‘She-Hulk’: Take a Trip to Emil Blonsky’s Retreat, Summer Twilights
The place is full of "kind of just street level wannabe villains who, even in this world, were kind of being pulled from the depths of obscurity."
Welcome to Summer Twilights, the perfect retreat to find your inner namaste. This is also the last place where Jennifer Walters ever thought she would find some solace, too.
The latest episode of Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk sends Jen on a little adventure out to check on newly-released Emil Blonsky. When Jen arrives, she finds that Emil is doing more than just ok, as he’s created an idyllic spot for reformed bad guys to come, talk openly about their feelings, and also sweat it out in a yurt.
While Jen all along was expecting to find Emil living a quiet life, she’s shocked to find out that there are others there with him, too, making up a pretty motley crew that includes Wrecker (Remember that guy? Cue the previously on!), Man-Bull, El Aguila, Saracen, and Porcupine. If any of those character names don’t immediately ring a bell, that’s okay — and that’s the point.
The episode was written by Zeb Wells, who is currently writing THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and who Gao can't praise enough, calling him “very funny.”
“He's been a lifelong Marvel fan, and he and another writer Cody Zigler were the two comics encyclopedias in the room,” head writer Jessica Gao tells Marvel.com. “This was Zeb’s episode and we had pitched out this whole story of basically what Blonsky's retreat would be like and how it was kind of a rehabilitation center, like a retreat and therapy circle for a lot of these guys who were former villains, but not like well known. Kind of just street-level wannabe villains who, even in this world, we're kind of being pulled from the depths of obscurity.”
And the characters they got were: Wrecker (former foe of Jen’s played by Nick Gomez), Man-Bull (a science experiment gone wrong, played by Nathan Hurd), El Aguila (who did some light matador-ing in college, played by Joseph Castillo-Midyett), Saracen (weirdly obsessed with blood, played by Terrence Clowe), and Porcupine (refuses to take off the suit, played by Jordan Aaron Ford)
“We wanted weirdo characters, we wanted ones that were distinctive looking and also had kind of enough of a strange theme to them that they would be like a fun mix. It was this kind of organized chaos in the therapy circle,” Gao continues. While the creative team went through a few different rosters of who would be spending time at Summer Twilights, Gao mentions that “Porcupine was always Porcupine. Everyone was excited about this guy. We saw what he looked like in the comics and we were like, absolutely, we need that guy sitting in the room.”
The episode’s director, Anu Valia, calls working with the therapy circle group a total “joy,” and loves that “the whole second act is just in a room talking. It’s so different than what you're used to [in a Marvel show].”
“I love those boys,” she continues. “I can’t tell you the many days we all spent together in that yurt, they were so playful. It really was like a therapy circle. Everybody was sharing so much and we all enjoyed each other so much. I know that Tatiana [Maslany] loved those guys, and they all loved her. What you're seeing is very real.”
Speaking of helping Jen, the one who really ushers her through her thoughts and feelings in the episode is none other than Emil Blonsky himself, with Tim Roth popping up again in the series. Realizing that she’s got something on her mind she wants to talk about (ahem, Josh), Emil coaxes her into opening up, which once again shows a softer side to the character now that he’s a reformed man.
“[Emil] loves his chickens,” Tim Roth reminiscences with a laugh. “He has his pattern down, his therapy, his understanding. Speaking as someone who has, that kind of thing, it’s incredibly fun to play.”
Roth also loved filming with the rest of the therapy circle, calling out Saracen specifically as his favorite because “You have to always be careful of him because you never knew where he was going to be…I loved him. I loved that guy.”
“I think viewers are going to be quite surprised by the population of [the therapy circle]. It's wild,” He continues. “All of them had created their own little universe, and they all interacted brilliantly. And they were very funny! At times, it was very hard to keep a straight face. I probably didn't. But, you know, it was a talent fest. Lovely, lovely, lovely people.”
“We had such a great group of actors,” Gao adds. “You really feel like these guys have spent some time working on themselves, they have bonded with each other, and you really get the sense that they're so earnestly trying to use the new emotional tools that they've learned and are trying to use it to help Jen.”
Surprisingly, in the end, they do help Jen – she’s hurtin’ for a yurtin’! Who would have guessed that’s the magic of Summer Twilights?
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