Jessica Jones: 2.13 AKA Playland
So, to the last episode of Jessica Jones season 2. It’s been an odd experience, to say the least. Full of promise one moment, then dealing out a confusing amount misdirection, tangents and irrelevant subplots the next (for the last time - Griffin anyone?). The last four or so episodes have picked up the pace, but does this make up for the lack of direction of the series overall? I’m not sure that it does.
Bringing the story full circle back to Playland, the very place that Alisa talks about with Jessica on their first real conversation post-family-car-crash, is a nice touch for the series finale. Yet I feel like it was integral to have more bonding time over these memories with Alisa and Jessica to really signify them as a time where both mother and daughter were genuinely happy. Possibly even the last time either of them were truly happy. There doesn’t feel like there’s enough tangible backstory to their lives before the accident to make the loss of their relationship really sting. Instead there’s been a lot of focus on Jessica calling Alisa a murderer and chastising her for the things she has done.
This blame is also problematic for me. Alisa was taken from the car accident and operated on without her consent. She was experimented on, pulled apart and sewn back together and when she awoke, she was a different person. Dr Karl adamantly insists (before his premature death) that Alisa’s rages are not her fault. They are the side effects of the procedures she was put through - again, without consent.
So why is Jessica blaming Alisa for her actions when she is spun into rages that she cannot control? Alisa is far from needing to be locked up with the key thrown away, rather she needs extensive therapy and support to manage her condition. The show seemed intent on continually asking the question ‘is Alisa a monster’ when the answer is clearly no considering Alisa is not consciously choosing to commit these acts.
Back to Aka Playland, Trish discharges herself from the hospital and chases after Alisa and Jessica, finally catching up with them as the two of them are taking a trip down memory lane on the ferris wheel. What goes up must go down however, and Trish is the one who delivers Alisa’s final blow. Which is actually a bullet shot at long distance, but nevermind. Jessica, understandably, is horrified. It’s only at this exact moment (naturally) that Jessica has decided that she would quite like to keep her mother around.
Still, Jessica manages to make the incredibly distressing decision to take the blame for her mother’s death. In a sense, it’s selfish - she knows that Dt. Costa thinks she is in cahoots with Alisa and if he thinks Jessica has killed her then she will basically be off the hook. It’s also a last kindness to Trish, as it’s probably better for her career, future and general life if she isn’t involved in this situation at all. However, this really may be the end for Jessica and Trish.
Trish, despite being an utter idiot the whole way through the season, seems to be finally blessed with the super powers she so badly desires in a nod to her comic book alter-ego Hellcat. I sense this means that Trish might end up taking Alisa's place at Jessica's side (considering Trish was also on a 'must do good' rampage earlier in the season), but it seems unlikely that it will be any time soon.
I think season two ultimately suffered from the outset by not having a solid villain character, which consequently meant the narrative never really felt like it was driving towards anything. Instead, season 2 took a lot of twists and turns, with circular conversations and scenes that felt as if they’d been played out many times before. How many times did Jessica and Trish fall-out and make up this season? Alisa and Jessica’s road to repairing their relationship was never going to be a straight one but did it have to involve so many arguments that were merely rehashes of previous ones?
Having said that, there were some really lovely moments in season two and the emergence of Jessica as a superhero towards the end is a good indicator of where the series is headed. Though perhaps the family car crash which Alisa and Jessica rescue survivors from was slightly too on the nose - subtly isn't really in Jessica Jones' vocabulary it would seem. The mother-daughter superhero rescue must have embedded itself somewhere in Jessica’s mind, as she (reluctantly) stops a robbery of a corner shop at the end of the episode. Or perhaps it’s her mother’s words about using their powers for good that are now ringing in her ears?
So what now for Alias Investigations? Malcolm, Trish and Jessica are all separated - physically and emotionally. Is there any hope that they can reunite? Malcolm teaming up with the person who tried to kill her mother, and Trish actually killing her mother leads me to believe that maybe there is no way back for the three of them. Still, there’s hope for season three.