Ms. Marvel Episode 2 review: Kamala Khan’s powers grow, as does tension

Kamala Khan using her powersMarvel/Disney+

Ms. Marvel debuts its second episode, and things finally seem to be heating up for Kamala Khan, as are her new abilities. SPOILERS for Ms. Marvel Episode 2 ahead…

Ms. Marvel – one of the newest heroes on the MCU roster – began premiering on Disney+ last week, introducing the world to Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first on-screen Muslim superhero.

The first Ms. Marvel episode was a charming debut, but felt somewhat lacking in suspense and any significant plot.

However, the second episode, titled “Crushed,” rectifies this, as the story – and the series’ overall narrative tension – finally seems to be getting going.

The second episode shies away a little from the first’s abundance of brightly animated cinematography, which is a shame as it initially gave the show a unique identity, but this does allow more of the focus to be on the episode’s plot.

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The episode follows Kamala and her best friend Bruno as they attempt to deal with the aftermath of AvengerCon last episode. Specifically, as they try to figure out how Kamala’s powers work. It’s fun to watch her train, though arguably the montage is a little rushed, and it led to this episode’s climax feeling like a waste of potential.

The finale has a good set-up; a young boy is about to fall from a mosque window, and Kamala uses her powers to create stepping stones in order to save him. We had seen Kamala struggle to use this technique before – which actually leads to a rather surprising Black Widow death joke – but she seems to pretty easily grasp it when the need arises.

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Ms. Marvel looking at her bangleMarvel/Disney+
A mysterious family heirloom kickstarted Kamala’s powers in episode 1.

Perhaps there could have been a bigger emotional arc with this growth in ability, which would give the moment more impact overall. We can only hope that her training will continue throughout the series as she learns more about her powers, along with the mysterious history of her great grandmother.

Ms. Marvel Episode 2 hints at future villains

The real tension of the episode comes in the form of the Department of Damage Control – the D.O.D.C – who have managed to track down Kamala, and chase her through an alleyway in the final moments of the episode. It’s an exciting turn of events, as the audience probably expected it to be a while before they found her. But it makes sense in this surveillance-heavy world that Kamala’s secret identity wouldn’t remain secret for very long.

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Especially considering that she has gone viral, under her new – non-chosen – superhero name “Nightlight.” While the show’s use of social media has been largely accurate so far, it is a little confusing that Kamala apparently goes viral for saving a child this episode, when she is still in the process of saving him. The internet works fast, but not that fast.

Popular girl Zoe – who helps grow Nightlight’s internet fame – is enjoyably obnoxious as she tells everyone at school about her harrowing experience at AvengerCon. It is nice to see that she doesn’t sell the superhero out when questioned by the D.O.D.C, which hints that there may be more to this stereotypical character than meets the eye.

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Ms. Marvel doesn’t shy away from its heritage

The attempts by D.O.D.C to track Kamala down also feel topical, as one can draw parallels between this situation and the racial profiling that Muslims have faced over the past few decades. The episode clearly intends this, as the agents themselves discuss needing to appear respectful, while hypocritically planning to infiltrate Eid events and mosques.

Agent Cleary looking at a phone in Ms MarvelMarvel/Disney+
The D.O.D.C reflects real world government agencies

The Partition of India is also discussed significantly in this episode. Overall, it’s admirable to see that – despite being review bombed by trolls for being “too woke” – Ms. Marvel refuses to shy away from its cultural roots, along with that culture’s painful history. Not only that, but the show cleverly ties its culture into the story, giving plenty of pathos.

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Kamala’s mother, Muneeba, is significantly fleshed out through her connection to the Partition. While the mystery of her grandmother – who disappeared during those events – is seemingly going to be a major part of both Kamala’s power development, and Muneeba’s emotional development. While the trope of the strict parent may be an old one, Ms. Marvel is making this trope feel interesting and new.

Ms. Marvel has a colorful cast of characters

Other side characters begin their respective storylines this episode. Best friend Nakia wants to gain power to better her community, which is a plot that admittedly feels a little tacked on. It gives more development to her character, but one may wonder how this b-plot will tie into the larger story overall.

Bruno is also given the spotlight more, though it’s debatable whether this is for better or worse. He’s shown to be offered a place in a prestigious tech school, but his main focus of the episode is his jealousy towards Kamala’s growing relationship with the new boy at school, Kamran.

Bruno’s jealousy is funny to watch, and gives actor Matt Lintz more to work with, but the cliche of the male best friend acting antagonistic towards the female friend’s new potential love interest feels a little dated and stale.

Kamala and Bruno at Avengercon in Ms MarvelMarvel/Disney+
Kamala and Bruno’s relationship gets more development this episode

This potential love interest Kamran is an interesting addition to the cast. It’s obvious that there is something suspicious about him from the start, but thankfully the show doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence by dragging this out. At the very end of the episode, when Kamala jumps in his car to avoid the D.O.D.C, his mother is sitting in the backseat, and states ominously that she has been waiting to meet her.

How does Kamran know of Kamala’s powers? Does even the D.O.D.C know who she is exactly? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

The third episode of Ms. Marvel will hit Disney+ next Wednesday, June 22. Read our review of episode 1 HERE.