Episode 2 of She-Hulk, ‘Superhuman Law’, was always going to have a lot of work to do delivering on the “fun lawyer show” promised in the previous episode. Episode 1 was explicitly set up to get all the necessary backstory out of the way so that the show can focus on what it said it wants to be. But with the question of how Jen got her powers answered, this second episode doesn’t create a positive impression of what the show might become.
‘Superhuman Law’ starts with the media and public reaction to Jen revealing her hulk powers during the closing arguments of a high-profile case. She’s immediately identified as a derivative of The Hulk, given the patronizing and unwanted name She-Hulk, and is also quickly out of a job and unable to find a new one because of the potential distraction that her identity as a superhero might cause in the future.
There is no correct path for Jen. She does the right thing and is punished for it because her peers can’t handle that she’s a great lawyer and has super-human strength that she knows how to use. Jen isn’t stuck on the couch for long as she receives an offer to lead the superhuman law division at the same firm she argued against in the trial where everyone discovered her alter ego. The catch is they don’t want Jen Walters.
To work there she is required to always represent the firm as She-Hulk. Before she felt like she lost her career because of She-Hulk, and now she can’t help but feel that’s the only reason she has a new one. If She-Hulk is the manifestation of the emotions she used to bottle inside, what does it mean for Jen Walters if that’s all anyone wants now? She also learns from her new boss that her first client will be Emil Blonsky, also known as Abomination, a supposedly changed man who writes bad haikus.
All this adds up to an inconsistent episode that doesn’t live up to what we saw last week, and probably isn’t as interesting as what will come next week. You can see the inertia of Marvel storytelling pieces shifting into place to set up the rest of the season. Everyone discovers Jen Walters is She-Hulk, Bruce Banner leaves on a spaceship, Blonsky is being held in a Damage Control prison, and getting him released involves a callback to the underground fight club in the Shang-Chi movie.
On their own, the inclusion of each of these scenes isn’t a problem, but when all of them are packed into an episode that’s only 21 minutes long, from the end of the episode 1 recap to the beginning of the credits, it feels cramped. The rest of ‘Superhuman Law’ gets so overshadowed by the Marvel plot pieces that it’s easy to forget the more interesting or funny moments that don’t just serve the plot.
Replacing the easy rapport that Maslany found with Ruffalo in the previous episode is Jen Walters’s best friend Nikki Ramos. Their back and forth is familiar and honest. Whether they are discussing the Avengers’ health insurance plan, rolling their eyes at a chauvinistic coworker, or learning where the quietest bathroom in their new office is, their back and forth is enjoyable to watch and is when this episode most feels like a fun lawyer show.
Jen’s family makes an appearance in this episode, which gives us the perspective of what perfectly normal people think about superheroes. First, they assume that all heroes know each other and second, they have important questions like does Hawkeye pick up his arrows after he shoots them?
The scenes with Nikki and Jen’s family are the best moments of ‘Superhuman Law’, and the type of lighthearted scene that I wish there was more of in this episode. We already know what this world is like from the perspective of the heroes, but what happens when they go back home for a family dinner? The show is at its best when it slows down and considers smaller more intimate details that show us who Jen is and I hope we get a lot more of that in the weeks to come.
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