This week, She-Hulk finally lived up to its promise in the pilot that the show wouldn’t become a cameo parade and, well… the series suffered for it, unfortunately. I would never have thought a half hour that focused on Tatiana Maslany, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jameela Jamil, and Ginger Gonzaga would be boring, but unfortunately, when the show paused the MCU mash-up and brought its actual ensemble to the forefront, it lost momentum.
The episode opens with a pitch-perfect parody of an influencer makeup brand, because, as you’ll recall, Titania filed for the trademark of the She-Hulk name and is now exploiting it in the most 2022 manner possible. Jen thus far has been rolling over and taking it, as she is apparently wont to do. She spends the early part of the episode gritting her teeth as Titania blasts her She-Hulk branded products on television, social media, and billboards around the city. (Even the title card reads She-Hulk By Titania!) It makes for a very slow start to this week’s installment.
An encounter with Titania at her pop-up shop at The Grove doesn’t help Jen’s case, though it does provide a brief opportunity to skewer beauty culture: “She’s literally selling snake oil,” Jen complains at the snake venom lip plumper, before getting overwhelmed by all the serums, oils, and tonics. “How are these not all exactly the same thing?” This is the true mystery of our time! During the showdown, Jen rolls over again, agreeing to take a selfie of Titania and a fan (“Just one and that is it!”).
Sadly, our She-Hulk appears to be a pushover, and it isn’t until her boss warns her about getting caught up in a frivolous lawsuit–“No one hires a firm that can’t handle its own messes”—that Jen is truly motivated to handle this issue. Enter Goldsberry’s Mallory Book, Jen’s much more assertive and put-together co-worker who will serve as her lawyer in the Titania suit. It should be easy enough to prove Titania is “profiting off name recognition already established in the marketplace,” but Mallory advises Jen “dress like you respect yourself and not like a football player pleading no contest to a DUI.”
Luckily, Nikki just so happens to be working on the fashion thing already. As my colleague Saloni Gajjar pointed out in the last recap, Nikki has essentially succumbed to the “Token Woman of Color Best Friend trope”—she seems to have no life or interests at all beyond supporting Jen personally and professionally. This is proven once again when she calls in a favor with Pug (Josh Segarra) to connect She-Hulk with his “Drip Broker.” On the bright side, this duo is very fun to watch together, and their hallway plea to get the Drip Broker to meet with Jen while decked out in off-brand “Avongers” merch is an episode highlight.
The Drip Broker turns out to be a top of the line fashion designer named Luke Jacobson, and while The Flight Attendant’s Griffin Matthews is always a welcome sight, this secret superhero outfitting outfit is not totally tracking for me. Wouldn’t Luke rather accept renown for his heroic designs, á la Edna Mode? (His protest that his designs hold up to the “highest combat standards” is such an Edna thing to say.)
For now, Jen is still stuck in her Big & Tall gear (“Nice suit, Shrek,” Titania snarks in court), and because she’s publicly tried to distance herself from the She-Hulk name, she needs more evidence that she’s actually personally used the moniker before Titania filed the trademark. In another lucky coincidence, Jen runs into her date Todd (Jon Bass), who just so happens to be one of GLK&H’s “biggest” clients. Though Jen rolls over again by tentatively agreeing to another date with the weirdo, it does give her a light-bulb moment: she set up a dating profile as She-Hulk before the trademark, thus proving that it’s an integral part of her identity. She gets her Internet dates up on the stand for some embarrassing testimony and boom, motion for summary judgment granted (whatever that means).
For some reason, Mallory presses the best date to admit on the stand that while he and She-Hulk had an intense connection, Jen Walters isn’t really his “type.” (Was that necessary to prove in a court of law?!) The hint at insecurity between Jen’s two identities is really fertile territory, especially since earlier in the episode she declared, “I’m still Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk is just a thing that happened to me.” Sadly, that’s as deeply as this episode is willing to delve into Jen’s emotions on the subject.
We do get a budding friendship between Jen and Mallory, who is impressed by Jen’s willingness to humiliate herself for the win. “Oh, yeah, I mean, you can always count on me to throw myself under the bus,” Jen says humbly. Can Mallory please teach Jen to stand up for herself?! The “woman in the workplace” bonding is great, but the most important thing was Mallory reminding Jen she could do better than a guy who only likes her for She-Hulk. Get our girl some self esteem, please, preferably some that comes from within and not from the surely fabulous new outfits she will debut next week.
- Jen: “Did Dr. Strange have to trademark his name? Did Thor?” Mallory: “You chose two examples of people who use their real names.”
- Sorry to harp on it, but the uncanny valley CGI remains the worst part of She-Hulk. The women using the She-Hulk filter on TikTok look better! The way she looked during the conversation in her boss’s office looked particularly off; whatever they did to adjust for lighting made her look gray and washed out. It’s such a relief when actual Tatiana Maslany is on screen–her real face is so expressive and fun to watch.
- Jon Bass is definitely a bad guy, right? Jen is content to write off Todd’s creepy fascination with her as a “fetish,” but it seems almost-definitely sinister, and I don’t believe for a second that he “didn’t know” She-Hulk worked at GLK&H. I haven’t forgotten about the guys who mugged Jen for her blood, even if the show mostly has for the past couple episodes.
- The “Avongers” merch is another fun peek into everyday life as a citizen of the MCU. Plus, Pug’s “Iron Man 3s.”
- Ginger speaking Chinese to the not-Chinese Boba barista was… also something that happened in this episode.
- Defendants/plaintiffs impulsively standing up and giving statements in court is probably not something that happens a lot in real life, but happens quite a bit on this show, like when Titania offers the judge a free sample of her She-Hulk by Titania products.
- This week’s surface-level feminism lip service: She-Hulk enjoys being able to walk home alone at night with headphones on while not being afraid. And Jen and Mallory trade generic gripes about dating and sexism: “You can have literal superpowers and some guy with an Internet connection will still think he can do better.”
- No tag this week, but looks like Luke was the one in charge of designing Daredevil’s new yellow suit. He’s coming, people.