Warning: Spoilers for She-Hulk episode 8 ahead – turn back now if you have not seen the latest episode of the MCU show.
To answer She-Hulk’s question: yes, Jennifer, we’re feeling it. Following an earlier tease, Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock has entered the picture, his appearance leading to a taut episode that loses spurious side-plots for a narrative that’s fun and focused. However, saying that all comes down to a cameo does She-Hulk a disservice – we’ve been building to this point for some time.
Although the series started with an origin story, the following episodes took on a “case of the week” approach to varying degrees of success. Almost every subplot – remember the elf impersonating Megan Thee Stallion? – felt tacked on, and Tatiana Maslany was left to elevate some pretty dire dialogue as Jennifer’s love life ebbed and flowed. That changed with the show’s sixth episode, which eschewed the established formula to tell a wedding story, and then the seventh stuck Jen at a wackadoo ranch for some therapy. Both episodes were solitary tales that centered on the show’s hero, and both were better for doing precisely that.
‘Ribbit and Rip it’ brings back the courtroom but without the side-story padding. Jen is forced to defend the ludicrous Leap-Frog after his jet-fuelled suit goes array. Unfortunately, they’re up against another super-powered lawyer, this one with a super sense of smell, and the whole thing’s quickly thrown out by the judge. Jen commiserates in a bar and is bought an appletini in a bar by, surprise, her new nemesis, Matt Murdock. The chemistry between them is instant. The series has previously forced Jen to go on a multitude of dates, but none have sparked like this.
Murdock gives a great pep talk about how someone can be a hero in the courtroom and use their powers for good elsewhere (wink wink, nudge nudge), and it’s all over too soon. He has to leave, but so does Jen – for a scene with Jon Bass’ spoilt man-child. He’s bought a Wakandan spear and makes some cringe-inducing comments about having a collection of African artifacts. It’s another occasion where the writers go just that little bit too far to spell out the joke, making the moment more roll your eyes than just laughing at the male buffoon.
The pace, though, does not suffer. Jen quickly gets a call from her croaking client, who’s being chased. She-Hulk, wearing her new suit, is soon going toe-to-toe with Daredevil. The set-up is ingenious – both as lawyers and as superheroes these two have been initially against each other before teaming up. Sure, the CGI as Daredevil’s thrown around looks ropey, but that’s quickly corrected when he’s fighting goons in Leap-Frog’s lair. There are a wealth of amphibian jokes being made throughout the scene, but the hilarity stops as soon as Daredevil finds himself cornered in a hallway. If anyone was worried Cox’s hero would be more subdued on Disney Plus, think again – he ferociously takes down a pack of goons before facing a second group. However, just to remind you that this is She-Hulk’s show, she smashes her way down onto them with a ground-pound. We’ll have to wait until Daredevil: Born Again for a reprise of that iconic one-take hallway fight.
When Leap-Frog’s defeated, She-Hulk and Daredevil pick up where they left off and go back to her place. Even though their romance was signposted long ago, I couldn’t help having my mouth agape as they just, like, went there. Who would have thought we would see Cox’s Daredevil would be doing the walk of shame? It’s a brilliant and funny conclusion to an episode that, sure, will be discussed because of Daredevil, but it also stayed true to She-Hulk’s DNA.
And then the episode continues. What could have been left as a tightly wound, standalone 20-minutes knowingly pushes forward. I’ve not been a fan of the fourth-wall-breaking, but the moment works as Jen questions whether a twist is coming. A slow sense of dread builds as she heads to the lawyer gala. (Why exactly a celebration of lawyers has a red carpet with a bunch of photographers taking snaps of the nominees, who’s to say? I mean, it’s not the Oscars. Are they there just because She-Hulk is? That’s not the point…)
Bass’ character is there again – and the show’s overarching storyline kicks into place: Intelegencia, the Reddit-like board of keyboard warriors, displays She-Hulk’s private life on a big screen. They stole her online details and invaded her home. The word “slut” echoes out. Jennifer has suffered from derogatory treatment from men all season and it’s a fitting display of the terrifying attitude certain sections of the internet have towards women.
She-Hulk has not strayed away from discussing the modern issues women deal with. Though the show has been at times ineffective, the final moments of ‘Ribbit and Rip it’ deliver a shocking finale that ties multiple plot threads together and sets up the finale. It’s deftly done and brings our attention fully back to the struggles of Jennifer Walters following her dalliance with Daredevil. And while I can’t wait to see Cox’s Man Without Fear back on screen in his own series, I’ve also never been this excited for the next episode of She-Hulk.
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