Plot summary: Jen tries online dating in both her forms, and Wong returns to ask for help shutting down a stage magician meddling with the mystic arts.
Episode Title: ‘Is This Not Real Magic?
Air Date: September 8th, 2022
Directed: Kat Coiro (4)
Written: Melissa Hunter (1)
Donny Blaze’s name sounds very similar to Johnny Blaze aka Ghostrider. Perhaps on purpose. Time will tell.
He’s also played by Rhys Coiro, husband of Kat Coiro, who has directed every episode so far.
Among the items on Jen’s to-do list is ‘Runa vs Pete’ paperwork. Pete is the real last name of Megan Thee Stallion.
Stage magician Donny Blaze performs for modest audiences, closing his routine by sending a volunteer through a portal using a sling-ring.
The woman ends up meeting and befriending Wong, who hires Jennifer Walters in the hope of issuing Blaze (briefly his student) with a cease and desist.
Jen is browbeaten into trying online dating, and after a disastrous date as herself, she creates a new profile for She-Hulk which gets much more attention.
One of her dates is interrupted when Wong summons her to assist with a demonic invasion Blaze inadvertently conjured at another show.
Using the incident to pressure Blaze into dropping the legit magic from his act, Jen returns to her date and sleeps with the charming man…
Unfortunately once he meets her as Jen the next morning he immediately leaves, just as she is served with papers indicating Titania is suing her over the trademark of ‘She-Hulk’.
The clock on how long it takes Marvel to ruin Madisynn has already started ticking. Like when corporations join in on memes and they die shortly after.
Make no mistake, she was the best part of this episode (much more below), but even with her, the show is basically just good for a couple of almost-silent half-chuckles to yourself per week. I REALLY want to like it, truly I do. I would (and have been) fiercely defend it against incels who hate it for boring, bad faith reasons. I just keep waiting for it to hit a higher gear. Whether that’s punched up dialogue or the stories each week taking another turn. I can’t really communicate what it is, but each episode the end credits roll around and I’m left a smidge unsatisfied. Maybe that’s the whole point, that it’s bumping up so close to being something I’d greatly enjoy frustrates me more than it being abjectly awful. Anu Valia is taking over for 3 episodes starting from next week, and I’m really intrigued if that’s going to make me like it more. Plus Daredevil is coming and that won’t hurt anything.
Wong(ers) returns, and while the ‘Twitter Armour’ joke made me roll my eyes, I liked his role better here, holding a bitter grudge against the Criss Angel inspired Donny Blaze that culminates in a goofy little heroes vs monsters scene. Sidebar: Why would you name a character this when it’s so close to an extremely popular character fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of in the MCU. I’m not entirely sure why Wong needed She-Hulk specifically to help him send some demons back through a portal (especially as he shows no difficulty tossing them around), but even I know that’s hyper-nitpicky.
Jen’s adventures in online dating were also pretty funny and also kinda sad, as she gets no takers as a slightly uptight but still charming, beautiful lawyer, only to have scores of dudes hurling themselves at the more… bodacious… She-Hulk. I’m glad they acknowledged that’s kind of a bummer for Jen, and I thought Tatiana Maslany played the scene of Arthur having sub-zero interest in her as a normal person perfectly. She’s a prideful person who appears to guard her heart, but this script kicks her in the balls pretty good. Plus she’s got legal issues now that may require a certain Hornhead to get involved…
One final thing: I do really like the idea that stage magic holds no allure in a world with wall-to-wall superheroes. You could just read it as Donny being shit, but it’s still a fun thought exercise.
Most Marvellous Player
Two N’s, One Y, but it’s not where you think.
Patty Guggenheim threads a very tricky needle, as she’s not only a ditzy valley girl with a good heart, but it’s incredibly difficult to act drunk. If you described this character to me or I just saw screencaps/clips, I’d assume she’s incredibly annoying, but Madisynn is lovely. Her nonchalant account of her trip through hell and immediate attachment to “Wongers” are charming as hell, and she deserves her huge following. As I said above, I fear a hastily-shot return or a cameo in a later movie/show that jumps the shark (or whatever the equivalent term is for a single character), so let’s just enjoy this while we have it. Even if she does look distractingly like Elizabeth Olsen at times.
Benedict Wong was back on form here compared to his more by-the-numbers performance last week. From his borderline irrational rage towards Donny to his polite irritation when Madisynn spoils shows for him, it’s all good stuff.
They got a nice little revolving door of dates for Jen/She-Hulk, from David Otunga, to Jon Bass and of course Michael Curiel, who always excels as handsome assholes who pretend to be nice.
Men, am I right? No, seriously, all of Jen’s dates are going in this section, led by Arthur, who says all the right things to get She-Hulk in bed but then bounces the microsecond he sets eyes on the more ‘normal’ looking Jen. I could see a world where he returns to explain himself in a future episode, but I think the moment spoke for itself.
The Demons were mostly harmless fun. Maybe they’re from Limbo. Maybe not. Good fodder for Hulk-Smashing at least.
Finally, Titania has beaten the charges and is coming after Jen through the power of litigation. I’ve said it three times already, but Jameela Jamil has quite the challenge on her hands to try and turn this character around. I like her, but the writers have tied both hands and a leg behind her back so far.
With Batman the Animated Series having celebrated its 30th anniversary a week ago, I took Ben & Mike’s advice and wrote up a far more explicit Top 30 episode ranking following my multi-year endeavours for The Matt Signal.
My MCU podcast, Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey has already finished for another year, taking a look back at Marvel’s 2021 projects alongside Ben Phillips. We’ll cover this show and the rest of the 2022 fare early next year.
Instead you can check out my other podcast with Ben, There Will Be Movies, which looks at 25 of our favourite movies from each decade. Our fourth and final (for now) volume is the 1980s, continuing this week with Gremlins.