The following contains She-Hulk spoilers.
She-Hulk Episode 8
After weeks of open hints and back-handed teases, Daredevil‘s Matt Murdock finally returns to the Marvel television universe in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and it probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that “Ribbit and Rip It” is the series’ best episode yet. But although Daredevil’s long-awaited appearance is note-perfect—and goodness, I’ve missed Charlie Cox’s sly snark—what makes this episode of She-Hulk sing is that it finally achieves what feels like a perfect balance of thrilling action and offbeat procedural humor, set within the larger question of what it means for Jennifer Walters to be not just a female superhero, but a female Hulk.
Throughout the series’ first season, She-Hulk has been at its best spotlighting the bizarre D-list superheroes that have come through Jen’s firm, and Eugene Patilio is one of its most ridiculous. A spoiled rich kid who moonlights as Leapfrog, a supposed “hero” with one of the dumbest catchphrases in existence and an outfit that looks like nothing so much as a bad Super Mario Bros. 3 cosplay. He’s eager to sue when a supposed suit malfunction leaves him with severe leg burns. The problem is, his tailor is Luke Jacobson, who also made Jen’s She-Hulk suits, and everything gets awkward extremely quickly.
She-Hulk’s procedural setting always meant that this show was an ideal location for a Matt Murdock appearance. (And as we know from Spider-Man: No Way Home, he is, after all, a very good lawyer.) We’ve known for weeks that Matt was also a client of Luke’s, but the moment he rambles into the courtroom, excusing his lateness with a joke about not being able to find parking, is genuinely, surprisingly wonderful. As someone who still grieves the loss of the original Netflix Daredevil series, I was honestly worried that this return wouldn’t work, or would feel as forced and weird as Wilson Fisk’s Hawkeye appearance did last year. I have rarely been so happy to be wrong: She-Hulk gets everything about Matt Murdock right, from his dedication to protecting those on the sidelines of the superhero world to his adorably dorky charm. There’s even a hallway fight. I’m not sure I could have asked for more.
“Ribbit and Rip It” also does a great job of conveying what makes Matt Murdock such a great character without leaning too hard into “and that’s what you missed on Daredevil” exposition, offering viewers unfamiliar with the world of Hell’s Kitchen a quick guide to who he is, how his powers work, and the extent of his lawyering ability. Jen finds herself equally matched in the courtroom—not to mention, Matt’s right about disclosing Luke’s client list even if part of his motive for suppressing it is that he himself is on it—and in the superhero realm when she ends up facing off with Daredevil in a fight after incorrectly assuming the horned vigilante was attacking Eugene. (Not realizing that her former client had in fact kidnapped her former tailor. Superhero life is messy, is what I’m saying.)
It’s a satisfying fight scene, showing off the best of both characters’ abilities and giving us some great banter in the meantime. Cox has delightful chemistry with Tatiana Maslany and their flirty vibes are something I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. (Even if I am more of a Matt/Elektra shipper.) This is really the first time we’ve gotten to see Jen paired romantically with someone who feels like a potentially equal partner, both in terms of their intelligence and superhero ability, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Though the episode’s Matt and Jen fun hookup would have been enough to make “Ribbit and Rip It” a great half-hour in its own right—that shot of Matt’s walk of shame in the Daredevil suit is instantly iconic—that’s also not the end of this week’s story. As Matt heads back to Hell’s Kitchen, Jen, freshly reconciled with Luke and in possession of a new dress, heads to the gala for the Female Lawyer of the Year awards, where Intelligencia hacks the presentation to share all the damaging information they stole from Jen’s phone.
And when Jen’s Hulk rage finally asserts itself, well—I don’t think it’s possible to argue she doesn’t have just cause. I mean, her parents are watching the most intimate details of her personal life, including what is essentially a sex tape recorded without her consent, played on a Jumbotron in front of them, with no aim beyond what appears to be simple public humiliation. Get mad, girl. Granted, Jen is a hulk, so her unfettered rage has a higher property damage price tag than most women in similar situations, but there’s something worth poking at here about how uncomfortable an angry woman makes people and how quickly they are willing to turn on that same woman when she doesn’t express that anger in a way that they approve of.
There’s a sense that much of the public is okay with She-Hulk simply because she is a woman, and therefore explicitly not allowed to be angry in the way that her cousin Bruce might be. The squad of security guys with very large guns who appear out of nowhere to point them at Jen rather than the obviously masked goons who literally committed a crime and are busy escaping was…revealing, at least. Has she ever publicly presented herself as any kind of threat? Were people just waiting for her to become dangerous?
It’s not clear whether Intelligencia’s aim is to try and force public opinion to turn against Jen and other heroes like her or some larger nefarious reason or whether they just wanted to bring down a powerful woman they don’t like, But as we look toward the She-Hulk finale next week, here’s hoping we can get some clarity on what this group is after—and maybe some consequences for them while we’re at it. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s probably a less realistic plot twist than a guy who puts on a frog suit to fight crime, but hey, a girl can dream.