Standout Performances Can Barely Save this Muddied Mess

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Next week, the relationship between Marvel and Netflix officially concludes when the third season of Jessica Jones hits the streaming provider. Unfortunately for fans of the Defendersverse, this show — and this corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for that matter — fails to go out with a bang, rather limping into the night with a whisper. When it comes to Jessica Jones Season Three, an overwhelming chunk of the season is entirely forgettable, lost in the ether while it tries to find footing and decide what it wants to be.

When Jessica Jones hit the streaming giant in 2015, it featured an incredible story with character arcs that felt interesting and fulfilling. Now, the show doesn’t hold a candle to what it once was. As Season Three starts off, it’s almost immediately clear that it has no idea where to go. In typical Defendersverse fashion, the story is no doubt a victim of the curse of 13 episodes. Loading the meaningful plot and action to the back half of the season, there’s a handful of episodes at the beginning that are excellent filler, but nothing more. This leads to the season’s primary antagonist not being introduced until a third of the way through with an episode or two that are entirely skippable without missing a beat of the season’s overarching story.

As has been the case with the other Marvel shows on Netflix, the further into a run a show gets, the more it focuses on supporting characters, something that proves accurate once again… and here’s where it starts getting messy. Time and time again, the show trips over its own feet as the characters are pulled every which way, seemingly on a different arc each time you see them appear on screen. That said, this show has some of the best performers in the entire Marvel Television stable, and they do the best with what’s given to them. Surprising few, Carrie-Ann Moss is a standout yet again as she manages to look death in its face and continue on her cutthroat, never-losing ways. While his arc is less solid than that of Jeri Hogarth’s, Eka Darville manages to perform a bang-up job as Malcolm Ducasse, a story which fans will end up either loving or hating.

The season also introduces two new main characters — Erik Gelden (Ben Walker) and Gregory Sallinger (Jeremy Bobb) — but neither end up being as fleshed out as they can be. While a quick Google search will get you the “real” identities of those characters, don’t hold your breath on seeing those comics characters in live action as they vaguely resemble their comic book counterparts if at all. Gelden ends up serving as yet another love interest for the show’s titular character, a peculiar choice for a production that prides itself on telling stories that are meant to empower.

Though it began production before the cards started to fall with Netflix, it’s hard to shake the fact that this season feels phoned in. If you were hoping to see this era of Marvel Television sail off in the sunset with fireworks and acclaim, you’re simply out of luck. Despite falling flat throughout, a few great performances manage to save the season from complete and utter despair.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Jessica Jones Season Three is due out June 14th. This review is based on access to the season’s first eight episodes.

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