The third and final season of Jessica Jones is the last installment of Netflix’s Defenders-based corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless some sort of miracle occurs, it will probably be the last we see of any of these properties. I do not hold out much hope for any resurrection of them on Disney+ or Hulu or anything like that. And that, I have to say, is a shame.
Indeed, it’s a rather melancholy truth to note: corporate politics has, once again, gotten in the way of quality storytelling. Not only are the Netflix shows going the way of the dodo, leaving dangling threads forever untied, but Cloak and Dagger has yet to be renewed for a third season, Agent Carter never got that third season either, Inhumans was a magnificent flop, I’ve no idea what’s going on with Runaways, and even Agents of Shield is ending next season, after having lost much of its connection to the MCU movies. It seems the entire standing collection of Marvel’s TV shows has been collectively divorced from the movies, and that saddens me a little, no matter what we might look forward to from Marvel Studios and Disney.
It is, in a sense, the end of a small era, and the first substantial fracture to be found in the MCU.
As far as Netflix goes, Jessica’s final story may have been the perfect swan song. It would have been far better, I think, if they could have finished Luke Cage’s story and Danny Rand’s. Heck, the loose threads from any and all of their stories could have been tied up with one more crossover event… but I digress, and get ahead of myself. My point is, this was a very good ending to the show, and even to a collection of shows. That is no small thing, especially as Jessica’s second season was easily the most lackluster of all the Defenders’ shows.
The plot follows Jessica and those around her as they confront not only what is arguably their most menacing adversary yet, but also the darkness within themselves.
In the case of the former, we have a serial killer who has no special abilities whatsoever, but possesses formidable wits and a terrifying will. Having been constantly overlooked until now, he succeeds in delivering devastating blows to the people trying to bring him down, and then twisting the truth to wriggle out of justice. He drives the heroes in ways they never have been before, and even when he loses, he leaves a lasting legacy of darkness and tragedy.
That goes into the latter theme of one’s inner struggle with the darkness. Some people feel stuck on the wrong side of things until a pivotal moment of decision, when things become clear, and they choose to clean up their act. Others simply deal with it, head-on, without blinking, though there are tears shed and wounds taken. Still others never really turn away from evil, even when trying to do something good. And then there are those who stare into the abyss, and fight it… but blink, and lose themselves in that instant. That is how an angel falls, by trying to shine so bright that they blind themselves to the shadows creeping in on their own hearts.
That sounds pretty vague, I know, but I don’t want to spoil the show for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. 😉
I also notice that this season, like the rest of the Defender shows, delves deeply into what it means to be a hero. It questions what separates heroes and villains, what price is paid for heroism, and especially the heavy weight that falls on oneself when one takes justice into one’s own hands. Like it or not, the superheroes are all vigilantes, operating without legal authority or oversight. When the law is ignored and the line becomes blurred, mistakes are made. Terrible, costly mistakes, paid for in blood, pain, death, even sanity itself. We have often glorified such figures as flout the law, but the ramifications of doing so are very real and very dangerous.
So, it certainly doesn’t hold back on some powerful, compelling themes! 🙂
The narrative which carries this forward is generally tight, well-paced, and driven by the characters. Everything that happens actually matters, with all the threads intertwining intricately by the end, to create the conclusion. That does not mean I necessarily care about all of the threads and the people in them, but there is nothing that comes out of nowhere. No one is just off doing there own thing, and there is no deus ex machina.
Speaking of, I really enjoyed these characters. Most of them, the main characters, we see their development on the screen Jessica wrestles with what she can bear to lose, Trish is put through the wringer as she strives to be a hero, Malcolm takes a winding path back towards a better path to take, etc. But there are others who we only learn about from an outside perspective, and learn that there is often more to someone than most will ever see.
And I loved the partnership between Jessica and Trish, one being strong and experienced, the other being agile and passionate about their work. It took far too long to come about, and it was over far too soon, but it was great while it lasted.
I am left a little puzzled by exactly what Jessica means to do after the final scene, but somehow it still fits with an overall theme of picking oneself up after being knocked down harder than ever. It has been a long, rough road to rock bottom, but all the people we like are at least doing that much, however they can.
This season is, both of itself and within the context of Netflix’s Marvel series, both tragic and triumphant, both having endings which are both happy and sad. As I consider, I think I would personally rank it very high, second only to the first season of Daredevil.
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A.