She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – Season 1 Episode 2

Aug 25, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“Superhuman Law”

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law turns Jennifer’s life upside down after her powers are revealed to the world.

Superpowers commonly complicate the lives of those who have them whether it be a sense of responsibility diverting their attention from their everyday life, the stress of maintaining a dual identity, having to deal with being in constant danger or any manner of complications. In the case of Jennifer, her initial difficulty is that her powers are seen as a novelty that reputable law firms don’t want to be associated with. She is let go from her job after Hulking out in the courtroom because of the negative attention drawn to the firm through association.


Fame has its privileges

In the previous episode, Jennifer made it clear that she has no intention of being a superhero and just wants to continue her career as a lawyer without ever addressing the fact that she is a Hulk. It wasn’t long before that proved impossible as her innate goodness prompted her to take action. This is something she wrestles with as she feels she is being punished for doing the right thing. It seems self-evident to do what you can to help those in danger when you have the ability to do so. Peter Parker’s mantra “with great power, there must also come great responsibility” on its most basic level means this and it’s something Jennifer subscribes to without overtly referencing it. She took action because she recognised that people needed help and she was in a position to offer it. The consequence of staying true to herself is that she loses her job and appears to be blacklisted from working as a lawyer because of what she is.

Much of this episode focuses on Jennifer looking for another job and adjusting to the sudden shift to being a public figure. She is dubbed She-Hulk and instantly hates it because she sees it as being derivative of her cousin so immediately there is a loss of identity for her as she is being compared to Bruce. Going deeper than that, she is being defined by her association with a man which she sees as robbing her of agency. Others don’t see it the same way such as her friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) who likes the name and thinks it’s something she can own so there are varying perspectives on whether She-Hulk is a name that limits her because it adds a prefix to an exiting hero’s name or whether it carries value as an identity by itself. It’s a question to chew on and feeds into Jennifer having to adjust to this major change in her life.

Regardless of whether the name is something to be owned, She-Hulk is a big hit with the public. She goes to a bar with Nikki in She-Hulk form and her presence is celebrated. In the MCU, superheroes are celebrities with fans and critics alike. Ms. Marvel initially built the character of Kamala Khan around her superhero fandom and it is well established elsewhere in the franchise that superheroes enjoy celebrity status whether they want it or not. For Jennifer, it means never having to pay for drinks and generally being admired by those around her simply by being there. The opposite reaction also exists as shown by her male colleague being envious of her powers and putting it down to nepotism before excusing himself to hit on a woman that he refers to as “it”. The point is clearly made though any semblance of subtlety is lost through his disgusting behaviour. It fits in with the heightened reality that the show is settling into but the point could be made without this character being so cartoonishly abhorrent.


Family time

Jennifer’s frustration is intensified by a family dinner where her unemployment and powers are the main discussion points. Naturally, she would rather attention be diverted in a different direction. The family dinner scene comes across as a real family dynamic. It’s chaotic and uncomfortable just as many family dinners are and fits in perfectly with the intent of this show to be a sitcom as it’s a scenario common to that genre of television. It also allows for a poignant moment between Jennifer and her father. He offers her the opportunity to articulate her feelings and Tatiana Maslany plays it as if it’s a long-delayed release of pent-up emotion. Once she starts talking she can’t stop and it’s clearly cathartic for her as she has spent her time since her powers were revealed to the public being on display so having a private moment to be herself and process how her life has changed is valuable to her. He plainly states that even though her worst fear came true she is still standing and can move forward. He offers himself as a supportive presence and addresses the fact that the family has had to deal with a Hulk in their midst before and Jennifer is off to a better start because she didn’t destroy a city. If Bruce can rehabilitate his reputation after doing that then Jennifer can definitely pick herself up.

Her fortune quickly reverses when she is offered a job but it doesn’t take long for her to learn that there are strings attached as she is being hired to be the face of a Superhuman Law division at a law firm. This means that she will need to be She-Hulk whenever she is at work which she sees as trivialising her skills and knowledge as well as all the work she has put in to achieve everything she has. This is where the fourth wall break is deployed and it’s a great way for her to articulate her feelings while providing practical examples to support them. The mechanics of the fourth wall break haven’t been fully established at this point. In the previous episode, Bruce noticed her turning to talk to the camera but in this one, nobody around her seems to notice that she’s addressing someone who can’t be seen. The act of doing it distracts her from listening to what she is being told to the point that she answers a question without having heard what it was. It’s unclear whether this inconsistency is deliberate and if breaking the fourth wall will be a situational device with no logic to it.

Jennifer’s main concern is that being She-Hulk will be seen as the reason she got the job rather than her qualifications. She knows that she’s qualified but is concerned that it won’t be recognised. It’s analogous to the complicated concept of diversity quotas in employment and the imposter syndrome this can create. People can be concerned that they were hired to fill a quota rather than being considered on their actual merits as a candidate. This is exactly what Jennifer is wrestling with and now feels that she has to work harder to prove herself. It’s also an obvious commentary on gender inequality in the workplace as shown by the boardroom of old white men laughing at a joke that probably wasn’t funny.


Not what was expected

Her first case is to represent Emil Blonsky aka the Abomination (Tim Roth); last seen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and prominently featured in The Incredible Hulk. Blonsky was arrested after the Hulk defeated him when he rampaged through Harlem and now he’s trying to argue that he has turned over a new leaf. Jennifer initially tries to get out of representing him due to the conflict of interest created by the fact he tried to kill her cousin but her new boss doesn’t care about that and refers to a conflict waiver signed by Blonsky to negate any problems with the familial association.

The initial conversation between Jennifer and Blonsky suggests that Blonsky regrets his actions and is looking for a second chance. Later developments point to him being less than genuine but the mention of the Super Soldier Serum being a corrupting influence is interesting. It was established in Captain America: The First Avenger that the serum amplifies what already exists within someone so in the case of Steve Rogers all of his innate goodness was enhanced and in the case of Blonsky his frustration and desire for power received an upgrade.

From a legal standpoint, the idea of Blonsky being coerced into taking the super soldier serum and his subsequent actions being fuelled by being exposed to it is the basis of a defence. It could be argued that he wasn’t in full control of his actions so there could be grounds for leniency of some kind. He also expresses regret and that he has soulmates that have made him a better person so there’s a lot to work with here. Tim Roth is always engaging when onscreen and continues to be so here. The initial conversation and buildup to Jennifer deciding to represent him happens very quickly to the point it almost feels like an afterthought within the episode itself. That time may have been better spent establishing Jennifer’s transition to Superhuman Law and showing more of her settling into her new surroundings before being assigned a case.

The reveal of Blonsky’s escape from incarceration points to some kind of manipulation being at play. Jennifer’s conversation with Bruce has them share a sentiment about second chances and people changing over time -including a nod to the fact that Mark Ruffalo wasn’t playing Bruce Banner at the time of the referenced conflict- which prompts Jennifer to take on the case before instantly learning that her decision may be a mistake. It’s a funny beat to end the episode that also highlights the complexity of redemption along with navigating the legal system.


Conflict of interest or just conflict?


A strong second episode that covers a lot of ground in terms of the cost of having powers, systemic workplace inequality and the complexities of the legal system. Jennifer revealing her powers and being punished for doing the right thing makes for an interesting problem that she has to deal with along with her newfound celebrity. A meaningful conversation with her father lets her air her feelings and process the change in her life. Her transition to Superhuman Law raises other issues around equality in the workplace and diversity quotas in a really creative way that makes excellent use of the fourth wall break to explore that. Jennifer’s conversation with Emil Blonsky as her first client is compelling in a legal sense and the events surrounding it highlights the complexity of redemption along with navigating the legal system though the buildup to Jennifer agreeing to represent Blonsky happens too quickly with the time perhaps being better spent on her settling into her new job.

  • 8/10
    Superhuman Law - 8/10


Kneel Before…

  • coverage of the consequences of Jennifer’s decision to Hulk out in the courtroom
  • the poignant moment between Jennifer and her father that functions as an outlet for her feelings
  • using the fourth wall break to highlight and explore diversity quotas and workplace inequality
  • Jennifer dealing with her newfound celebrity and the attention that draws
  • a compelling legal background to Emil Blonsky’s case
  • Jennifer’s desire to see the best in him and her conversation with Bruce about second chances


Rise Against…

  • Jennifer’s colleague being cartoonishly abhorrent
  • the buildup to Jennifer’s decision to represent Blonsky happening too quickly


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User Review
7.5/10 (2 votes)

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