Ms. Marvel: Time and Again (Episode 5) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
Ms. Marvel takes a trip into the past for some strong emotional story beats but ultimately drops the ball with its villains and in creating satisfying answers to some of its ongoing mysteries.
Although last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger where Kamala (Iman Vellani) was transported back in time to when her family was escaping during the Partition, that’s not where we start. Rather, we go back even further to see Kamala’s great-grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat) meet her eventual husband Hassan (Fawad Khan). Stylistically, this episode gets off on a great foot with the old film look of the MCU logo and the Urdu title card showing that we’re fully enveloped in this historical era. Even some of the historical context that’s given for the end of British rule in India is interesting and plays a big role in how Hassan and Aisha meet.
While Aisha is on the run for an unknown reason, she comes across Hassan giving a speech to others about fighting back against British rule and the two develop a relationship that’s heartwarming, but ultimately unimpactful. Yes, their story brings everyone closer together in the present and creates some deeply emotional moments later in the episode, but there’s really no depth to it. Frankly, we really don’t get much of their relationship at all or even get to know Aisha better. We don’t even know why she’s exactly on the run and can only assume it’s so Najma (Nimra Bucha) and the other Clandestines can’t merge the worlds together.
Speaking of Najma, this episode also doesn’t clear things up with the story she told Kamala earlier about where they found the bangle. From what’s shown here, Aisha already has the bangle and there’s no clear distinction as to if that story in the tomb simply happens prior or if Najma just made it up to get Kamala to help her. Honestly, we don’t even know what this bangle really is yet and it’s confusing why its origins are still a secret. We don’t even know if the Clandestines were really banished, and this episode doesn’t do anything to clear that up, especially with how things end.
Frankly, everything after Kamala goes back to the present is incredibly baffling because the Clandestines get wiped out almost immediately making their plans totally pointless. It just feels odd to have their plans be built up only to be cut down in an instant leaving there to be no real villain outside of the DoDC for the finale. There is still a chance of Kamran (Rish Shah) being a potential finale threat since he receives a power from Najma that looks like Kamala’s. However, it would be a bit of a shame to see the series end on Kamala basically fighting an evil version of herself or just a low-level threat like the DoDC.
For most of the episode, you’re left wondering why it was so important to ever go back to the past because of how little impact its story has on the events we’ve been watching unfold and lack of satisfying answers. What it does provide though is some good emotion in its final sequence at the train station as Kamala, finally, enters the picture and plays an unexpected role in helping Hassan and their child Sena, Kamala’s grandmother, escape. The emotion during the train sequence is incredibly high and never dissipates thanks to the very personal emotional story that’s unfolding and the great performances. Kamala finally sees why Aisha has been contacting her and things tie together better as she realizes that she has always been the reason for her family to be able to live on after the Partition.
It’s definitely a moment that will stick with Kamala and inspire her more as a hero and it’s nice to see her and her mother (Zenobia Shroff) bond over their family coming together. However, there’s just not much else in this episode to be all that jazzed about and hopefully a return to the States will bring back some of Ms. Marvel’s strongest elements. With how disappointing these last two episodes have been, it’ll be nice to have a more Kamala focused finale with the exuberant visual style, lovable community of characters, and personal coming of age story that have been missing for too long.
Ms. Marvel’s time in Pakistan hasn’t done it many favors as its story and style have gotten bogged down by lackluster reveals and unimpactful trips into the past. Hopefully as Kamala heads back home for the finale, the series can have a return to form to end things on a high note.