Warning: spoilers for She-Hulk episode 5 ahead – turn back now if you have not seen the latest episode of the MCU show.
After Wong, Abomination, and Bruce Banner, She-Hulk’s latest episode side-steps the usual big-name cameo to focus on its core cast, while also introducing some refreshing new players.
Front and center there’s Titania, who’s finally properly introduced. Jameela Jamil’s superpowered influencer is embroiled in a legal battle with Jennifer Walters. She first appears in peak influencer mode at the launch of her new She-Hulk branded skincare, and she’s just as narcissistic as you would expect, waltzing in with an extravagant sequined outfit and a cutting mean girl vibe – essentially an over-accessorized version Jamil’s The Good Place character Tahani but with an American accent. And she’s not the only delightful new addition to the She-Hulk world. When Jen needs an attorney for said court battle, she’s assigned Mallory Book, an accomplished lawyer who quickly helps turn the tables in Jen’s favor with a sound case against the influencer, making her a welcome foil to both Titania’s opulence and Jen’s meekness.
The crux of winning the case depends on Jen inviting everyone she went on dates with last episode as She-Hulk to the stand, including the dream man she slept with before realizing he was only interested in her green alter ego. On the stand, he admits to only being interested in the She-Hulk alter ego as Jen cringes through the testimony – a heartbreaking scene that adds welcome nuance to her character. It feels like we’re finally exploring her identity crisis: she’s been dealing with the clash of superpowers and her actual life, but now we’re seeing the impact that has on her sense of worth and her self-esteem.
This authenticity boils over into the next scene as Jen and Mallory lament modern dating. It’s a situation most women can relate to, especially as the pair capture that particular female allyship that develops in male-driven careers. Feminism in this show sometimes can be in your face – just think about Jen’s opening episode monologue on how women are always angry – but it’s these quieter moments that are most radical, and exemplify the MCU’s pivot to telling more female stories following three phases of boys in the leading roles (minus only Captain Marvel and The Wasp). Yes, we have a long way to go until we’re dealing with characters as well written as those penned and directed by Greta Gerwig and Ava DuVernay, but it’s refreshing to have a Marvel show with nuanced, impressive women at its core. When the series centers on something fresh and relatable, it really shines.
It’s a shame, then, when the bar scene ends with a clumsy tag-on aside from Jen to transition into the B-Plot, which this week is all about finding Jen some new clothes. Pug and Nikki are on the hunt to find the mysterious "drip broker" whose niche is designing clothes for superheroes. It’s a storyline that really deserves no more than a scene. The charming Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) does her best to elevate what’s going on, but it’s still just shopping – and we don’t even get to see the final outfit. The final scene, as Jen tries on her new outfits, feels pointless as it’s really just a vehicle to tease Daredevil’s confirmed upcoming cameo.
These lesser moments may be forgivable if She-Hulk didn’t operate in the confines of a weekly-release schedule, as the frustration only feels more pertinent after waiting a whole week for new content. She-Hulk is no Moon Knight, where the mystery unfurls episodically – it’s a comedy, and there’s little to speculate about between episodes. I can’t help but wonder if the show would have been better served by another release approach.