In just a few short days, Jessica Jones returns to Netflix for season two. But while much time hasn’t passed for Jess, for us it’s been over two years (not counting The Defenders, that is) since she faced the sinister Kilgrave. Need a quick catch up before you binge season two this week? This is what you need to remember.
Some of the events that matter the most to season one actually take place before it. After a car accident orphans her and leaves her in a coma, the young Jessica Jones is adopted by Dorothy Walker, the mother of a child star named Patsy. Dorothy is not the best mother to either Patsy or Jessica, and one day while hiding from one of Dorothy and Patsy’s arguments Jess realizes she has superhuman strength after accidentally destroying a sink. She lets Patsy in on the secret, and the two bond as both sisters and best friends because of it.
Years later, Patsy—now going by “Trish”—has become a successful radio host with her own talk show, while Jessica struggles to hold down a job or keep friendships thanks to her snarky, abrasive attitude. Trish suggests that Jess use her powers for the greater good (and even tries to give her a costume and a codename, a nod to Jess’ origin story in the comics), but Jessica’s super-vigilante career is cut short when she encounters Kilgrave, a man with powerful hypnotic abilities who takes an interest in Jessica for her powers. Using his viral hypnotism, Kilgrave keeps Jessica under his disturbing thrall for weeks, as he goes about using his abilities to commit crimes and live a life of debauchery.
Jessica only escapes Kilgrave’s control when he pushes her to the brink, using her to murder a woman named Reva Connors, a doctor at Seagate prison who knew about the experiments conducted on Kilgrave as a child that gave him his terrifying abilities. The shock of being used to murder someone snaps Jess out of Kilgrave’s control and she escapes, while Kilgrave is seemingly killed in a traffic accident. Turning to drink, a traumatized Jessica becomes a private investigator, rooting out the messes in other people’s lives to avoid having to confront the messes that now litter her own.
Season one of Jessica Jones opens as Jess, operating out of her own company called Alias Investigations, is spying on (and hooking up with) a widowed bartender with superhuman unbreakable skin—Luke Cage—before taking on a case to find a missing girl named Hope. Jessica soon discovers that Kilgrave survived the night she escaped his mental dominance over her, and is now controlling Hope—whom he uses to bloodily murder Hope’s parents in the lobby of Jess’ apartment-slash-office. Hope is taken into custody for murder, but Jess convinces top lawyer Jeri Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss), who Jessica has done secret investigations for in the past, to take Hope’s case, buying Jess time to investigate Kilgrave’s return.
Kilgrave taunts Jessica through the control of various people, hoping to lure her back to him. In one attempt to rattle her he sends a mind-controlled police officer named Will Simpson to attack Trish, but the pair survive the ordeal and Trish eventually develops a romance with Simpson over their shared traumas from Kilgrave. After an attempt to capture Kilgrave goes awry, Jessica finds herself face to face with her former abuser when he offers her a simple demand: Live with him in her former childhood home (which he buys in a move that’s not creepy at all), and her friends will be kept safe. After Jessica’s brief relationship with Luke implodes when Jess discovers that Reva Connors was Luke’s wife, she reluctantly agrees to Kilgrave’s demand.
After trying to get Kilgrave to use his abilities for good (and failing), Jessica eventually builds up enough trust to incapacitate Kilgrave and imprison him herself, hoping to capture footage of him using his abilities that would clear Hope’s name. Things go horribly wrong when she locates Kilgrave’s parents and brings them to see him, only to learn they were responsible for experimenting on their own child, giving him his powers. Kilgrave orders his mother to kill herself and escapes Jess’ captivity, but in the process Jessica and Trish learn that Kilgrave’s powers mysteriously no longer work on Jess. A once-again-free Kilgrave offers to trade Hope’s freedom for his father, only for Hope to kill herself when freed, thinking that Jessica will now have no qualms with finding and killing Kilgrave with her gone.
Kilgrave uses his father to experiment on himself and give himself even more potent hypnotic abilities, which he uses to control Luke Cage and lure Jessica into a trap. After the two briefly fight, Jessica incapacitates Luke with a shotgun blast to the head, rendering him unconscious before dropping him off at the local hospital—where he’s treated by nurse Claire Temple, who’s used to weird vigilante superhero nonsense thanks to her encounters with Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil. Jessica meanwhile corners Kilgrave as he attempts to escape New York, allowing him to believe that his powers are working on her so she can get close to him and snap his neck, killing him.
Hogarth uses some legal wrangling (and the surviving hypnotized victims Kilgrave left behind in his attempted escape from the city) to get Jess out of a murder charge, and Jess returns to Alias Investigations—now dealing with floods of calls from people who’ve heard about her powers and what she did with Kilgrave, and want her help.
Remember Will Simpson from a couple of paragraphs ago? He goes on a small but important arc in Jessica Jones’ first season that’ll provide some important context for season two. After his experience being controlled by Kilgrave, Simpson re-enters a mysterious military program to get access to a cocktail of drugs that grant him superhuman strength (and the mother of all tempers) in an attempt to take Kilgrave down himself. The pills get the better of him though, leading to a rage-fuelled freakout where he attacks Trish—who is herself forced to take one of the pills to survive, briefly granting her superstrength, though she’s hospitalizing with the after-effects.
Jess and Trish ultimately discover that a company named IGH was behind the program Simpson got his pills from—the same company that paid Jess’ hospital bills after she went into a coma in the wake of her childhood accident, and actually experimented on Jess and gave her her superhuman abilities. Haunted by her encounters with Kilgrave and Simpson, Trish decides to start investigating the mystery herself (and training to handle herself should the need arise).
After the events of season one, we got last year’s crossover series The Defenders. Not much of particular import happens to Jessica in the series, other than the fact she’s introduced to Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer also operating as the vigilante Daredevil, and a stroppy billionaire named Danny Rand, who also happens to be imbued with a mystical power to punch things real good as the Immortal Iron Fist. She’s also re-united with Luke, and they all get embroiled in a situation with an ancient organization called the Hand, and its attempts to control New York (and live forever with a mysterious substance referred to only as, err, the Substance).
Jess is perturbed by all the weird superhero bullshit, but becomes begrudgingly close with the three guys during the ordeal. But when Matt Murdock tragically sacrifices himself to stop the Hand’s plan, Luke, Danny, and Jess go their separate ways once more. Spoilers, by the way: Matt survived, but no one else actually knows that. Jess, meanwhile, finds herself inspired by Murdock’s heroism, and is finally ready to return to Alias Investigations and be the hero people want her to be.
Oh, also she delivers some great putdowns in the process.
Aside from Jess, here’s a few familiar faces that will be making reappearances in season two:
Malcolm—Jess’s onetime drug-addled neighbor, who was actually being used by Kilgrave to spy on her. After Jess broke him free of Kilgrave’s control and helped him get clean, Malcolm became as her trusty assistant at Alias Investigations... even if Jess doesn’t particularly want him to be.
Trish—Jess’ adoptive sister and best friend, and the host of Trish Talk, a successful NYC radio show. In the comics, Trish (who still goes by Patsy) becomes a costumed hero called Hellcat, but she’s yet to take that path in the TV series. Given she all but pushed Jess into superheroism the first time, and her interest in both protecting herself and investigating IGH however, she might end up becoming Hellcat at some point on Netflix, too.
Jeri Hogarth—A hotshot lawyer who used Alias Investigations to help dig up dirt on her cased, Jeryn “Jeri” Hogarth finds her personal and professional life turned upside down in the Kilgrave incident. In the wake of Kilgrave’s death, Hogarth hires Foggy Nelson, a former colleague of Matt Murdock, to handle vigilante-related cases.
Kilgrave—Yes, Kilgrave died, but he’s going to be playing an important role in season two anyway. The trauma of Jess’ encounters with him in season one lead to him making a return in some capacity, although it’s seemingly as a figment of Jess’ tortured mind rather than a literal resurrection. We’ll have to wait until March 8 to really find out, when Jessica Jones returns to Netflix.