Ms. Marvel has been a fantastic series so far. It’s visually stunning and clever, Iman Vellani is doing wonderfully as the titular hero, and they’re taking time to flesh out the characters and family relationships. Last episode, Kamala and her long-suffering mother Numeeba went to Pakistan at Sana’s insistence, which couldn’t have come at a better time, given the events at Aamir and Tyesha’s wedding. Kamala has found some answers, more questions, and the order of the Red Dagger. Last episode ended with a surprising trip through time, and now learn a lot more about Kamala’s family and Najma’s villainy. With a few different elements in play, the title of “Time and Again” is apt, as well as being, like all the others have been, the name of one of the trade paperbacks of Ms. Marvel’s comic book adventures.
The title sequence is unique and customized to the current moment in the story, which then dissolves into a newsreel from the Partition between Pakistan and India. Eventually, we catch up with Aisha, running from a British soldier and showing she’s certainly no damsel in distress. Later, she comes to a village, hears a man speaking to the crowd about the tumultuous events going on all over the region, and then slips off to find someplace to sleep. She is awakened by the speaker, who turns out to be named Hasan, and we get the not-exactly-surprising love story that eventually results in the birth of Sana, who Kamala knows as her Nani. You just know this isn’t going to last, and it doesn’t.
One night, Aisha gets a very unwelcome visitor, as Najma shows up. We’ve already seen just how much family loyalty she has (poor Kamran), and so this, too, isn’t a pleasant chat. Najma goes from seeming at least somewhat glad she found Aisha to making thinly veiled threats quickly. Aisha isn’t a fool, and hurriedly convinces Hasan to pack up and leave. They flee, along with the tide of other refugees, and end up in a very crowded and familiar-looking train station. Things are starting to come full circle, although not in a time-loop kind of way.
The family gets separated in the crowd, which isn’t surprising. It’s a scene of fear, chaos, and confusion. Aisha tries to protect her family, and finds herself at the not-so-tender, lack of mercy we’ve come to expect from Najma. Aisha reaches out with her power (which is really badly defined) and this is where and when Kamala suddenly drops by, although nowhere near Aisha. Kamala has a heartbreakingly short meeting with one of her relatives, and has to move on well before she’s ready. Poor kid. Eventually, Kamala finds young Sana, and is convinced she knows what’s supposed to happen, according to the stories she’s heard. Kamala isn’t quite right about the specifics, but gets the general idea right, and we see at least one bit of happiness on that horrible night. Then, her job apparently done, Kamala gets sent home, or at least to where and when she came from.
They seem to have done one of those “get back the instant you left” jumps, ala The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe among other examples. Everyone is lying stunned on the floor from the backlash that came when Najma stabbed Kamala’s bangle. Before the fight can resume, we see there’s a pulsing energy rift in the air. There are a few interesting things in just a few quick moments in this scene. The rift itself looks a lot like the branching timelines effect from the Loki series, and the side effect of what happens to the Djinn who plays Redshirt greatly resembles something from Agents of SHIELD. Considering this series has referenced Thor characters twice, and Kamala is Inhuman in the comics, it’s an interesting series of potential callbacks in a quick scene. Najma apparently suddenly decides she’s not a villain after all, and I’m really not clear what prompted the change.
While all this is going on, Muneeba is fretting about where Kamala is, since it’s been quite a while now, and even Nani is worried. There’s a great bit about microchipping pets, and then one of the cousins tells Muneeba something I really don’t think she should know about. In rapid succession, Najma does something unexpected, Kamran gets some kind of gift (how he escaped from Damage Control in the condition he was in when we saw him last is, to quote a favorite satirist, “Unclear”), a major threat is dealt with, and Muneeba and Nani show up in time to learn Kamala’s secret. We knew Nani was aware and supportive, but Muneeba, all things considered, takes it better than I expected. Muneeba also further mangles Kamala’s codename that she doesn’t like to start with. After a very amusing exchange between Red Dagger and Nani, he takes off. Kamala goes after him and they part on good terms. Muneeba makes a discovery that comic fans recognize as part of Kamala’s costume. There’s very nice multi-generational scene with the three women, and that brings an end to our time in Pakistan, at least for this episode.
Back in Jersey, we’re not quite done after all. Bruno is hard at work at the Circle Q, and, as he’s finishing up, he gets an unexpected and, realistically, probably unwanted visitor: Kamran. These two were never exactly close to begin with, and I’m not sure why Kamran sought him out, but Bruno is too nice a guy to turn him away. They talk, and clearly have little in common, but they’re both making an effort. Kamran realizes he’s been making an ongoing mistake, and Bruno is understanding about it. However, things don’t go smoothly for the pair, as all at once, we see a lingering problem from Kamran’s arrest and a spillover from Najma’s death. This leads to a very unexpected development, and a fairly significant cliff-hanger to lead into the sixth and final episode. I will say that, while Kamala is confirmed to appear in another upcoming project, I don’t believe anyone else from this show is. Just something to ponder.
What I Liked: The writers, directors, and actors manage to weave action and family together in a way that doesn’t spend too much time in either area, but gives them both a good bit of air time. The trip to the past honestly felt a tiny bit like padding (they could have done a lot of that in one or two quick scenes) but I thought it worked. I really liked seeing Red Dagger again, and hope he manages to pop up again in the future. I had thought he looked a bit familiar, and finally worked out this is the same actor who played MK on Into the Badlands, the weird post-apocalypse martial arts drama that run for a few seasons. Iman Vellani is perfectly cast, and I really hope she goes on to play a larger part in the MCU. Or at the very least gets a season two.
What I Didn’t: I’m not really clear on why Najma did what she did, or why the time travel was so specific to “jump back, do this thing, return.” I’m very unclear on what Aisha’s powers were. How did Kamran get away? And, since we only get so few episodes, this is a long time away from Bruno, Nakia, and that crew.
Despite a few nitpicks above, I really enjoyed this episode, and the series as a whole so far. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. It’s going to be interesting to see how they finish the season.