She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has another plot-less episode that at least offers some character movement.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is called “The Retreat” and has only one fourth wall break, which I have to say I appreciated. That one moment is when Jen triggers a “Previously On this guy” which was honestly helpful because I was pretty sure I recognized the dude, but I wasn’t sure about it.
The episode was mainly about Jen dealing with more of her issues with reconciling her “Just Jen'' and She-Hulk personas and how they are differently seen by people. After she hooks up with the heavily foreshadowed as sinister Josh, in what’s shown as such an obviously cliched cutesy rom-com montage that you know it couldn’t end well, he completely ghosts her. I suspected it was more than just a classic ghosting, but the episode only strongly hints at it until the final moments.
My favorite moment of the whole episode (which wasn’t particularly effective) was when Jen watches the classic Great Muppet Caper scene where Miss Piggy breaks out of jail in a kind of Hulk moment of her own. But that thematic connection isn’t really thought out past the little reference.
Jen ends up going to check on Emil Blonsky due to a request of his parole officer, but then due to plot contrivances, has to stick around longer and see some of his vaguely cultish self-help retreat. We get a bunch of new low-rate enhanced types, including Man-Bull, El Águila, “Saracen”, and Porcupine, all super deep cut references. There were a lot of jokey asides here, but the only thing I felt was close to a decent joke was El Águila admitting he’d done some “light matadoring” in college. It’s a pretty cliched template for that punchline, but it was cute.
Her reconciliation with an apologetic Wrecking Crew dude that previously had attacked her to get her blood was a bit odd, because he seemed to be legitimately helpful. Has she forgotten that they were using Asgardian items? It seems a weird oversight to just ignore that the dude must be connected to whoever is targeting her.
The actual revelations about Jen realizing her issues with wanting validation for her non-Hulk self were nice, if not really new exactly -- she’s wrestled with it for multiple episodes. I suppose it was a nice moment to get validation from the group of oddballs, even if they are mostly broadly drawn nonsense characters. It’s even odder that the show doesn’t seem to have a handle on the more serious moments balancing the absolutely absurd ones -- in fairness that is a tough line to tread, even if this show is certainly attempting to pull that balance off.
At this point in the season there’s a lot of teasing of things like that Daredevil reference and him showing up in the midseason trailer, which now is beginning to feel like a trolling maneuver. The way they used Blonsky here was interesting, I suppose, but him playing a new age guru feels a waste for the potential of his character, which seemed like going at an interestingly weird angle earlier this season.
For me Jen’s lack of interesting fourth wall breaks makes my interest lessen, and the fact that the Wong moments stood up more than the ones without him didn’t doesn’t really bode that well for the show as a whole. At this point I don’t really know how serious I’m even supposed to take anything on this show, and it’s only a sort of light confection, sometimes a bit sour -- not the worst Disney+ show (which is still Falcon and the Winter Soldier) but it’s easily the second from the bottom because I just don’t know what it’s about. I suppose we’ll see if that improves in the final episodes.