Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg tells Thrillist that Jessica's "dark victory" over Kilgrave forges an emotional through-line for the show's starker, and often startling, depictions of women's rage. "We come into Season 2 with her not really having dealt with that issue for herself," Rosenberg says. "Who am I? Am I a killer? Am I a rage-monster? [These] questions dig down deep to her very DNA." Seeking answers, the private investigator goes on a mission to uncover the shadowy medical organization that, during her teenage years, "saved" her from a car wreck and turned her into a powerhouse who can lift SUVs and toss grown men through walls. Through its comic book narrative, Season 2 threads in strands of grief and fear, body horror and spiritual revulsion, and unfathomable anger at being so thoroughly violated, so many times, by so many people.
"That's really the exploration this season," Rosenberg explains. "[Jessica thinks], I have all this anger. Is that what they made me into? Does it make me a monster? Her issues are really dealing with rage, and with the fear of her anger -- but, ultimately, sort of embracing it."
If Jessica's blunt act of survival was the narrative crux of Season 1, then her righteous and terrifying rage at being made, and unmade, by the shadowy cabal, by Kilgrave, by a society that still can't fully understand or accept "gifted" or powered individuals (at one point, a woman cop derisively refers to Jessica as one of "you people") is the force that propels Season 2. In the Alias comics that the series is based on, the Kilgrave arc ends with Jessica pregnant, confessing her feelings to the baby's father, Luke Cage. The rest of Jessica's story, throughout myriad of other comics and crossovers, is devoted to her marriage and motherhood. This approach seems a bit too sweet, a bit too simple, given the depth and complexity of her traumas -- and suggesting, perhaps, that these cornerstones of conventional femininity are the best palliatives for a woman's pain. The Netflix series goes to far darker places: It treats Jessica's accumulated grit as fertile ground to excavate women's rage from a society that has never taken traumas recent and ancient -- or their hopes and ambitions -- seriously.
At one point, Jessica ends up in anger management group therapy -- something the show plays for pathos and for laughs in a fine, yet successful, balance. As Jessica tosses the therapist's little rubber ball against the wall, Steve McQueen-style, she lists the reasons for her anger ("My whole family was killed in a car accident; someone did horrific experiments on me; I was abducted, raped, and forced to kill someone. And I'm in here bouncing a goddamn ball.") until she drives a dent into the hard plaster wall, scaring the hell out of her fellow patients. This is not a riot grrrl's punkish snarl, but a woman testing the boundaries of her own powers, sometimes drowning in the wild undertow of her emotions. Watching Jessica stalk a smug rival PI who sabotages her business down a hallway, punching the I-don't-take-no-for-an-answer tough guy through a plate-glass door, is a riveting bit of wish fulfillment for women who've had to scrape and smile before inferior, even abusive men, for eons.