Jessica Jones Season 2 has dropped on Netflix and, while it's a successful follow-up to the first season in a lot of ways, there are some issues with it.
It suffers from a lack of Kilgrave, or more plainly just a lack of any central antagonist, but the biggest problem with the show is one that's all too familiar to anyone who's watched even just one of the Netflix Marvel shows before.
It's too freakin' long.
With the exception of The Defenders, every season set within this universe has featured a run of 13 episodes and, to varying degrees, they haven't had enough story to fill them. The first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones suffered from this problem the least - and they remain the high watermark entries in this franchise - but even they stretched things a tad; Daredevil had to spin its wheels before getting to the endgame, and Jessica had to be stuck in the house for a few episodes.
Luke Cage placed a jaw-dropping twist at its mid-season point in an effort to prevent a mid-season lull, but that came at the expense of its most exciting character and it was never able to fully recover, once again having things dragged out, and it had some very slow pacing overall. Iron Fist didn't even get off the ground, really, but with a shorter runtime it might've fared better.
More recently, The Punisher exploded into life in its final four episodes, and would've made for a thrilling, intense, and violent mini-series, but instead was forced to go over 13 instalments as well, when half as many would've sufficed.
Even The Defenders, which had just eight episodes, had a glacial start. Daredevil Season 2 got bogged down with Matt and Elektra, and now Jessica Jones has stretched relatively little story across 13 episodes. It's not helped by the fact that all of these series have episodes running around 50+ minutes in length.
It's easy to see why 13 episodes was settled on to begin with: that was the length of Netflix's biggest, most acclaimed dramas, and even prior to that it fit with the prestige TV trappings they were aiming for. A number of Golden Age series, from The Wire to Mad Men, had 13 episode seasons, which represented roughly half of the old traditional network format.
As the seasons have gone on, though, it's baffling as to why they won't reduce the episode count to at least 10 (which, as it happens, is what the biggest genre show in the world typically has), if not even fewer.
Although some of the shows could do with going further in the measures they take to fix things, reducing the episode count would allow the writers to make a tighter, faster-paced story and, in theory, cut out a lot of the bloat these shows suffer from. Ideally, they'd be free to tell the story they want in the time it needs, rather than filling X amount of instalments.
It's not just a Marvel problem - terms like Netflix bloat or Netflix drift have been bandied around other shows too, and the likes of Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and 13 Reasons Why have all suffered - but it's one where it's not only most prevalent, but also where there doesn't appear to be any sign of change.
The Marvel TV shows could be truly great - and in fairness, the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones do touch upon that level. But this universe should've only gotten better since then, rather than that being its peak. The episode count isn't the only factor in that, but it's the easiest place for Netflix and Marvel to start addressing the issues.