Jessica Jones ends with nearly too many losses to bear, but also with a more complete picture of its protagonist than ever before. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) wakes up in an RV on the way to wherever she wants to go… Except for The Raft, since Alisa (Janet McTeer) refuses to be locked up again. The push-and-pull dynamic between mother and daughter is one of the most compelling aspects of the season, driving home the theme of family. In fact, the only thing that turned Jessica against Alisa before this was when she threatened her other family.
Speaking of Trish (Rachael Taylor), she wakes up in the hospital desperate to help Jessica get out of the mess she made no matter what Dorothy (Rebecca De Mornay) says to stop her. Her story has probably been the most disconcerting, since her desire to become a superhero seemed to come out of left field and there’s not much resolution on whether she’ll get help for her addiction. But her devotion to Jessica comes through when it counts, and that’s what resonates the most in “AKA Playland.”
Alisa says she’s ready to make up for all the killing she’s done, and opportunity presents itself while they’re on the run: a sweet family finds themselves trapped inside their car in a fiery inferno. Together, Jessica and her mother save them before Alisa must dive back into the flames to rescue one more person. The few seconds in which Jessica fears the worst are truly intense, and the sweet reunion makes it clear that she can’t let her family go no matter what atrocious acts have taken place. Secure in her decision, she contacts Oscar (J.R. Ramirez) for papers yet again and resists his pleas to stay for him and Vido. Given that the majority of their relationship thus far has been her imposing on his hospitality in more ways that one, it’s hard to be invested in their romance, but the parallel between his connection with his son and Jessica’s with her mother is certainly poignant. Unfortunately, she must make a break for it before getting what she came for because the cops are on her tail.
Given how gung-ho Alia is about becoming a hero with Jessica by her side, it’s surprising how quickly she deflates once she learns that Jessica will be considered an accomplice. It’s understandable that her motherly instinct would take over, but at the same time it feels a little too convenient. Regardless, this is where the “AKA Playland” comes in, as Alia drives her daughter to the fair that they would attend years ago and prepares to surrender to the cops. Now that Jessica’s experienced the reality of having a mother, she’s not ready to give it up, making their scene on the ferris wheel one of the best moments in the series. That is until a shot rings out and kills Alia on the spot, an act which turns the heartfelt moment into a heart wrenching one when we see pulled the trigger.
Having been informed by Detective Costa that Jessica was aiding and abetting her mother and that the cops would try to bring her in safely, Trish made her way to the playground and took matters into her own hands. Perhaps the most frightening part of all is when Jessica takes the gun and appears moments away from shooting Trish herself. It’s a chilling reversal from the previous episode, when she prepared to kill her mother over what happened to Trish. Thankfully she lets Trish run, and the scene ends with Detective Costa assuring Jessica that she did the right thing. He may not know what she actually did, but the audience knows the truth behind his words.
While all of this heartbreak is occuring, Jessica Jones also takes the time to check in with Malcolm (Eka Darville), who takes a meeting with Linda Chao after fixing up Jessica’s office for the last time and leaving the key. We don’t know what he’s up to yet, only that he’s cut his hair, donned a nice suit, and called himself Millard Graves. The next time he pops up, it’s at Jeri’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) door with a solution to her law firm’s partnership troubles. Jeri then returns to her firm armed with a video of Malcolm’s meeting, which implies that Benowitz and Chao have been laundering drug money. She offers to add a few more zeroes to her exit offer and warns she’s taking her clients with her – including Rand, which may open up interesting crossover opportunities. But despite Malcolm’s excellent follow-through, she still won’t take him on full-time. I’m glad that Malcolm is finally branching out for himself after a season of Jessica and Trish treating him like garbage, but this story is less than satisfying for either him or Jeri given how much time was focused on her illness and Inez conning her instead.
At least Jessica Jones treats viewers to some aftermath, because her latest loss would have been a terrible way to end the season. A small flash forward shows that she’s still working as a PI, still buying booze in bulk, and now saving the day whenever she witnesses a crime. But one thing that hasn’t been patched up is her relationship with Trish, as Jessica can’t forgive her for being the one who killed her mother. But all is not lost for Trish, as she may have developed some lightning-fast reflexes throughout her ordeals. Something to explore for next season? Jeri calls Pryce for a job Jessica is ill-suited for, and learns that Malcolm is now his associate. Some may feel this is a betrayal, but I’m personally glad he may be able to curb Pryce’s baser instincts next season. The most awkward part of all is that Malcolm and Jessica still live in the same building, which will certainly make for some interesting tension in the future. But Jessica does have a few relationships that are still intact – specifically Oscar, who has forgiven quite a lot over the source of one season, and his son Vido. After so much darkness for her these last few years, it’s lovely to see her have a moment of respite even if it doesn’t feel fully earned.
Jessica Jones‘ second season was overall more uneven than its first, but the second half especially did an excellent job of delving into issues of PTSD, abandonment and jealousy. And while the family Jessica built for herself may have fractured beyond repair, the fact that she can start over with another one turns a tragic ending into one full of hope.