After a couple of genuinely good episodes. She-Hulk seems to have fallen flatter than its titular hero’s CGI in its fifth outing. Now, we’re pretty much at the halfway point of the nine-episode Marvel series, and while it’s pretty much nailed its lighter, sit-commy tone at this point, episode 5 is unfortunately, for the most part, neither entertaining nor compelling enough to maintain attention: even for a relatively short, half-hour outing.
The events of episode 5 were teased at the end of the last episode of the comedy series, with Titania (Jameela Jamil) returning from her brief but dramatic appearance in episode 1 to try and sue She-Hulk for the trademark of her own name.
While the concept of trademarks and branding is a big theme in episode 5, with the episode’s B-plot also mocking bootleg merch like the ‘Avongers,’ the whole “overmarketisation sucks” bit is kind of overshadowed by the fact that She-Hulk is a part of, you know, Disney. Think the call’s coming from inside the house, guys.
In fact, the B-plot as a whole falls a little flat because, while Josh Segarra continues to be charming as Pug, I can’t quite bring myself to care enough about Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzana) to really pay attention to what’s going on on-screen. This is no reflection on Gonzana, of course her character just suffers from having literal zero development or independent purpose beyond Jen’s best friend and sounding board — hopefully this will change as the season goes on.
The A-plot of the show also touches upon the creator economy, with Jamil clearly taking inspiration from influencer culture in her portrayal as Titania, especially with her pedalling of dubious beauty and diet products. The issue is, this portrayal in itself feels a little shallow and too reliant on stereotypes perpetuated by the very people (boomers and misogynists) She-Hulk’s writers usually seem to be dead set against.
That being said, the episode did raise a couple of fascinating points about identity. At one point, Jen describes She-Hulk as “something that happened” to her, which is interesting in laying bare her own lack of control and ownership over her identity of She-Hulk, which is, perhaps, demonstrated by the fact she never took the steps to own the name legally.
Going through that process of loving yourself and your name even if it’s not something you would have necessarily chosen for yourself is, actually, a pretty interesting plotline. The problem is that this message was wrapped up with so much “meh” that it was hard to identify it.
And sure, episode 5 wasn’t as good as the previous two episodes, but it still had its moments: having your previous, questionable hook-ups and dates all lined up to talk about you is a cringe-inducing moment I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
From the start, She-Hulk herself said the TV series wouldn’t be one that relied too heavily on cameos. But the sad truth is, without them, the series simply isn’t as good. That glimpse of a certain iconic helmet at the very end was the most exciting part of the episode, which both bodes well and bodes terribly for the future of She-Hulk.
You can stream all the She-Hulk episodes so far on Disney Plus.
Skip to about a minute before the end. Thank me later.