Let’s Talk about She-Hulk Episode 1-2
Let’s talk about She-Hulk episode 1-2, the best office comedy episode I’ve watched in a decade.
Okay, I admittedly wasn’t the biggest fan of the She-Hulk pilot, particularly that incoherent final scene. Now, I’m happy to report that I’ve watched the second episode, and it’s terrific. This is what the show probably expects to be.
Getting to that point required some logical leaps that I better appreciate now.
She-Hulk’s Life in Pictures
This week’s episode starts in the aftermath of last week’s events. First, reporters cover the breaking news that a “super influencer” attacked a courthouse. Thankfully, a new superheroine, the “She-Hulk,” saved the day. Yes, that nickname will stick. Sorry, Jessica Walters!
Something I noticed during this introduction is that the production crew showed some creativity. We’ve discussed She-Hulk’s visual effects (VFX) struggles and will continue to do so. It’s the green elephant in the living room.
VFX is more than challenging to do. They were also expensive. Somebody involved with the production recognized a way to save money. On many court shows, artists’ renderings substitute for video, as camera crews cannot record in some courtrooms.
She-Hulk has weaponized that concept by showing spectacular illustrations of Titania and She-Hulk battling in court.
By taking this approach, She-Hulk sidesteps any CGI complaints while showing a distinctive flair that works well with the show’s spirit.
Also, as a passionate fan of The Good Place, I cannot help but think Jameela Jamil is playing Tahani’s sister, Kamilah, in She-Hulk.
Who Fires a Hero?
Anyway, the joke at the start of the episode centers on Walters’ favorite bar. The people there know her and are happily chanting for She-Hulk. Bestie Nikki Ramos gleefully encourages her friend to appear as the She-Hulk to mine her celebrity and snag some free drinks.
Something from the first episode cleverly comes into play here. We’d learned that Hulks can drink as much as they want without getting a buzz. Unfortunately for Walters, she must change to normal size for her boss, which leaves her suddenly dizzy from bunches of drinks.
While disoriented by the sudden change – we’re talking fall-off-her-chair drunk – our heroine learns that she has been fired due to not winning the case. The judge declared a mistrial due to the superhuman winning the admiration of the jury by saving their lives. It’s patently absurd, but it’s necessary to the plot.
In reality, no public official could fire someone who just saved dozens of lives. Of course, that goes double for a superhero. Also, I’m a bit amused that this decision also ends the employment of Nikki, Jen’s paralegal. That part isn’t even acknowledged, only implied.
Somehow, Nikki isn’t bitter and happily hangs out at her (former) boss’s place and tries to boost morale. A twist of fate accomplishes that goal. Well, first, we have an awkward family dinner with some other cousins. But, unfortunately, these…aren’t Bruce Banner.
Someone named Ched just got promoted at Best Buy, which causes his proud parents (or uncle and aunt?) to brag that he’s “employed and promoted.” Family dinners are amazing.
Jennifer Meets a Man at a Bar…But Not Like That
Anyway, we quickly learn the whole thing was a ploy by her loving father to check in on the new She-Hulk. So he tries to ask her some questions. We soon realize that one of Jennifer’s character traits is that she talks through any potential two-sided conversations, at least from the men in her family.
There’s a later callback with Bruce Banner as well. It’s a nice touch and adds a welcome sprinkle of comedy. For his part, Papa Walters cheers up his daughter by pointing out that she’s not the first Hulk in the family. Also, “You didn’t destroy a city.”
That’s not a nice thing to say about your nephew, Bruce, who has saved the world more than once. Anyway, the dad was Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers, which means he’s the most harmless actor in Hollywood. It’s excellent casting for the sitcom part of the show.
However, the scene-stealing character in this episode is Holden Holliway, the opposing attorney from the case that cost Walters her job. Holliway, a partner at GLK&H, is acutely aware of the fact that Walters made a winning argument in court. Apparently, that’s rare for opponents of GLK&H.
So, he wants to hire her…but there’s a catch.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Since GLK&H has started a superhuman division, Walters must work as She-Hulk, not in her human form. The attorney doesn’t realize this part until she’s working on her first day. Rather than asking important questions, Walters demands that she get to hire her paralegal friend, Nikki.
Holliway dismissively indicates he couldn’t care less about such trivial employment decisions. At this moment, he reminds me of the big boss on Better Off Ted, one of the most underrated TV shows of the 21st century.
In fact, this entire episode gives off a strong Better Off Ted vibe. So, if you like what you’re watching, give Better Off Ted a try on Hulu. Anyway, Holliway also informs his new hire that she must take a case. The client is The Abomination, which makes that lousy 2007 Ed Norton movie canon.
Walters grudgingly heads to prison and meets with Emil Blonsky, who tried to kill her cousin, Bruce, along with the rest of the planet.
For his part, Blonsky explains his actions and shows considerable remorse. In addition, he has written apologetic haikus to his victims and developed emotional attachments to his “seven soulmates.”
Tim Roth returns to this role, and he’s absolutely brilliant. However, I’m debating where this fits in the MCU timeline, as we recently watched the character.
As a reminder, The Abomination fought in an underground arena in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Here, he is in prison. Right when I’ve decided She-Hulk happens months before Shang-Chi, we get the surprise twist.
Walters agrees to defend Blonsky in court, only to learn that there’s footage of him breaking out of prison to fight in that Shang-Chi scene. Yes, the MCU timeline directly ties together here.
I’ve glossed over many of the jokes this week as I’m more curious about the broad strokes of what Marvel wants to do with She-Hulk. However, the post-credits scene includes some terrific writing and performances. The hapless cousin has really committed to the bit.
Also, that’s basically the only new VFX we get this week other than the basic She-Hulk walking and talking stuff. The minimalist strategy paid dividends, as all the performers crushed their roles this week…, especially the dude playing Holliway.
I thought this was a terrific episode and give it an A+. There might be something to the idea of making shorter episodes a thing. This episode’s new content lasts almost 22 minutes, the standard time for a network sitcom.
That may be the optimal format for a sitcom trope show like She-Hulk…or WandaVision!