The following contains She-Hulk spoilers.
She-Hulk Episode 6
Although last week’s episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law ended on a lingering shot of Daredevil’s new (yellow!) helmet, Matt Murdock is nowhere to be found in this week’s installment. Which, granted, the series never explicitly promised to us–and we all know what happens when we assume—but it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed anyway. Particularly when what we get instead is not only one of the show’s silliest half-hours to date but one that has almost zero forward momentum when it comes to the larger stories this season is telling.
“Just Jen” is, as our heroine explicitly puts it in the episode’s opening moments, a “self-contained wedding episode” that comes at an inconvenient time in the show’s larger narrative. which sees Jennifer Walters head out of town to serve as a bridesmaid to a former high school friend. To be fair, She-Hulk absolutely nails the awkwardness of everything about this experience, including the way young women often find themselves participating in the weddings of old friends who aren’t really part of their lives anymore to the bridezilla that doesn’t want Jen (in She-Hulk form) to steal her spotlight. But, so much of this hour is aggressively cringe in a way that doesn’t feel like character development and isn’t even particularly fun to watch.
Plus, while it’s obvious that reconciling the two halves of her new identity will be part of Jen’s life’s work, it’s not clear that “Just Jen” has anything new to say that we didn’t just see last week in “Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans”. And that episode actually did a better job of forcing our heroine to actually think about what her identity as She-Hulk has come to mean to her personally. Here, there’s a lot of awkward second-hand embarrassment—the ill-fitting party dress that looks great when she’s She-Hulk but like a sad sack of fabric when she’s not, the drunken dancing, and the humiliation of being asked to serve as a sort of second-tier event staff at various points—but not a lot of introspection.
The idea that Jen wants the people in her life to take her professional and superheroic successes seriously and see that they have just as much value as whether or not she has a boyfriend is both sympathetic and painfully realistic (though the episode undercuts that tension a bit by having Jen meet a handsome friend of the groom at the reception to flirt with anyway.) And, again, the show nails the awkward pity and inexpressible frustration that always accompanies these kinds of questions, that all imply you’re a complete failure at life if you’re not paired off romantically.
Unfortunately, the insertion of Tatiana—who crashes the wedding as a date of a friend of the groom and tries to gaslight everyone into believing she’s not there to mess with her apparent archnemesis before the two inevitably come to blows—doesn’t help this story find its way. Look, I’m not opposed to watching She-Hulk punch the human avatar of influencer culture in the face every week. And a low-stakes villain for a low-stakes series makes a ton of sense, after all, But their rivalry is, at this point, paper-thin. I mean: Why is Tatiana so obsessed with Jen? And who is she as a character in her own right? The show doesn’t seem particularly interested in telling us, but since it doesn’t seem as though she’s going away any time soon, it would be nice to understand a bit more about what her motivations are.
On the plus side, this week’s B-plot is actually one of the series’ strongest yet, pairing off Nikki and Mallory to tackle a divorce case while Jen’s out of town. The client is a general dirtbag of a man named Mr. Immortal (who believe it or not is actually an Avenger in the world of Marvel Comics) who has been married many times. But instead of legally ending those relationships, he repeatedly stages his own death: running into traffic, “accidentally” swallowing poison, etc. He even throws himself out of a window to get out of an awkward meeting with his GLK&H lawyers (and you are a stronger person than I am if you didn’t laugh out loud at that moment—or instantly long for a GIF of it.)
The clip of him falling to his death immediately goes viral, bringing nearly a dozen of Mr. Immortal’s previous partners out of the woodwork to demand retribution for the various ways he has harmed, abandoned, or otherwise wronged them. (Favorite slight: the New Orleans jazz funeral he let one former spouse spend 10K on!) This subplot is a fun, original use of She-Hulk’s unique procedural format—after all, the Superhuman Law Division should actually start working on some cases that don’t involve Jen and the idea of random low-level superpowered people rolling through the office with problems that need solving has always been the part of the concept that sets this series apart from everything else in this universe.
Maybe it’s just that Nikki has rapidly become my favorite character on this show, but I love getting to see her expand her role beyond her designated slot as “Jen’s BFF” into an out-of-the-box thinker and problem solver. Renee Elise Goldberry and Ginger Gonzaga have a wonderfully offbeat, delightful chemistry with one another, and I hope the relationship between Nikki and Mallory is one that She-Hulk allows to develop further. There’s every reason to hope it will, now that two women have discovered “Intelligentsia”, the vile internet cesspit for “hateful man babies” that seems to exist solely to insult and levy death threats at Jen, and also presumably serve as a sort of Big Bad for the back half of the season.
Admittedly, the shadowy group behind this website already seems to pose a bigger threat to Jen than Titania does, since they’re definitely the ones who sent the Wrecking Crew to attack her a few episodes back and still seem fairly intent on finding a way to steal some of her blood. Since we know that no one ever has a non-nefarious reason for wanting to forcibly acquire the bodily fluids of others, this is definitely the work of supervillains, right?