Warning: The below contains full spoilers for She-Hulk Episode 5, which is now streaming on Disney+. To refresh your memory, check out our review of last week’s episode.
She-Hulk may have been shining a light on the multiversal absurdities we’re willing to accept as comic-book fans, but Episode 5 has gone on to prove just how ridiculous our real-life beauty industry can be. While the show’s format as a whole may be beginning to feel a bit familiar – and hey, since it’s both a sitcom and a lawyer show, what else can you expect? – this week’s half-hour still had some nice character development from Jennifer Walters and her complicated feelings around She-Hulk.
But first of all, let’s just take a second to appreciate just how painfully realistic Titania’s ads for her She-Hulk line are. The TV commercial, the podcast spot, the billboard – none of these over-the-top advertisements would look a tad bit out of place amidst the onslaught of beauty-based capitalism we see everyday. And Jameela Jamil is playing this comically self-obsessed superhuman perfectly, although anyone who’s seen The Good Place shouldn’t be surprised about her ability to effortlessly cut down anyone with just a graceful look.
It’s Titania’s legal claim, too, that serves as a catalyst for Jen’s journey in reckoning with She-Hulk. It’s something that’s a highlight of this episode, one that’s devoid of some of the scene-stealers of episodes past. On one hand, it doesn’t quite live up to the excellent midseason finale of last week, which had demon-fighting goodness (proving that the She-Hulk digital effects absolutely look better in action mode than they do in the harsh lighting of a lawyer’s office) and some hilarious side characters (give us the Madisynn/Wongers spinoff you cowards). On the other, it has some inspired character exploration: Jen’s gotta figure out how she feels about her big green super-form, and how that makes her feel about her comparatively real tiny human self.
And, as She-Hulk has juggled this entire season, it does so while balancing a good amount of sitcom humor. Never does it get too heavy or existential, aside from Jen admitting that she, like, really needs a good talk with a therapist about this. Instead, we get the humiliating parade of mediocre men that Jen – or, rather, She-Hulk – went on dates with. It’s funny to see some of the classic dating archetypes play out, but when last week’s hook-up admits he wouldn’t have gone out with her if she weren’t She-Hulk, it stings. It’s not an easy line to walk, but She-Hulk – and by extension, Tatania Maslany’s continuously winning lead performance – continues to do it impressively. And Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry), being as seemingly self-assured as she is, presents a good contrast in this respect.
Still, we’re really getting into a sitcom flow five episodes in. With the origin story out of the way, as well as some of the MCU tie-ins, She-Hulk is starting to feel a bit formulaic. Like any typical sitcom, it sets up its A-plot storyline at the top, weaves in its B-story shenanigans, and slaps a bow on the main conflict by the end. That’s not inherently a bad thing – the sitcom model lives on for a reason! – but it does mean it’s starting to feel a little predictable.
Speaking of the B-story, this week’s had some welcome additional screentime for Ginger Gonzaga’s Nikki, who’s consistently been great, albeit underutilized. This episode has started to correct that, with her and Josh Segarra’s Pug embarking on a quest to get Jen a proper superhero suit. Their sidestory is a fun one, as the two have some nice chemistry, and it’s refreshing to see them get something productive to do. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some “Avongers” merch.
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This episode does break formula on one aspect: no post-credits scene. But it does make up for that by setting up two important things down the line: firstly, actual She-Hulk costume! We’re still getting all our classic superhero origin beats here, after all. And secondly, confirmation of that highly anticipated Daredevil cameo. While it’s already been teased in the trailers, that subtle glimpse of his helmet is a clever way to continue to stoke our excitement.