By Matthew Moorcroft
- Directed by Anu Valia
- Starring Tatiana Maslany, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gozaga, Josh Segarra
After being introduced briefly in the first episode, Jameela Jamil finally makes her big entrance into the fray. While initially advertised as the main villain of the piece, Jamil’s role as the arrogant and vain Titania is more of a rival and a nuisance then an actual threat. While this would seem like a problem in a lesser show, or hell even a different kind of a show, this is a great fit as the lower stakes of She-Hulk give way to a new kind of villain – the annoying one. Titania only real goal is to make Jennifer’s life as inconvenient as possible which is, in of itself, hilarious in it’s pettiness. It helps that Jamil is really great here and steals the show on multiple occasions, and leans into her vapid persona wholeheartedly, particularly in one of the funniest intros of the show up to this point.
The entire episode has that same energy, thankfully, which once again leans into the hyper-real and absurd for it’s comedy. While a lot of MCU content has comedic elements (or are straight up comedies themselves), She-Hulk has a distinct kind of comedy that feels unique to it and it alone. It’s definitely a sitcom-y, almost network comedy style of humor but it’s still nevertheless different then what you would expect from the franchise. And as something like the consistently great Abbot Elementary has shown, network comedy done right is very good and this is so far a great example of it.
But stealing the show this time around is new cast Griffin Matthews who plays the eccentric, flamboyant Luke Jacobson, who is simply a delight. As the world’s biggest fan of Edna Mode from The Incredibles movies, having an uptight fashion designer as a character for any piece of superhero media is immediately going to peak my interest and while he’s pretty one note, he hits that note so hard and so consistently well that it’s a non-issue. If anything, it’s the lack of cameos this time around that really allow these supporting players like Matthews to shine, with both Gozaga and Segarra doing a lot of the heavy lifting this episode as Maslany is mostly off to the sidelines here.
There is some thematic meat being slowly woven here though, thankfully. The show has alluded to Walters’ fundamental lack of self-identity throughout, and this episode basically makes it front and center. Beyond the whole trial for her own name – which is an absurd concept but also one that is valid in a universe like this – Walters is never seen for Walters except by those closest to her, and even those people want her to embrace the She-Hulk as opposed to lock it down. All of her dates, who are brought back for a great piece of comedy and genuine pathos, only ever see her as her alternate self as opposed to the person she actually is. Considering Daredevil is bound to show up next episode, and he uses the Daredevil persona as a way to express the second part of himself, there is a ripe opportunity for some really great character depth and I hope they take advantage of it.
As it stands though, much the success of this episode comes from new director Anu Valia, who immediately shines with more interesting, dynamic camera choice then before. Not to dismiss Kat Coiro’s work by any means, but Valia is the clear MVP of the directing team if this episode is anything to go by, and I’m excited for her work next week as Matt Murdock comes into fray. Another strong episode from the team!