Ms. Marvel Episode 5 review: a fast-paced flash to the past

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Ms Marvel in her costume

Ms. Marvel has reached its penultimate chapter with Episode 5, but does it successfully set the scene for the upcoming finale?

The fifth episode of the newest MCU show Ms. Marvel has premiered on Disney+ today, and with only one episode left, things are really ramping up. Or are they?

The newest episode of this superhero show takes viewers back to the past, as we finally see what happened to Kamala – aka Ms. Marvel’s – Djinn-powered great grandmother.

On top of that, more secrets are revealed, ambiguous deaths occur, and a central theme of the show – that being heritage – really kicks into gear.

Ms. Marvel Episode 5 flashes us back to the past

At the end of the last episode, during a fight with the villainous Clandestine, Kamala was suddenly transported back to Partition India, which left viewers on a cliffhanger.

Now, in this episode, we are seemingly given all the answers. This episode seems to be taking a different approach to the last episode. Episode 4 was all about intrigue and action. This episode takes a calmer approach, as there is barely any action until the very end. However, this episode feels no less fast-paced.

We see the history of Kamala’s great grandmother Aisha, when she runs away from the Clandestine and falls in love with Kamala’s great grandfather Hasan during the British occupation and Partition of India in the 1940s. We see them raise Kamala’s grandmother, until they try to escape on the train to Karachi, and Aisha is caught, stabbed, and killed by Najma.

ms marvel karachi train
Ms. Marvel shows us a dramatic – and personal – history.

The setting of these flashbacks feels real and panicked; it get across the oppression and in-fighting of the people of India very well – although sometimes the British voices of the soldier’s sound a tad cartoonish.

Props must be given to this episode and it’s actors – namely Fawad Khan and Mehwish Hayat – for introducing us to characters we barley know and immediately making us care about them. Aisha’s death is truly sad, and while we already know that Kamala’s grandmother – who gets lost at the train station – is going to find her father in time, the scene still feels tense. It was actually surprising to realise that these flashbacks covered a whole two thirds of the episode, as they fly by at a nice fast pace.

Granted, there is some confusion about Kamala’s place in the flashbacks. Her physical presence kind of comes and goes, so it’s hard to figure out which scenes she is watching alongside us, and which scenes she is actively partaking in.

Plus, since Aisha is now dead, it’s a wonder how Kamala is getting these flashback visions in the first place, and what they are trying to say. And why didn’t Aisha have the same kind of powers as Kamala? Perhaps the finale will clear this up.

It is nice full circle moment at least, when it is revealed that Kamala helped create the trail of stars that led to Kamala’s grandmother finding Hasan. It’s a reveal that you don’t necessarily see coming, but it feels right when it happens, which is the perfect kind of narrative twist.

Ms. Marvel Episode 5 places focus on family

Heritage plays a large part into the episode. There are the flashbacks, obviously, but the episode also has Kamala’s mother Muneeba find out about her powers, powers which her own mother had been telling her about for years. It makes for a good change of pace, having the mother finding out be a good thing, and it results in a very heartwarming-scene between the three generations of Djinn.

Kamala and her mother in ms marvel
Ms. Marvel’s parents actually feel like real parents.

Kareem, AKA the Red Dagger, also leaves an impression before he leaves, as he gifts Kamala his scarf. Not only is this a nice moment, but it’s also clear that Kamala will use it as part of her future costume, as seen in the series’ promo shots.

As will her signature necklace that was first brought up in Episode 1, since you realise that when it breaks during the final fight scene against the Clandestine, it looks like the superhero’s lighting symbol. Some very smart costume work there.

Ms. Marvel gets ambiguously dark

Now, the main issue that Ms. Marvel has faced so far is that of the Clandestine trying to open a destructive portal to get back home to their dimension. And strangely, this happens at the end of this episode, but not in the way you might think.

The portal opens, but when the Clandestine attempt to go through, their bodies crystallize and they become lifeless skeletons. It’s a surprisingly dark fate for this more light-hearted show, but the deaths also feel rather ambiguous.

Kamala is also able to close the gate, which is a cool moment, but also makes the threat of the gate feel a little weaker than it did before. If she’s able to close it now, it’s obvious that she will be able to close it again.

Ms. Marvel Episode 5 gears up for the finale

So with Kamala’s family in the know, the gate closed (for now) and the Clandestine gone, all seems well by the end of Episode 5. But there is one episode still to go, so what’s going to happen?

You could argue that this is a con of the episode, as we don’t particularly feel any great tension about what’s to come in the future, but thankfully some clues are left that hint at a greater battle. See, we close the episode out with the character of Kamran being on the run from the D.O.D.C, after he and the Clandestine managed to escape their prison. With no Kamala to run to, Kamran instead visits Bruno.

kamala, nakia, and bruno is kamran's car in ms. marvel
Bruno and Kamran have had their (hilarious) issues.

The pair, who have the tension that love-rivals tend to have, awkwardly chat with one another, but thankfully it’s more humorous then uncomfortable to watch. It’s even revealed that Kamran really did think that Bruno’s name was Brian, he wasn’t just being rude.

It’s also surprisingly nice to see Bruno again after so long, but unfortunately this moment doesn’t last. As the episode ends, a D.O.D.C drone appears at the window, and after Kamran fires his powers in it, the drone explosively fires back. It’s certainly a dramatic way to close the penultimate episode.

Who will be Ms. Marvel’s final villain: The D.O.D.C or Kamran?

Now, Kamran has been drastically different than his comic book counterpart, in that he seems very torn between his villainous family and Kamala. He even turns on his family at one point.

However, when Najma “dies” she whispers Kamran’s name, and it seems like her powers – and perhaps even her soul – is transported into him, as he suddenly has powers similar to Ms. Marvel.

This begs the question: will Kamran revert to his comic book self, and be the main villain in the finale?

kamran in ms marvel
Kamran could become as suspicious as he originally seemed.

Though, since the D.O.D.C has just fired on the people Ms. Marvel cares about, one could expect them to be the villains of the next episode instead. Perhaps there could even be more than one antagonist in this finale. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The final episode of Ms. Marvel hits Disney+ next Wednesday, July 13. Read our review of Episode 4 here.