Attorney at Law’ Season 1, Episode 5 Recap
Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios
What’s in a superhero name? This week on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the superpowered lawyer became the client. We’re now halfway through the season, and while episode five is a bit of a filler episode, it does at least close one chapter in the light ongoing saga: Jennifer Walters is officially She-Hulk now. At least as far as the court of law is concerned. It may have been a lawsuit that forced her to reclaim the name, rather than a personal triumph or revelation … but what do you expect? She’s a lawyer!
At the end of the previous episode, Jen was served by Titania, the superpowered influencer she fought in the pilot. Titania is in her villain era, and she created a line of beauty products that profit off of the moniker that the public foisted on Jennifer Walters’s alter-ego. Titania’s not smashing a city or snapping away half the population. She just trademarked “She-Hulk” first and is now suing the woman who earned the title. Jen never trademarked her other name because she didn’t think she had to and still isn’t 100 percent ready to commit to being any kind of Hulk, much less a She-Hulk. So she begins episode five annoyed and trying to ignore Titania, but it’s hard. The ads are everywhere, and there are some aspects of being She-Hulk that Jen does enjoy and want to keep for herself.
Jen’s boss, however, is outwardly displeased. He can’t have the superhero face of his superhero law division entwined in a superhero lawsuit, so he has Jen’s colleague Mallory Book (Renee Elise Goldsberry) take on her case. Mallory sets some professional boundaries, demands that Jen stop wearing the boxy suit she’s been kicking around in for the last few episodes, and decides to countersue. That’s our legal story this week. It’s not as goofy as the cases in the previous two episodes, but it does help tie some threads and themes from previous weeks together.
Meanwhile, the B-story finds Nikki and Pug tracking down a superhero fashion designer for Jen. Technically, Pug asks Nikki to stand in line for Iron Man Three shoes with him so he can get two pairs (one to rock and one to stock) first, but that happens off-screen. We get to follow the return favor. Nikki apparently decided behind Jen’s back that she needs a new wardrobe. Seriously, Nikki decides to get her best friend/boss a new suit before Mallory tells her to do it! Jen doesn’t seem too bothered, but I am. That’s not just being a proactive paralegal, that’s being a micromanaging friend. First the show establishes time and time again that the world prefers She-Hulk to Jen and now, over halfway through the season, Jen’s circle is revealing that everyone has notes about what She-Hulk should look and act like too.
Anywho, Pug and Slick Nik take their amazing platonic chemistry on the road in search of a superhero clothing business on a tip from his drip broker Alonzo. They meet with a boba barista who makes bootleg superhero merchandise with deliberate mismatched colors and misspellings like “Holk,” “Thur,” “Hawkguy,” and “Avingers” if you don’t like “Avongers.” It’s a good sight gag and ties back into the episode’s legal storyline. You can’t be sued for misuse of a trademark if you aren’t properly spelling said trademark.
They eventually score a consultation with fashion designer Luke Jacobson, played by Dear White People and The Flight Attendant’s Griffin Matthews. He’s like James Bond’s Q meets Emma Stone’s Cruella. I need to know everything about his other clients ASAP. Nikki returns, lawyer bestie in tow. He’s rude to Jen but intrigued by the challenge: clothing that stretches to fit both her human self and She-Hulk. That way, she can feel like herself no matter how tall.
Not to break ground here, but it’s hard being a woman! You could have perfect hair and a fashion designer will still call you a hag. Influencers prey on your insecurities to sell you overpriced serums and oils — which are two extremely different things, but you shouldn’t have to know that. And as Mallory says at the end of the episode, you could have literal superpowers and any guy with internet access still thinks he can do better.
When Jen and Nikki return to the office, a seemingly random encounter with Todd, one of Jen’s dates from episode four’s montage, helps her figure out how to win the case. He’s a … huh, we didn’t actually catch his profession during the date last week. He reveals that he is one of GLK&H’s biggest clients, and his creepy presence inadvertently reminds Jen that she created a dating profile as She-Hulk and therefore has in writing that she self-identifies as She-Hulk.
So in order to prove that she has embraced the name She-Hulk in enough of a professional and personal capacity to prove that Titania stole the name from her, Jen allows Mallory to call in the dates she got with a She-Hulk dating profile from the previous episode. It’s a good callback and a successful legal strategy, but doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about Jen or these men. When the last guy, Arthur, says under oath that he’s attracted to She-Hulk but Jen is not his type it sucks, but it’s the same emotional beat as last week.
What’s different is that Jen gets some validation from Mallory … and then another insult about her clothes. Jen takes Mallory to Legal Ease for a drink to thank her for representing her in court and helping to win the case, and while Mallory appears to open up for a brief second and absolutely pops off about the patriarchy, she quickly goes back to being slightly rude and at arm’s length.
Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry has shown up suspiciously infrequently on She-Hulk Attorney At Law. It’s like they’re hiding something. I’m a bit hesitant to make a villain call, as I was recently burned by ascribing meaning to another underused award-winning guest star and Hamilton alum while watching and recapping Westworld season four. But while Ariana DeBose was ultimately not being kept on a backburner on that show, Goldsberry still could be on this one. The character Mallory Book is based on a Marvel comics character who’s nothing scarier than Jennifer Walters’s work rival … but with Secret Invasion on the Disney+ horizon, maybe she’s a Skrull? Maybe Todd works for her. Why does he need a lawyer from a superhuman law division? On the date, he did ask about her impenetrable skin after the Wrecking Crew learned that they couldn’t steal a blood sample while Jen was in She-Hulk form …
Mallory’s dig reminds Jen about the designer outfits, prompting her to break the fourth wall and cut to the scene where she returns to Luke’s office to try on what he’s made. We don’t get to see the suit or the “something extra” he made just yet. Luke then wanders off, grabbing a hatbox off of the counter which contains, dun dun dun, a mustard-yellow helmet for Daredevil. Matt Murdock is coming, folks!
• We rarely see or think about who makes the outfits our heroes don. Iron Man obviously made his own suits, and a LARPing enthusiast named Missy recently fashioned Clint Barton and Kate Bishop in Hawkeye. Another Marvel hero who has commissioned a suit onscreen is, coincidentally, Daredevil. On the Netflix series in which Charlie Cox first portrayed the Man Without Fear, his character frequented a costume designer named Melvin Potter, played by actor Matt Gerald. Potter also designed a suit for Daredevil’s nemesis Wilson Fisk, his copycat who later became Bullseye, and his on-again, off-again paramour Elektra. But despite the drama, Matt and Melvin are friends and allies. Why is Matt getting a makeover in Los Angeles? What happened to Melvin? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
• Susana Polo over at Polygon cracked that Luke Jacobson is a very deep Marvel cut to a fashion designer in the little known comic Dakota North.
• Nikki says “they’re still working out the deal and stuff” with regards to She-Hulk joining the Avengers, which is a nice meta comment from one of the less meta characters. As Marvel fans and cynics alike know, joining a superhero team is all about paperwork.
• One of the court illustrations has a treasure trove of Easter eggs. It shows Pug and Nikki picking up his Iron Man Three sneakers. On the shelf are sneakers from heroes we’ve seen before in the MCU like Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Moon Knight … as well as some depicting the iconography of characters we haven’t, including the Thing, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Deadpool. Is that canon? Did Kevin Feige have to sign off on sneaker designs? Hope so. Also, why didn’t we get to see this scene? Stop resolving plot lines with 2-D images, She-Hulk!