Thursday, October 6, 2022

REVIEW: 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law' - Jen Finds Inspiration For How to Be a Hero From a Masked Vigilante in 'Ribbit and Rip It'

Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law - Episode 1.08 "Ribbit and Rip It"

She-Hulk represents Leap-Frog who was injured due to a malfunction in his custom-made super suit.

"Ribbit and Rip It" was written by Cody Ziglar and directed by Kat Coiro

This is a strangely structured episode. The creative team hopes that by having Jen comment on it can disguise just how weird it is. It still ultimately plays as two episodes combined into one. The show feels the pressure to provide some dramatic twist to lead into next week's finale. However, that doesn't immediately line up with the storytelling ambitions of this particular episode. And so, Jen tries to bridge the divide by noting how strange it is to still see the audience. Of course, it wouldn't be odd for her life. This is all about the story being told to the viewer. She flexes control over that narrative. She dictates what we get to see. That has never really been true. It's only a minor inconvenience for Jen here. Nikki walks into her apartment to get her ready for the gala celebrating her as one of the female lawyers of the year. It's an honor given to her simply for being a Hulk in the profession. It's a condescending prize that doesn't really matter. It still creates a celebration that requires a special dress. Jen doesn't want to do anything to anger Luke before her big night. That's the sole connection between the stories. In the first, Jen is talking about the gala and the dress Luke is making. It doesn't exactly come up that the gala is the following day after all this legal and vigilante drama. That's what the schedule apparently is. That means Luke rips one specifically tailored dress for Jen only to make a new version in a short amount of time. Their relationship grows strained because she sues him on behalf of a client whose father is important to her firm. And then, they become cordial again after she helps save him after her client kidnaps him. It's all incredibly silly. Plus, it has the unfortunate effect of making Jen seem not great at her job. Of course, that action occurs to prop up Matt Murdock's skills in the courtroom. Charlie Cox was great when he was playing this role for three seasons in a Netflix drama. And now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has the rights to incorporate him into the rest of their properties. Daredevil also gets to debut a new suit designed by Luke. It still causes confusion because Jen doesn't believe someone dressed as the devil should immediately be seen as the good guy. However, Matt inspires her to be confident with all that her skills allow her to do. She can equally fight for people both in and out the courtroom. He has done so for years in secret. He wasn't exactly the best at balancing those two sides of his life. That's not important here. He's just suppose to be an aspirational figure for Jen. She looks at his life and sees how it mirrors what she wants. The parallel wasn't so easy with Bruce. Their journeys as Hulks are different. But now, Jen has her own path she's willing to follow that allows her to be a hero in more ways than one. That's rewarding and incredibly clarifying as the season draws to a close.

Of course, all of this has been done with the perception of Jen being in control. She knew how to manage her anger long before the incident that made her a Hulk. That was a consequence of simply being a woman in society. She is still expected to endure a lot of indignities just to maintain civility in her day-to-day life. Todd expects her to help with any legal situation he has. He wants to keep his collection of Wakandan weapons. The African country wants them back because they were stolen. They have cultural significance to them. Meanwhile, they are just cool weapons for Todd to pose next to. It's all about collecting the things that are impressive to others. Jen has no time for it. He continues to be a heinous client. She doesn't want to deal with him when she could be flirting with Matt. In fact, that's the most compelling dynamic of this episode. The story actually pursues the sexual chemistry. It's a fleeting moment. They can only connect for one night. However, it's glorious to see the morning after with Daredevil walking from the apartment in full costume. That was the dignity and satisfaction Jen has deserved all season long. And yet, that wasn't the end. It was certainly a fitting conclusion. One that should have been enough. Jen speaks for the audience when it comes to the confusing transition to the gala. It's something that simply has to be endured. This information is necessary for whatever the grand ambitions of the finale turn out to be. That requires She-Hulk to go on a rampage. She loses control and terrifies the crowd that has celebrated her so openly. The actual gala isn't so great. She-Hulk is targeted. A group of people want to take her down simply for occupying space. They want to shame her for being a sexual being. She didn't lie to anyone about who she was. People still project these feelings onto her. She deserves this punishment. It's absolutely despicable. Jen's rage is understandable. It's still terrifying. She has to display more control than everyone else. She doesn't have the freedom to do whatever she wants. She has to listen to the demands of others. That pressure has built up inside for awhile. She lets loose and inflicts a lot of damage. That's the peril of this life. It's still a jarring conclusion from everything else the episode featured. As such, it never comes across as a solid execution of ideas. It's simply a failing to plot the story correctly. That's unfortunate given how the show has embraced the television medium for what it is. The creative team may have too much pressure to fit this show into the overall ambitions of the MCU. That's not what this show has instinctively been the best at. The confusion creates a lack of focus that hinders the successful moments that occurred in abundance previously.