This might sound controversial, but an amazing finale doesn’t always have to be preceded by a season of episodes of the same caliber.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was always going to be different from the other Disney+ content Marvel pushed out. So far, it’s the only comedy released among a sea of dramas, and it is also the only MCU property to feature a character that can break the fourth wall (eat your heart out Ryan Reynolds). The final episode of the season finally took advantage of that.
Like every Marvel show, it is far from perfect. The middle chunk of episodes had me harping again on the fact that these shows lack a certain balance when it comes to their pacing, and a second season could absolutely benefit from four more episodes. Even with the overarching thread of Jen’s journey having a place across the series, there were still bits with other characters that felt like filler. It would have been nice to get a little more of Nikki and Pug with Jen instead of without her, even though they made a decent duo. Titania also could have used a bit more time to develop, and there were times where the show sort of meandered its way through an episode only to shock you out of a lull with a fight scene. That’s not to discount any of the good things the show has to offer, but these flaws speak to a clear pattern within Marvel’s TV branch and they should have been snuffed out at least 3 shows ago.
That said, the finale picking up the pace was definitely the way to go. In the face of all of the complaints about the CGI and misogyny that have been hurled at the series, She-Hulk tells a very compelling story about a woman taking back full control of her own life. Jen has spent the entire season trying to reclaim her life on a lot of different ends. She was given powers she didn’t ask for and had to rewrite her entire life around them all while the rest of the world wanted to decide who she was. Her job hinged on publicly appearing in her Hulk form during all work hours, the name She-Hulk was something thrown on her and as soon as she accepted it someone else claimed it for themselves, and once she was finally able to accept her new identity, it was stripped away from her.
When the finale goes on to reveal that Todd (recurring She-Hulk fetish-haver) is the person behind Jen’s downfall, things start to go off the rails. He turns into some weird halfway-Hulk creature, Titania breaks through a wall out of nowhere, and Bruce Banner falls out of the sky and starts fighting The Abomination. Instead of letting what would have been an absolute nightmare of a finale play out, Jen smashes through the 4th wall to set things right. Watching her climb through the Disney+ interface and into the real world was super satisfying, partially because it’s straight up funny, but also because She-Hulk’s use of the 4th wall as a part of the show actually had importance to the plot. A character can talk to the audience all that they want, but it’s way more fun when the gimmick actually goes somewhere. Jen confronting the She-Hulk writers room and making her way up to K.E.V.I.N—the robot creator of the MCU who should have been voiced by Kevin Feige—is great, and the only thing that would make it better is if there were more hints to it happening earlier on in the series.
Sure, the joke about Jen needing to transform back into her human form because the VFX team doesn’t have the time or budget for her to be in her Hulk form comes off as in poor taste after artists have spoken out about Marvel’s antics, but the rest of the meta-commentary is very true to everything the show has done all along. She-Hulk has managed to nail the reactions of a certain part of the Marvel fandom every week even though the show was written over two years ago, and it nails its analysis of the MCU as a whole too.
The most important thing that came from this 4th wall break is that Jen actually gets her life and her agency back. She manages to convince K.E.V.I.N that she deserves better than a show that devolves into the same ending that every other MCU project gets because the show isn’t about that, it’s about her own personal growth. Her life has been upended, and it’s not a good ending (or a good show) it keeps getting blown up without any resolution. She might be returning to the MCU jobless and living with her parents, but instead of suffering at the hands of Todd and Intelligencia a second time, she gets to move on and rebuild her life with all of the character growth she’s had behind her. Jen’s arc is a sturdy example of the foundation of what makes good TV good, and the writers holding on to that all the way through made it worthwhile even when it wasn’t at its best.
Thinking back to the days of Wandavision’s final episodes where the entire internet was predicting that the Fantastic Four, Mephisto, Blue Marvel, and the X-Men would all show up hurts my brain, but those moments prove exactly why She-Hulk’s ending is so good. Any of those things happening would have overloaded the show and distracted from the character focused story it was trying to tell. She-Hulk gives us something similar for 30 seconds before hammering home why it would never be a good idea, and that—like many other things in this show—is exactly what some comic book fans need to hear.
To lift from the very wise words of Harry Styles, my favorite thing about this TV show is that it feels like a TV show. The most important thing in TV will always be the characters, and She-Hulk takes a very strong stance in putting Jen before anything else in the show. The rest of the MCU should be taking notes.
Kathryn Porter is a freelance writer who will talk endlessly about anything entertainment given the chance. You can find her @kaechops on Twitter.
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