Season 1 of Netflix’s Jessica Jones fearlessly and thoroughly tackled rape and PTSD under the guise of a superhero TV series, thanks to the script and David Tennant’s performance as Kilgrave. Now that the show is coming back for season 2, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg and star Krysten Ritter ensure the character’s final moments will linger in whatever story comes next.
“The greatest rape of Jessica Jones was being forced to become a murderer,” Rosenberg said while accompanied by Ritter for a panel at Vulture Festival in New York. “She took a life, and that’s so counter to who she is.” In the season finale, Jessica is forced into a situation where she must kill her tormentor or risk the death of those she cares about.
“The reason she doesn’t just walk up and kill him is she doesn’t let him define her in that way,” Rosenberg continued, later adding, “She walks away with some really complicated stuff going on, which we’ll be able to explore next season.”
“[Kilgrave] was her reason for getting up at 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” Ritter joked. “She spends most of the show trying to get him into prison. She doesn’t want to kill him, but that becomes her only choice.” Echoing Rosenberg, she said, “I don’t think all that trauma and PTSD goes away now that she kills him.”
While hesitant to reveal much else about what fans can expect, Ritter said she’d love to see more of her relationship with Malcolm (played by Eka Darville) in season 2. “An in for me in playing Jessica was her relationship with Malcolm,” she said, adding, “I’m excited to see what this one [Rosenberg] comes up with moving forward.”
Here are more highlights from the Jessica Jones panel at Vulture Festival.
Moving From ABC to Netflix
It’s thanks in part to Netflix that Jessica Jones was able to be as dark and gritty as it was, but as Rosenberg explained, the original concept was almost entirely different. Before the series became part of Netflix, the showrunner composed a script for a potential pilot on ABC.
Noting her overall deal with the network at the time and her inspiration from Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias comics, Rosenberg said “it was too dark” for ABC. She later remarked, “it just wasn’t a great match,” but Jessica Jones landed “exactly where it should be” after Marvel TV head honcho Jeph Loeb “was working on his Netflix deal.”
“The only things that were the same were Jessica’s character and the relationship with Luke,” she recalled.
Jessica Jones in the MCU
Of course, being a part of Marvel’s TV slate meant Jessica Jones became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s where folks like screenwriter Scott Reynolds and Loeb were influential. According to Rosenberg, Reynolds would say, “Oh, it’d be so cool if [Luke] could say ‘Sweet Christmas’ now,” but for her it “was always a very careful dance.” She explained, “It has to be done very, very carefully or it’s just gonna pull you out of the story.”
Rosenberg, who didn’t see any of Daredevil before making Jessica Jones, emphasized how each Netflix show is personalized to its respective showrunners. She, for one, approached Jones as a character-driven story first and a superhero series second. Though, she revealed her biggest mandate from her conversations with Marvel was that “people don’t come by their powers magically,” which is why she says there’s “a pseudo-science as to how [Kilgrave] gets his powers.” Well, that and “no nudity” or “F-bombs” during the sex scenes.
Rosenberg isn’t too worried about eventually handing over the character of Jessica to the producers on The Defenders because she has complete trust in Ritter. “She will not do anything that will violate her character, and I pity the guy who tries to make her.”
The “Bag of D—“
Rosenberg recalled how Ritter was at the top of the casting list way back when the actress first auditioned for the role, thanks to her range from comedy (Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23) to drama (Breaking Bad). “She set the bar really high,” she said, but what helped seal the deal was Ritter’s delivery of the “bag of d—” scene.
Fans will recall a moment in episode 2 where Jessica slams Robin against a wall and says, “I don’t give a bag of d— what kinky s— you’re into…” According to Rosenberg, Ritter was “the only one out of a lot of people” who could “deliver that the way it’s supposed to be.”
Jessica and Luke Cage
Still no word yet on whether Jessica will hop on the A train and see Luke Cage in Harlem for his standalone series, but the two will see each other again in The Defenders. Thankfully, Ritter and Mike Colter are bros. The actress joked that the producers “put me through hell” during the audition process with various screen tests, but she formed a friendly bond with Colter. “We were in this whole process together,” she said.
That bond was put to the test during one of their most difficult and “upsetting” scenes where Jessica reveals the truth about Luke’s wife. “That was a pretty rough scene to shoot,” Ritter said, adding, “This is the moment where she has a rise up and exposes herself in a huge way. It’s a huge sacrifice.” She and Colter spent most of that shoot apart from each other while they composed themselves and filmed the scene. Afterward, he came over and gave her a “bear hug,” saying, “We’re friends again.”
The Nurse Jackie effect
“There’ve been some amazing characters on television,” Rosenberg said, referencing Tony Soprano on The Sopranos and Walter White on Breaking Bad. But “they’re all white guys. After a while you go, ‘Where is the women?'” She continued, “Audiences haven’t been ready for that.” Noting shows like Nurse Jackie, Orphan Black, and Orange Is the New Black have helped pave the way, she added, “I’m not sure you’d get such openness without those shows.”