Article by Kieran Burt.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law returns for the penultimate episode, and the first three quarters is another bottle episode, containing a perfect amount of court action and superhero action, with a perfect cameo from Marvel’s past. In a lot of ways it perfects episode four’s structure, with an even more interesting case, better action and even a better cameo (sorry Wong). The last of the episode however doesn’t hold up, and has similar setup issues that the past few episodes have had.
There is much to like about this episode. She-Hulk gets dragged into a lawsuit by Leap-Frog, a Z-list superhero who’s clearly put way too much thought into his marketing campaign and nothing else (the frog theme was as far as he got), drags Luke Jacobson to court over an alleged product liability. This is a simple conflict, simple to understand and darkly hilarious to watch play out. The actor who plays Leap-Frog, Brandon Stanley, appears throughout the episode, making the character memorable by modelling his performance on a stuck-up, rich man child.
She-Hulk unfortunately has to take this case, because his dad is paying the law firm a lot of money – an unfortunate reality of our own world, adding a sense of social commentary – and she initially thinks it’s a slam dunk. That is, until the opposing lawyer shows up. Audiences have been teased for far too long about Matt Murdock, with Marvel intentionally drawing out the audience expectations for his introduction, and he finally, finally, makes a triumphant return in this episode.
She-Hulk attempts to argue her clients case, and make arguments for discovery, but gets completely trounced by Murdock’s superior knowledge of law. The writers make this courtroom scene far more interesting than previous ones, by having hilarious characters and characters that the audiences care about, and using enough legal language to sound like it’s real without blasting the audience with complicated jargon. Plus it finally addresses obscure lore material questions like the Sokovia Accords, by announcing they’re repealed.
The scene after is where things start to get surprising. Murdock and She-Hulk meet in a bar, where they make up but then they start flirting with one another. This is the start of a throughline where She-Hulk ends up sleeping with Murdock. This is a hugely bold decision, driven no doubt by the fact that both are superhero lawyers. Murdock and She-Hulk do have chemistry with one another, with Murdock understanding the double life struggle that She-Hulk goes through. It also concludes with a hilarious shot of the Man With No Fear doing the walk of shame barefoot in his costume in broad daylight.
Murdock’s brutality is well captured, even in the confines of a Disney project. He comes off as quite serious, even within the light-hearted nature of the show he’s in. He certainly has moments to make jokes and otherwise act slightly goofy, but he isn’t compromised because of it. Murdock once again gets a satisfying hallway scene to smash some goons in, evocative of one in the Netflix show. This episode is an amazing backdoor pilot for his upcoming solo show.
The rest of the action scene is well choreographed and shot, allowing audiences clear looks at what’s happening and not rushing the camera away. It culminates in Leapfrog making a hilarious but near fatal leap, breaking his legs. She-Hulk has pushed the boundaries of what humour is acceptable in Marvel in the past few episodes, and it mostly works. It’s also deployed sparingly, and is a novelty.
This episode however does fall apart at the end. Daredevil leaving She-Hulk would have made for an immensely satisfying end, but it unfortunately keeps going. It tacks on a tease for the finale, and tries to sweep this under the rug by having more terribly written and immersion breaking fourth wall breaks. She-Hulk attends a lawyers gala, which seems like something that should have been mentioned in a prior episode, but is randomly brought in so the bad guys can reveal themselves.
Intelligentsia attempts to portray She-Hulk as a rip-off from the Hulk (a nod to the character’s creation), which convinces her to go crazy. The once collected She-Hulk snaps, unleashing her full rage. It seems out of character for how the show has established She-Hulk, as Jen normally has a hold on her anger, but, for Marvel to make a point, she must lose her cool here. Her rage gets her arrested by Damage Control, which is an institution that sorely needs explaining.
Episode eight of She-Hulk delivers and improves on the strengths of episode four, and doesn’t compromise on Daredevil. The action and humour are satisfying, something that is rare in this show. Unfortunately, the end of the episode doesn’t quite hold up, as a bolted on set-up for next week’s finale.