Ms. Marvel – Season 1, Episode 2: Crushed


Despite the mewlings of some disgruntled people on the internet, diversity is important in popular culture for many reasons with the first obviously being that representation allows people of different colours, orientations, creeds and religions to see themselves portrayed on the screen in ways that merely isn’t a tired stereotype or trope. However, there are other reasons too with a good one being that people who may not have much experience in the lives of said people of different colours, orientations, creeds and religions get a window into the day to day existence of those different that them. It means it’s a good chance for all of us to grow and experience things outside the perimeters of our own sand boxes and if nothing else, it gives storytellers a new way to tell an established story – which brings us to Crushed, episode 2 of Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel which goes even further in imbeding us into the life of a Pakistani Muslim teenage girl than the first episode did with intriguing results.


After obtaining the ability to form hard light constructs via an old bracelet she retrieved from a box of her grandmother’s old stuff, superhero fan girl Kamala Kahn is stoked that she may be on the same path as her hero Captain Marvel, but before she can dash out and save the world, she’ll have to practice her new abilities with best friend Bruno. But despite a new wave of self confidence, Kamala still has to negotiate going to mosque, talking to Kamran – the new hunk about school – and negotiating her way around her mother who is still mad she snuck out of the house to attend AvengerCon.
After a standard sequence where she endures the usual slapstick, trial and error all teenage heroes have to endure before they can earn their stripes (just ask Tobey Maguire), Kamala desides to start asking questions to find out exactly what connection the bracelet has to her family only to get either random rumours or stern lectures. However, what she can discern is that its connected some way to Kamala’s great, great grandmother Aisha during something that occured during the traumatic Partition Of India and she even starts having visions of a strange woman who knows her name.
However, despite her relationship with Kamran growing surprisingly fast (much to the jealousy of Bruno) and a chance for her to stretch her powers once more to effect a daring rescue, Kamala will also have to contend with Damage Control, the organisation that’s been put in place to keep an eye on and police any troublesome superpowers that pop up out of the woodwork. But even this isn’t enough to top the fact that Kamran may not exactly be who he seems and has an agenda that involves our budding new hero.


While it was inevitable that the sheer, relentless energy of the first episode simply couldn’t last, Episode 2 of the impossibly perky adventures of Kamala Kahn still manages to be nothing short of utterly charming. While the first episode introduced us not only to Kamala and her boundless imagination, but to her immediate family and Bruno too, this one now opens up her world even further to give us more time with Kahn’s other close friend Nakia and British-Pakistani beekcake Kamran, not to mention giving us more of Kamala’s muslim upbringing as we go with her to Mosque and saves a child’s life during a celebration of Eid.
It’s all great stuff that tangibly ties her culture directly into the mystery of her superpowers as a discussion of the Partition not only sheds some light on where the bracelet comes from but continues to put more strain on the relationship our hero has with her mother. This is obviously a thread that will run all the way through the series as Kamala badgers various relatives and family friends for any information she can get about her family history, including the collalation of oldern gossip-happy Muslim women dubbed the Illumin-Aunties (possibly the best bit of pun-age Marvel’s come up with since Tony Stark bit the bullet). Elsewhere, to breathe more life into the supporting cast, we get an effecting story from Nakia about being too white for some and too ethnic for others and how her hajib helps give her an identity and while all these scenes are invaluable in giving Kamala’s world the dimension it needs to feel as real and colourful as Kamala herself, it does mean that her superhero journey takes somewhat of backseat for most of the episode.


However, when it does, we almost instantly get more links to the Spider-Man movies as we get to spens more time with No Way Home’s Agent Moayed, who looks noticably troubled by his partner’s racial profiling while questioning Zoe on the hero who saved her and alarmingly, Damage Control seemingly now have use of the E.D.I.T.H. drones who make a return as Kamala employs some hardcore platform gaming energy to escape as she creates little foothold to hop over her assailants.
Much more of a “Kamala” episode than a Ms. Marvel one, the more overt superhero stuff looks to kick in from the get go of the very next episode, but while director Meera Menon may not have the obvious flair of episode one directors Adil & Bilall (the daydreaming sequences are far more muted aside from a smitten Kamala over-dramatically dancing to Be My Baby by the Ronettes), but the ground work and the nuanced character details she brings makes the world around Iman Vellani’s adorable lead even more solid and vibrant than before.
The only question now is that now the full blown superhero stuff is starting to creep into the plot fully – not to mention the ongoing mystery of the bracelet which interestingly still may or may not end up with the Inhumans – is all the intrigue and car flipping going to upend all the hard work done to establish Kamala’s civilian world?
Probably not, but we still have absolutely no clue who the villain will be – or even if there is one – but if Kate Bishop can square up to the Kingpin during her first adventure, the mind boggles to think where Marvel can take its newest hero throughout her remaining four episodes.


Still heart warming, still gleefully fun, Ms. Marvel clearly has the character stuff in the bag, but I guess it’s now time for her, and the show in general, to merge her from her own community into one that dresses in even brighter colours – slightly.


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