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TELLY TALK TODAY #03—MY REVIEW OF SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW EPISODE 2.



Greetings and bienvenue, all.


In this second installment of my Telly Talk Today series, I’ll be reviewing She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Episode 2, “Superhuman Law.”


First things first, though.


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With that in mind and without further ado, as follows is my review of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s second episode, “Superhuman Law.”


*BE WARNED: MILD TO MEDIUM SPOILERS FOLLOW*


• SUMMARY •


Amidst a slew of news reports covering the attack on the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse, Jen’s alter ego becomes known popularly as “She-Hulk,” despite Jen’s distaste for the name. Jen as She-Hulk goes to a bar with Nikki to celebrate defeating Titania, only for Jen’s sexist coworker Dennis Bukowski to accuse her of abusing her powers for publicity. Jen’s boss, the District Attorney, then approaches her and frightfully asks her to return to her human form. He tells her that because she saved the jury in the courthouse, the opposition argued that the jury was unduly prejudiced in Jen’s favor and has successfully called for a mistrial. He then fires Jen for being too much of a risk to the DA’s office.


Jen wakes up the next morning to a call from Smart-Hulk in which he says that he’s just trying to check on her and ensure that she’s okay. Jen later goes around Los Angeles on a job hunt, having several interviews but being declined by all interviewers due to the perceived liability surrounding her powers and her newfound fame. Later in the day, Jen gets a text from her mother to not forget about family dinner that night. That night, Jen goes to her parents’ home for dinner, only for her cousin Ched to callously mention Jen’s being fired—and for the rest of her family to overwhelm her with questions and comments regarding her being a superhero now. Her father Morris disrupts it all by getting Jen to follow him into the garage so that he can privately ask her if she’s alright. Jen admits to doubting whether she should’ve confronted Titania and saved the jury because doing it led to the destruction of the career that she suffered and sacrificed to build. Morris advises her that, while the path forward may be difficult, what she did happened and she needs to move on.


Jen goes to a bar to forget, only for Holden Holliway, a managing attorney at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, to offer her a job, saying that he recognizes her talent in that she could’ve beaten his firm’s case but for the ordeal with Titania. Jen accepts with the condition of hiring Nikki as her paralegal. However, on Jen’s first day, Holliway reveals that Jen was only hired because of her superpowers, that he wants for her to be She-Hulk while at work, and that he wants her to be the face of the firm’s new superhuman law division and litigate claims brought by and against enhanced persons. When Jen gets to her massive office, she meets a coworker named Augustus “Pug” Pugliese, who offers her a welcome basket.


Jen learns that her first case will be securing parole for Emil Blonsky, the Abomination. Jen claims that she cannot represent him because of the conflict of interest arising from his past with the Hulk. Holliway tells her that Blonsky has signed a waiver regarding the conflict. When Jen still expresses doubts, Holliway threatens to fire her if she doesn’t take the case—but allows her to visit Blonsky before she makes any final decisions. Jen visits Blonsky in his super-maximum-security cell and finds him in his human form. Blonsky greets her and promises that he has expelled all hatred from himself and now chooses regularly not to assume his Abomination form. Addressing his past with Bruce Banner, he claims that his trying to kill the Hulk was nothing personal. When Jen mentions that he went on a rampage in Harlem, Blonsky claims that he was under orders by the U.S. government, that he had been pumped full of modified Super Soldier Serum, and that under the influence of the aforementioned, he was essentially brainwashed into believing that he was acting as a hero. Blonsky also says that he has written haikus to and for his many victims to demonstrate his remorse. Jen, however, tells him that instead of attempting to manipulate people into believing him, he should focus on telling the truth. Blonsky insists that he is telling the truth and that he just wants to live in peace (in a house with seven pen-pal soul mates whom he met in prison).


The next morning, Jen calls Smart-Hulk both for guidance and to tell him that since she has begun to legitimately believe that Blonsky has changed over the years, she intends to represent him. Smart-Hulk gives her his blessing, tells her that he and Blonsky have made up regarding the past, and even says that Blonsky sent him a haiku a while ago. Jen asks him if he’ll be in Los Angeles any time soon, but he says that he won’t be there for a while. (He is shown to be speaking with Jen while onboard the Sakaaran Class-Eight Courier Craft from the first episode as it flies into space.) Jen, with Smart-Hulk’s blessing, calls Holliway to tell him that she’s willing to represent Blonsky. Holliway tells Jen to turn on the TV. When Jen does, she sees that an old video of Abomination at an underground fighting ring has surfaced—implying that Abomination had somehow escaped prison months ago and returned without being missed. Jen breaks the fourth wall to comment on how this situation “sucks.”


In a post-credits scene, She-Hulk uses super-strength to help her family fix things in and around the house.


• MY REVIEW •


First, the good:


1. Tatiana Maslany is a terrific actress who once again dominates as Jen. She does her best work, however, when she portrays Jen is in human form and can better display a wide range of complex emotions that don’t involve just smiling or looking pretty.


2. The supporting characters (mainly Nikki, Morris, Bruce, and Pug) make a strong showing here in ways that bolster the story versus distract from it. They all help Jen deal with problems while not overshadowing her in her own story. Coincidentally, I wonder if Pug is being set up as Jen and/or Nikki’s stereotypical “guy friend”—or an obvious romantic interest for one of them down the road.


3. This episode’s use of tongue-in-cheek satire to dissect vigilantism in the MCU is soberingly on point. While the event films starring founding Avengers tended to lean primarily into looking the part, spouting one-liners, and averting spectacular global disasters, She-Hulk doubles down on Jen’s more realistic hero’s journey and its according difficulties. Jen’s reward for saving twelve people and capturing an escaped super-criminal include losing her job and becoming unemployable overnight, losing a career that she sacrificed for years to build, then learning that the one employer who does want her is more impressed by her powers than her qualifications. Being a hero is not always glorious, and She-Hulk revels in just how badly some heroes get it for doing the right thing. (The Avengers apparently don’t even have medical insurance. Who’d have thunk it?)


4. On a more minor note, this episode did a moving job of showing how badly and how often the US government lets down its own. Blonsky’s tale of being injected with the military’s bastardized Super Soldier Serum then being let loose on the Hulk and later cut loose by the government as a liability is depressing. (Coincidentally, something similar happened to both John Walker and Isaiah Bradley in Falcon and the Winter Soldier.) Of course, anyone who watched 2008’s The Incredible Hulk will know that Blonsky’s hands weren’t clean either and that his story here wasn’t even half of the full picture regarding his motivations. But still. America as presented in the MCU seems to have developed a tragically consistent policy of throwing soldiers under the bus for following the government’s own orders when there’s any potential liability to the US.


Now, the bad:


1. It’s already apparent that the reportedly rotating roster of villainous guest stars might make it hard for the show to build solid antagonists. Last week, Titania was introduced in the final minute of the eleventh hour. Anyone who thought she’d be getting room to breathe this time was wrong. She only gets a thumbnail news update early in this episode—most probably because the writers needed to move on for the introduction of Wong and Blonsky.


Speaking of which…


2. Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky is criminally (🤣🤣) underutilized as the cliché villain whose life was changed for the better in prison and who now has groupies and followers. Nevertheless, I know how these sorts of stories tend to play out. So I’m just waiting for the twist where it’s revealed that he’s not reformed at all and that this whole thing is part of some master plan by Blonsky and/or some other hidden mastermind. (Fingers crossed, it’s Tim Blake Nelson’s The Leader, who STILL has yet to get his proper due.)


3. She-Hulk’s handling of the gender divide is, once again, the weakest part of the story. We’re only two episodes in, but I’ve begun to believe that She-Hulk does its best work when it uses comedy and irony to covertly tackle meaningful issues. However, the show continues to insist on preaching the most arrogant and bombastic of sermons about how women are the world’s most precious and abused natural resource.


Jen’s coworker Dennis—who actually calls women “it” and who seems to be a talking billboard for the Sexists Society of America—is the biggest example of She-Hulk’s lack of style or grace in presenting the feminist message. However, both of Jen’s legal bosses come in as close seconds with their (respective) silly fear of She-Hulk and stereotypical repression of Jen’s opinions and thoughts.


Moreover, Jen’s rants about the male objectification of women comes off as more than a little hypocritical, given that Jen uses Captain America’s butt as a screensaver and spent all last episode obsessing over his virginity. This show would do well to just come out and admit that men AND women are physically attracted to the opposite sex and that that’s not necessarily wrong.


Mind you, this show’s portrayal of women’s struggles is still leaps and bounds ahead of such dumpster fires as, say, Supergirl or Batwoman. Even so. Considering how well She-Hulk communicates deep realities with humor and satire, one can’t help but imagine how much more poignant the commentary on the female grind would be if it were delivered with a little more nuance—and a little less focus on Jen’s running commentary or the cringey lines that roll so easily off of the men’s tongues.


And the nitpicky:


1. As a lawyer myself, I find it very unlikely that a major firm would ever commission Jen’s representing Abomination. A criminal trial like his would draw the attention of most of America, if not the whole world. Giant corporate firms HATE risk, and I’m certain that most of them would see it as simply too risky—given the publicity—for the Hulk’s cousin to serve as counsel to his former sworn enemy. Most probably, the conflict of interests would be viewed as irretrievable or at least too aesthetically problematic.


• BRASS TACKS •


She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s second episode highlights the complexities of the hero’s journey and the issues that stem from a corrupt government’s enabling or creating super soldiers. But it falters in presenting its over-the-top femininity message. The episode is at its best when it leans into its sitcom nature or focuses on Jen and her bonds with the supporting characters who are her tribe.


• MY RATING •


I give She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s Episode 2, “Superhuman Law,” two and a half cronuts out of five.



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