Jessica Jones Season 2 first few episodes were a big disappointment after the way the show paced themselves in Season 1. In order to keep the reveal of Janet McTeer's character for the midpoint of the series, they bloated out the opening episodes with plotlines no one really needs. But once the revelation came that McTeer was playing Jessica's mother, everything fell into place, as the weirdest mother-daughter rivalry began. But fans are trying to figure out where this came from. Is Alisa Jones in Marvel Comics? Why haven't we heard Jessica mother was alive before? Warning: Spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2 follow.
There are a lot of changes from the comics to the Netflix version of Jessica Jones. The comics version, for instance, is not one where she is a drunken, bitter, angry person, suffering PTSD from years of abuse and trauma. That Jessica Jones wears a superhero outfit. She's happy and cheerful and she dates regularly. She also has a lot more connection to Iron Man — in that the reason the family was going to Disney World was tickets were given to them by her dad's work partner, Tony Stark.
All of that was already changed in the TV show. Jessica's superhero costume from the comics (and her nickname "Jewel") are played for a laugh in Season 1. The trip to Disney World wasn't paid for by Stark. Most of the characters who are in the Jessica Jones storyline aren't actually in her comic at all. (Not even Trish!) So it's no surprise that Jessica's mother, Alisa Jones, does not exist in the comic book world.
The man who made Alisa (and Jessica), Dr. Karl, is someone who interacts with The Defenders, but much more in the Luke Cage and Daredevil stories than Jessica's. Introducing him in Jessica Jones Season 2 makes sense though, since he's responsible for the drugs that created "Nuke" in the comics (that's the character Will Simpson is *very* loosely based on), and he's been imported into Jessica's world as well.
Adding in her mother as a foil for Season 2 is actually a little genius, even if it took extensive plastic surgery and a growth spurt for Jessica's mom to go from an unnamed bit part in Season 1 to a Shakespearean actress with an OBE and a CV a mile long in the process.
One of the things that writer and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has used the show to focus on is women's issues. Season 1 was really one long rape and abuse parable, talking about the ways women are traumatized in our patriarchal society.
Season 2 she made a women-centric set, with 13 female directors for the episodes, and fully 50-50 crew). So far it has touched on everything from #MeToo to drug addiction, but in the end, this is a tale about a mom and a daughter. It's not, like so many Marvel shows and movies, all about daddy issues. It's about mommy issues and broken families. The issues between mothers and daughters can be very different and they certainly play that way.
Jessica and her mother are both powered people (also both can drink like mad), but unlike Jessica, who has control of her abilities, Alisa does not. Alisa is also still under the control of her Kilgrave, and her murders aren't done for him, as much as they are for her idea of what he needs. She's doing this voluntarily, a form of Stockholm Syndrome, that Jessica herself struggled and overcame last season.
Unlike Jessica though, Alisa doesn't seem to be able to break free. She genuinely loves her captor and would do anything for him, including kill. She's not looking for an escape. And there's nothing Jessica is going to be able to do to fix it.