By Matthew Moorcroft
- Directed by Kat Coiro
- Starring Tatiana Maslany, Ginger Gonzaga, Rhys Coiro, Benedict Wong
It’s actually refreshing to see a series like She-Hulk pretty much eschew any perceptions about what it wants to be about. So many of these MCU shows – hell, streaming shows in general if we are being honest with ourselves – try to be bigger then their own stories let them, and while it’s nice to see ambition it’s a 50/50 coin toss as to whether or not they soar or land flat on their face. This isn’t me advocating for mediocrity, far from it, but She-Hulk‘s ability to actually understand first and foremost why it works and lean into it is what’s making it one of Disney+’s more confident efforts, even if it’s not their best or most ambitious.
This is their best episode to date, however, thanks to them leaning into those elements first and foremost. It’s a simple premise – former Kamar-Taj student using his abilities for cheap tricks is given a cease-and-desist by Wong of all people – but it’s one rife with comedic potential as they lean into the absurd. And oh boy is it absurd; the sheer maniac energy of the entire cast here is particularly evident, as several of the one off characters steal the show throughout this. Rhys Coiro is a delightful douchebag magician who is so arrogant that it’s hard to take him seriously, while his partner played by Leon Lamar is equally as hilarious. But it’s actually Patty Guggenheim who makes the biggest impression here as a Madisynn, who steals the show and has impeccable chemistry with the equally as great Benedict Wong, whose comedic chops are shown in full force here. The fact his cease-and-desist even exists for petty reasons is oddly in character for Wong while also perfect for this more hyper-comedic, fully sitcom side of the MCU.
And while Maslany has been great pretty much this whole series, she does have a new side to her here that expands what we know about Jennifer. One of the complaints about the MCU that I wholeheartedly agree with is the lack of adult romances, or at the very least how sexless it has felt. This can be attributed too the industry as a whole having a lack of sex appeal these days, but the MCU is a major culprit even if it’s recent efforts to try and remedy that are appreciated. She-Hulk’s unabashed sex appeal though is here as a major plot point – there is a sex-positive attitude here that is much different then other superhero properties; gone are the days of simple kissing. Jennifer straight up is trying to hook up here and while it’s also meant to be mostly a commentary on how her She-Hulk persona has overshadowed her actual accomplishments, it’s also just great to see women’s sexuality not dismissed or treated negatively.
On the technical side of things, it’s same old, same old for She-Hulk, albeit with a distinctly higher level of polish. The CGI definitely has spiked up this episode, mainly thanks to a higher amount of it necessary, and because of that the whole affair is definitely the best the show has looked up to this point. The show isn’t flashy nor is it interested in being so, though Kat Coiro definitely knows when to push the camera when need be – she really loves those fast close up shots.
This is a hard show to talk about week to week, admittedly, mainly due to how simple and straightforward it actually is, but I’ve come around to that it’s biggest strength. And while next week should have some more juicy stuff going on – seems like Titania will be entering the mix and Daredevil is also about to make his grand appearance – this week’s episode stands as a comfortable reminder of how sometimes all you really need is a solid sitcom setup for entertainment. I enjoyed this!