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Ms. Marvel Episode 2 Review: ‘Crush’ Has Even More Charm, Stakes & Depth Than The Premiere

Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden

A TV show, by nature of being quite a bit longer than a movie, gives stories much more time to breathe. They can let things unfold naturally over time, giving space for digressions and character development a movie might not have time for while still allowing things to push forward and change from episode to episode. It’s a balance that past MCU shows on Disney+ have not always struck well, either veering from plot point to plot point without much time for its characters (Falcon and Winter Soldier), or giving those characters so much space the plot needs to be hastily crammed into the last couple episodes (Hawkeye).  But while it’s still a little early to be certain, it seems Ms. Marvel may be avoiding that problem.

In many ways this is a classic second episode, one that slows down after the pilot establishes everything to take a breather and let the concepts simmer. At first that takes the form of Kamala (Iman Vellani) and Bruno (Matt Lintz) testing out her newfound powers and seeing what she can do. It’s a classic staple of the superhero origin story, and this one zips by with a fun energy thanks to the show’s strong visual flair, music choices, and charisma of its leads. The series has shined so far in these moments of imagination, and this is no exception.

There are plenty of other great character moments in this episode as well. Kamala and her friend Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), tired of sexism at their local mosque, put Nakia up for election to the mosque’s board. Their interactions touch on the expectations and assumptions placed on muslim women in a deft fashion, while still providing the show’s signature humor with Nakia’s aggressive campaigning at the mosque’s Eid al-Adha celebration. We also learn more about Kamala’s family, with her father Yusuf (Mohan Kapur) sharing stories about the general trauma of the British partition of India as well as how it affected their family in particular. All of these moments help fill out Kamala’s world and tell us something about her background and influences.

Yet even with all these great character moments, the show still finds time to move forward rather than delaying or spinning its wheels. The introduction of Kamran (Rish Shah) as Kamala’s new crush sows the seeds of a conflict with Bruno’s obvious crush on her while also letting us have equally adorable and hilarious scenes of Kamala falling head over heels. Whatever government organization started tracking her last episode has already arrived on the scene, putting all their resources behind capturing Kamala. These events keep the episode feeling propulsive, deepening the plot and setting us up for future conflicts.

It all culminates with the last scene of the episode. Kamala takes the opportunity to put her powers to the test when a young boy nearly falls to his death at the Eid al-Adha celebration. Iman Vellani plays her hesitance and uncertainty perfectly, so that we get a real sense for how big of a challenge this fairly small-stakes (by superhero standards) emergency is for her. It makes the scene thrilling to watch, since it’s as much about her own doubt as it is the actual danger. Better yet, it even underlines the show’s main conflict, Kamala’s tendency to get lost in fantasy, when she gets so lost in showing off that she slips up and the kid gets hurt. And of course, it all ends on that perfect cliffhanger reveal of Kamran’s mom, assuring us that they won’t keep the mystery of Kamala’s visions dangling out of reach for long.

When it comes to the things that many of these Disney+ shows do well, Ms. Marvel has managed to be among the best. The creative visual design, working Kamala’s imagination, artwork, and even texts into the frame with the live action actors, is an inventive choice that makes the show feel brimming with personality. The casting has been spot-on, especially the choice of Iman Vellani as Kamala. Her breathless fangirl enthusiasm feels so real to an awkward and unpopular teen girl while still filled with enough charm to win audiences over. And when a scene turns serious, she plays that just as well, helping to give us a picture of Kamala as a fully fleshed-out person.

And yet the most gratifying thing about this episode is how well it does at the aspects these shows haven’t handled as strongly in the past. The clear conflicts and narrative momentum that have been established here set the show up for success possibly even more than its strong first episode did. Then again, that has seemed true of other MCU shows before the wheels slowly ground to a halt, so there’s no guarantee it will continue. Still, with this strong showing so far, perhaps Ms. Marvel has earned a little benefit of the doubt.

Ms. Marvel Episode 2 is now streaming on Disney+


Chris Diggins
Chris Digginshttps://alittleperspective.substack.com
"Lord" Chris Diggins, "Grand Prognosticator of ThePopBreak.com" is a staff writer and incorrigible layabout for The Pop Break. He usually reviews TV and movies, although he sometimes writes ludicrously long pieces of critical analysis and badgers the editors to publish it. He cannot be stopped.


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