By Samuel M Acosta
This week’s episode has both positive and negative elements, but the negatives outweigh the small victories that I saw. Most of the humor here felt cheap, barely worth a small chuckle, and the case that Jen is working on feels unimportant. While there are some cool personal moments that we get to see Jen work through, plus a glimpse at She-Hulk in action, most of this feels adequate at best, which disappointed me after the last episode’s show of promise.
Episode four, titled “Is This Not Real Magic” follows Jen and Wong as they attempt to prosecute Donny Blaze, a failed sorcerer who is misusing the magic arts as a way to entertain. Wong believes that Donny is a threat to the world, but with very little legal precedent to work with, Jen struggles to build a convincing case. At the same time, she signs up for a dating app. She has very little success with it until she makes a profile for She-Hulk, where she begins to be showered with matches. She sadly finds out, however, that people only want to be with She-Hulk, not Jen. The episode ends with her still painfully single but successfully stopping Donny Blaze from practicing magic after he opened a portal to another dimension causing a demon attack.
Let’s start by looking at the positives of this episode. The main one is the look into Jen’s personal life as she tries to get into dating and learns the discrepancy between how people treat her when she is or isn’t She-Hulk. After seeing her go through a lot of very bad dates, watching her go on a good one where things seem to be working out made me feel kind of happy for her, but seeing her get rejected again once she was simply Jen again just broke my heart. This is a concept that the show is executing well, as we see the human side of a superhero struggle to remain relevant in light of power and fame. It is something we haven’t seen a lot of from Marvel and this feels like a very fitting place for that kind of story.
Another plus for this episode is that we finally get to see She-Hulk in action. While she has done minimal fighting in the first few episodes, we finally get to see some semblance of an action sequence and get a brief glimpse at the power of this new Hulk. While it was not the most epic fight I’ve ever seen, it felt nice just to get a little something, especially in light of the rest of the episode. I hope that future episodes also move in this direction of more action.
Sadly, that is where the positives end. What killed the episode for me was the humor. It felt so juvenile and uninspired. As someone who has watched a lot of good and bad comedies, you can tell the difference between a writer who understands comedy and one who simply knows how to get cheap laughs. This felt like a cheap laugh episode.
The main catalyst for this was the new character Madisynn, a drunk valley girl who is a witness in Jen’s case against Donny Blaze and who becomes an unlikely friend to Wong. Her over-the-top behavior and heavy caricature-like personality just felt so out of place. It really just felt like someone just pulled out every stereotype in the book and created Madisynn. While she isn’t a central focus in the episode, her consistent reappearances make her one of the main things I remember most about it, which does not help her case.
In the last review, we talked about how the courtroom is where this show felt like it was at its best. Well, here, it feels weak. The courtroom scene is so uninspired that I think you could’ve removed it completely from the episode and it all would have remained mostly the same. It seems as if they had come up with the story idea and then remembered that this was supposed to have a courtroom element so they just mashed them together. I truly hope that they look to strengthen this area of the show more because it really was one of my favorite elements.
Overall, this is an incredibly disappointing episode. I was hoping that the momentum from last week would carry over, but it only seemed to trip over itself and scrape its knee. I know there are still a lot of tricks up Marvel’s sleeve when it comes to future episodes, so I haven’t given up hope yet, but I still have a sinking feeling that it will fail to reach the potential of what it could be.
I give episode four a 5/10
Sam Acosta is a Senior Theatre Comprehensive Major and the Arts and Entertainment Editor for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing plays.
Images courtesy of Marvel Studios