Kamala Takes a Step Back in Ms Marvel Episode 5 (REVIEW)

Ms Marvel Episode 5, “Time and Again,” makes the perfect pair with its predecessor, “Seeing Red.” The penultimate episode of Ms Marvel Season 1 presents the audience with one of the best love stories in the MCU. Fully half of Episode 5 is set during the 1940s at the Partition of India, with Kamala (Iman Vellani) setting the stage for the tale of her great-grandparents, Aisha (Mehwish Hayat) and Hasan (Fawad Khan).

In the previous episode, Kamala went to Pakistan with her mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) after her grandmother, Sana (Samina Ahmed) told them to come to Karachi because she’d had the same vision Kamala had in Episode 3. Kamala searched for answers about her family and her powers in every nook and cranny, and things began unfolding after she met Kareem (Aramis Knight) – who goes by Red Dagger – and Waleed (Farhan Akhtar). Waleed told Kamala that she needs to protect her bangle: if Najma gets her hands on it, the veil between the dimensions will crumble.

Then, after a very long fight scene with the Clandestines, Waleed got stabbed and Kamala came face-to-face with Najma (Nimra Bucha), who stabbed Kamala’s bangle. Kamala awakens up to find herself in 1940s India – with the last train about to leave from the station. Which brings us to Ms Marvel Episode 5.

“Time and Again” is an especially interesting episode because it decenters Kamala (though she still plays a big role in it). Things begin with a 1947 newsreel and a British announcer detailing the unrest in India as shallowly as you’d expect. From there, we jump back to 1942 to see Aisha escaping from a British soldier and meeting Hasan, a young man who’s been broken by everything happening but is still fighting. Hasan finds Aisha sleeping in his flower garden; after awakening, she makes it very clear that she isn’t a damsel in distress. They end up bonding over warm naan, fall in love, get married, and have Sana.

The only disorienting thing about this sequence is that Aisha and Hasan speak English instead of Urdu. It’s highly unlikely that people fighting against the English occupation in the 1940s would have spoken English, and it’s pretty frustrating that Ms Marvel resorted to such a significant linguistic edit instead of just using subtitles.

However, given the rest of the season so far, it seems probable that this was a studio decision. And the rest of Ms Marvel Episode 5 was perfect thanks to Sharmeen Obaid-Shinoy’s directing and Fatima Asghar’s teleplay. They both respect the Pakistani people by not making their pain their entire identity. Kamala’s great-grandparents’ sequence was never a part of her origin story in the comics; including it in the MCU makes the show’s characters and their world feel that much more real and lived-in. Then, when Ms Marvel connects Aisha’s story to Kamala’s, she has that much more power, having broken the cycle of pain and generational trauma.

We also see how Kamala gets her symbol. It differs from the lightning bolt she has in the comics, and it’s another welcome change, one more personal to this version of the character and her identity.

My only storytelling criticism is that it was strange to change Najma’s arc so abruptly by having her abandon her plan to steal the bangle and return home at the very last minute. On the other hand, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Kamran’s (Rish Shah) arc with Kamala’s and their depiction of how the cycle of pain starts.

Finally, the Department of Damage Control is still after Kamran. They find him at Bruno’s (Matt Lintz) and wind up blowing up Circle Q. I love that the show circled back on Bruno and Kamran’s beef and turned it into a huge misunderstanding instead of merely leaning on jealousy.

At around 35 minutes, Ms Marvel Episode 5 is the shortest one of the season so far, despite it having the most to deal with. You might even feel like it ends abruptly despite its positive resolution. In terms of its emotional impact, though, “Time and Again” is among the strongest of the season.

Rating: 8.5/10

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