“Whose Show is This?” is so bad I’m tempted to say it has to be seen to be believed, but recommending someone watch this show is tantamount to committing a war crime. She-Hulk’s season finale takes shots at Marvel fans, Marvel movies, Kevin Feige, and its own writers, while embarrassing a host of characters, all of whom are much better than Jen. It’s so pleased with itself – and uses Jen as its avatar, creating one of the most arrogant and self-satisfied protagonists I’ve ever seen – that it dedicates its final episode to celebrating how it’s simultaneously a bad show and the best thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever done. None of that is a joke.
Jen lands herself in prison for tearing up the awards ceremony and determines to find the people behind Intelligencia. Nikki and Pug help her because that’s the only reason they exist. Writing doesn’t happen.
“Whose Show is This?” opens with a gag; Jen recreates the opening credits of The Incredible Hulk, the 70s TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. It’s dumb, smug, and tailored to modern Twitter-feminist sensibilities like everything else on She-Hulk, but it also serves no purpose (beyond an attempt at humor that lands about as well as they always do). Jen is not at war with “the raging spirit that dwells within her;” she can Hulk out and Hulk in whenever she feels like it, retaining her personality when she does. You may assume that her freak-out at the awards ceremony was the show introducing the idea that maybe Jen doesn’t have as much control as she thinks, that Hulk was right and she needs to learn how to tame the beast, and if you did, you’re much smarter than anyone involved in the creative process on She-Hulk (a backhanded compliment, I guess, but there are no winners with this show).
No, her tirade is never brought up as a negative, outside of her being sent to Emil Blonsky’s jail cell. Nobody – least of all Jen – cares that she could’ve killed innocent people. Even the government lets her go almost immediately, as long as she agrees to wear one of those Hulk-inhibitor bracelets. This opens up a ton of ethical questions and opportunities for self-reflection and character development for Jen – all of which, of course, are completely ignored, as they were with Blonsky. This empty-headed series isn’t interested in exploring notions of rights, privacy, government overreach, personal identity, what makes us who we are, or what our responsibilities are when we have great power. (Remember how the very first scene of the very first episode talked about this like it would be the show’s main theme and then dropped it immediately? Yeah, it stays dropped here.) No, it’s all about Jen taking down Intelligencia, the people whose evil plan was to embarrass her with revenge porn.
Consider what “Whose Show is This?” is saying about Jen with this plot (such as it is). Jen is not trying to rescue anyone or stop a disaster from happening; she wants revenge on people who embarrassed her. She does insist on legal methods while Nikki just wants to destroy them – because Nikki’s sole character trait is how much she loves Jen – but it’s all about her. That “billionaire narcissist” she mocked in the second episode learned in his very first movie that being a hero was about putting himself aside and helping others, forgoing his own revenge to rescue a town full of innocent people. Jen, as she’s been presented on She-Hulk, would never do that because she cares about no one but herself. There’s no arc, no growth, and frankly, no humanity other than selfishness that never abates. For the umpteenth time, when idiots ask why it’s okay for Tony Stark or Thor to be arrogant but not Jen or Carol Danvers, it’s because those characters learn to overcome their arrogance and continue to struggle with it in their every appearance, whereas, with Jen and Carol, it’s celebrated as empowering. You can call someone like that a lot of things, but not a hero.
Jen’s selfishness is evident even as the plot of “Whose Show is This?” moves along. Nikki and Pug are the ones who track down and infiltrate Intelligencia. Jen, on the other hand, goes to Blonsky’s grounds for a spa retreat. She wants to get these guys so badly, but she’d rather her co-workers take care of it while she takes a personal day. Why are these people her friends? She only arrives at Intelligencia headquarters because she’s looking for Blonksy to ask for a schvitz. Meanwhile, Pug is going undercover as someone who has a negative opinion about Jen, and he’s such a well-trained male feminist that he can’t bring himself to say anything bad about her, even if it’s let’s-pretend-silly-time. (That includes using the word “female,” which the people who constantly tout their “strong female characters” suddenly decided is a hate crime.)
As for Intelligencia, the secret behind it is that there isn’t one; it’s just a bunch of guys on the internet who don’t like She-Hulk, which makes them worse than Hitler, Stalin, and Thanos put together times infinity because the one recurring theme on the show is that Jen is the most important thing in the history of ever. The supposedly big reveal is that Todd Phelps, the weirdo tech guy Jen dated and whose name I had to look up, is the leader, but who cares? Everyone she dated outside of Matt Murdock has been established as the scum of the earth for liking her too much or not enough or whatever else evil men do to women. This is their attack on fans, on whom seemingly 90% of the entertainment industry has declared war. The counter-argument will be that this is only “a small, tiny, insignificant subset of fans.” First of all, they’re the only ones you ever mention, so it’s fair to conclude this is just how you see fans. Second, these guys prove their evil nature by saying objectively true things that all fans know. “Hulk is stronger than her.” He is. “Hulk is smarter than her.” He is. And people who know the characters at all, even casually, know those things. They hate you.
But that’s not all; they also hate the things you love, like the MCU back when it was great, which they demonstrate during the climaxless finale of “Whose Show is This?” The expected action scene begins with Todd injecting Jen’s blood and becoming a Hulk, after which Titannia bursts in because reasons, and then the Hulk shows up to fight Abomination; nonsensical and devoid of anything approaching suspense or excitement, but at least things are happening, which is unusual for She-Hulk. Then, Jen breaks the fourth wall again, freezes the scene, and leaves her show, navigating through the Disney+ app and emerging in the “real world” to confront the incompetent writing team for crafting an idiotic ending. But the real enemy isn’t them – it’s “Kevin,” which really means Kevin Feige, but on the show, it means the AI that runs the MCU.
You probably don’t think this can get worse, but it does: Jen lectures Kevin about storytelling and the deficiencies of the MCU, going all the way back to the beginning. She’s literally arguing that her show sucks, but it’s better than everything that’s come before and deserves a boring ending befitting her character. And Kevin, like a good little boy, agrees with her and admits that the MCU has failed women over the years. Absolutely everybody is wrong and evil except Jen. You know how She-Hulk’s defenders – who somehow still exist after “Whose Show is This?” – say that people complain about Jen breaking the fourth wall but are fine when Deadpool does it? That’s because Deadpool breaks the fourth wall for fun gags, like he’s letting the audience in on the joke. When Jen does it, she’s always scolding the audience and telling them what to think and how to feel and that she’s oppressed. But I guess this is supposed to be her take-charge girl power moment.
So, of course, Jen gets her preferred climax: Todd and the Intelligencia are arrested for, I guess, revenge porn (which is fine on its own, but not as the big finish to a superhero show), Hulk isn’t there, and Blonsky stops being Abomination and turns himself in to the police because he knows he deserves to be punished. Let’s examine the last part for a moment. Blonsky’s big secret is that he’s been turning into Abomination again, but only to make money for appearing at the Intelligencia meetings. He’s not evil, he wasn’t playing Jen all along, and now he’s so super-duper sorry that he willingly goes back to jail, despite being so insanely powerful he could easily escape. In other words, he’s nowhere near the same character he was in The Incredible Hulk, the all-business soldier who got a taste of power and became addicted, seeking more and more until becoming a monster only the Hulk could stop. His non-arc is the same as Luke Skywalker’s in The Last Jedi – a drastic, character-redefining transformation that happened completely off-screen and is explained away with “people change.” This is not storytelling.
Oh, and Jen throws a little treat in for herself by bringing back Daredevil. Why he’s back is not explained; Jen just decides she wants him back, so here he is! And he shows up too late to do anything in the final fight because Jen don’t need no man, so he’s here to be Jen’s boyfriend and blush in front of her family at a barbecue. This is how Disney/Marvel sees Daredevil; are we counting the days till Born Again? Hulk shows up again, too… with his son Skaar in tow. Remember “Planet Hulk,” that amazing comic story everyone loved? Remember how Thor: Ragnarok featured a bastardized version of it, devoid of every ounce of humanity and character development, and turned it into a Thor story instead of a Hulk story? Remember how the beginning of the season saw Hulk returning to Sakaar, indicating that maybe a much better version of “Planet Hulk” was on the horizon? Well, whatever happened, it happened off-screen, and now we’ve got Hulk Junior without all the cool and compelling storytelling that led to him. No Hulk overthrowing a despot and liberating a planet, no Hulk bringing peace to warring factions, no Hulk falling in love and getting married only to lose everything once again (which isn’t as bad as mansplaining, but it still hurts). Just “Meet the Hulks!” Did a single person watch this without tasting bile?
As a final middle finger to storytelling, “Whose Show is This?” ends with Jen walking into the courthouse as She-Hulk to prosecute the Intelligencia members, or sue them, or whatever she’s doing. Isn’t Jen under a court order never to become She-Hulk again? Is that just over now without an explanation? Why is Emil Blonsky going to jail while Jen Walters is free to live her best Hulk life? I’m probably a moron for expecting an answer to that. Then, in the mid-credits scene, Wong jumps through a portal to once again free Blonsky from prison. Why? We’ll probably never know because I doubt anyone who has anything to do with it cares. I didn’t think it was possible for Marvel to make something worse than Thor: Love and Thunder, but She-Hulk: Attorney at Law may have dethroned it in just a few months. How proud they all must be.