After wrapping things up in Karachi last episode, Kamala (Iman Vellani) returns to America, where Bruno (Matt Lintz) is trying to help Kamran (Rish Shah) escape from Damage Control as he uncontrollably releases Noor energy.
Damage Control, however, tracks them to their high school, and everyone in Kamala’s finds out that she has powers. Episode 6, which is the season finale, eventually culminates in the kids doing all they can to not get kidnapped or murdered by Damage Control. Agent Deever (Alysia Reiner) goes out of control and defies her boss, which eventually culminates in Damage Control switching to lethal rounds to try to take out Kamran. Because of course they did.
In a time where school shootings have become endemic and people of color still find themselves disproportionately the subject of lethal force by police in America, this episode hits a little too close to home, and strongly contrasts with the show’s earlier light tone. Episodes 1-4 could fit comfortably next to Disney’s “Disney Channel” sitcoms for children, but episodes 5 and 6 unexpectedly get dark. There’s nothing wrong with exploring these themes — it’s part of the reality of living in America — but it does represent the fact that this show has struggled not only to find consistency, but also to find its voice.
There are some brilliant moments in this episode — it’s definitely one of the show’s strongest — but they are lost among a lot of clutter and fat and filler scenes. One common criticism with these Disney Plus shows is that they don’t properly take advantage of their television format — they run as if they are six-hour movies, chopped up into six parts. “Ms. Marvel” Season 1 definitely feels like it would have been much better had it been a 2-hour movie instead, as the show simply lost its focus once the focus shifted to Karachi, and it never recovered.
At its core, “Ms. Marvel” Season 1 is about Kamala coming into her own not only as a superhero, but as a young adult, and having conflict with her parents as they try to understand who she is becoming. Those are the best parts of the show, but unfortunately they get sidetracked by this need to spell out exactly where her powers came from, and the multiple villains (Damage Control and the Clandestines) in the show. It felt like the show tried to shove two seasons of television into one, that could have been told much better over the course of two tightly-focused movies.
As a result, Episode 6 brings to a close a series that’s been all over the place, that manages to work as a decent origin story for Ms. Marvel, but not as a terrific whole. I have no doubt Ms. Marvel will make a bigger impact in “The Marvels.”
“Ms. Marvel” Season 1: Episode 6 “No Normal” gets a 7/10