Jessica Jones is back. After defeating Kilgrave by outsmarting his mind control and teaming up with The Defenders, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is back in the city and taking P.I. cases. The notoriety of her previous exploits brings in new customers, but also customers who expect her to use her super strength for petty revenge.
Meanwhile, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) tries to investigate Jessica’s medical history and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Anne Moss) needs Jessica’s help to fight for her law firm. Pretty soon, Jessica encounters Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer), whose strength surpasses her own.
/Film spoke with Jessica Jones creator and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg by phone this week. Our conversation contains some mild spoilers for the beginning of the season, but season 2 is now streaming on Netflix and ready for you to binge before or after you read our interview.
Kilgrave had a power that Jessica’s strength alone couldn’t beat. For season two, did you want to deal with a villain who could challenge her on her physical strength?
What we wanted to do, facing season two, the bar had been set fairly high for season one. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves because we weren’t going to top Kilgrave, as played by David Tennant. So we really just took a very different approach this time.The conflict comes from a different place. It’s both internal and external, the external triggering a lot of internal strife for Jessica and the rest of our characters.
Is it significant that Jessica is facing a female villain?
The fact that she’s female is not significant in that regard. The character that Janet plays is going to really shake Jessica to her core as we go along. It’s this build leading to some much more complicated things as we move forward.
Is this the first time in Jessica’s life since discovering these powers that she’s faced someone that she couldn’t best?
Physically? As an opponent, yeah, definitely. Luke Cage was physically stronger but generally he was an ally. This is physically a stronger person.
The season begins with Jessica wanting people to use her power for violence. Does that continue as a moral struggle she has to deal with now that people know what she’s capable of?
The struggle is really about her wrestling with her own questions of who am I? Am I the killer that Kilgrave turned me into? Am I a hero? What does all this mean? She’s really avoided that for as long as possible. She’s trying to get through every day and not look too deep. Because Trish has stirred the snake pit, she’s now having to face some of those questions. It’s an interesting time for her.
I loved your play on “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Oh, one of my favorite lines.
Did you check with Stan Lee on that?
Well, I would’ve had to go back to the French philosopher Voltaire, then Churchill and Roosevelt and so on. But knowing what that line plays as in our universe. It was, to me, just perfect for the character.
Pam is suing Jeri for harassment. Did you have that story idea long before the #MeToo movement started late last year?
Well, the entire season was written and produced and in the can by the time the #MeToo movement began. I just love that moment for Jeri Hogarth where she’s giving this impassioned feminist speech and two seconds later she’s going, “Oh, she asked for it. Did you see what she was wearing?” It was so classic Hogarth to be one thing on the surface and another thing. It’s very much her character.
Will Pam be back eventually?
I don’t think so. Jeri’s moved on. She’s got other issues she’s dealing with.
Which I won’t spoil just yet. In movies they don’t really have much time to explore the psychology of their characters, even for Tony Stark, one of the movies’ most complicated ones. Do the 13 episodes give you a lot more time to explore Jessica and the people around her?
Absolutely. That’s what I love about working in television. You really get to dive into characters and their inner workings. This season, we have the wonderful opportunity to explore even more our ensemble characters, the people around Jessica. Not only do we get to go into some interesting territory with her, we also push Trish and Malcolm and Hogarth into some really interesting, edgy places.
Jessica is super picky and won’t take bad cases. Is the P.I. part of her business still strong and important?
Yeah, absolutely. She begins the season not wanting to take cases in which she’s going to get emotionally involved. And that’s a lot of them, so she is being very picky when we first start out. But then she’s forced to really take on this. There’s a monster that’s out there and it gets very personal.
Is the banter a challenge to make sure Jessica has a clever answer for everyone?
That’s the fun part. You get to say all that stuff that you never think of in real life. Here you can sit back and go, “What would I say?” For those of us who get to write for her, it’s wish fulfillment. That’s the funnest part.
Were the Whizzer visual effects something you couldn’t have done in season one?
We could’ve done them. It just wasn’t time for that character until we started season two and found his character from Marvel, discovered and fit very much into the storyline we’re telling. They actually said, “Oh, there’s this character called The Whizzer.” I was like oh, done. That’s done. We know how to use that guy.
Are there more characters in season two that take advantage of visual effects?
There’s definitely some visual effects coming up. For us, action sequences, fight sequences are not interesting to me unless they tell a story. It’s the story of those fights and those action sequences that are the richest to me. We have several of those coming up that are super fun.
You have all female directors and 50% female writers. Was that a discussion with Netflix where you prevailed on how important that was?
It was actually Netflix who brought it to me. I started this season by just wanting to make sure we had a real balance of 50/50 men and women and people of color. We just starting booking directors and finding a deep batch of very talented, very experienced female directors with a long list of sexy credits.It just grew from there of finding more. It was Netflix who was very encouraging. Why not?
Frances McDormand made waves saying “inclusion rider” at the Oscars. Have you ever had one on your shows?
I haven’t had it. Would welcome it if they wanted but we’re very inclusive. We don’t need a rider to tell us to be inclusive. We sort of figured it out. There are probably some shows or show runners or studios that do need to be told that. We’re not one of them. Netflix and Marvel are not.
Are you thinking about season three or other projects you want to do in-between?
Oh, I’m just going to get past this exciting premiere and the door is open. I’m hoping to find something as meaty to sink my teeth into.
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