Jessica Jones does not want to be a superhero. If she had it her way, everyone would just leave her alone. No one would try to force her to be something she’s not. JESSICA JONES season two explores Jessica’s issues with superheroism, delving deep into the shady corporation called IGH that gave Jessica her powers in the first place.

The search digs up parts of Jessica’s past that she isn’t ready to deal with until a deadly new threat forces her to confront it. More than once, viewers are forced to contend with the havoc powers have wrought on Jessica’s life and the lives of those around her.

JESSICA JONES Season 2 Review: Can’t Stop Watching

Jessica Jones’ Powers Are A Reminder of Her Family

Jessica’s powers are, more often than not, a terrible reminder of her family. Thinking too deeply about her powers forces Jessica to remember the accident that killed her family and sent her to the hospital where IGH experimented on her. Jessica regularly drinks herself unconscious to forget the car accident and admits in JESSICA JONES season two that she never learned to drive because she couldn’t bear it.

She believes that she caused the accident in the first place — Jessica and her brother Philip had been fighting and distracted their father before the collision. When Trish pushes a little too hard for Jessica to do something about IGH, Jessica does not hesitate in threatening to cut Trish off completely if it means she doesn’t have to think about her family.

Later, a flashback episode in JESSICA JONES season two reveals that for a brief moment, Jessica started a life with aspiring club owner Stirling after a fight with Trish. Unbeknownst to Jessica, Stirling is murdered by her own mother. Alisa had believed Stirling was planning to hurt Jessica, and her rage turned deadly. That doesn’t change the fact that Jessica believes it was the use of her own powers earlier in the episode against some thugs that caused Stirling’s death. Stirling’s memory can be found pretty prominently in Jessica’s life. Primarily in the name Alias Investigations and her ever-present leather jacket.

Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe Allergic to Therapy?

When You’re a Superhero, People Die

If there was one thing made clear during JESSICA JONES two-season run, it’s that Jessica does not want to be a murderer, no matter the cause. More than that, Jessica does not want to put herself into a situation where killing someone might be necessary.

Season one ended with the death of Kilgrave, a terrifyingly suave psychopath with the ability to make people do whatever he wanted. Jessica killed Reva, Luke Cage’s wife, while under Kilgrave’s control. The guilt of falling under Kilgrave’s influence, despite the fact that there was nothing Jessica could’ve done initially, haunts her.

Even having people congratulate her on killing Kilgrave, who very much could not continue to live, chafes. In the very first episode of JESSICA JONES season two, a jilted client asks Jessica to murder her unfaithful lover. Jessica is outraged at the suggestion, but the client cannot fathom why Jessica won’t do it. After all, the man was a bad guy. Doesn’t Jessica get rid of the bad guys? She’s a superhero vigilante, after all. She was more than happy to snap Kilgrave’s neck.

Jessica Jones does not want to be known as someone who kills.

Mistakes Are Deadly

When Jessica finds out a corrupt guard is torturing her mother in prison, she does some digging in his home. Unfortunately, the guard attacks Jessica and temporarily blinds her with some pepper spray. In a moment of self-defense, Jessica hits the guard in the head with his own nightstick. She doesn’t gauge her strength, and the blow kills him.

In the aftermath of the murder, Jessica falls apart. Chaotic voice-overs fight for domineering space, spewing justifications and calls for Jessica to turn herself into the authorities. In an ominous flash of purple light, she begins to hallucinate Kilgrave. He affirms all of her worst fears, accusing her of enjoying murder and providing the suggestion to stage the murder as a suicide. She follows the advice because there just isn’t time to do the right thing here. Her problems are bigger than that.

jessica jones powers hallucinating kilgrave
Gotta love a good old hallucination of the worst person in your life.

Jessica Jones Is, First and Foremost, Human

Sometimes, what you want for yourself is not what a superhero should want. Jessica wants an opportunity to know her mother, Alisa, again, but her mother is a serial killer. As you can imagine, this is quite the moral conundrum. Similar to Captain America’s dilemma in CIVIL WAR, Jessica is willing to do reprehensible things against her better judgment because it’s her mother.

It falls in line with Aunt May’s speech in SPIDER-MAN 2 that motivates Peter to return to superheroics — sometimes to help others, you have to give up the things that mean the most to you. It’s not exactly fair, especially when you didn’t want powers. What’s the difference between seeking out trouble and helping when you stumble upon it?

That awkward moment when your psychopathic mother meets your sort-of boyfriend.

Again and again, Jessica is forced to choose between the right thing to do and a chance to be with her mother again. Alisa is similarly powered, but prone to dissociative deadly fits of rage. Alisa’s anger at Trish’s story about IGH leaves several bodies in her wake.

When it’s just mother and daughter, the two develop a begrudging banter, Alisa pushing forward where Jessica pulls back. In the final episodes of the JESSICA JONES season two, Alisa kidnaps Jessica so they can run away together. On the journey, they come across a fiery car accident, a heavy-handed reminder of the crash that changed their lives forever. They get a chance to save people from experiencing what happened to them, and everything comes full circle.

Being A Superhero is Lonely

The reason most heroes keep secret identities is that they don’t want their loved ones to be put at risk. Living life with an alter-ego certainly strains relationships, but it’s better than having no relationships at all. However, Jessica doesn’t have the benefit of a secret identity, even if she wanted one.

Jessica’s traumatic past in addition to the horrifying things she’s had to do because she’s powered have resulted in death time and time again. It’s not a surprise that to avoid hurt, you would avoid getting close to people in the first place. Jessica’s penchant for one-night stands reflects this — in addition to how many times a day she fires Malcolm.

However, Jessica does have people she cares about. When Alisa comes dangerously close to killing Trish, Jessica begs her not to kill the family she has left. As Jessica says in the final moments of JESSICA JONES season two, it took her mother coming back from the dead to realize that she was a little dead herself. Her decision to pursue a relationship with Oscar Arocho and his precocious son marks a step in the right direction. 

God, I hope nothing bad ever happens to them.

With Great Power Comes Great Mental Illness

It’s no secret that Jessica has a lot on her plate. Before you get to the powers, she’s a woman whose family died in a horrific car accident. Her adoptive family is a freak show, though Jessica’s relationship with Trish proves to be an anchor point for her.

Later, Jessica has to deal with her crazy new abilities. Then, Kilgrave shows up and repeatedly brutalizes her through mind-control. After the events of THE DEFENDERS, it’s no wonder why Jessica just wants to lay low for a while. Unfortunately for her, trouble has a way of finding her.

Mental Health In the Media When Done Right

The Whizzer appears first as a joke, thrown into a montage of other (ridiculous) possible clients. He claims he has a solely fear-based super speed. Convenient. There have already been multiple attempts on his life, but he doesn’t exactly appear to be the most truthful or sane person. Until, of course, the Whizzer dies. In a video Jessica finds in Trish’s radio show comments, the Whizzer tells Trish,

“You’re always saying how powers are good, but you were wrong… With great power comes great mental illness.” 

jessica jones season two
Powers aren’t fun.

Whizzer’s point is incredibly interesting to consider in the context of the entirety of season two — there is not one person on JESSICA JONES whose powers have come at no cost to their mental health. Jessica drinks away her troubles and suffers from PTSD and awful nightmares.

Her mother Alisa has destructive fits of rage that make her threat to even her loved ones. Trish’s past history with drug addiction feeds her desire to become a superhero. Even if it means destroying the rest of her life in the process. Though it remains somewhat ambiguous if Trish succeeded in her quest, it doesn’t change what she did to get there.

JESSICA JONES Season Two: Is Helping People Enough?

Jessica doesn’t want to be a superhero, or a vigilante, or anything but a private investigator who minds her own business unless someone’s paying her not to. The downside of having powers, and having other people know you have powers in a world where the Avengers exist, is that everyone expects you to don a costume. The refrain “I’m not a hero” plays on a loop throughout JESSICA JONES season two. When Alisa suggests that the two become heroes despite being on the run, Jessica is derisive and reluctant.

That doesn’t mean Jessica doesn’t use her powers to help people. Jessica and her mother physically keep the bus from leaving the station to save Oscar’s son Vido from his mother. She helps Inez out of homelessness to protect her from IGH. During a liquor run, she keeps a thief from successfully robbing the store.

In season one, Jessica does everything in her power to keep Kilgrave’s victims safe. All of these things, I think, underscore a pretty important point about the world she lives in. Jessica Jones doesn’t need to be a superhero to help people. She doesn’t owe the world anything.

And that’s just fine.

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