Friday, September 9, 2022

REVIEW: 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law' - Jen Helps Wong Protect the Sanctity of the Mystic Arts in 'Is This Not Real Magic?'

Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law - Episode 1.04 "Is This Not Real Magic?"

She-Hulk's new client Wong is suing a magician for unauthorized use of the Mystic Arts.

"Is This Not Real Magic?" was written by Melissa Hunter and directed by Kat Coiro

For Wong, the Mystic Arts are sacred. As Sorcerer Supreme, it's his responsibility to protect this realm from the other dimensions that threaten it. It's offensive to see someone use these abilities casually and with disregard for the safety of others. Of course, Wong doesn't take the same approach as Mordo who is similarly offended by the prominence of these users in society. Wong hopes making Donny Blaze a public example will be enough to dissuade people from acting that way. It's not a slam-dunk legal case for Jen. She notes all the ways in which Kamar-Taj didn't create a binding contract with those who were taught in the Mystic Arts. Enforcing a cease-and-desist letter is the best she can do. However, the legal process doesn't offer the most immediate relief. Instead, all the differences are solved through conflict. It will take weeks for the judge to issue her ruling. In the meantime, Donny Blaze has the freedom to incorporate this real magic in his act. It's certainly not the only form of magic he uses to make a living. It's simply his most appealing. People are hurt in the process. Of course, Madisynn is reluctant to see the actual peril she was in. Again, the show plays with how the average person reacts to the extreme stakes of this world. Madisynn technically makes a deal with a demon to trade her soul in exchange for safe passage back to Earth. She believes it's all a little bit overdramatic. That has become the norm. It's no longer sensible or rational. She wants to have a good time. In fact, she is a blast to watch this entire episode. Her character could easily be one-note and annoying. Instead, she offers a consistent perspective that highlights the ways in which people cope with a world that gets more insane with each passing day. Plus, Madisynn's pairing with Wong is fantastic. It continues the overall trajectory of the show in putting characters in situations they otherwise would never be seen in. That's doing more than enough to break up the monotony of this extended universe. It produces more broad comedy. That's actually great. It makes it fun to see Wong constantly interrupted when he is simply trying to catch up on prestige television. He wants to understand pop culture and is then upset when it's spoiled for him. He lives a very extreme and specific life. So much has been withheld from him. That makes it so appealing to see him out of his comfort zone. He isn't always held accountable for his actions. That doesn't particularly matter either. He simply exists in this comedic take on the MCU without anything jeopardizing the essence of his character and his position in the franchise at large. That's very delicate work that could go awry at any moment. Here, it's effective both as comedy and in creating a property that is just as necessary to watch.

Of course, all of this could come at the expense of Jennifer Walters. She is suppose to be the central character after all. This episode suggests a winning formula for the episodic conceit of the series. Jen serves as the constant. She is the lawyer for the various superheroes of this world who need her to deal with these laughable extremes that carry unknown legal consequences. The criminal justice system has to evolve as a result of how much the world has changed. Magic and other superhuman abilities are now prevalent in many individuals. People want to engage in those stories. They want to be a part of them as well. They want to either be the heroes saving the world or the friends who help carry the burden. For Jen, she just wants to be a successful lawyer. She also wants love. Nikki points out how her friend doesn't have much of a life outside of work. Jen should be able to embrace the excitement of being She-Hulk more. It's not just something she has to deal with. It can actually provide better opportunities for her. On her new dating profile, Jen gets very little attention. That's insane but a reality for her. As She-Hulk, everyone wants to get to know her. She believes she genuinely finds an honest and loving connection with a doctor. And yet, he too quickly runs out the door once he's presented with Jen in her human form. It's all about the fascination of She-Hulk. She is an object of fascination. No one else exists as her. There is nothing special about Jennifer Walters. Meanwhile, She-Hulk is truly unique. Once confronted with the duality of that identity, it turns people off. That's how Jen wants to navigate the world. She doesn't want to simply be hulked out all the time like her cousin. That's not practical. She still has to help Wong send demons back to the dimension they came from when the time calls for it. She is heroic in that way. She utilizes his strength to protect this world. She never wanted that responsibility. It's the service she must provide to aid Wong outside of the courtroom. That's what this relationship ultimately is. He needs her for more than legal counsel. Of course, Jen still has the case at the forefront of her mind. Seeing Donny mess up in such a big way is enough to intimidate him into cooperation. Jen makes that point known. This doesn't derail her evening with the doctor either. It's still bracing for Jen as she realizes what people expect of her. Parts of her identity are being stripped away. She didn't even like She-Hulk as her name. But now, Titania is suing her for copyright infringement after she trademarks the moniker. That's absurd and a conflict that could only take place in this specific corner of the world. That's where Jen wants these battles to occur. As such, that should help place her concerns and perspective at the center of the proceedings even though it's amazing to see all the comedic hijinks elsewhere with characters the audience already loves.