She-Hulk: Attorney At Law recap: Season 1, Episode 3

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk/Jennifer

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk/Jennifer “Jen” Walters, Ginger Gonzaga as Nikki Ramos, and Josh Segarra as Pug
Photo: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

In its first two episodes, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law has established itself as an effervescent blend of sitcom, superhero origin story, and lawyer show. It’s the latter that takes the front seat in the series’ third installment, which focuses primarily on a pair of trials by Jennifer Walters and her newly minted superpowered law division at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway.

The main event is Jen litigating the parole hearing of Emil Blonsky, a.k.And. the Abomination, a.k.And. the guy who once tried to kill Bruce Banner but is now, apparently, chill as hell. At the end of the last episode, Jen agreed to take his case only to discover a fly in the ointment: leaked footage of the Abomination fighting in a cage match in Macau when he was supposed to be doing it.

His opponent? Wong, the current Sorcerer Supreme who took over the title from Doctor Strange a few movies back. Blonsky tells Jen a bizarre story: Wong broke him out of prison, forced him to go toe-to-toe, and then brought him back. Cool story, bro. But, as it turns out, he’s not lying.

This footage comes from last year’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, in a throwaway scene that left MCU fans scratching their heads. Why was the Abomination, a villain who hasn’t appeared since the late 2000s, there? True to the meta style of She-Hulk, this entire plotline serves as a roundabout way to retcon an explanation for a confusing movie cameo. It’s a funny premise, if not one that necessarily makes for compelling television.

In the car, Jen calls her pal/paralegal Nikki to find out what Wong’s deal is. “He’s either a librarian who lives in New York or a sorcerer who lives in Nepal,” she says, calling his social media presence “a little chaotic.” (Please, Marvel, I’m begging you to make a real-life Instagram profile of him.)

A familiar sparking portal appears at the GLK&H offices, and out steps Wong himself with a quick-and-dirty explanation: He secreted Blonsky out of prison because he was training to become Sorcerer Supreme and needed to train with a “worthy opponent.” He offers to send her client to the Mirror Dimension to make things easy on everyone, but Jen tells him the United States legal system would very much prefer if he just showed up to testify at Blonksy’s hearing.

Back in the prison, surprise! Wong is late. I guess you think of time differently when you have the ability to instantly teleport to any location in the world at the swirl of a hand. Jen is sweating bullets as Blonsky’s character witnesses each testify to his exemplary behavior while incarcerated, including a prison librarian who enthuses, “Now the library’s more than just a quiet place to shoot someone!” Meanwhile, the seven soulmates Blonsky mentioned last episode are standing on the other side of the glass in Midsommar-style finery, giving the uncomfortable impression that, if freed, this guy will most definitely start a cult. America!

Wong finally appears—literally—just as the parole board is asking about the damning footage from Macau. After the Sorcerer Supreme repeats what he told Jen, a member of the board brings up the fact that Blonsky would just become a rampaging monster again if he turns into the Abomination. He calmly transforms before the panicked crowd to prove that, like Bruce, he has learned to remain in control when he’s in monster form. Jen, having barely squeaked by through this mess, then delivers her closing argument.

In the end, Blonsky is granted parole on the condition that he agrees to wear an inhibitor—designed by none other than Bruce—that will prevent him from ever turning into the Abomination again. The stakes of this story are a little low on the scale of the MCU, but that’s also kind of the point of this series: to take aspects of the franchise that have been treated with a heavy hand and make them feel lighter than air.

This episode also has a B-plot that, while initially entertaining, wears out its welcome in short order. Jen’s sweet colleague Pug is representing Dennis in a defrauding case. (Remember that guy? The comically dickish one?) Apparently, his ex-girlfriend tricked him into dropping a cool $175K on gifts for her over the course of their relationship. He thought he was dating none other than Megan Thee Stallion, but it turns out she was, in fact, Runa, a “shapeshifting light elf” from New Asgard. Life in the MCU is truly wild.

Though it seems like he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, Dennis ultimately wins his suit thanks to, of all people, Jen. She testifies on the witness stand that her former coworker is, indeed, stupid and vain enough to actually believe he was dating a superstar rapper. “He once described himself as a New York 10 and an L.A. 11,” she deadpans. At the end of the trial, Megan herself stands up in the back of the room in a fabulous hot-pink suit. “That’s right, there’s only one Megan Thee Stallion!” she declares.

This plotline drags on for way too long, because Dennis is a woefully one-note character, but it’s all worth it for this cameo. (Be sure to stick around for the post-credits scene, in case you’ve ever wanted to see She-Hulk and Megan Thee Stallion twerk to the tune of “Body.”)

Meanwhile, Jen’s got her own problems to deal with outside the courtroom. Broadcast news and social media alike are all up in her face, because the appearance of a new Hulk is, understandably, a big deal. Jen would rather just keep her head down, but Nikki points out that she’s in the spotlight now whether she likes it or not—and that means her best bet is to take ownership over her own story before someone else does.

The media circus outside DODC prison is one thing, as reporters pepper her with questions about the origins of her powers and whether she was rejected by the Avengers. Far more sinister—and hitting close to home—is the way randos respond to the emergence of She-Hulk on social media. In a montage of videos and comments on “YouScreen,” vitriol flies from the mouths of angry dudes: “They took the Hulk’s manhood away, but then they gave it to a woman?!” one guy rants. A commenter asks, “Why are you turning every superhero into a girl? No one asked for that!” And another says, “So we have a #MeToo movement and now all the male heroes are gone?”

It’s the show’s most scathing meta satire to date, echoing the very real rantings of misogynist Marvel fans who go ballistic every time a Captain Marvel or Valkyrie joins the MCU, as if the incursion of female heroes will somehow lead to the sidelining of Star-Lord and Thor. (Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the comments in She-Hulk were pulled from actual fan responses to actual Youtube videos.)

Of course, in a world where superheroes like She-Hulk are real, this kind of angry fan vitriol can have very real consequences. Late in the episode, human-form Jen gets jumped by a group of teen boys wielding futuristic-looking weapons. At first, she’s terrified, as any woman would be. But then she remembers what she can do now and Hulks out and swats them away like flies. It’s a moment that’s incredibly cathartic for any woman—or anyone who isn’t a cisgender man, for that matter—who’s ever walked down the street late at night with their keys clenched in their fist.

Jen ultimately takes Nikki (and Blonksy’s) advice to take control of her own narrative, agreeing to an interview on “Citizen News Tonight.” She fights her way through leading questions with an anchor who’s all too eager to spin her responses into the story that will best fit the cookie cutter he’s trying to mash Jen into. “When we come back, She-Hulk shares her diet and exercise secrets!” he declares before the commercial break. It’s the show’s way of reminding us that even if women do get ahead of their own stories, our patriarchal world has other plans—so it won’t necessarily change the way they’re told.

Stray observations

  • She-Hulk’s delightful fourth-wall smashing continues when Jen, while driving, takes her hand off the wheel to address the camera while the landscape continues to speed by. “I know you’re excited to see Wong,” she says, “but it’s not one of those cameo-every-week shows. Well, except Bruce. And Blonksy. And Wong. Just remember whose show this actually is.”
  • In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Renée Elise Goldsberry shows up at the door to Holliway’s office, introduces herself as Jen’s colleague Mallory Book, and abruptly peaces out. Come back, Angelica Schuyler!
  • Benedict Wong’s delight at exploring a more playful side of Wong is apparent. I’m sure quipping about the Mirror Dimension is a relief after spending several movies mostly issuing dire warnings.
  • Runa the shapeshifting elf appears throughout the episode in various guises to sow chaos—most hilariously as Pug, announcing to the office: “I love harassing women in the workplace. It’s my kick, baby!”
  • The tech the teens who try to assault Jen are sporting looks impressive, but not exactly weaponlike. The reason? They’re wielding stolen Asgardian construction gear. Not exactly Mjölnir, my dudes.

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