Netflix's eponymous heroine says goodbye in the third and final season of Marvel's superhero drama, and it will be a bittersweet end. The actionpicks up weeks after the events of the dramatic sophomore finale, where Trish (Rachael Taylor) kills Jessica Jones' (Krysten Ritter) mother, Alisa (Janet McTeer), with a gunshot to the head. Jessica's friendship with Trish is changed forever -- the estranged BFFs no longer on speaking terms -- but as Ritter promises, the way in which the last 13 episodes unfurl is worth the wait.
"I'm so proud of it, and this has been such an amazing journey. We've covered a lot of ground and this feels like the natural close of the show," Ritter tells ET. "We were able to craft the show to [have] a satisfying ending that we were proud of, so that's an amazing luxury. Three years, plus a season of The Defenders, is an amazing run."
With the final season now on Netflix, Ritter -- who is expecting her first child with longtime beau Adam Granduciel -- talks to ET about bidding farewell to Jessica after four years, the long way back to reuniting Jessica and Trish, and making her directorial debut with an episode that's "outside of the formula."
ET: When season two ended, Jessica was in a devastated place. Right off the bat in season three, she finds herself operating alone and figuring out what being a hero means. Where is Jessica at the start of this season?
Krysten Ritter: We pick up where we leave Jessica at the end of season two. Her best friend has shot her mother in the head and her mother has just said to her that she's a hero and that all a hero is, is someone who gives a sh*t and does something about it. So, season three, we're dealing with Jessica figuring out what that means in her own way and realizing that maybe she is a hero. How does she do that? How does she go about that, trying to apply herself in this way that she hasn't before?
How has that shifted her approach with her "heroism." What is her struggle in figuring out her own definition of what that means?
I think in the past Jessica has been very reluctant and not really interested [in heroism], and wants to stay out of it and drink her whiskey and isolate herself. Now, we see Jessica inserting herself more and sort of sacrificing the personal for a greater good. Our villain this season isn't someone from Jessica's past. He's a really bad guy, and Jessica is doing something about it because she realizes that she can and because she cares.
Let's talk about the big bad because, like you mentioned, the villains in the first two seasons had a connection to Jessica's past. How is Salinger different and how does he change her approach in hunting him down?
He's a legitimately bad guy and a serial killer. He is provoking Jessica, saying that she's a fraud and that she's a cheater, and those are things that Jessica already thinks about herself. Getting him is also reconciling a deeper feeling within herself. But she has the opportunity -- almost an obligation -- to bring down a really bad guy, whereas Jessica from before might've put her hands up and said, "Leave me out of it." The fact that she is getting in there, we see her next step in her heroism.
The friendship between Jessica and Trish is nonexistent at the start of the season and it's understandable, considering what happened at the end of season two. What does it take for these two friends to reconnect in a significant way?
They're definitely on a roller-coaster and they're all each other have, so trying to be in each other's lives again and realizing it's not what it was [is difficult]. The relationship will never be what it was. At the end of the day, the need each other; they're best friends and they're family and the relationship are complicated and they go through phases and they go through patches. This is obviously a very heightened version of that. But ultimately, the story between Jessica and Trish is the heart of the show and has been since the beginning. So, dealing with that this season feels very on brand.
In the first half the season, it seems like there's a reluctance on Jessica's part in bringing Trish in on the heroism act.
Yeah. She's been trying to protect Trish from that. Jessica's seen the dark side of having powers. Jessica's been through more trauma than most people in their lives. Her whole thing has always been about protecting Trish. That is the only thing that's really gotten her out of bed. It's a new dynamic that they have to deal with now that Trish has powers. She's gung-ho and she's so excited about everything, and Jessica has a much different approach. There's a lot of conflict there.
Does Jessica every truly forgive Trish for killing her mom?
I think that's an ongoing thing. It's like finding a way to exist now that that happened. I don't know if it's like an, "Oh, I forgive you for killing her." It's about finding a way to live with these new changes.
Jessica has a new love interest in Erik, played by Benjamin Walker. How does his presence shake things up?
The new love interest, Erik Gelden, is a very exciting addition to the cast. Ben Walker is somebody we talked about before the season started about casting and his resume was so impressive. Working opposite him was exciting and a breath of fresh air. Every actor has a different style, and he's very well-prepared and a really warm guy and he is hysterical. He is one of the funniest people on set in between takes. He's like a male Jessica, even in his pessimism. I think she sees in him who she had been: the pessimism, the reluctance, the claiming to not give a sh*t.
You made your directorial debut this season with the second episode, which focuses on Trish's rocky transition into becoming a hero. How did you approach the episode behind the camera?
I had been advocating for myself to get the gig and inserting myself into script drafts and things like that and kind of earning my place there. When I got the opportunity, I wanted to really hit it out of the park and make sure that nobody ever regretted giving me that chance. I did a crazy amount of prep work. I watched tons and tons of movies and pulled references and did storyboards. My script, there was not a white piece of the paper still showing from my notes and all of the prep work that I had done. Relying on the amazing crew that I have come to know so well and love over the years. Knowing what everyone can do creates such a shorthand and then you can just focus on the details.
I loved that I got to do that episode because it was the origin story of Trish. And because of that, I got to make stylistic choices that were outside of the formula that's already established. I got to change camera languages that we were normally used to. I got to shoot Trish in a way that's very different from how we normally shoot Jessica. I got to really push Rachael, who's such an amazing actress, even further and go deeper. It was just such a joy. I really wanted to make sure it was cool. I wanted to make sure that she looked cool and her character was cool and the origin story of her superhero and her getting her powers was as cool as possible. I absolutely loved the experience. I had the best time, and having the cast and crew to support me was just the most exciting thing.
With this being the final season of Jessica Jones, did Jessica's journey ending align with your personal view of where this character should be at the end of it?
Yeah. [Showrunner] Melissa [Rosenberg] and I worked really closely on crafting the final chapter for Jessica, and it's about threading that needle of doing it in a very Jessica Jones way and not wrapping up everything in a bow and keeping it ambiguous with a little bit of hope. I think we did exactly that and I know I feel really good about it. It felt like the right tone and moment to go out on and I hope that our fans feel the same way.