Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’ fully embraces the #MeToo era

Superpowered private investigator Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), who’s been spending far too much time drinking and engaging in random sex, lies in bed, dead to the world, until her assistant, Malcolm (Eka Darville), knocks on the door that separates her bedroom from what passes for their office.

Malcolm: “Jess, you up?”

Jessica: “Nooooo.”

Malcolm: “You alone?”

Jessica: (Thinks about it before mumbling) “I dunno.”

Malcolm, a reformed junkie who’s now the responsible one at Alias Investigations, enters the room, opens the blinds and hands Jessica the first of many, many Red Bulls.

The scene takes place early in the premiere of the second season of Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” (Thursday, Netflix), and it serves as a pretty solid metaphor for the new batch of episodes. Both Jessica Jones and “Jessica Jones” take awhile to get going.

Debuting in November 2015, “Jessica Jones” beat “Wonder Woman” to the feminist superhero punch by more than 18 months. The series was part of a movement before most people even realized there was a movement.

Despite her super strength, Jessica still fell under the sway of the villainous Kilgrave (David Tennant), who used mind control to not only make people do whatever he wanted but feel however he wanted. When he became obsessed with Jessica, Kilgrave forced her to fall in love with him, raising some serious issues of consent in an era long before Harvey Weinstein was considered the worst person in Hollywood.

Season 2 fully embraces the #MeToo era with revelations involving the childhood acting career of Jessica’s adoptive sister, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), as she becomes more involved in seeking justice for others.

Despite a new vulnerability, attorney Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) remains one of the most powerful women in Marvel’s TV universe.

And series creator Melissa Rosenberg has tapped female directors for each of the 13 episodes.

The new season debuts Thursday, instead of a traditional Friday Netflix launch, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Despite all this, Jessica isn’t exactly what most people would think of as one of the new faces of feminism. Even if she weren’t able to punch through the hood of a car or easily bend a bathroom stall, Jessica still would be blessed with the powers of sarcasm and a bad attitude. She could have a decent superhero career as Surly Woman.

Jessica won’t think twice about a breakfast of Slim Jims and bourbon, and she’s in and out of jail so often, she spends more time in handcuffs than Anastasia Steele.

Deep down, though, as the new season continues to reveal, there’s a gooey center under that tough exterior — the one that’s covered by a black leather jacket even during a heatwave that’s making New Yorkers lose their minds.

This year, Jessica’s finally trying to deal with the loss of her parents and brother in a car wreck 17 years ago that left her severely injured.

Now she’s attempting to uncover what was done to her in the aftermath of that wreck that gave her those powers — and that, once again, deals with issues of consent and violation.

Through the five episodes provided by Netflix, it’s difficult to get a grasp on the season’s true villain, and it’s even harder to speculate considering the nondisclosure agreement I had to sign in order to see them.

He may not be the Big Bad, but Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen), a rival, big-moneyed PI looking to absorb Jessica’s agency, makes for an engaging nemesis.

“I never take no for an answer,” Pryce says when she rebuffs his offer, leading to Jessica’s retort that’s dripping with snark and a chaser of rage: “How rapey of you.”

It may take her awhile to get going, but it’s so good to have her back.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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