*Warning: the following piece contains spoilers for episode three of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law*
The third episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law pulls no punches in pissing off the right people, literally calling them out on their misogynistic views, with a montage of right-wing internet users vilifying She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), stating that “they took the Hulk’s manhood away, but then they gave it to a woman?” or “So we have a #MeToo movement, and now all the male heroes are gone?” Hmm…remind you of someone? Anyways, within the next hour, a hundred videos of the usual suspects whining about a show they apparently “don’t care about” [even though they are watching it and then crying about it instead off, I dunno, not watching it and moving on to something else?] are going to surface online. It was a brilliant way to start the episode and a relatively accurate portrayal of the state of internet culture these days, but I wish the show would’ve gone deeper in that examination.
Regardless of that, the episode follows two storylines: Jennifer attempting to defend Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) during his parole hearing, after a video of him fighting off Wong (Benedict Wong) during the events of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings surface. The other storyline focuses on Pug (Josh Segarra) defending Dennis Bukowski (Drew Matthews) who was scammed by an Asgardian shapeshifter (Peg O’Keef) impersonating Megan Thee Stallion (who appears as herself in the episode).
In the third episode, we’re finally seeing how the show will operate from now on: one (or two) case[s] of the week involving some form of super-driven character. The Wong/Blonsky case is more interesting than Bukowski’s, likely because the episode spends more time with them than with side characters, but both were fun enough to hold my attention. I especially enjoyed Matthews’ wry performance as Bukowski—a man so inflated by his ego that he’ll believe that the real Megan Thee Stallion would want to date him (and own a Passat).
Those aspects of the show are fun, and the humor gets funnier with every episode. The fourth-wall breaks are sparse but effective, and every actor delivers their performances with a slightly ironic tone, which makes the comedy work better than anticipated. As always, Benedict Wong is a show-stealer as the Sorcerer Supreme, coming in and out of Kamar-Taj and leaving when, after revealing that he orchestrated Blonsky’s escape to Macau, he is told by a judge that he admitted to facilitating a prisoner escape, which is a crime. Wong has the best entrances and exits of the MCU and doesn’t overstay his welcome here. Let’s hope we’ll see more of him soon because he is truly a national treasure.
The show finally leans into the legal aspect of the comics and doesn’t deliver much on superheroes and large-scale action. And I can see why, because it fails whenever the episode turns into traditional MCU action. The fight between Jennifer and The Wrecking Crew (who are they working for?) is the perfect blueprint on how not to shoot, stage, and edit action. The blocking is off (it’s always confounded in every scene, but it’s significantly worse during action scenes), it cuts at the most random moments, but, worse of all, there’s no life or aesthetic footprint in any of the action scenes. It’s as stale as you could get, and even sequences heavily reliant on CGI are unimpressive.
Blonsky turning into the Abomination for the first time could’ve been something amusing (and the reactions from the parole board as they scream in terror are hilarious). But the CGI doesn’t blend well into the show’s aesthetic, which feels too fake for its own good. And don’t get me started on the scene where She-Hulk twerks with Megan Thee Stallion. Again, it could’ve been funny, but the cinematography and unsettling CGI turned the sequence into something incredibly cringeworthy. I do hope that Stallion’s presence in the show wasn’t solely for that post-credit scene (that would’ve been a waste) and that she will reappear in the series’ subsequent episodes, possibly as one of Jennifer Walters’ more prominent clients. If that’s the case, we could get a relatively funny episode, should the aesthetic improve.
After a rough first episode, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is finally starting to shape itself as a somewhat enjoyable show. The flaws are the same as in the last episode, but the show is becoming more entertaining. Now that everything has been set on the table and subsequent episodes will take the structure of a half-hour procedural comedy, directors Kat Coiro and Anu Valia are likely to play with form and fully embrace the comics’ meta-nature. Here’s hoping the next episode delivers even greater humor than this week’s and shows fans that She-Hulk will be one of Phase Four’s most important projects.