Pour one out for Jessica Jones, the hard-boozing, superpowered, misanthropic P.I. (with the great jeans), who not only feels the pressure of ending her own series but being the last of The Defenders to say goodbye for now. And for how long? Well, those characters may eventually surface on Disney’s streaming service, but there’s no guarantee of that happening. With this third season starring Krysten Ritter, Netflix puts an end to their MCU era with a baker’s dozen of episodes that, at once, attempt to branch off into a refreshing new direction but also finds their purpose frustrated. Instead of a bang-up season, Jessica Jones drowns in a tired, overplayed question: What does it mean to be a hero?
Aaand that’s a theme that’s been pounded into the ground already by several superhero movies (the most similar take here would be Captain America: Civil War), and Jessica Jones dwells on that question for the season’s first eight episodes screened for review. If an inventive answer surfaces during the final five chapters, then it will have happened too late. This season succumbs to the dreaded bloat that the Netflix MCU adores — too many episodes, all around an hour long, against the developing trend for the best series this year (including Netflix’s Russian Doll and Black Summer) of shorter being better. With over 500 original shows airing in any given year, the time for brevity is now.
This season, the biggest instance of padding happens to be the one being heavily marketed — the transformation of Jessica’s adoptive sister, Trish (Rachael Taylor), into the streaming service’s version of Hellcat. She’s sarcastically described by Jessica as a “cat burglar,” since her budding vigilantism involves leaping out of windows several stories up, but goodness, there’s a lot of time wasted on Trish without much payoff. Her bottle episode, directed by Ritter, gives her an origin story and works well on its own. As far as integrating Trish as a hero into the main narrative, though, the process doesn’t feel smooth. Yes, there’s a nice sisterhood theme at work when Trish and Jessica both work together to stop a new villain, but other than that, she slows the series down. It feels like a chore, as a viewer, to slog through the process of accepting sort-of Hellcat while this show takes a bow.