Plot summary: Jen and Titania at the same wedding; what could go wrong?
Episode Title: ‘Just Jen’
Air Date: September 22nd, 2022
Directed: Anu Valia (2)
Written: Kara Brown (1)
Traditionally, Intelligencia is a clandestine network of hyper-intelligent Marvel villains, generally led by The Leader (set to return in Captain America 4), also including MODOK (Ant-Man 3), Egghead (Ant-Man 2) and many characters who have yet to appear.
Mr. Immortal had a pretty fun little run in the comics, serving on a superhero team that opposed the Thunderbolts. He’s obviously much… ummm… more vibrant, in the comics.
The monitors in the lab at the end of the episode are almost identical to Bruce’s when analysing Jen’s condition.
Jen receives an invite to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of an old friend, but is promptly treated like garbage by all in attendance and even asked not to appear as She-Hulk.
Getting white girl wasted, she’s an easy target for Titania – a fellow guest – but she breaks her promise, transforms and humiliates the Super-Influencer once again.
Elsewhere, Nikki helps Mallory Book with the case of Mr. Immortal, who has spent years exploiting his inability to die to skip town on various spouses.
Negotiating settlements for all involved, Nikki’s attention is drawn in the process to an incel message board called Intelligencia… who are revealed to be behind the attempts to steal Jen’s blood.
Hey remember all my comments about how I’d been burned by expecting Daredevil next week before and that it was starting to feel like a personal attack on me? Well, lololol.
If I’m being objective and level-headed, this was a pretty fun burn on over-entitled fans constantly demanding cameos and Big Plot Things. Jen hung a hat on it, outright telling us that it was a bad time for a self-contained wedding episode but they were doing one anyway. I want to say bravo for messing with the audience and choosing fun… but one does have to consider the general condition of the MCU in 2022. They desperately need some wins, with most of their projects since Endgame having been met with uncharacteristically lukewarm reception. There have absolutely been things in the last 3 years that I’ve enjoyed, but if you were plotting a general trajectory for them, it would not be good. So I’m not sure that deliberately dicking the audience around lands as well as it might have if they were firing on all cylinders. They tried to make it clear that this isn’t ‘one of those shows’, but then have sort of made it into one anyway, by dropping Larger Plot breadcrumbs and not leaning hard enough into being a ‘Case of the Week’ Legal Sitcom. I would love to watch that show, please make it and stop trying to be all things to all people!
Mr. Immortal’s antics are the exact kind of thing the show should be doing, and Jen getting drunk at the wedding and embarrassing Titania yet again is fun in a bubble, but the execution is still somewhat lacking and after five middling weeks, they get less rope than if they had been nailing it. I’ll again point out I don’t hate women and think the titular character has been portrayed excellently, and that it’s the minute-to-minute writing and structure I have issues with.
If we want to put our Tin Foil Hats on for a moment, there are some signs that the entire wedding was a bit of a sham or was being manipulated to some degree by Titania and/or the Intelligencia. The invitation shared a colour scheme with Titania’s event from last episode, the bride hadn’t spoken to Jen in years but wanted her to be a bridesmaid, everybody is comically mean to our hero, there’s no sign of a groom and the strict instructions to not turn into She-Hulk give way to adulation once the bride is drunk. Plus how about that overly-perfect guy hitting on her? Intelligencia were watching them at a minimum, but he could conceivably have been fed certain behavioural cues based on all the testimonies from the bad dates last week that Titania witnessed. I dunno, maybe I’m reaching, but there is 100% a clandestine network trying to steal her blood, and we still have no clue why Titania burst through the wall in the pilot. I don’t think revealing all of that to be true later would add an extra star rating to the episode, but it would be cute at least.
You can remove your hats now.
Introducing the Intelligencia with only three episodes to go is giving me bad vibes because every MCU show short of Loki hasn’t left itself enough runway to wrap everything up. Given they had 9 episodes to work with and a couple of them felt like they could have been combined to use their time better, it’s not ideal that there’s so much up in the air at the two-thirds mark.
Still, Daredevil HAS to be coming next week! Zeb Wells is the credited writer and he’s written a whole bunch of Marvel comics. I’ve even seen rumours Matt/Daredevil are in every episode from here on out, so that would be nice.
Oh, and I thought She-Hulk’s arrival at the wedding was the absolute best the CGI has looked for her to date.
Most Marvellous Player
Drunk Jen at a wedding was a damn delight, so let’s not waste any time and hand the honours to Tatiana Maslany once more. From her dancing to awkward flirting with Josh, it was all an excellent showcase of what a great get she is for Marvel. Copy and paste my comments about her being good at the To-Camera acting, but not doing it enough from previous episodes. I also probably haven’t played up what a good job she does at the voice acting and ostensible facial capture work she does as She-Hulk enough.
Ginger Gonzaga and Renée Elise Goldsberry were again perfectly fine, but the show just hasn’t served them well enough in the weeks leading up to their expanded roles so it feels like they’re playing catch-up/expecting a higher level of investment more fitting of the end of the second act of the season. David Pasquesi was whatever as Mr. Immortal.
Trevor Salter nailed his brief as the handsome, charming Josh, and if I’m right that he’s a plant to try and get to Jen, then his performance is even better, because it feels like he’s deliberately being too much. Patti Harrison and her crew of bridesmaids were suitably demonic too.
Titania’s attempts to humiliate Jen at the wedding only to get her veneers smashed and run away screaming is a good bit… in theory. Again, her character hasn’t been served enough by the show so far, so what feels like it should be a charming running gag instead feels somewhat anticlimactic. I like how Jameela Jamil is playing her, and while Gaslighting is an overused term, Jen being made to look paranoid and delusional while Titania masquerades as the voice of reason is good subtle villain stuff. Oh, and the bride ignoring all of Jen’s career success and taking pity on her because she’s single. Perfect. No notes.
Recasting the Intelligencia as an incel message board is certainly a remix on their comic book origins, but it does work. Just as we saw some montages of internet vitriol towards the character in previous episodes, the board being plastered in messages that both objectify and threaten violence towards her serves as a meta commentary on the treatment all the female-led MCU projects have gotten. Plus the whole meltdown some people are having about Black Mermaids.
‘HulkKing’, who seems to run the board, messages somebody in a lab at the end that is engineering a stronger syringe after the Wrecking Crew’s previous one broke during their attack on Jen. Is this lab run by Samuel Sterns aka The Leader, who is set to appear in Captain America: New World Order? Is ‘HulkKing’ Todd, the guy with the ostensible fetish for hurting She-Hulk? Who can say?
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 The Terminator.