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She Hulk's Second Episode Found a Great Balance of Character and Connections

Marvel Studios' latest show, starring Tatiana Maslany, is currently streaming on Disney+.

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She-Hulk, wearing purple spandex under her gray business suit, smiles in a courtroom.
Image: Marvel Studios

In only its second episode, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is already separating itself from the rest of the Marvel Disney+ family. So much happens in such a small amount of time that it feels like it should only be six episodes, tops, like a few of its predecessors. But no, She-Hulk is nine episodes and this second one really set the stage for what that’s all going to be about.

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Image: Marvel Studios

After Jen’s antics save a courtroom full of people, she instantly becomes a celebrity. Every news station and person on social media is talking about this new hero, who is haphazardly nicknamed “She-Hulk.” Jen doesn’t like the name, mainly because she doesn’t feel like she has to be a derivative of the original Hulk. (Even though he literally is in her blood, but we digress). Jen and her best friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzalez) are celebrating her newfound fame and success when Jen finds out her law firm lost the case. Not because of how she was doing—in fact, everyone was sure she would win—but because the opposition argued She-Hulk saving the jury unfairly swayed them in her favor, and the judge agreed. Jen is then fired, all of which happens before the opening title card. See what we mean? A lot happens.

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It’s time to find a new job but Jen finds her newfound abilities are actually a liability in getting hired as no other firm wants to take on someone who may be a “sideshow.” Thankfully, she can take that pain and burden back home to her family. Jen’s parents, Elaine (Tess Malis Kinkaid) and Morris (Mark Lind-Baker), are sympathetic to her situation, especially because, as Morris points out, they’ve already had to deal with the issues of having a Hulk in the family. He tells her everything is going to be okay, which comes to fruition faster than he could have imagined. Out for a drink, Jen is approached by Holden Holliway (Steve Coulter), who was the lawyer she was going against in the earlier case. Holliway explained that he felt she was going to win and offers her a job, which Jen takes before even really discussing the details... which is a mistake.

Image for article titled She Hulk's Second Episode Found a Great Balance of Character and Connections
Image: Marvel Studios
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Immediately upon walking into the new gig at GLK and H, Holliway explains he wants She-Hulk, not Jen, to head up their new superhuman law division, the first of its kind. It would require her to walk around work and the courtroom as She-Hulk and take a case she really doesn’t want: the parole hearing of one Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), a.k.a. the longtime Hulk foe the Abomination. Blonsky debuted waaaay back in Phase One of the MCU in the one film that almost always gets skipped, The Incredible Hulk, because it starred Edward Norton as the Hulk instead of Mark Ruffalo. This leads to one of the best jokes in MCU history later in the episode, but we’ll get back to that.

Since Blonsky tried to kill Jen’s cousin Bruce, she doesn’t think she could take the case, but Holliway gives her an ultimatum: take the case or don’t have a job. Jen decides to test the waters and goes to see Blonsky, who is being held at a prison run by the Department of Damage Control. There, Jen jokes that it’s like Silence of the Lambs, which is funny because it’s true—like Hannibal Lecter, Blonsky is being held in a cage that Jen can’t go too close to and he instantly wins her over with his apparent change of heart. Blonsky says he no longer wishes to be the Abomination and feels real remorse for everything he’s done. Jen seems to buy this, especially when Blonsky tells the story of his battle with the Hulk from his perspective, where he didn’t see himself as the bad guy. This scene might be the longest and most in-depth the MCU has ever acknowledged 2008's The Incredible Hulk.

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Now, as an MCU fan, you may have been watching this scene and thinking “Wait, when is this?” because we saw the Abomination participating in a fight club during Shang-Chi, so he’s clearly not in prison at that time. Plus, Bruce Banner still had his arm in a sling in the Shang-Chi end credits, which he seemingly fixed in the previous episode. These questions get more complex in the very next scene.

Image for article titled She Hulk's Second Episode Found a Great Balance of Character and Connections
Image: Marvel Studios
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Jen goes home and, before accepting the case, decides to call Bruce. Still in Hulk form, he tells her that he completely understands if she takes the case and that he buried the hatched with Blonsky years ago. In fact, he says, “That fight was so many years ago I’m a completely different person now.” Reader, when I tell you I laughed at this line, I am not lying. I laughed so hard I nearly missed that he said “Literally” at the end. It’s just a brilliant way to acknowledge Ed Norton and the 2008 film. Bravo, showrunner Jessica Gao.

Actually, make that double bravo, because when Jen asks Bruce if he’s going to be in Los Angeles anytime soon he says, “I’ve got some things I have to take care of” and it’s revealed that he’s in that Sakaaran ship from the previous episode and is being flown into space. Is this a tease for The Marvels? Secret Invasion? Something else? Does this mean the end of Ruffalo on She-Hulk? We don’t know, but it’s a damned good MCU tease. (We asked Gao about both of these things—look for the answers here on io9 later today.)

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And speaking of MCU teases, Jen calls Holliway to accept the job and he tells her to turn on the TV. She then sees that Abomination has escaped prison and was sighted at an underground flight club (Hello Shang-Chi crossover!). As his lawyer, this is bad news for Jen, but it’s actually good news for the audience though because now we know tells us exactly when in the MCU timeline we are.

Overall, She-Hulk’s second episode was a very strong episode of TV that both really turned the focus back on Jen and her journey while also providing a ton of great MCU connections. Linking her and her new job to Blonsky is so interesting, and the way she’s being exploited by the law firm is very fertile ground as well. She-Hulk has only two episodes under its belt but it’s already impressively propulsive and planting seeds for a lot more to come.

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Image for article titled She Hulk's Second Episode Found a Great Balance of Character and Connections
Image: Marvel Studios

Random thoughts

  • Once again there’s a mid-credits scene. This one is a flashback to earlier in the episode when Morris asked Jen for some help around the house, and we get to see her help him change a tire, move a TV, and a bunch of water bottles. Funny stuff. I’ve got a feeling most of these mid-credit scenes will be like this.
  • Last week was Captain America’s virginity; this week had questions about the Avengers. Do they get paid? Do they have insurance? I love that She-Hulk is becoming a platform for the MCU to address some of these fun, fan discussions.
  • After last week’s episode ended so randomly, I loved that the very first thing this episode did was explains how dumb it seemed that Tatiana jumped into the courtroom out of nowhere. It was because she was foolishly running from traffic court. Boom. Done.
  • Blonsky keeps mentioning his seven penpals. Do you think that will amount to anything?
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