“Is This Not Real Magic?” felt like the best — or at least most balanced — episode of She-Hulk yet, even if the Wong cameos are starting to wear a little thin.
This recap of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law season 1, episode 4, “Is This Not Real Magic?”, contains spoilers.
I’ve always liked the character of Wong, but I wish I liked him half as much as the current writers and producers of the MCU seem to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see Benedict Wong having fun with a character who, if we’re being frank, was initially designed to answer all the audience-surrogate questions Doctor Strange was throwing his way. But at this point, a Wong cameo is becoming like a weak third act and wonky CGI – an absolute must-have on the Marvel checklist.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law season 1, episode 4 recap
That having been said, Wong’s presence isn’t to the detriment of “Is This Not Real Magic?”, which I thought was the best episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law yet. Just me? Possibly. Opinions on this show have been so wide-ranging that it’s almost impossible to find a consensus but in short She-Hulk episode 4 works as a comedy, part of a wider continuity, a character piece, and – at least for one or two scenes – a legal drama.
But its best element is a surprising one. After weeks of criticism for making sledgehammer-subtle points about gender politics by depicting all the show’s male characters as useless, drooling bigots, the masterstroke of this episode was introducing a well-worn female archetype, that of the ditzy airhead, and having so much fun with it that Madisynn – with two N’s and a Y, but not where you think – has topped my shortlist of characters to replace Wong cameoing in everything.
Anyway, the idea is that a former student of the Mystic Arts, Donny Blaze, has taken his expulsion from Kamar-taj rather badly and is currently opening portals as part of a cheap magic routine. When he teleports Madisynn into Wong’s lounge and she spoils the episode of The Sopranos that he’s watching, Wong gets in touch with Jen to issue a cease-and-desist order, lest Donny inadvertently open a demon realm that infests his entire auditorium with gooey beasts. And yes, that’s precisely what happens.
Jen’s happy to take the case but is distracted by her new efforts at online dating, which aren’t going well, forcing her to once again accept that the She-Hulk isn’t just a part of her life now but might be the bit people prefer – or are at least more interested in. Because Jen remains Jen even when she’s She-Hulk, for her there’s little distinction between the two personas, so it’s actually a bit of an insult to have to change who she is just to appease people. And yet, these hot doctors aren’t just going to swipe right on anyone, are they?
I’m already grinning in anticipation of how mad the whiny pissbaby types are going to be over Jen literally carrying her new man to the bedroom, but they probably won’t get the joke when he sees She-Hulk as Jen the next morning and immediately dips, because you need to have a dating life to get that, I think. Nevertheless, Jen’s date is interrupted midway for something quite rare in this show – an action scene! When Donny lets all the demons out, Wong calls on Jen for help not as his lawyer but as the nearest Hulk, and she must fling a whole bunch of demons back through the portal to their realm while complaining the whole time that her date is being ruined.
I thought this was a decent way to still have some actual comic-book-y excitement without sacrificing character. And what I’m increasingly beginning to like about the show overall is that it functions as an actual weekly TV show and not a nine-part movie. There’s an overarching story, sure, about Jen learning to reconcile two warring halves of her identity, but each episode is relatively self-contained and tells its own, usually fun little story.
That having been said, the hook for next week is the return of Jameela Jamil’s Titania, who is suing Jen for infringing on her copyright of the She-Hulk name. And if it’s going to be Jen on the stand, well… she’s going to need a lawyer.