While Episode 5 remained satisfyingly enjoyable, much of the dazzle of previous episodes seems dimmed here. The episode uses Titania as its legal case backbone, but overall it felt as though this episode was built as a transitional point for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Instead of wacky paranormal antics, the story sets the stage for She-Hulk as an actual superhero. The result is fine, but of the five episodes of the series so far, Episode 5 is arguable the most skippable.
The show’s humor is present throughout, but it feels softer and significantly much less cutting overall. The main focus of the episode, of course, is Jen’s own journey of self-identity and self-acceptance as She-Hulk. Her early moanings about the hero name given to her foreshadowed a time in She-Hulk when Jen would have to come to terms with that title for herself. Cleverly, the series framed it through a legal case. And perhaps it was more effective to present this type of narrative within a context not overpowered by the absurdity of Donny Blaze or another all-consuming joke. Still, Episode 5 feels a far cry from Episodes 3 and 4’s laughter and fun.
The episode also clearly lays the foundation for more superhero activities in later episodes. Obviously, Jen has now embraced “She-Hulk” as a part of herself. But the costume B-plot also ends in her receiving her (unseen) super suit, as well as a teasing reveal of Daredevil’s helmet. At this point, it is not entirely clear how Jen will make the jump from sticking solely to her legal carer to actually operating as a superhero, but with a costume and a super-buddy on the horizon, it is only a matter of time.
The use of She-Hulk’s supporting cast is highlighted in Episode 5. Nikki and Pug do get some additional adorable screen time, and the Matchr dates from the previous episodes returning was a satisfying full-circle moment for that mini-journey of Jen’s. Even cousin Ched makes a brief appearance after making a great first impression in Episode 2, but he remains fleeting.
Some of the supporting cast are, noticeably, a bit more fleeting than the story seems to recognize. A possible explanation could be rewritten episodes that removed significant backstories or introductions for some characters that were still used in substantial roles later. The best example perhaps is Mallory Book. She appears in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it way in Episode 3 but was just presumed to be an established character in this episode. Mallory is a major figure in Jen’s work-life at GLK&H in the comics, often portrayed as the rival successful colleague. She has been given a character poster and advertisement for the series, yet her role seems cut short. She may very likely have more time in later episodes, but it almost feels like the character was skipped over for several episodes.
Where She-Hulk goes from here, considering it is now potentially balancing a larger and maybe more traditional superhero story, will be interesting. The series has been incredibly unique thus far, but every Marvel Cinematic Universe series flirts with destroying its own identity for the sake of a more generic superhero plot. There is a delicate balance between She-Hulk’s attempted episodic structure and having a narrative that connects the full 9-episode series. It seemed stronger in the past couple of episodes that truly delved into the wild and weird side of the Marvel Universe on its own terms. But She-Hulk is destined to be a superhero as well, so the series will have a chance to square that story with the type of stories it has been telling so far. Taking the silly and fun out of the courtroom seems completely achievable, but Episode 5 just did not deliver at the same caliber as previous She-Hulk episodes.