Jessica Jones Season 2 is our first stand-alone series from this world post-Kilgrave. Season 1 was rather single-minded in who the villain was. All roads and characters lead back to Kilgrave. Without Jones' arch nemesis Big Bad this season, fans have been wondering which veneer of gentility is hiding the next monster Jessica will have to face down. Our first clues come when she follows the trail of breadcrumbs to "IGH," the front for the company who paid her medical bills, and for the pills of "The Whizzer." Who is Dr. Leslie Hansen? Is she part of the IGH staff who was responsible for the creation of Jessica, and maybe others?
Every franchise has its hallmarks and calling cards. The world of Warner Brother's Justice League is dark and brooding. The world of the big screen Marvel Cinematic Universe films are relentlessly PG-13 and family friendly, with a dose of snarky humor. The world of the MCU's small screen world on Netflix combines these characteristics, with darker, more adult storylines, but a still bright and friendly atmosphere.
The Netflix MCU is also known for a second calling card, which I refer to as "The Big Bad Swap." First introduced to great effect in Daredevil, this is where the person that our hero is chasing down, who viewers believe to be the Big Bad, is revealed to be a red herring. In Daredevil, we learned Wilson Fisk is no Big Bad. In comparison to the Hand, he's barely a wannabe bad, just an abused little boy with aspirations of Medium Badness.
These red herring reveals have been used throughout the franchise since, in some cases using the same reveal technique, and in others killing off the current Big Bad to create a Bigger Bad (think Mariah in Luke Cage killing Cottonmouth, or Electra in The Defenders killing off Sigourney Weaver.)
Jessica Jones in Season 1 was the only Marvel series not to use this trick. Kilgrave was the Big Bad and that was final. But without him, the show has taken on this red herring plot point with a vengeance. Every time Jessica turns around, she's finding a Larger Bad is standing behind the one she was aiming at.
That's where Dr. Leslie Hansen come in. Jessica was originally aiming at Dr. Kozlov from last season, but he's already turned up dead, from an accident that Jessica is pretty sure wasn't. The name behind his? Dr. Leslie Hansen, which is still etched in the door of the old IGH headquarters. Was this a doctor who worked on Jessica? A trip to Hansen's empty apartment and a skull in the basement incinerator suggests that Dr. Hanson is going to be just another name that leads to someone larger standing behind her.
Trish, being slow, thinks maybe the skull belongs to someone else and Hansen burned it, but Jessica's smarter than that. Recognizing the danger in Trish's invitation to meet with Hansen, Jessica keeps Trish trapped in her apartment so she can meet the powered person masquerading as Dr. Hansen instead. It's only an accident of timing that Trish gets the news that Dr. Hansen's skull is the one they found, leading her and Malcolm to interrupt Jessica just as the bar brawl between her and "Not Dr. Hansen" gets out of control.
So if our Big Bad this season isn't Dr. Hansen, who is it? The show is taking the slow path, and several layers of red herring dead end before they reveal the truth behind Janet McTeer's character. The only question is, will she be the Big Bad? Or is there yet another matryoshka doll nested inside?