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'She-Hulk' takes on Abomination, lands a new job & sends Hulk off to parts unknown in Episode 2
She hates the name, too.
Should Jennifer Walters have let Titania smash up that courtroom? The premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law found her wrestling with her new super-powered responsibilities, and she ultimately chose to use her powers to protect others. This has some unfortunate consequences for her in the second episode of the new streaming series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jen didn’t just save a courtroom full of people, she publicly transformed and saved a courtroom full of people. There’s no secret identity at play here, nothing close. Everyone now knows that Attorney Jennifer Walters can turn into a Hulk. It doesn’t take the media very long to give her a name. Jen isn't happy with it, but she doesn't get to decide these things. She doesn't get to decide much of anything.
WARNING: Spoilers follow for Episode 2 of She Hulk: Attorney at Law. If you have not watched it yet, smash your way out of here.
The life of Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is no longer her own. She is beholden to all of the new powers and responsibilities that we saw her receive in the premiere, but things are going much farther than that. Everyone around her is making decisions about which version of her they want, which part of her is most useful, and what aspects of her can be exploited.
Everyone is looking at this new hero and trying to find an angle. How can they use this person to their advantage? What little box can they put her in? Jen bounces around the episode doing her best to meet everyone’s expectations. What does she get for her troubles? A whole lot of ingratitude. Welcome to that superhero life; Peter Parker is in the corner (figuratively, of course).
Her battle with the super-powered “influencer” Titania (Jameela Jamil) caused the case that she was arguing to be thrown out. She’s fired as a result, so thanks for nothing. The title for this episode briefly changes to “Attorney for Hire.” This comes after she goes to a bar and is pressured to enter as “She-Hulk.” That’s the name that everyone has given her, so she’s stuck with it. Her best friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) encourages her to give the people what they want, so Jen hulks up and walks in. She does what is expected of her.
After her firing, she's called into the law offices of GLK & H by Holden Holliway (Steve Coulter), and receives a new job offer. They were on the opposing side of the case that just got tossed, they in fact were the ones who got it tossed. Since She-Hulk saved the lives of the entire jury, it wouldn't have been a fair case. Holliway still thinks that Jen is a damn good lawyer, so he wants her to join up.
Not as Jen, though. He doesn’t let her walk into their main offices until she becomes She-Hulk. He wants everyone to see that a super-powered individual is on their side. She deserves the job on merit, but that's not why Holliway wants her. He has an agenda. Look at us, we have a superhero lawyer on our team!
This is not lost on Jen as she walks through the offices of the firm, seeing a boardroom full of a-holes congratulating themselves for reasons unknown. Maybe they found a new way to kill puppies. She-Hulk is almost popping out of Jen’s business suit; the parallels to real life aren’t subtle. The firm has decided to go into Superhuman Law, so this is the real reason that they want She-Hulk with them. We’ve seen that she’s a good lawyer, but that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that she’s a big and green lawyer.
The job comes with one mandatory client, and more of Holliway's agenda becomes clear. In a rare connection to The Incredible Hulk (the second-ever MCU movie), Holliway tells her that her first assignment will be defending Emil Blonsky, aka Abomination. Tim Roth is back! The optics of She-Hulk defending Abomination in a courtroom are likely irresistible for Holliway. Lawyer show!
She goes to visit him in a Damage Control prison, but not before the guards force her to go in as Jen, not She-Hulk. No powers are allowed in this prison, so once again she's forced to comply with what others want her to be. Blonsky sits in a super cell, and is in human form. He says that he can control his transformations, and has gone new-age. He writes to his victims, and he also writes haiku. There’s a conflict of interest with Jen defending him (he tried to kill her cousin Bruce), but after a crash course on why he took the super soldier serum in that oft-neglected movie, Jen thinks there's merit in the case.
Like other characters we’ve met (US Agent comes to mind), Blonsky just wanted to be another Captain America.
Jen sees a way to make it work, and she tells Holliway that she’s all in. She’s gonna take this case, and she’s gonna win. That’s when she turns on the news and sees footage of Abomination having escaped. He’s fighting in an underground club, and it looks very familiar to us. Remember? We saw him doing this in Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings.
Wong (Benedict Wong) seemed to be working with him on his issues in that movie. Is that how Blonsky learned control? Did Wong teach him haiku? We’ll surely find out, because Wong is headed to this series shortly.
As for Jennifer Walters, she ends the episode completely screwed. Again.
-Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) calls to check in, and he likes the “She-Hulk” name. He didn’t have a say in his name either. He also tells Jen that Blonsky wrote him a letter (and a haiku) years back, and that there’s no bad blood between them anymore. It’s cathartic to hear Ruffalo talking about the events of The Incredible Hulk, because Edward Norton played Banner there, as Ruffalo had not entered the MCU yet.
-This episode is, of course, aware of that. Banner says he was a “different person” back then, and just in case we don’t get the joke, Jen breaks the fourth wall and gives us a look. It was appreciated.
-The character of Holden Holliway appears in the pages of Marvel Comics, as does GLK & H. Just as he is here, he's interested in superhuman law. He recruits Jen for a time, but it doesn’t last.
-The idea of super-powered influencers is disgusting because if people in real life had superpowers, this would absolutely be a thing. It sounds like something out of The Boys.
-The great Mark Linn-Baker (Succession, Perfect Strangers) appears as Jen’s father, Morris Walters. Over dinner, he asks her if Hawkeye collects all of his special arrows after his fights, or if he just leaves them around for anybody to find. The latter choice seems irresponsible to him. Jen doesn’t even know Hawkeye.
-Morris gets serious with Jen once they are one on one, and he provides some warmth. She’s not the first Hulk this family has had. He’ll have her back. As we find out in the post-credits scene, he also has her do a lot of heavy lifting (literally) around the house.
-Bruce looked like he was calling from his lab, but then the camera zoomed out and it was revealed he is flying through space on what is likely the Sakaaran spaceship seen in the premiere. The ship zooms off and that’s the end of the call. Where is he going? Thor: Ragnarok already gave us a taste of the “Planet Hulk” storyline from the comics, but could World War Hulk end up being one of the yet-to-be-revealed movie/show titles from Kevin Feige’s giant town hall at SDCC?
-If this is the place in the timeline where that scene from Shang-Chi happens, then Smart Hulk's appearance in the post-credits of that movie hasn't taken place yet. If that's true, then he was likely holo-calling in from space.
-MASLANY WATCH: She continues to be incredible. Highlights from this episode include her transforming back into Jen in the bar, with her metabolism changing with her. She’s instantly drunk.
-Are Blonsky’s seven “pen pals” a throwaway joke, or is it a set up to Thunderbolts? We’d love to have a written correspondence with Yelena Belova, but who the hell wants to write to US Agent? No one.
-We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t want to read some of Blonsky’s haikus.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law streams on Disney+ every Thursday.
Looking for more sci-fi comedy? Check out SYFY's Resident Alien, which is rolling out new episodes every Wednesday and can be watched next-day on Peacock.