She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1 Episode 1 Recap, Thoughts, and Theories

Marvel is a lot like McDonald’s at this point. Sure, it’s not the best thing available, but our mouths still water every time we pass by the golden arches. Except Marvel doesn’t make burgers, they make shows about ultra-powerful superheroes. They were great at it but have since fallen prey to quantity over quality. Really, I don’t think there are many who expect these Marvel products to be truly great, despite what early reactions proclaim after every new release. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been one step above big-budget TV, but we rolled with it because the characters were likable and, at times, the stories took on epic levels of greatness — Winter Soldier and Infinity War, for example.

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My hope is that the studio will eventually right the ship and return to making quality products. That’s the only reason I get excited about each new entry; no matter how underwhelming the most recent installment was. While She-Hulk was definitely not a character I ever expected/needed to see on the big or small screen, I’m genuinely curious to see if Marvel and the Mouse House can make this particular idea work.

Okay, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: Season 1 Episode 1, titled “A Normal Amount of Rage.” Let’s do this.

What Happens in She-Hulk Season 1 Episode 1

The show starts with Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters preparing for a case. A man tries to give her advice and a paralegal named Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) quickly shoves him out the door. After some back and forth, Nikki tells Jen that if she loses the case she can just “Hulk out.” It’s a nonchalant remark. Maybe even a cute nod to our man the Hulk. Except, Jen breaks the fourth wall to tell us that she is indeed a Hulk and decides to tell us how she obtained the power so we can enjoy this “fun lawyer show.”

“A few months ago,” Jen was hanging out with her cousin Bruce. Hey, it’s Mark Ruffalo. Like, actually Mark Ruffalo. Not Hulk Ruffalo. He’s in the sling we saw him wearing in Shang-Chi. Anyway, the duo is discussing Captain America (who is obviously a virgin) when an alien spacecraft drops in front of their vehicle. Jen panics and drives the car off the road. Crawls out of the wreckage to aid Bruce and watches as some of his blood drops into one of her wounds.

Instantly, she transforms into She-Hulk and runs off.

What was that ship? Have we seen one of its kind before? I’m honestly asking because there are so many Marvel products that they all tend to blur together. It looked like something out of Captain Marvel … maybe?

Jen wakes up near a bar, goes inside, gets a makeover from some kind women, and then gets accosted by three no-good men. She transforms into She-Hulk and immediately gets tackled by Hulk.

Wakes up again. This time in a nice beach house where she finds “Smart Hulk” (“I don’t pick the names,” Bruce says) doing some work. It always bummed me out that we never got to see Hulk be Hulk following his defeat at the beginning of Infinity War. The character has basically become a comedy bit, but, I suppose, since so much of the MCU has morphed into a full-blown comedy franchise, it works.

Speaking of which, Smart Hulk tells Jen that she received a lethal dose of gamma radiation. “Lethal? As in I’m gonna die,” Jen exclaims. “No, there is more to it that I’m going to explain,” Smart Hulk says. Not a good note to pause on, Bruce. Luckily, Jen shares Bruce’s ability to handle game radiation — her blood even helps Bruce heal his arm.

Problem is, she’s now a Hulk indefinitely. Jen is mad about this? I can’t imagine anyone being upset with superpowers, but that’s just me. Anyways, Smart Hulk says she has to learn how to control her powers before she can go out to the real world. Luckily, he has a syllabus which just means the process will only take 15 years. “We just have to control when you turn,” Smart Hulk says. “The triggers are anger and fear.”

“Those are, like, the baseline of any woman just existing,” Jen quips.

Smart Hulk plops her in a machine designed to scare the sh*t out of her. She rages out, turns green, smashes the door, and looks like she’s gonna go nuts. “Easy, girl, easy,” Smart Hulk says.

“Why are you talking to me like I’m a stray horse,” Jen asks.

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So, Jen doesn’t have an alter ego. In her Hulk form, she’s still just Jen, albeit with really big green muscles. Even Smart Hulk is jealous. Some might balk and say this is a lazy shortcut for the series to take, but I assume the producers thought spending several episodes on Jen’s training might be a tad redundant after we spent so long watching Bruce deal with Hulk. This way, we can literally jump right to the case.

Jen still can’t control when she turns, though. Smart Hulk offers suggestions, including a lullaby from Natasha/Black Widow, which he doesn’t have a good explanation for (this made me laugh). So much of the stuff that happens in the MCU is nuts, but we just go with it. Only after we hear some of the ideas recited out of context do they seem strange.

“You can’t be emotional,” Smart Hulk warns. “When people start seeing you as a monster, that never goes away.” We finally get a dramatic beat. We can see Bruce’s pain behind Smart Hulk’s green texture. The soundtrack rises and —

Enough of that. We cut to the next morning where Smart Hulk tries to teach her meditation. She doesn’t take the process seriously and makes a quip about farts and getting her butt tight as hell (“Up top!”) before Smart Hulk takes five. Later, he awakens Jen with an air horn. Immediately, she transforms looking not unlike my wife every morning when the alarm goes off. (She’s not as green, but she’s plenty pissed.)

I should point out that the special effects, while not film quality, are totally doable. Yes, Smart Hulk and Jen occasionally look like Shrek characters, but they’re realistic enough. Especially considering this is a television show.

The pair do exercises on the beach. Later, he chucks a giant bolder. She does the same and cheers that hers went further. Annoyed, Bruce picks up an even bigger bolder and throws it out of the atmosphere. As Tim once said long ago in Jurassic Park, “That was great.”

As the training continues, She-Hulk seems to best Smart Hulk at every turn and mocks him each time. Smart Hulk grows more annoyed and eventually tosses her over a cliff (she gives him the finger and I’m like … Disney+?). I feel his pain. My wife beats me at everything — even dominoes. I never handle it well. (I rage whenever the Seahawks lose too, so I don’t think it’s a sexist thing. I’m just incredibly immature.)

Leaping back to the top of the cliff, Jen asks an important question: when am I ever going to use any of this as a lawyer? Again, if anyone morphed into a superhero overnight — particularly one with the powers of invulnerability — I bet they would immediately cast off their former life in favor of battling bad guys across the world, not worry about whether or not their law practice was going to suffer. But, the plot needs to happen.

Smart Hulk then points out one positive aspect of being a Hulk: you can drink a lot and not get drunk, which seems like it would be very expensive. She-Hulk gives a hell yeah and hours later the pair are seated at Bruce’s bar mostly drunk. The conversation turns to Tony and I think this is the first time we’ve seen Bruce (in any form) discuss his former friend. Man, Iron Man’s death seems so long ago, but it literally happened in 2019! “It was a good time during a hard time,” Smart Hulk says. A nice dramatic beat that, again, gives way to goofy humor.

Later, Jen says she wants to head back, but Smart Hulk worries that she won’t be able to control her anger. Jen goes into a monologue about how she controls her anger every day when incompetent men tell her how to do her job in the office or make cat calls on the street. “If I don’t, I will get called emotional, or difficult, or might just literally get murdered. So I’m an expert at controlling my anger because I do it infinitely more than you,” she shouts, transforming into She-Hulk … but then she easily reverts back to Jen. “Guess I’ve outgrown your binder, Cuz.”

Jen hops in a jeep, calls Smart Hulk a “cautionary tale” because he chooses to isolate himself on an island with no friends or family. Then, when he tries to stop her, she runs him over with the vehicle. Jen then transforms into She-Hulk, clocks Smart Hulk in the face, and the pair fight. They destroy the surrounding jungle, punch each other to oblivion and eventually roll over the bar. “You’re fixing this,” Smart Hulk says. So, the pair fix the bar, mostly settle their differences and Jen travels back to her law practice.

Now, we’re back at the beginning. Jen finishes her monologue and notes that she never has to use She-Hulk ever again. “I was right. Bruce was wrong.”

In the ensuing courtroom, we see Jen listening to the closing argument of her opposition. Her evil male colleague sits next to her and (because subtlety isn’t a thing in the MCU) whispers, “Don’t screw this up, Walters.” He’s a dick, see? Jen (a literal superhero with the powers of invincibility) stands to deliver her closing argument, but before she can say anything, a woman adorned in a black cape bursts through the wall. Nikki feels this is an opportune moment for Jen to transform. Reluctantly (she likes her suit), she removes her shoes and goes green.

“Who the hell are you?” the villain asks.

“Jennifer Walters, attorney at law,” She-Hulk exclaims before slamming her into the wall. (Jen’s male colleague slips away.) Jen reverts back to herself, slips into her shoes, composes herself, and says, “I’m ready to give my closing argument now.”

Roll credits.

She-Hulk Season 1 Episode 1 Final Thoughts

All in all, not a bad first episode. It’s cheesy but kinda fun in a dorky sort of way. The premise does open up some interesting directions and Jennifer is a likable enough character. I like the dynamic between She-Hulk and Smart Hulk. Honestly, that might have made for a great TV series all on its own — just Bruce and Jen globe-hopping, taking down bad guys together. But who wants that from a superhero franchise? Not when we can get She-Hulk: Attorney at Law!

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I’ll reserve judgment until we’re further into the series, but I’ll give this opening entry a C+. I’m curious to see if that alien ship comes into play. Who was that person that blasted into the courtroom? How will She-Hulk affect Jen’s career aspirations? Will Hulk ever break out of his nice guy persona and go full rage monster before the series ends? How does Daredevil fit into all of this, outside of the obvious legal angle? We’ve got a long way to go with this one, but this could be fun.


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