[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first six episodes of Jessica Jones' second season.]
Since it debuted in 2015, Jessica Jones has been applauded for its unique ability to make superhero stories feel so personal, and that thankfully continues to be the case in the anticipated second installment.
In its sophomore run, the Melissa Rosenberg-created series puts far greater emphasis on the individual journeys of Jessica's (Krysten Ritter) eccentric ensemble players, including her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor), an ambitious reporter whose previous struggles with addiction resurface, and her associate Malcolm (Eka Darville), who strives to find his place within Jessica's world and prove his worth. But it's the exploration of Jess' cut-throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) that will likely resonate most strongly with fans, many of whom may see themselves reflected in Jeri's struggles in the face of a life-threatening diagnosis.
A high-powered attorney who built her empire out of nothing, Jeri thrives off her ability to control anything and everything in her path. But when she discovers she has ALS, an incurable and degenerative neurological disease, early in the season, Jeri is forced to confront her own limitations. "We start the season with her really at the top of her power," Carrie-Anne Moss tells TV Guide. "I see Jeri Hogarth as someone who really believes nothing bad could happen to her. She's very powerful. She feels like she's superhuman in a way. And so when she gets this devastating diagnosis, she's really scrambling to figure out how to overcome."
"Her money can't buy her way out, her power can't buy her way out of this diagnosis — she's really left to face herself," Moss continues.
As the weight of her diagnosis sinks in, Jeri refuses to kowtow to the disease, at first considering suicide before ultimately exploring even more unorthodox options. When she learns through Jessica of the ability of IGH — the organization whose illegal experiments resulted in Jess' powers — to potentially cure previously thought-to-be incurable diseases, it quickly becomes clear that the specter of her own death has not resulted in any softening of Jeri's ruthless determination.
"She really thinks IGH could help her," Moss explains. "If there's a chance, she's going to figure it out. Underneath her illness, underneath the vulnerability of that, is still this shark of a woman who would do anything."
"Anything," in this case, includes taking in one of Jessica's key witnesses in the case against IGH — Ines, a former nurse who was driven into hiding out of fear the organization would kill her to keep her silent — in order to secretly pump her for information on IGH's potentially life-saving experiments.
But enabling the actions of IGH, even to save herself, would be going against everything Jeri's one ally, Jessica, spends the entire first half of the season fighting against. "If Jeri thought it was a betrayal to Jessica, going to IGH, I don't think she'd really care," Moss explains. "I don't think she has loyalty like that. Not at this point. Her loyalty, even though she may have moments of it, really when it comes down to it, she is completely self-serving."
To put it even more concisely: "I don't think Jeri really feels guilt about anything," Moss summarizes. "Her brain does not really work that way."
But living only for yourself, with no consideration as to how your actions affect those around you, is rarely sustainable long-term. With the list of those she trusts growing smaller, Jeri's facing an increasingly tough road ahead.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is available on Netflix now.
Additional reporting by Liam Mathews