“The People vs. Emil Blonsky” showcases the series increasing comfort with the material.
Love makes us do strange things. For some, like Jen’s (Tatiana Maslany) former colleague Dennis (Drew Matthews), it can make you blind to the fact that your torrid, costly affair with Megan Thee Stallion is actually all the con job of a shape-shifting elf Runa (Peg O’Keef). Or it could lead you to join six other women as “soulmates” to the formerly rage-fueled supervillain Emil Blonsky aka Abomination (Tim Roth).
Surprisingly, of the two, those seven soulmates seem to end up with the better end of the stick in “The People vs. Emil Blonsky”. Against all odds, Roth’s Blonsky’s “rehabilitation” seems authentic. The show wastes no time clearing up last episode’s cliffhanger (and that lingering Shang-Chi question). As the prisoner insists, the Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) didn’t give Abomination much choice in breaking out of prison to participate in an underground fight club. However, when given the option to be free for good, Blonsky insisted on returning to his cell and doing his bid the right way.
While Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) tries to track down Wong—who apparently has a LinkedIn profile identifying his employment history as Sorcerer Supreme- New York and librarian- Nepal—Jen’s getting battered in the press. During “The People vs. Emil Blonsky”’s most prescient moment, they scroll through a list of YouTube comments and reaction videos that all read nearly identical to the She-Hulk backlash online here in the real world. They include such gems you know you’ve read before, like “Why everything gotta be female now?” and “So we have #MeToo movement and now all the male heroes are gone???” Again, I know some find this hammer to the head obvious, but I think that’s entirely She-Hulk’s intent. It is nearly impossible to blow up the online hysterics to parody levels, so instead, they’re just going to quote it to our faces.
Speaking of men who might write those comments online, “The People vs. Emil Blonsky” figures out how to give us more Dennis despite Jen no longer having to work with him. As alluded to in the lede, Dennis got taken for a $175,000 ride by a shape-shifter who convinced him she was the real Megan Thee Stallion. The best detail of the scam is that it included her getting him to pay off the loans to her Volkswagen Passat.
Dennis turns down Jen—” too much history”—and the very briefly introduced Mallory Book (Renée Elise Goldsberry)—too attractive—so Pug ends up with the case. The whole plotline is fun, but it isn’t exactly complex. Pug (Josh Segarra) gets the job done. The victory is largely thanks to Jen testifying on Dennis’s deluded belief in himself as the postal code’s number one lover man. In addition to Matthews’ pout at having the key to his win include his being an idiot asserted in open court, the highlight is the characters Runa gets to imitate. Segarra has the most fun with it, strutting about and declaring blithely, “I love harassing women in the workplace. It’s my kick, baby,” to the law firm’s receptionists.
Wong interrupts the Dennis meeting, sling-ringing right into Holden Holliway’s office (Steve Coulter). He verifies Blonsky’s account of things before offering various mystical solutions. Eventually, he does agree to testify before the probation board but implies he’ll keep the mirror realm as an option. Wong as Phase 4’s Samuel L. Jackson continues to pay delightful dividends.
The fourth wall breaking here finally feels fully formed…it isn’t Deadpool-lite, and Maslany has a real talent for the asides.
Despite a substantial list of witnesses, including the prison counselor, the prison librarian, a guard Blonsky helped out of a bad marriage, and Wong, Blonsky’s goofiness (did I mention how good Roth is here?) and ill-advised choice to show off he can turn into the Abomination at will leaves his probation in danger. Only Dennis’s off-hand comment about inhibitor collars gives Jen the last piece she needs to save the case. With that in place, the board releases an appreciative, but still thrifty, Blonsky.
After Nikki repeatedly telling Jen throughout “The People vs. Emily Blonsky” that our She-Hulk has to talk to the press or she’ll keep getting killed on TV and online, Blonsky finally convinces her when he says more or less the same. The solution is an evening interview show who only briefly seems interested in the case before promising her diet and exercise tips.
The episode ends on the series’ first fight sequence since episode 1 when the MCU’s version of The Wrecking Crew show up. Jen makes easy work of them before they retreat, lamenting their inability to get her blood. Given how Titania keeps getting background mentions on news tickers, I’m guessing she’s their mentioned but unnamed boss. The fight isn’t especially good. Still, given that’s the point here, it still works better than episode 1’s disappointing courtroom throwdown.
Despite the pre-release press discussing the She-Hulk writing staff feeling like they couldn’t do courtroom stuff, most of “The People vs. Emil Blonsky” takes place in court or court-like venues, and it goes just fine. I’m not an attorney, but it sounds at least as authentic as any legal show to my ears. So probably not accurate, per se, but on par with its peers.
This installment is another step up comedy-wise. Only one moment—when Wong arrived late and said, “I lost track of time”—read like an intended joke that didn’t land. In “A Normal Amount of Rage” and “Superhuman Law,” that happened more often. The fourth wall breaking here finally feels fully formed as well. It isn’t Deadpool-lite, and Maslany has a real talent for the asides.
– Jen is bad on the phone. So relatable.
– The CGI felt a little dodgier this week, but I think a lot of that is a wardrobe thing. Jen’s gotten She-Hulk-sized clothes, and they’re boxier, less tight suits. I think the fabric moving more independently is fooling my eyes a bit. Either way, though, the lowering of Blonsky’s cage isn’t great. I don’t especially care, but the internet is full of people who seem to evaluate their enjoyment of something based on how good the CGI is. That said, be better to CGI people Disney, Marvel Studios, and Hollywood in general. Come on now.
– The show using Dennis’s last name—Bukowski—so much makes it clear that they absolutely intended to remind us of a noted misogynist and drunken poet, Charles Bukowski. Embarrassed I didn’t clock that immediately.
-By the look of Blonsky’s soulmates, his meditation retreat is already teetering on the edge of cult.
– I quite enjoyed how even the reformed new-age Blonsky can only take so much of the blubbering prison guard. Even spiritual enlightenment has its limits.
– The comic book nerd in me is pretty bummed about how low-grade the Wrecking Crew look. And since when does one of them have a mystical hard hat? But I recognize my comic book nerdery is asserting itself here.
– I don’t really feel like I can issue any sort of opinion on Megan Thee Stallion and She-Hulk twerking together. Well, beyond pointing out it is happening on a show created by a woman in an episode written by two women and directed by a woman.
The Court Records
– “I sent him a thirst trap. It was me with a bunch of books.”
– “I just want to make sure you don’t think this is one of those ‘cameo every week kind of shows.’ It’s not. Well, except Bruce. And Blonsky. And Wong.”
– “No, I can’t talk to a ten about embarrassing stuff. She could be my next fiancée.”- Dennis, friends, and foes.
– “Thor’s inspiration speeches are not admissible in court.”
– “I can’t wait for this all to go away so I can be a normal anonymous lawyer. Who also happens to be a Hulk.”
– “Connecting the A and B story? Nice.”
– “He once described himself as a New York 10 and an LA 11.”
– “I’m in your debt. Spiritually, of course.”
– “I will kill for you, Megan Thee Stallion!”