‘Ms. Marvel’ Episode Five Recap: “Time and Again”

*Warning: The following article contains spoilers for episode five of Ms. Marvel*

Here we are again, with an MCU series’ penultimate episode being its flashback one. And Ms. Marvel’s flashback episode is undoubtedly the most emotionally charged of any MCU TV series yet, as director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and screenwriter Fatimah Asghar aren’t afraid of tackling a dark period in India’s history. The British have taken over the country, and more and more people are fleeing India to Pakistan. The episode’s first twenty minutes (out of 33 without credits) is the central flashback, as we learn how Sana’s (Samina Ahmad) mother, Aisha (Mehwish Hayat), met Hasan (Fawad Khan) while in hiding from the British.

The two inevitably fall in love and have a baby (Sana). One night, Najma (Nimra Bucha) visits her and tells her that she has twenty-four hours to retrieve the bangle so they can go home. However, she doesn’t want to leave her family and attempts to leave India before Najma catches them. At the train station, Najma catches up to Aisha, who stabs her when she refuses to tell her where the bangle is. And then we learn what truly happened at the train station. It wasn’t Aisha who saved Sana and made sure they got on the train, but Kamala (Iman Vellani), whose bangle sent her to the past so she could save Sana and Hasan before Najma caught them.

It’s the episode’s most emotional moment, with Vellani pouring her heart and soul into every aspect of her performance. Kamala finally understands the responsibility she holds with her bangles but how her family had to go through massive amounts of anguish to get to where they are. It’s also moving because she saves little Sana’s fate by carrying her through the train station and using her cosmic powers to get to Hasan. Jules O’Loughlin’s lingering shots, alongside Sana’s eye-widening wonder at seeing magic for the first time, makes for brilliant use of visual emotion. And the images are perfectly married to Laura Karpman’s music, which elevates the tension mounting in the scene. 

But it’s a shame that the episode doesn’t spend nearly enough time deepening Aisha’s relationship with Hasan. Fawad Khan and Mehwish Hayat have terrific chemistry together (they’re both incredible actors), but everything involving them feels rushed. That’s partly due to Marvel’s willingness to keep their shows at six “hour-long” or nine “thirty-minute long” episodes, but the formula is starting to break. 

Don’t get me wrong; I’m tremendously enjoying Ms. Marvel and think it’s one of the better MCU shows we’ve gotten on Disney+. But to have a series tackling so many subjects and styles of filmmaking cannot be done in six episodes, especially when it starts to explore the Partition and the theme of generational trauma. So had the entire episode been a flashback, with episode 6 being the penultimate one where Kamala understands the total weight of the powers before fighting with Kamran (Rish Shah), who has been possessed by Najma’s powers before she sacrificed herself to shut the Veil of the Noor Dimension, it would’ve flowed better from a storytelling perspective. 

Because the latter half of Ms. Marvel’s fifth episode doesn’t spend nearly enough time establishing what Kamala will do to save her friends and defeat the Clandestine (and Damage Control) before it’s too late, most of the character development of our protagonist is thrown out of the window. Instead, the episode’s latter half is rushed through a standard action sequence with visual callbacks recalling Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Two members of the Clandestine turn into skulls after trying to reach the Noor dimension in the same gonzo style as the Green Goblin sequence in that movie. Then we get a scene with Kamran interacting with Bruno (Matt Lintz) before a Damage Control drone finds them and blows up Circle–cut to black. Cliffhanger. We have no idea where the series will go afterward, even though so many plot threads still need to be resolved.

It’s excellent that Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) knows of Kamala’s superhuman abilities now (and she isn’t even remotely pissed off about it, but proud–a refreshing moment!), but what about Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher)? How can it resolve that critical thread in a single episode? Or what about Kamala’s arc? Yes, she had more insight into Sana’s story than their parents would ever tell them, but she is still figuring out who she is as a hero, and one more episode doesn’t seem like enough time to transform her into the fully-fledged Ms. Marvel we know and love. Of course, it may be an actual hour-long climax, but it doesn’t seem enough to resolve every lingering plot thread.

But I may be getting ahead of myself. Moon Knight’s last episode was its shortest one, and yet it delivered the goods in more ways than one while being able to resolve every hanging thread through one post-credit scene (except for Layla’s fate, though one hopes we’ll see more of her soon). Ms. Marvel may also be able to pull it off. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had to sacrifice to get to the finale by rushing its most important sequence and leaving the episode with the series’ most anticlimactic cliffhanger yet. One hopes everything will come together during next week’s finale, but my hopes aren’t as high as when the series began.

The fifth episode of Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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