Plot summary: Everything is going bad for Jen in her season finale… so she decides to change it.
Episode Title: ‘Whose Show Is This?’
Air Date: October 13th, 2022
Directed: Kat Coiro (6)
Written: Jessica Gao (3)
The opening titles for the episode are a meticulous recreation of the opening of The Incredible Hulk, which was so popular it forced Marvel to copyright She-Hulk before she could be featured in a TV movie spin-off.
While some of the real writers of She-Hulk are in the room, the two main speaking roles go to actors standing in for series creator Jessica Gao (basically sitting opposite her) and Zeb Wells (standing by the whiteboard).
Kevin Feige had the idea of Jen confronting the writers. At one point they considered having Jon Hamm play Feige, but ultimately they went with K.E.V.I.N. the A.I.
Following her rampage, Jen is forced to wear a power inhibitor at all times, which results in her termination from GLK&H and moving back in with her parents.
She and Nikki continue to investigate Intelligencia. Pug poses as a new recruit to attend one of their meetings at Blonsky’s retreat.
All hell breaks loose as Blonsky transforms into Abomination, Hulk and Titania burst in, and Todd (Intelligencia’s leader) begins transforming into a Hulk too.
Sick of what’s been going on, Jen breaks out of the show, confronts the writers, and argues with K.E.V.I.N., the AI behind the MCU, who allows her to rewrite the finale.
Todd is arrested, Blonsky returns to prison, Matt Murdock spends a week with Jen and her family, Hulk returns from space with a son in tow, and Jen gets her job back while also embracing superhero life.
Wong later portals into Blonsky’s prison cell and takes him away to Kamar-Taj.
People will be arguing about this one for years to come. Well, actually, they probably won’t because Disney churns out so much content that nobody will be talking about anything released in 2022 a year from now, but you take my point.
I’ve seen this labelled the best season finale Marvel have done to date and one of the best things they’ve ever done full stop. I’ve also seen claims the MCU has jumped the shark, and pretty much everything in between. Deadpool comparisons are lazy, given She-Hulk was breaking fourth walls two years before Fabian Niceza and Rob Liefeld decided to rip-off DC’s Deathstroke, and a full EIGHT before he was re-written to be self-aware. The power of being first to market in live-action, I guess?
Anyway, I truly don’t know where I stand in this debate. If you told me about what happened I think I would like the sound of it, but watching it play out in real-time was hit and miss. On the one hand, it’s nice that somebody at Marvel has absorbed the recurring feedback about their endings and generally being sexless. On the other, both are likely to continue to be an issue, so it rings a little hollow. Also as alluded to above, She-Hulk has famously critiqued the writing of her own comic books and even ‘torn out of the page’ to yell at the writer, so they’re being faithful to the source material… but I wish the writing was like… 10% better? Not enough of the cute comments land IMO. The X-Men question and having to transform off-camera because the VFX team have moved on to another project are fun, but it could have certainly been tightened up. It’s a ballsy commitment to an idea, I’ll give them that. Jessica Gao claims they were forced to cut some even more savage attacks on Marvel, so… *shrug*.
Maybe my biggest complaint is that the ending they end up with is still lacklustre, just in a different way. Not because it lacked a generic action sequence or anything like that, it just all felt incredibly rushed because of how much time they spent on their extended meta joke. Daredevil literally dropping from the heavens and posing was funny, but we breeze right by this awkward family dinner scene that could have done with a lot more space to breathe. Banishing Hulk despite wanting to tease the arrival of Skaar is again a good bit, but then he DOES drop in to do that anyway, and it sucks. Ruffalo has sounded asleep at the wheel for a while now, which doesn’t help the situation of him strolling into frame to introduce his son, a beat played so quickly that you could look away and miss it. Blonsky was lying all along, owned up to it, was taken back to prison, and then Wong breaks him out anyway, making his entire arc feel… not pointless, but something close to it.
I obviously like the idea of Jen finally being at peace with both sides of her personality per Matt’s advice last week, but it still left me with that all-too-familiar feeling of “Oh… I guess that’s it then?” like most of the season. I don’t need a dumb fight scene, but I need something a smidge zingier. Loki’s finale was largely ‘just’ talking and still absolutely whipped. This felt like it needed a final something and just didn’t get it.
I find it difficult to review certain finales in a vacuum and don’t want to cannibalise content from my Season Review (coming next week), and this is definitely one of those. I have a lot more thoughts pertaining to the crux of this episode, but they bleed into that area so I guess we’ll leave it there? I’ll say that I had the outline of that Season Review drafted already, and this is going to force me to do some major rewrites.
HUGE fan of the faithful recreation of The Incredible Hulk opening titles. The exact kind of buffoonery this show should be engaging in. Perfection. No notes.
Most Marvellous Player
I fear what that breakout sequence would have looked like without Tatiana Maslany making everything she touches better. Her exuberant thirsting over Matt was particularly delightful, and her false hope about getting a movie was fun, but she also did what she could with the complaints about the story and asking if we the audience were satisfied with any of it either. She has been an absolute gift and helped elevate occasionally middling material. Those opening titles weren’t in any way middling, but she was 100% game for them and utterly crushed it.
Truly, nobody else gets a look in, really. Jon Bass perfectly understands his assignment as Todd, but everybody else was a worse version of what we’ve seen from them before, from Tim Roth to Charlie Cox.
I hated the voice they chose for K.E.V.I.N. Why not get Feige to do it? It wouldn’t be good acting, but it would be funnier.
There you have it then. Todd was indeed HulkKing, and Intelligencia stole Jen’s blood with the aim of turning him into a knock-off Hulk… but not really. More on this in the Season Review, but I’ll just say again that Todd is extremely well written, and Intelligencia exclusively referring to women as “females” was spot-on. Cringe behaviour.
Emily Blonksy was able to break out of his inhibitor and become Abomination whenever he wanted after all… but he was just doing it for the cash, and still delivering his usual brand of self-help, so… other than lying, is he really a villain here? Wong clearly doesn’t think so. But hey, at least Wrecker seems genuinely reformed!
Titania leaves as she arrived, in a confusing mess. Seriously, eight weeks after she burst through the wall of a courtroom without explanation, we still don’t know why she did that. I’m fine with her being a constant minor annoyance who Jen embarrasses, that’s true to modern comics, but visually reminding me of that very weird decision by having her rock up to the retreat in the same manner was less than ideal.
Is K.E.V.I.N. a villain? The MCU itself??? Decide amongst yourselves. (The answer is yes.)
My MCU podcast with Ben Phillips, Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey, will return in early 2023 to cover this and all the other 2022 Marvel projects.
In the mean time, check out my other podcast with Ben, There Will Be Movies, which looks at 25 of our favourite movies from each decade. Our fourth volume is the 1980s, continuing this week with Top Gun.