After last week’s relatively breezy and enjoyable premiere, the second episode of She-Hulk goes heavy on the exposition to set up the next few weeks of episodes. For a legal dramedy that is meant to explore its main character’s internal conflict while delivering laughs, this felt kind of off.
Titled “Superhuman Law,” the main gist of this episode is that Jen Walters will be working at GLK&H Law as their superhuman defense lawyer. Her first case will be to defend Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), aka Abomination, as he attempts to navigate his release on parole. While you’d think there would be a conflict of interest there considering The Incredible Hulk was all about Abomination trying to kill Bruce, the episode lampshades that and moves on without a second thought.
Apart from that crucial bit of info, I’m not even really sure what to say about this episode. It begins almost directly where last week’s episode ended with Jen going to a bar at night to celebrate her appearance as She-Hulk in court. While she’s not keen on the name that the public has picked for her, calling it a derivative of an already stupid name, she remembers how Bruce told her that she won’t be in control of public perception of her.
While she is out enjoying life with her friend Nikki, Jen’s boss strolls into the bar to tell her that she has been fired. While her abilities in court were excellent and they likely would have won the case, her transformation cost them the winning verdict and now everyone believes she is a liability. So much for being the good guy.
After attending a family dinner where pretty much everyone can’t stop bringing up her newfound powers or the Avengers, Jen and her father take a sidebar where he tries to reassure her that everything will be okay. While this feels bolted-on, there is a little more considered subtext to what we’re watching. To the credit of this very rushed episode, there is at least an attempt to tackle the prejudices that not only a Hulk faces, but how the law is inherently sexist. There’s even a commentary on diversity hires in the workplace, before we move on to the next segment at breakneck speed.
Then comes the whole GLK&H bit and the episode quickly flies through that to get Jen in front of Emil. It’s nice to see Tim Roth back in the MCU, especially considering he was the best part of The Incredible Hulk. While it is sad that Marvel screwed over Edward Norton as Bruce, that movie is one of the low points for the entire franchise, so I can see not really returning to it often. That said, Roth was a great villain, so it is great to have him get brought back into the fold.
He explains to Jen how the US government screwed him over by lying to him about Bruce. He then mentions how he was pumped full of the super soldier serum that Captain America received and that it blinded him from his actions. It might possibly be a cover story, but Jen eventually calls Bruce to discuss and he recalls burying the axe with Emil some time ago. They also indirectly make a joke about Bruce being “literally a different person,” to which Jen looks at the screen and says, “ha.”
I have to say, the fourth wall breaking works better in this episode than the first. While She-Hulk as a character has been breaking the fourth wall in her comics for decades, it was clumsily handled in last week’s debut. This time, it acts more like an internal monologue with a wink and nudge to the audience. It feels more natural, which will go a long way to making it feel less grating.
After Jen’s talk with Bruce, she calls up her new boss and tells him that she’s on the case. He’s happy for that turn of events, but tells her to turn on the television before hanging up. When she does, it turns out Abomination has broken out of jail and is seen at a fight club in Macau (the very same from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). Whoops.
All told this second episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is fine. In the grander scheme of things, it may play a little better, but as a standalone episode, it feels too rushed. The shorter runtime of this series is great for making it easily digestible, but then it runs the risk of turning out episodes like this where too much exposition robs the proceedings of any jokes. The only time I really laughed was at Jen’s final line, which seems to be how each episode is going to conclude.
The after-credits scene, as well, doesn’t really tie into anything. There is a quick bit in her family dinner where Jen’s cousin gloats a little about getting promoted right after she was fired, but he only makes a quick comment and is gone. I don’t really know what they were shooting for with this. That and Bruce getting written off so quickly seems… odd.
Anyway, next week’s episode should at least provide more forward momentum as She-Hulk kicks into its main story.