Who Is Jessica Jones' Mom? Alisa Jones Has A Long Backstory
The show certainly took it's time getting there, but finally, the truth of Janet McTeer's character has been revealed. Warning: Spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2 follow. As with most Marvel shows, this is our traditional "Big Bad Swap," where after six episodes of the series pushing McTeer as the enemy Jessica is chasing, they reverse course and reveal she's actually just another victim of Dr. Karl's experiments. And by "just another victim," we mean from the same car accident that made Jessica. This is Jessica's mom. Who is Jessica Jones' mom, anyway? And how did she survive and Jessica never knew?
Jessica's mom, in the comics anyway, is a non-character. Like the rest of the Jones family, she was killed in the car accident on the way to Disney World, somewhere on a Florida highway. Only Jessica survived.
The show has done a lot of altering of Jessica's story from the comics as it is, so changing the parameters of the accident in order to bring Dr. Karl in (who is a regularly scheduled Big Bad in the Marvel comics world) is merely par for the course. But it certainly makes for a different direction than any other Marvel show, and that's good.
The sad truth, as we learn in Episode 7, is that while Jessica was released out into the world, adopted by Dorothy and becoming sisters with Trish, Alisa Jones was stuck down in the depths of the IGH lab. Her injuries were far more extensive than Jessica, requiring a lot of reconstructive surgery on her face. (This is how a bit part actor in Season 1 becomes an actress with an OBE in Season 2.) The meat monster Jessica has in her memories is from the first time her mom woke up, before all the surgery to remake her face.
Five years later, Jessica has been released out into the world, growing up and living her life, while her mother has been kept in long, medically-induced comas while Dr. Karl continues ruthlessly experimenting on her, never telling her where her daughter is until years on.
I suspect had Alisa not seen Jessica that first time out, Dr. Karl would have told her all three were dead, the same way Jessica was told all three of her family were dead. I also suspect had Jessica's powers been revealed before her release, Dr. Karl never would have let her out, either.
The parallels to Jessica's own situation last season are obvious. Alisa has now spent decades under Dr. Karl's rule, with her emotions never truly managed. She submits to him, understanding herself to be a monster, controlled by drugs, fear and manipulated into being in a relationship with him, Stockholm Syndrome-style. At this point, she's even killing people for him, believing herself to be doing the right thing.
And that's actually the scariest part. For all that Kilgrave controlled Jessica and made her kill for him, there was always some part of her mind that was fighting back, looking for an escape, even if it was jumping off a building to her own death. Alisa seems to have tried fighting back, but only managed to kill people along the way. (Though some of it is Karl telling her she nearly killed people, like Jessica.) Either way, she's been convinced Dr. Karl was right. She was a monster, someone who needed to be controlled. Unlike Jessica, she submitted.
It's a horrific situation and one that is going to screw with Jessica's head even harder than the return of Kilgrave last season. As she says when she first starts putting the pieces together, "Deja vu sucks."