite evil in suspected serial killer Sallinger. I actually thought the show worked really well in the early to late middle section of the narrative, because it felt like a proper detective story about Jessica going up against a mastermind. Sallinger and his goals are suitably dark and creepy and you never felt like Jessica had the upper hand due to her powers this time around. The problem comes when the show gets to the final third, and at this point, Sallinger acts more like a catalyst for the events that are about to come instead of the villain. The result for me was that Sallinger lost a lot of his menace and creep factor, and I was left questioning both his and Jessica’s motives throughout that final act of the series. By the end, I didn’t really care about Sallinger and what happened to him and that’s the mixed bag effect I was referring to.
Instead, the finale deals with the further breakdown of the relationship between Trish and Jessica after initially beginning to patch things up and work together. This does keep in line with the overall arc for both characters across the three seasons, but at the same time I felt it all a little rushed and perhaps this could have been explored in more detail if a fourth season had been given the green light? Jessica herself is in this season attempting to be heroic where she can for the sake of her mothers’ wish for her prior to her death. I actually feel that this aspect of Jessica’s arc should have begun more in the second season, because I felt like Jessica needed more to do emotionally in that Season.
What does it actually mean to be a hero and what is the difference between a true hero and a vigilante? These are some of the themes explored in Jessica Jones Season 3, and yet when compared to The Dark Knight, for example, this feels like a mild commentary rather than a deep narrative that drives the plot forward for the main character. I know The Dark Knight is a classic, but this show has almost 13 hours to explore characters as opposed to the under three hour run time of TDK and really could have done better.
If we look to some of the supporting cast, then there are some overall series highlights here for me. For a start, Malcolm actually feels like he has a purpose in this Season and his actions have impact on those around him. Hogarth was honestly one of my least favorite characters from Season 1 and 2, just because she seemed so one dimensional and remarkably naïve for someone supposedly so smart. However, in this season I feel they really took Hogarth’s arc in an interesting direction, and kind of an unexpected one as well given her terminal illness. This season really hammers home how selfish and emotional Hogarth is when making decisions and for once we really get to see the impact of her decisions on those she claims to care about. Though I must say that once again Detective Costa is given short shrift in terms of character development and again just appears when he is required for plot development. They almost get into his life a little more when we catch a glimpse of how his work is affecting his relationship, as he and his partner are attempting to adopt a child, but so little was this shown on screen that I can’t even recall Costa’s boyfriend/husband’s name, or even better, that I couldn’t find it after searching Google for a few minutes as I wrote this out.
Finally, we also have some new characters appearing for this season and that includes a new love interest for Jessica. The fact that last season love interest was pushed to one side in a 15-second conversation tells you everything about how boring he was as a foil for Jessica. Instead, we get Erik, who actually has some powers of his own and was a nice addition to this season, so much so, that you feel he should have been absolutely in there since Season 2 instead of random neighbor with a kid from the same floor as Jessica. Erik and Jessica work well against one another and have a pretty complicated relationship that develops throughout this season, Trish herself becomes embroiled between the two of them as these three essentially carry the lead roles in Season 3. Finally I’ll say that after a couple of season doing almost nothing Dorothy Walker, Trish’s mother gets a real chance to shine in this season, and it once again highlights much of what made Season 2 so bad, as she was criminally underdeveloped in a season that dealt with mothers and daughters as the biological mother of Trish and the stepmother of Jessica.
Could There Be A Season 4?
The short answer is yes, but the more detailed answer is probably going to be a no. The story is certainly left open for Jessica to have further adventures, though there would have to be a major cast shake-up if the show was ever to continue, as some of the recurring characters no longer feel like they are a part of Jessica’s future. But, Kirsten Ritter herself doesn’t feel like she will ever play the character again (see related section above), and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has signed a multi-million deal to develop for Warner Bros. going forward, so it seems highly unlikely at this point. I would also say that given the very small cameo from Luke Cage in this Season, that his story doesn’t feel like it’s got anywhere to go either? In fact at this point the only characters I’d be desperate to see Marvel bring back on another platform would be Daredevil and The Punisher, because both work so well for me in this more adult, long-form format.
Overall, I feel like Jessica Jones paid the price for punching too soon as it were in Season 1 with Kilgrave. If Kilgrave had lived, like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, then the show could have really grown as a rival to Matt Murdock’s adventures. As it is we are left with an average Season 1 with a fantastic villain, an awful waste of time in Season 2 and a slightly improved, but flaccid, and aimless finale. If you have watched Jessica Jones previous outings then I would recommend finishing the story in Season 3, but for those that don’t think they have the time for it, I can’t say you’d be missing anything essential by skipping this one.