[Warning: The following contains spoilers of Jessica Jones' Episode 7, "AKA I Want Your Cray Crazy.]
With Kilgrave (David Tennant) dead, Jessica Jones' second season faced a seemingly impossible hurdle: how to introduce an antagonist as formidable -- and as personal -- to Jessica (Krysten Ritter) as the man who controlled her, tortured her and violated her in every way. Although Jess' new target never quite reaches the levels of her predecessor, the identity of the villain cuts to the core of Jessica Jones' sophomore season.
As the sixth episode, "AKA Facetime," reveals, the woman who seemingly set Jess up for murder and is knocking off anyone and everyone associated with IGH, the shadowy organization whose illegal experiments gave Jessica her powers, is Jessica's own mother, Alisa Jones (Janet McTeer).
Until Alisa revealed her identity to Jessica, the P.I. was under the impression that her mother had died in the car crash that also took the lives of her father and brother. But as the flashbacks in the seventh episode detail, Alisa survived the car crash... barely. Waking up shortly after the accident with her body completely covered in burns, Alisa attempted to escape the doctors at IGH only to accidentally attack her young daughter, who didn't recognize her disfigured mother at the time.
Afterwards, Dr. Karl Malus put Alisa in a medically-induced coma for five years while she underwent extensive genetic editing to heal her, the process of which resulted in Alisa developing super-human strength as well as an inability to control her rage whenever she gets upset. When Alisa finally does awaken from her coma, she is heartbroken to learn that Jessica has believed her to be dead this whole time. However, Dr. Karl explains that Alisa would pose a threat to her daughter unless she learns how to get her dissociative disorder and abilities under control. And so Alisa agrees to stay at IGH, undergoing further treatments and experiments at the hands of Dr. Karl, who frequently drugs and restrains Alisa to deal with her violent mood swings.
But eventually, when Jessica is already grown, Alisa's patience runs out. Not wanting to miss out on another moment of her daughter's life, Alisa does whatever it takes to escape, killing the nurse Luann and severely injuring Ines in order to make it out. She then tracks Jessica down, but before she can reveal her identity, Alisa brutally murders Jess' boyfriend Sterling after witnessing him agree to pimp out her abilities to a group of low-level gangsters. Realizing her mistake -- and the uncontainable killer inside her -- Alisa opts to return to Dr. Karl, who promises to make her well enough to see Jessica again one day.
It's a heartbreaking backstory, but not one that excuses Alisa's actions. Although we can now understand how Alisa got to this harrowing point in her life -- including her unnerving romantic relationship with the octopus-obsessed Dr. Karl -- that doesn't mean we can forgive her for what she's done. And it appears Jessica feels the same.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is available to stream on Netflix now.