Saturday, October 15, 2022

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S01E09: Whose Show is This?

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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law breaks the fourth wall to shreds to mixed results in the season finale.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The season finale of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is called “Whose Show is This?” and completely decides to break from its chains entirely. The episode amusingly starts with its first significant fourth wall bleed with an extended reference to the old Incredible Hulk show that was pretty funny, but then immediately forgotten -- which is unfortunately the big issue with the finale.

I legitimately enjoyed the fourth wall explosion nonsense, which is classic stuff from the comics (they even had an actress play showrunner Jessica Gao while the real one was in the background). That was all fun even with the silly robot acronym “K.E.V.I.N” Matrix knockoff, and a lot of the back and forth meta stuff was cute -- the issue was how it ended.

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Jen correctly states that the final storyline of the big fight scene with Todd the “Hulk King” (which had been obvious for a while) was a pretty uninspired plotline, but that’s what the show has been setting up for seven episodes! The resolution that Jen simply wishes away the consequences of what she doesn’t want felt limp and dispiriting, because although it was amusing to hear her say that Matt should show up, the rest didn’t entirely track.

She says that the real villain is Todd and he should pay for his actions -- and that happens offscreen, I suppose? Same for what happened to Josh and the perfunctory nature of Emil going back to prison. Titania was 100% wasted entirely -- I guess she wasn’t erased by Jen at the end but was just there for some reason?

I understand that due to the fourth wall stuff logic isn’t entirely important, but I want some sort of consistency with either the rules the show establishes or the ideas the show wants to consider. There was a plot about the toxic dudes and their overreaction to non-white male superheroes, which is fine, but if we’re deleting the blood storyline, why spend so much time on it? It just feels like a lot of wasted time.

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So when Jen complains that “this can’t possibly be where the season is going”, fair enough -- but where was it going then? The idea seems to be that very light, cliched family picnic at the end of the show, which is that everything is back to normal -- except that Hulk shows up with his son “Skaar” (with not great CGI) and so everything isn’t back to normal?

Is the point of the show “screw you haters!” because if so, I’m pretty disappointed because the potential of a fourth wall breaking funny show was a really interesting idea to me. Instead I felt that the show cared very little about itself except as a tool to complain about online haters -- but they don’t really say anything interesting about that systemic toxicity or anything really innovative other than that they suck. Which is inarguable.

The end tag is similarly annoying -- the “jokes” about wi-fi and TV shows have already been made about Wong, including in this show already! The show ended up feeling very rushed overall, with a lot of “okay” moments and only two decent episodes that both were heavy on the cameos.

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I think that the show had a real uneven quality to it, perhaps more than any other of the Marvel shows so far -- none of its dramatic moments had any heft and the storylines were all other the place. When the MCU robot archly says that you could call it a legal comedy if you wanted, that’s because the show had presented it that way, so what should I have really expected?

Sadly the finale didn’t really save the show for me, as much as I liked the conceptual stuff behind the fourth wall break, the way it ended felt like coming down from a high into disappointment again. That has been the cycle for me watching She-Hulk and I really hoped for better than that.

Get it on Apple TV

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