Spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2. Obviously.
The second season of Jessica Jones was thankfully a very different experience than the first season. I love the first season, with it probably being my favourite of all the Marvel Netflix shows, but a new direction was needed to not taint what had come before. Season 2 made some bold choices and forged its own path and I admire that. While not as strong as the debut season, Season 2 felt very consistent and not once took the microscope off its fascinating and flawed characters. For me all the character progression and exploration worked: Malcolm’s journey to becoming his own PI, Hogarth’s quest for a cure and following vengeance, while only tangentially related to everything else, was great, Jessica’s relationship with her mother was perfect and then there is Trish. I’ve seen people online hating Trish in season 2 but I couldn’t disagree more. For me it was Trish who was the true star of the season.
“No one touches me anymore unless I want them to”
Despite her immaculate public persona, Trish is just as damaged as Jessica. The parallels between Jess and Trish’s mothers throughout Season 2 is fantastic with both being the source of much anguish in their respective lives. Trish has been abused her whole life. Her mother, Dorothy, as a domineering overlord, living vicariously through her daughter to achieve what she could not. Dorothy says as much in the penultimate episode of the season, “You’re everything I wanted to be and so much more”. While the brief foray into the ever-relevant world of sexual harassment in the season’s opening episodes might feel detached from the rest of the show it holds so much meaning for Trish’s later actions. The Weinstein parallel depicts her as a sexual abuse victim and details the power people have had over her for her entire life. Between this, her pushy mother and her constant internal comparisons to her superpowered adoptive sister, she feels powerless. She has been constantly trying to gain power over her own life and when she gets the chance to, through literal powers, she jumps at the chance.
What if our character’s situations were switched? What if Trish had powers all along and Jess was powerless? With similar backgrounds of abuse wouldn’t Jessica do all that she could to gain powers? Trish’s journey in season 2 is all about discovering what she truly wants. She wants to help people, that much has always been clear, but this personal need that has been eating her up for years is finally freed in a sudden burst in what could be seen as selfishness and arrogance. I’ll agree she’s not always the most likable character, but purposefully so, and she is always fascinating. In several ways throughout Season 2, Trish gets what she has always wanted or at least what she thought she always wanted. She gets her dream job on a big TV station but it’s not enough. She is proposed to but realises she never wanted to marry Griffin but instead wanted his job. A job that offers both danger and the reward of helping those in need.
It’s this slow realisation that her true desire is superpowers that I love so much. Her addictive personality is a key drive to everything she does and it leads her to use Simpson’s combat enhancer which gives her a taste of the power she realises she has always craved for. Let’s not forget that she was the one in the first season that tried to push Jessica into being a superhero. Trish has been trying to live vicariously through Jessica just like her mother does through her. She despises that Jessica doesn’t use her powers to help people and Jessica calls Trish out on using her as “the focus of your ridiculous insecurities” towards the end of the season. It also makes sense that the regular people who live in the world of the MCU would fantasise about having superpowers in a serious way and try and actually gain some. It’s an interesting piece of realistic world-building that I like is finally being explored in this expansive fictional reality.
In gaining superpowers, Trish is doing something for herself while justifying all her actions with the thought that in the end she’ll help other people whether it be fighting crime or helping her best friend Jessica who can’t see past the mask of her mother on the face of a monster. I believe Trish will use her powers for good but there is no getting away from the selfishness she displays on her journey to get them. Her addictive personality pushes her to dark and dangerous places as she briefly becomes an antagonistic presence in Jess’s life. This type of character complexity is felt throughout the whole season with there being no clear villain like in the first season. We have Alisa, Karl, Dorothy and now Trish as antagonists to Jessica with their own multi-dimensional motivations behind everything they do.
As to why watchers have been so against and annoyed by Trish this season, I think is something common in film and TV. Characters that aren’t ‘bad guys’ but oppose our lead character with their different outlooks are often unfairly despised for simply getting in our hero’s way despite such conflict obviously being the key to good drama. Remember the hate for Skyler when Breaking Bad was airing? It’s the same with Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi. These types of characters are always hated despite being interesting and vital to the story.
So, there you have it. My reasoning on why I believe Trish Walker is the true star of Jessica Jones Season 2, outshining every other character (all of whom I still enjoyed a lot) and having the most interesting arc of the season. I thought Rachael Taylor was superb in the role, despite her native Australian accent occasionally slipping through, and I can’t wait to see where Trish goes in the already announced third season. With all the cat hints this season from feline DNA being used in Dr Malus’s procedure to the nurse stating “You’ve just used up two or your nine lives, Miss Walker”, it looks like Hellcat is on the way.
Did you like Trish’s character arc in Season 2? Where would you like to see her character go in Season 3? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.