Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first five episodes of Jessica Jones Season 2.
Jessica Jones regularly proves that it’s tough being a superhero, but the hit Netflix series also suggests that it’s even tougher being friends with somebody that’s a superhero. Sure, you may not have to personally deal with the emotional and physical bruises that accompany having powers, but you also don’t get the benefit of using, say, super-strength or super-speed when you’re in a tight spot. That’s been a challenge that Trish Walker has faced since her teenage years when an orphan named Jessica joined her family and turned out to have extraordinary abilities that most teens don’t possess. As grownups, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) regularly uses those powers in her chosen line of work — private eye — while child-actress-turned-journalist Trish (Rachael Taylor) has to rely on more conventional methods of sleuthing.
That is, until now. In the fourth episode of Jessica Jones’s second season, Trish experiences the satisfying high of having powers when she takes a hit from a mysterious inhaler she lifted from the corpse of her ex-boyfriend, Will Simpson (Wil Traval). That inhaler contains a breathable version of the Combat Enhancer drugs that Simpson took when he was part of a top-secret experiment headed up by the organization that gifted — or, if you prefer, cursed — Jessica with her super-strength. A recovering addict, Trish instantly becomes hooked on these chemical enhancers and happily takes another hit in the fifth episode when her relationship with Griffin falls apart after he organizes a picture-perfect engagement party that no woman could resist … except Trish.
While a superpowered Trish Walker may be a new development for Jessica Jones, it’s a storyline that comics fans have been anticipating since the show premiered in 2015. That’s because her Marvel Comics counterpart has a longstanding career as Hellcat, a costumed avenger who has fought alongside the Avengers and the Defenders.
Apart from Daredevil’s duds, costumes aren’t really a thing in Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but when Yahoo Entertainment spoke with Taylor, we couldn’t help but ask whether she’d be acquiring a feline alter ego before the season ends. “You know I can’t tell you that,” the actress says, laughing. “But I will say that [showrunner] Melissa Rosenberg has this really cool knack for making references to the comics in an inventive and edge way, so whatever we see will have a little of her flair to it.” Taylor did have plenty to say about Trish’s other Season 2 storylines, though. Read on for her thoughts about Griffin’s proposal, Trish’s latest addiction, and re-creating a detested piece of her character’s childhood past.
Yahoo Entertainment: Were you excited when you learned that Trish would be experimenting with powers this season?
Rachael Taylor: I thought that was very, very clever, because it ties into Season 1 with Will Sampson’s storyline. One of the things that Melissa has done so well is build so many tentacles of story into the series that end up paying off in a really interesting and clever way. For me, that was one of them, and it was planted last season. Certainly, in Season 1, Trish is a character who has a lot of polish on the outside. She seems to have it all, and you’d think she’d be satiated, but despite everything she has, she would love to have abilities like Jessica does and be able to help people, to occupy more space in the world and have more agency. So, for me, Season 2 is really about Trish’s appetite for more and the lengths she’s prepared to go to get it. A number of times in this season, she walks a very dubious and dangerous path in order to get what she wants.
The scene in the second episode where she confronts the director who had taken advantage of her as a young actress is a good example of that.
Yeah, and a very painful moment for her. Again, that scene is about illustrating that there’s nothing that Trish won’t do to get what she wants. She wants to be heard and she wants power — she wants powers like Jessica has powers. There’s no low that she won’t go to.
In your mind, has she always been a little envious of Jessica for having these powers?
I definitely think there are some shades of envy in there. One of the things I love about our show is that, on one hand, there’s so much deep love and deep history between those two women, and they’ve really helped each other through tough times. Despite the love that they have for each other, they’re not perfect best friends all the time. This isn’t a sanitized version of a female relationship — this is a complicated, messy friendship, and there are shades of jealousy, shades of envy, shades of competition. I think that each of them kind of wants what the other has, in one way or another, and Season 2 really sees that rise to the surface. Trish is aggressively encouraging Jessica to learn more about what happened to her in the past and why she has powers, and she has dual motivations for doing that. She really wants to help Jessica put her past behind her, but she also wants to be part of the action. As an actor, that’s such a delicious line to walk — it’s actor candy, because you’re playing different wants and needs at the same time.
Trish has also been frustrated with Jessica in the past, so using those drugs is also a way of saying, “I’m going to do things for myself now.”
Yeah, I love that Trish is an ambitious and persistent woman. Personally speaking, I wish that when I was growing up I could see more female characters on television that had both of those traits, because I think ambition and competition are good qualities. At the end of Season 1, they were able to conquer Kilgrave, and for Trish that kind of whet her appetite for wanting to be more involved in the investigations Jessica does. She also wants to be taken seriously as well; when we meet her in Season 2, she’s not being taken seriously, and she’s determined to change that.
Her decision to reject her boyfriend Griffin’s proposal in the fifth episode is a key moment for her, and provides fascinating insight into what she wants from her life.
I thought that was a really poignant story of female experience. Trish doesn’t want to be someone’s arm candy, and that’s kind of what she feels like with Griffin. It’s got this little subtext in it of how women try to have agency, and the situations in which they try to get it and use it. She wants to use her voice and be heard, and being wrapped up in a neat little bow of a love story would never satisfy her.
The setting for the proposal — a Manhattan rooftop restaurant covered in flowers — is straight out of a romantic comedy, but that’s not who Trish is.
Right, right. That’s another little stroke of genius by Melissa, I think. Never in a million years is our show going to allow it to turn into a romantic comedy, even for a second. We’re always about kind of flipping stereotypes and going deeper. That scene made me look back at other romantic comedies and go, “Ah, what’s really going on under the surface?”
In the fourth episode, the series teased the idea that Griffin might be evil — we see him making a secret phone call while Trish is out of the room. It turns out that he’s just planning this engagement party, but what’s interesting is that it’s still a betrayal in a way. He’s going behind her back to plan something she doesn’t necessarily want. It’s a well-intended deception, but that doesn’t make it right.
I think so, too. I don’t think there’s anything more painful than a romantic partner who looks right through you. He just doesn’t see her, or take seriously her desire to do more serious journalism. He does his best, but Trish ends up feeling very misunderstood and lonely in the moment that he proposes to her. And her mother doesn’t help as well! She kind of sets her up to be disappointed, because Trish thinks she’s going there to get what she really wants, a job where she’ll be taken seriously as a journalist. I read a quote recently that went, “Expectation is more dangerous than any blade.” In that moment, that’s what happens for Trish.
Every episode this season was helmed by a female director. Did scenes like that one resonate more because of the perspective behind the camera?
All of the women that helmed each episode of the show were incredible directors that were just so accomplished, passionate, and so on their game. We’re at a moment in time where we’re starting to see more gender balance both onscreen and behind the screen, and it’s exciting to be part of that moment. It also made me reflect on the fact that I’ve been an actor for 15 years now, and for the first 12 of those years, I mostly worked with men. There may have been a couple of TV shows in my past that were directed by a woman, but our show has always been female first — that’s part of its DNA, and that comes from Melissa and from Krysten as well. I’m proud to be part of a show that is prepared to contribute to some of the conversations like the #MeToo movement that we’re seeing right now.
I cracked up watching the scene in the first episode where Trish performs the It’s Patsy theme song at the children’s birthday party. Was that a fun sequence to shoot?
Oh, we had a good laugh about that. Firstly, Trish absolutely hates that song! But it’s also really good foreshadowing for the rest of the season. There’s nothing that Trish hates more than It’s Patsy, but she does it because she’s so desperate for information. There were a ton of little kids there, and they were awesome. I don’t think they were very impressed with my singing, though. [Laughs]
Were there any takes where you just went for it and tried to do a perfect rendition of the song?
Like really put my back into it? [Laughs] No. That would have been fun, but the character would never do it, so it wouldn’t have been truthful for Trish. But I will say that you see more of her backstory around Episode 7, and I think that’s my favorite episode of the season. Some of the foreshadowing you see in Episode 1 pays off in Episode 7. People are going to get a kick out of it — Krysten and I really had fun filming that episode.
Over the course of the first five episodes, we’ve watched Jessica really try to make more emotional connections with people, whereas Trish seems to be cutting herself off from the world. Is that going to continue to play out as the season progresses?
All of the characters are doing a deep, painful dive into their personal histories and traumas. For Jessica, we see a little bit more of her gooey center, particularly in Episode 7, when we see more of Jessica before Kilgrave. But we also see more of Trish’s dark corners — she doesn’t always do the right thing, and winds up compromising herself and Jessica. It all coagulates into this one incredibly dark, incredibly thrilling finale. I think people are going to be pretty stoked.
Jessica Jones is currently streaming on Netflix.
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