TV Review: ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Stranger Things’

 

The final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones returned to Netflix in June, as well as Season 3 of Stranger Things on 4 July. Whether we’re in Hell’s Kitchen or Hawkins, Indiana, things are going to go well — ahem — upside down. (Sorry!)

 


Jessica Jones (S3)

Created by: Melissa Rosenberg

Starring: Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville, Benjamin Walker, Sarita Choudhury, Jeremy Bobb, Tiffany Mack, Carrie-Anne Moss, Rebecca De Mornay, John Ventimiglia

After three seasons, Jessica Jones has come to an end. The pivotal moment from the end of season 2 is where we find Jessica (Krysten Ritter) at the start of season 3; she’s still struggling with her mother’s death and her relationship with foster sister/best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor) has been destroyed. She’s out on her own once again but she’s trying her best to help people; however, things get complicated when a man named Gregory Salinger enters her life.

Jessica is a powered human forced into a showdown with a cunning sociopath and, while there are moments when their interactions together are thrilling, the real showdown is between Jessica and Trish. Trish has now fully transformed into Hellcat and her black-and-white mentality is causing all sorts of problems. Trish, at times, is annoying as hell but its given Rachael Taylor a chance to really stretch her acting muscles and its the best she’s ever been on the series. Sadly, the series focuses too much of its attention on Salinger but the scenes between Ritter and Taylor make it worth it. Bonus: Rebecca De Mornay for the wonderful comedic relief!

Elsewhere, we also follow Malcolm (Eka Darville) and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) on their respective journeys and both aren’t doing so hot. Jeri’s ALS diagnosis has left her more vulnerable than ever but tougher in work and ready to fight. She is frequently confronted at how her lack of morals and choices in life have left her completely alone in her hour of need. Malcolm, equally, is becoming increasingly unhappy working for Jeri and worries about the ethically dubious things he is made to do and what kind of person he will become because of it.

Jessica Jones was incredibly fresh when it first began. The cynical, pissed-off, whiskey-swilling PI was not a hero we had seen before, especially a female superhero. Season one was a brilliant and complex show about rape trauma and featured a marvellous performance from David Tennant. While season one remains its best and, despite its ups and downs along the way, Jessica Jones goes out on a high. We bid a sad farewell to an incredibly enjoyable series but, more importantly, to one of the most emotionally complex and nuanced female portraits on television in years. Ritter’s portrayal, and her character, will be sorely missed.

☆☆☆☆

 


Stranger Things (S3)

Created by: The Duffer Brothers

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Cara Buono, Brett Gelman, Cary Elwes, Jake Busey, Alec Utgoff

Things just never go right in Hawkins, do they?

Summer. 1985. The Starcourt Mall is open. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) can’t stop making out. Hopper (David Harbour) is frustrated. Will (Noah Schnapp) misses the days of Dungeons & Dragons. Joyce (Winona Ryder) is mourning Bob Newby, Superhero. Oh, yeah, and the Soviets are trying to open a portal to the Upside Down.

After two seasons of doom and gloom, summer has come to Hawkins and season three is a treat for the eyes in terms of neon, swimming pools, ’80s fashion and fairgrounds. The kids are growing up and, in a nod to John Hughes, the teenage angst — and hormones — are rife. Will, still recovering from the events of season two, is nostalgic for simpler times between friends and when he didn’t have to schedule hang-outs between make out sessions. Eleven and Mike are still together and driving new dad Hopper up the wall with their teenage antics. Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are also still together but their relationship takes a backseat, which also allows Max and Eleven’s growing friendship to shine (an ’80s fashion montage between the two is a highlight). Steve (Joe Keery) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) are now a trio thanks to the wonderfully badass addition to the group, Robin (Maya Hawke). Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are interning — and investigating — at the Hawkins Post. Billy (Dacre Montgomery), well… has his own set of issues to contend with. Finally, Hopper and Joyce have a date with a Russian.

Season three is just as frightening as one and two but the added dose of humour — thanks to the boys’ raging hormones, general idiocy, girls’ bewilderment at their chosen partners, and dad Hopper — dials up the fun and nostalgia for a time we have all experienced. The entire cast continue to be one of the best ensembles currently on television, particularly Harbour and Montgomery who are standouts this time around. The show’s humour, slick pace and references galore makes season three of Stranger Things a summer to never forget.

☆☆☆☆½

 

 

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