In the third and final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, the series’ titular character faces one of the most difficult challenges of her life: trying to be an honest-to-goodness hero. Sure, the cynical, superpowered private detective saw a form of that heroism when she teamed up with the other Manhattan Defenders to stop a bunch of ninjas, but it all looked like silly costumes and catchphrases to her. Now, however, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is trying to make good on her mother’s final wish for her.
But since this is Jessica Jones, it will not be an easy path for our heroine to walk. When Rotten Tomatoes caught up with Ritter and executive producer Melissa Rosenberg recently, in fact, the character’s difficult relationship with heroism was definitely on their minds.
“I think that Jessica will continue to grapple with that,” Ritter said. “What I love about where we see her this season is seeing her apply herself, see her try, see her put one foot in front of the other in any way.”
It is an effort viewers will find new and surprising for a character whose default energy expenditure is drinking whiskey. And while she still enjoys her liquor, she is trying to mitigate that by helping those in need. Not that those in need are always easy to find, of course.
“Heroism is supposedly black and white, and Jessica operates in a world of grays, and sees many different facets,” Rosenberg said. “For her, it’s always going to be more complicated than it might be for a traditional hero.”
In fact, the season opens with Jessica handling once such case. And though Jessica tries to find her own way to be heroic, the season will also feature Trish Walker’s (Rachael Taylor) attempts to become a more traditional hero. An early clip released from the third season sees her trying on and rejecting her comic book counterpart’s traditional yellow spandex costume.
“Her reaction is, ‘no, thank you,’ but all of that stuff was such a joy. The fans love it,” said Ritter of the scene, which appears in the Trish-focused episode she directed. “Getting to direct that was exciting because it’s a bit of a turn for our show. [It is] a slight departure from where we normally spend all the time with Jessica. [We get] to dig deeper and really get inside her head, how gung-ho she is, and how laser-focused she is, and how badly she wants it.”
And while the story gets into some of Trish’s addictive tendencies and how she uses heroin as a new stimulant, Ritter said light moments like her attempts to find a costume are sprinkled throughout.
“We really got to do something new,” Rosenberg added. “It didn’t have to fall into the same visual language, even, that our traditional episodes do. It was really, quite an exploration for us, really fun to write.”
The episode also features the first attempts to humanize Trish’s mother Dorothy (Rebecca De Mornay). Ritter noted it is “surprising given that she’s a child abuser,” but also a facet of Jessica Jones as a whole to give monsters human faces.
“Even in season 1, having an episode where you get to know Kilgrave, and you’re like, ‘I feel bad for him all of a sudden, but wait, I shouldn’t because he’s this monster.’ That’s a cool thing about the storytelling that we do on our show and Marvel in general,” Ritter said.
But will that tendency for the show to humanize people who have wronged Jessica or Trish allow them to reconcile after the latter killed Jessica’s mother at the end of season 2?
“One of the things I love most about the way we tell stories is the relationship between those two women and it’s really a very honest look at a female relationship. There are ups and downs and very complicated things, moments that you’re pulled apart and, I think, there’s a lot to overcome this season between Jessica and Trish,” Ritter said.
Granted, killing your best friend’s mother ranks pretty high on the things that could test a life-long bond: “It’s a hell of a journey for them,” she added.
Nonetheless, Ritter suggested there is a possible “level of redemption for every character” extending from Jessica to Trish to Dorothy and even to Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), who opens the season asking Jessica to do something she absolutely cannot agree to do. It sets off a series of events that takes Jeri closer to the heart of darkness than ever before — and that’s considering the shady deals she made in the first two seasons! Even more remarkable: she does it for love. Or, at least, Jeri’s concept of love.
As Moss put it, “Here she is: successful and everything in this beautiful apartment and at the top of her game. She won all that, got [one over on] her old partners in season 2, and she’s completely alone in the most vulnerable state and has no one. That’s pretty horrible.”
But soon, she arranges to meet an old flame from college and sets her sights on becoming the most important person in her world.
“Jeri wants to be with someone who reminds her of the goodness in the world,” Moss said of the character’s motivation to rekindle this romance. “But even then, Jeri just can’t help herself but to manipulate and mess that one up in such an extreme way.”
Teasing the outcome, Moss added, “I think [she] goes way past the line.”
Also conflicted is Eka Darville‘s Malcolm Ducasse, who has gone from Jessica’s junkie neighbor to one of Jeri’s top fixers. As viewers reconnect with Malcolm, they will see someone more conflicted with his choice to join Jeri’s firm than ever before.
“His whole journey is around respect and finding respect for himself and then respect externally,” Darville explained. “He’s seen that modeled by Jeri, who is incredibly successful and incredibly powerful and has a lot of the things that he aspires to have in the world, but is doing it in a way that goes against every one of his ethics and morals.”
Despite the seeming certainty Malcolm had at the end of last season, Darville said the character is still figuring out “exactly who he is in that and how far he’s willing to go.” That said, his story opens this season with a fairly surprising choice: fixing a situation for a client he absolutely would not have just a year earlier. Darville imagines Malcolm found himself getting used to choices like the one he makes in “small steps” while working for Jeri. He also added that the seeming ruthlessness displayed by Malcolm in season 3 may not “necessarily be such a bad thing.”
Despite their characters getting closer to an essential darkness, both Moss and Darville felt their characters find fitting ends that will satisfy fans.
“I think it’s a great end. I’m really proud of it,” Ritter said. “We worked really hard to craft an ending that was really satisfying, I think, for our audience who have watched her and rooted for her. [And] for me, playing her for almost five years. We really spent a lot of time crafting that final chapter for her.”
Of course, the end of the series is still bittersweet for all involved. Ritter and Moss both mentioned they would miss the camaraderie with the cast and crew, while Darville said he will miss working in New York. But Rosenberg, who was planning to leave the series prior to its cancellation, mentioned she will miss something more central: writing for Jessica. But comic book heroes never stay down forever, so perhaps someday, circumstances will allow Jessica Jones to return.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones season 3 is now available on Netflix.