I don’t think I’ve been more aggravated by an episode of a TV series being good than I was with this week’s episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. After weeks of mediocrity leading to me building an apathy for this latest MCU venture, I found myself shocked that I thoroughly enjoyed “The Retreat.” It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny or even consistently delivering jokes, but its incorporation of more Z-list Marvel characters and a rather introspective look at Jen’s condition made it the meatiest episode of the series thus far.
The recap will be relatively short as the seventh outing for Marvel’s green lady only had a single storyline this week. Opening with an extremely well-edited montage of dates between Jen and Josh, the only decent guy she met on the series thus far, things kick into gear after an intimate night for the two. Jen wakes up to find Josh gone, so she sends him a text and is pretty much ghosted. Not wanting to admit that to herself, Jen continues to check her phone for days until a pressing matter with Emil Blonsky’s parole office comes up.
Suspecting that Abomination might be on the loose after receiving notice that his inhibitor bracelet is down, officer Chuck Donelan (John Piruccello) asks for some assistance from Jen since he can’t get a squad ready in time to make sure things are okay. Due to her having Hulk powers, she would at least be able to contain Abomination in the case of an emergency. Jen reluctantly agrees and the two head out.
It turns out that no foul play was going on. Emil accidentally shocked his bracelet while running after his favorite chicken. He postulates that maybe he tapped an electric fence. Donelan is fine with the explanation and quickly repairs the inhibitor, then bounces. Jen didn’t run off as quickly and has a small chat with Emil before returning to her car. Just as she is about to leave, two unknown assailants get into a scrap near her car and wind up destroying it.
Quickly turning into She-Hulk to contain the situation, Emil stops things from escalating further and introduces Jen to these characters. They are Man-Bull (Nathan Hurd) and El Aguila (Joseph Castillo-Midyett), members of Emil’s therapy group Abomaste. While at the retreat, Emil has been busy trying to talk things out with other former super villains and helping them find a center. Jen wants nothing more than to get back to work, but seeing as how the retreat has no cell reception or any kind of WiFi, she’s stuck for a few hours until a tow truck can get her car.
After walking around for hours and finally locating a spot with a single bar of reception, Jen finds herself smack dab in the middle of Abomaste’s group. Finding it a better use of her time rather than waiting around for Josh to respond, she sits in and listens. As well as Man-Bull and El Aguila, members Saracen (Terrence Clowe) and Porcupine (Jordan Aaron Ford) are all discussing issues they’ve faced over the years. A lot of their insecurities are reminiscent of what Jen is going through, but she mostly sits in silence. It’s when Wrecker (Nick Gomez) enters the room that Jen gets a little infuriated.
In a somewhat funny fourth-wall break, Jen shouts out for a “previously on” She-Hulk card, and we flashback to the third episode of the series. It turns out that Wrecker was the leader of the gang that confronted Jen one night and tried to assault her. She hulks out and throws him across the room, but Emil intervenes and gets Jen to stand down for the moment. Wrecker offers up a rather weak apology, and while Jen initially doesn’t buy it, the rest of the group gets her to look inward for what is bugging her.
Recapping her history with Josh to everyone, it turns out that they all understand the pain Jen is feeling. For the first time in the series, we get an explanation for how Jen is feeling when it comes to her powers. She compares She-Hulk to the hotter, more intelligent, funnier, more popular friend you had in high school. Everyone wants She-Hulk, but no one cares about Jen. The group does, though.
It’s touching and injected with a bit of humor, even. Since Saracen is a vampire, he keeps assuming Josh stole She-Hulk’s blood, but everyone ignores his lunacy and they get Jen to realize that therapy isn’t a bunch of garbage. She even goes into the steambath to cleanse herself, thus making the first real step to acceptance of her alter-ego.
After finding her center and coming to grips with Josh being a jerk, the tow truck arrives and Jen is ready to leave. She thanks everyone for their being so open with their issues and even admits to Emil that it was fun. While she’s not likely to be returning anytime soon, she’ll remember her time at Abomaste well. That’s maybe a bit too saccharine of an ending, so the show cuts to a “Three Days Earlier” scene and we learn the truth of what happened with Josh. Weirdly, Saracen was correct in that Josh stole her blood, texting a message to a contact named HulkKing that the job was done.
For the first time in the series, it really feels like the writers understood what they wanted from She-Hulk. I may have enjoyed the third episode more than anyone else, but a retrospective look doesn’t leave me impressed. This particular outing, however, is chock full of things that I feel She-Hulk should have. We don’t need some grand plot or even a threatening villain, but an examination of what it means to be She-Hulk or cameos from unknown and unremarkable Marvel characters. Those things lend themselves to touching character development and situational comedy well.
With only two episodes remaining, it’s anyone’s guess where She-Hulk will go. We know Daredevil is somewhere and I would suspect he’s going to be in next week’s storyline. Since there is now some shadowy organization that has Jen’s DNA for nefarious reasons, she may need a sidekick to help clean some thugs up.