This episode exemplifies the fact that the story of this show should have either been told over a longer season of television, or should have been split over two seasons. After ditching Kamran (Rish Shah), Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher) in the states to go to Karachi, Pakistan, the vigilante group the Red Daggers that has been protecting the world against evil Noor users that Kamala (Iman Vellani) just met in that episode have already fallen in a confrontation with Clandestine leader Najma (Nimra Bucha), which sends Kamala back to 1942 India where she meets her great-grandmother, Aisha (Mehwish Hayat).
After originally entering the seen world, Aisha split off from the rest of the Clandestines and met an activist named Hasan. The two fell in love and had a child: Kamala’s grandmother, Sana (Zion Usman). The story we’ve been told earlier in the show is that Sana got separated from her father, but Aisha’s use of the bangle created a star path that led her back to him. In actuality, Aisha opened up a time portal that brought Kamala there, where she saved her grandmother, Aisha, however, was killed by Najma.
Najma and the Clandestines are successful in opening their portal back home, but it destroys them in the present day.
Disney has been advertising this as the best-reviewed Marvel show, probably to make up for the fact that it has underperformed in terms of viewership. Indeed, it has a near-perfect critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, and I really don’t understand why.
This was a fine episode, but as a whole, “Ms. Marvel” feels underdeveloped as a show. It set up a really good friend-trinity in Bruno, Nakia and Kamala, but it dropped Bruno and Nakia halfway through this season to focus on new character in Karachi whose introductions are rushed and who the viewer is given no time to develop any sort of emotional attachment to. The time travel plot line is fine, but it’s been done better elsewhere (i.e. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).
The Clandestines in particular are a real missed opportunity. They are Kamala’s family and as such there should be conflict with putting her in danger and drawing blood against their own, but Najma and company are almost cartoonishly evil, as she kills her sister without hesitation, abandons her child, Kamran, when he helps Kamala, and just seems to have no problem murdering indiscriminately. There’s even a moment in this episode when Kamala tries to appeal to Najma to not leave Kamran motherless by selfishly leaving to go back to her dimension, but again, she pursues her goals without hesitation or regard for others. Najma and her followers are one-dimensional villains that act like they have no connection to the protagonist — they might as well be strangers with no relation to her.
Maybe Episode 6 can salvage the show — everything is obviously not resolved, despite the fact that it seems like everything is all wrapped up. But so far it proves yet again that six episodes are not enough to make a fully-developed season of television.
“Ms. Marvel” Season 1: Episode 5 “Time and Again” gets a 4/10