Across a total of four Marvel Netflix series, Jeri Hogarth has cultivated a reputation of being an unyielding powerhouse you wouldn't want opposing you in any courtroom or boardroom. But in Jessica Jones Season 2, Jeri comes up against an enemy she can't intimidate or outsmart. Spoilers for all of Season 2 ahead. Her ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) diagnosis throws the perpetually confident attorney into a spiral, and honestly, it's disconcerting to see her be anything but completely in control. For actor Carrie-Anne Moss, however, the storyline offered a chance to add a new shade to this groundbreaking character.
"I was excited to have some opportunity to bring down the mask of that powerful woman and show some of her pain, you know?" Moss says in a phone conversation the day the season dropped on Netflix. "And her vulnerability."
Jeri was already an icon before she even made her debut in this Marvel universe. In the comics, Jeryn Hogarth is a man. Jeri retains many stereotypically masculine traits — confidence, ruthlessness, a healthy sexual appetite minus the shame — slotting her perfectly into the Jessica Jones assembly of complicated, take-no-crap women. But no small part of creating characters who expand our ideas of what women are or should be on screen is making them fallible — in a way that fits their personality and circumstances.
Season 2 brilliantly does this by throwing a tire into the road that Jeri is traveling. She has no power over an unstoppable illness, and it terrifies her. She's not the person to lean on those around her, either.
"I always feel like with her, it’s always about covering," explains Moss. "There are times you do see her really vulnerable but they are ultimately really moments when she’s by herself... I think in general, even her vulnerability, she’s trying to cover it as much as she can."
In Episode 2, Jeri tries to hide her despair from herself by hiring a handful of female sex workers for a drug-fueled romp in her luxurious apartment. It's an unforgettable sequence, especially for how it subverts the audience's expectations. "We don’t get to see that scene very often with a woman being at the center of it," Moss says. "And so I felt kind of the weight of that — in a good way."
Moss praises the show for casting "really good actresses" who represent "real women" in their racial and body diversity to play the sex workers. She also says that supportive cast and crew helped her to feel comfortable as she attacked the sensitive scene. And Minkie Spiro — one of the full slate of 13 women directors who are responsible for Season 2 — gave the actor the push she needed to make one more personal request. Moss says that while she always feels empowered to speak up on this set, Spiro "added another layer" of support.
The actor, who's a yogi and a wellness teacher, was told at first by technicians that it would be difficult to arrange it so that her chosen song — by New Age singer Jai-Jagdeesh — could be played on set when Moss danced as Jeri. She recalls updating Spiro about it, though Moss had accepted the answer and was ready to go into the shoot with the song that had been picked out for her.
"And she looked at me and said, 'Have the song you want,'" Moss remembers. "And I'm like, 'Right!' So I go to the sound guys and I'm like, 'You know, guys, can you take that five minutes and do that for me?' And they were like 'Sure, of course we will.' And it’s such a simple little thing, but it helped."
The debauchery doesn't help Jeri get anything but a hangover, however. (Vicarious living for the actor, who doesn't even drink.) Her problems are still there afterwards. And later, Jeri is conned into opening up about her situation by Inez (Leah Gibson), a homeless former nurse who has valuable information about IGH. While their relationship is antagonistic at the start, Inez's presence begins to affect Jeri in a way it might not have if she weren't still reeling from her doctor's pronouncement. The lawyer is someone who doesn't believe she can be manipulated — she's the master of manipulation herself. But Inez turns out to know as much about exploiting people's insecurities as Jeri does.
"I feel like Jeri with Inez sees this vulnerability in her," Moss says. "Jeri brings her guard down in a way, because she’s going through so much. And honestly, she gets played, right? She gets played by that girl ... I think that Inez becomes exactly what Jeri needs, and I think that’s what Inez does."
Ironically, the actions of Inez and her boyfriend — professed "healer" Shane (Eden Marryshow) — serve to restore Jeri's sense of purpose. She may not be able to eradicate her disease, but she can get revenge on those who wronged her.
"I think Jeri will do whatever it takes," Moss muses. "She’s a lawyer, right? Not that all lawyers are like that, but she’s always thinking about what she needs and how to get it."
It was a devastating season for Jeri, but she comes out of it with a new firm and her head held high. The lawyer may not always be on top, but she'll always be fascinating.