Let’s Talk about Ms. Marvel Episode 1-2
Last week, we witnessed the unlikely origin story of Ms. Marvel, a cosplaying teenager who suddenly developed superpowers.
This week, we learn more about the woman behind the mask. What’s it like to be an American Muslim teen girl in Jersey City? Well, there’s a lot more politics than you might expect.
Let’s talk about Ms. Marvel episode 1-2, the one where Kamala Khan’s dad may not get to vote for his best friend.
High school years prove challenging enough when you’re not a minority within a minority. So you can imagine what confusing times they are for Kamala Khan.
At the start of this episode, things are looking up, though. Khan is high on life as someone who just realized her superpowers.
She’s high-fiving people, correcting clueless teachers, and even flirting with the new guy, Kamran.
For his part, Karman takes a noticeable interest in Khan, much to the chagrin of the obviously smitten, squarely friend-zoned Bruno.
Khan’s not the only one riding a high, either. Zoe’s social media following has quadrupled since a video surfaced of her encounter with “Night Light.” That’s a How to Train Your Dragon character, not an Avenger!
Anyway, Kamala feels flattered as she hears Zoe describe her rescuer. Meanwhile, Nakia derides Zoe’s thrill over being a glorified damsel in distress.
At this moment, we realize that one of Kamala’s best friends knows her secret, while the other remains in the dark about…Night Light. (Sorry.)
Also, Nakia proves essential to this episode. She’s not there as a cardboard character, something that had worried me during the pilot. However, we don’t get to that until we watch Kamala and Bruno accidentally flirt.
While testing her powers, she saves him…after almost killing him. They awkwardly collapse on top of each other, as has happened in every teen romance since the beginning of time.
Bruno’s smitten. Kamala plays with her hair, so maybe he’s got a chance by the season finale after all. Before then, Kamala is all about Kamran, though. He’s almost preternaturally good at stuff.
Some of his scenes feel straight out of Vampire Diaries. I’m guessing that dude is like 106 pretending to be 16. And that’s creepy.
Nakia and Kamala vs. Phallocentric Society
One of my dearest friends in life is Muslim, and I’m deeply respectful of the religion’s customs and beliefs. However, the producers of Ms. Marvel have stated their intent to show the realities of being a young woman in a somewhat sexist society.
This episode starts that story arc by showing that Nakia and Kamala hold their religion dear to them. Unfortunately, their church’s patriarchs (and at least one matriarch) don’t hold them in the same esteem.
One yells at the two of them for running late. The teen girls also must remove their tennis shoes and wear something humbler. Then, Kamala dares to mention the sad state of the women’s side of the mosque during a sermon. She gets chastised mightily for speaking out of turn. It’s…not great.
Soon afterward, Kamala coaxes Nakia into running for the Mosque Board at their church. Nakia reluctantly agrees in exchange for Kamala running her campaign. This is gonna be good. Nakia’s primary opponent is Rasheed, who happens to be Yusuf Khan’s best friend.
Later, the women rebel a bit by going to Zoe’s big pool party. Of course, Kamran is there, and, of course, he ends up shirtless. Even after 30 years, every director in Hollywood still wants to be John Hughes.
By the way, Bruno is also there, and he’s intensely jealous of and threatened by Kamran, who takes a decidedly intense interest in Kamala. The two of them debate Bollywood and its celebrities while Nakia laughs and Bruno interrupts whenever possible.
When Kamala returns home, she’s high on life and happily dancing to Be My Baby. Ah, the classics. I hate to tell her, but I’m pretty sure this is a Luke and Leia Skywalker situation…well, the kissing cousins version.
Kamala continues to struggle with the oddities of her life and the sudden development of superpowers. Toward the end of class, her nose starts glowing. Unfortunately, Nakia misreads the situation and tries to hand her friend a tampon.
Kamala cannot accept the offer because her hand starts to glow, too. She’s not going to be able to keep this secret from Nakia for long. The main story for this episode is the relationships between Kamala and her teen friends (and whatever Kamran is).
However, Ms. Marvel also pushes the backup story of the origin of Kamala’s powers. Kamala’s mother and others make several references to her great-grandmother, Aisha.
The family disavowed Aisha, who may have killed a guy. Kamala keeps having visions of this woman, though…or some superpowered woman. You don’t have to watch a lot of television and movies to see where this is going, especially with Kamran.
Oh, and Bruno gets in Cal Tech…with all expenses paid. This boy is smart. His guidance counselor is thrilled for Bruno, but the boy can only think about how far he’ll be from Kamala.
Kamala attracts highly talented people.
Politics and the Big Reveal
A kinetic five-minute scene highlights the rest of the episode. As campaign manager, Kamala must secure the Mosque Board votes of several cliques.
- The Mosque Bros
- The Pious Boys
- The Sunday School Teachers
- The Insta Clique
- The Converts/The Re-Verts
- Mini Harami Girls
- The IlluminAunties
While Kamala does all this, Nakia goes for the swing vote that matters. She encounters Kamala’s father, who is in high spirits. He informs Nakia that he will be voting for his best friend, Rasheed. Nakia points out that she’s Kamala’s best friend.
The two women have high hopes for democracy, and Nakia guilts Yusuf by saying he’d rob them of their future. Yusuf may very well vote for Nakia. But he won’t feel good about it.
Rasheed notices his friend with a Vote for Nakia button on his plate. He asks what his friend is doing. The conflict on Yusuf’s face is terrific. This is a great scene.
Something less fun is happening at the Department of Damage Control. A clueless Zoe doesn’t even realize that Agent Cleary is interrogating her until it’s too late.
Another woman, Agent Deever, appears and asks questions about Night Light’s ethnicity. Zoe accidentally gives away this information. The agents deduce that the subject of their search is South Asian. Kamala’s in trouble.
Well, at the moment, another boy at the church gathering is in trouble. Kamala notices a kid fall out of a window. Ms. Marvel springs into action with the rescue, albeit a slow and perilous one.
Just as she saves the boy, the Department of Damage Control shows up. However, Kamala catches a break as Kamran arrives at the perfect moment.
Waiting in the back seat of this rescue is Kamran’s mom…the woman from Kamala’s dreams.
I place the odds at like 80 percent that Kamran’s mom is also Kamala’s great-grandmother. So, Kamran flirting with her is super-gross.
Still, I thought this episode was terrific. It focused on the character rather than the superpower, even though we had some scenes where she tested her powers. Thus far, Ms. Marvel is everything I had hoped it would be. This episode isn’t quite an A+ for me, but it’s a solid A.
I feel like I’m getting to know Kamala Khan as a person, and that’s vital each time Disney+ introduces a new Avenger. Marvel did an excellent job with this with Kate Bishop as Hawkeye, but we’ve had other instances where we still don’t know much about the characters.
A good example is Lady Loki, and I have no idea what Karli Morgenthau’s deal was. As for John Walker, he’s…a cocky but skilled jerk with regrets?
Seriously, after two episodes, Kamala feels like a three-dimensional character, not just Latest Marvel Superpowered Human…or Inhuman, as the case may prove to be.
Finally, while I’m not in the habit of posting spoilers, this might be a good time for you to brush up on the ClanDestine and the Inhumans. Kamran’s all but certainly one of them.