Jessica Jones season two review

Genre-wise Jessica Jones is a mashup between the superhero and noir genres. When time came to choose between the conventions and traditions of the two, the first season ended up leaning more towards its superhero influences. Despite the hero’s bad choices and the show’s moral complexity, season one had Kilgrave as a clearcut villain – the season’s final arc followed the traditional superhero structure of climbing towards an action set piece.

Season two goes the other way, with morality never being so clearly defined as the final episodes of season one. Some viewers may find this disappointing – while there are compelling villains in season two, none of them are as overtly and undeniably villainous as Kilgrave. Instead the second season has more of a focus on moral complexity.

A show about moral complexity, watched over by an all-seeing eye. / Krysten Ritter by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Jessica begins the season broken and having now killed out of choice, wrestling with the knowledge that she finds it easy to end a life. Anger management plays a big part in the second season, as do the themes of drug addiction, domination and bad parenting. Season one puts a focus on loss of self-control caused by outside manipulators (Kilgrave, Dorothy, Hogarth), while in season two the focus is on loss of self-control from within (anger, addiction, distrust). But the big difference between seasons two and one is that season two leans more heavily into the moral uncertainty, at one point making a persuasive case that Jessica might end up being the villain of this story.

Once again Jeri Hogarth blurs the line between antihero and villain in a way that reminds me of Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes. She’s cold and ruthless, but with a sensitive, broken side – a mirror in the corporate world to Jessica Jones’ working class equivalent. Widely shared leaked shots from on set showed that Kilgrave returns to the show despite his death. My worry going in was that the show would repeat what Heroes did with Sylar, keeping an iconic villain around past the natural end-point to his story. Kilgrave’s appearance is big enough to have an impact but not to stretch credulity.

Season two doesn’t give the audience everything that they might have liked in the first season, but tackles a lot of the same dilemmas from a different angle, and with the same high quality writing and performances. Having just completed my first viewing of season two, I’m not sure which of the two seasons is my favourite, because of the different styles and goals of the stories each tells. While undeniably told with the same tone, in terms of storytelling choices season two zigs where season one zagged – it acts as a sort of companion piece to the first season.

Conclusion: In some ways season two tells a different type of story to season one, but both reach a similar high standard.


Fans Demand Return of Lara Croft’s Pointy Breasts

Ahead of the release of the new Tomb Raider film, superfans are complaining because the new Lara Croft’s breasts aren’t triangular enough. Though originally a result of a design error, Lara’s breasts quickly became an iconic element of the franchise, just as much as drowning in the swimming pool on the training level while trying to work out how to resurface. Or maybe that was just me.

While it is of course in the nature of art to advance and cover new ground, there have been concerns that the new film may move too far from the core of what made the original games and films such a success. Boobs. It’d be impossible, for example, to repeat the iconic moment in the first film when Lara pulls a henchman’s head against her chest, blinding him with her pointy breasts. This in itself was based on one of Lara’s more iconic kill moves from the first set of Tomb Raider games. By the third game UbiSoft had created an achievement award for players who were able to complete the game using only Lara’s breasts as weapons, and an unlockable version of the character who would play the whole game topless.

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Linguistic Geekery

Ultracrepidarianism and Mansplaining

Yesterday, during the weekly Prime Ministers’ Question Time, Theresa May accused Jeremy Corbyn of ‘mansplaining’ to her about International Womens’ Day.
I think it’s a good way to illustrate a bugbear of mine – the loose interpretation of the word ‘mansplaining’.

There isn’t, as far as I can see, anything in Jeremy Corbyn’s question that’s patronising, or that implied that May didn’t know that it was #IWD2018. Corbyn merely mentioned the fact in order to highlight a moral flaw in Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. Mansplaining, in its clearest form, is a confident but unqualified man asserting his opinions to a more qualified woman.

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Storytelling Geekery

IWSG: Twenty Abandoned Drafts

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. Writers who take part in IWSG write about our writing anxieties and check in on each others’ posts on the first Wednesday of each month.


At the weekend’s Oscars Jordan Peele won the award for Best Original Screenplay for Get Out. A racially charged horror-comedy was a brave choice for the subject of only his second feature film script, and Peele admitted in his acceptance speech that he stopped writing it around twenty times. It’s interesting that even someone as experienced and successful as Jordan Peele could have this kind of loss of faith – for those who aren’t familiar with his work, Jordan Peele is half of the hit sketch duo Key and Peele, and had been writing sketch comedy for MADtv since 2003.

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Review – Black Panther

Given that Black Panther has become a cultural phenomenon, there’s been a lot of hype and backlash around the discussion of the film. Stripping all that away, how good is it?

Firstly it’s a good example of an action adventure – the characters are likeable and spark off each other; there’s a compelling story that flows through the film and doesn’t overstay its welcome; the locales (in both Wakanda and South Korea) are colourful and engaging; and there’s some really spectacular and fun action set pieces. That is the primary scale that Black Panther should be judged against, against films like Doctor No, Armaegeddon and the like. By that standard it measures up well – I’d be surprised if there’s many better action films released this year.

It’s a REALLY good example of the genre, but Black Panther is still a fantasy about a man in a mask beating people up. / Black Panther screencap via

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Read my Poetry

Jennifer Lawrence Looked Cold

This week a photograph of Jennifer Lawrence has been the centre of controversy. Feeling inspired but lazy I decided to construct a ‘found poem‘, searching through the things said online and reconstructing them into my own poetry.

'Red Sparrow' - Photocall
The Rorschach dress. /  Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

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Quote: Mel Brooks on seriousness in comedy

Mel Brooks at the White House for the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors by US Federal Government
Mel Brooks at the White House / Picture by the U.S. federal government
At the weekend (on Saturday February 17th) the BBC aired a special about Mel Brooks – Imagine…Mel Brooks: Unwrapped. As well as new material it included archive interviews, including this great quote:

“All my films are serious, if you examine any one of them. Because they are passionate and the depict human behaviour at given points in human history. They are not dramatic, and that’s the difference. You’ve got to be careful what you say when you use those words.

You can’t make a successful comedy that doesn’t have any passion. It will not be successful. You’ve got to say something about the system. About the social structure. About prejudice, about people, about behaviour. Comedy is not successful unless it deals with… even Laurel and Hardy, you could say they were cheap comedies, they have to deal with the system. The Marx Brothers always dealt with the system.

Every picture I’ve ever made has dealt with some aspect of the social system and human behaviour within it. I don’t want to get clinical about it but The Producers was about the dream of little Leo Bloom, about success. Zero Mostel in it says ‘Bloom, Bloom I’m sinking. I’m part of a society that demands success when all I can offer is failure.’ Blazing Saddles is about racial prejudice. It’s all about the hypocritical west shitting all over a black sheriff, wanting him dead.”