All of Kamala’s worlds well and truly collide in the final episode of Ms Marvel — both figuratively and literally. The last few episodes of the MCU series have been a hell of a journey: taking us across New Jersey, Pakistan, and post-partition India — but we’re back in New Jersey for the finale of the TV series which, while underwhelming in places, showcases a promising future for the young hero.
In a sense, the MCU series finishes where we started, with most of the action taking place inside Kamala’s school as she and her allies set up camp and plot to evade capture by the Department of Damage Control (DoDC) while trying to safely transport a newly-powered-up Kamran to the Red Daggers. Think Recess: School’s Out! but with a classic CGI-Marvel-face-off-bonzana at the end. With most of the episode building up to this moment (and a few Home Alone-like hijinks thrown in), it’s down to more subtle, character-driven moments to keep us entertained.
Of course, Iman Vellani shines as usual with her layered, dynamic performance, but Rish Shah as Kamran should also be praised. His palpable inner-conflict and vulnerability kept me engaged all episode, as you never quite knew if he was going to go down the MCU villain or anti-hero route.
Also subtle, yet impactful, is the undercurrent of racial micro-aggressions and Islamaphobia from DoDC agent Sadie Deever. Her disdain for Asian Americans may not seem noticeable at first — from failing to respect customs within the local mosque, to comments referring to “people like that,” and the assumption that the local Iman is quoting from the Q’uran.
These little moments realistically lay down her prejudices as groundwork so that once she orders the DoDC to open fire on Kamala and Kamran, the audience can see that her concern isn’t just with the fact that the pair have powers — it’s the fact that they’re people of colour, too.
Like the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ms Marvel has impeccable eye-opening commentary on the state of racism, as it showcases how more subtle racial micro-aggressions act as a gateway into and co-exists with systemic state violence and disproportionate police powers against ethnic minorities. Do you ever remember the DoDC opening fire on Peter Parker, a white teenager, when he was accused of killing Mysterio?
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But, with Ms Marvel being a show with collective identity, family, and community at its heart, these political undertones co-existed with a message emphasising the importance and impact of community: a moment that is exemplified when the community of New Jersey stand together to stop the DoDC from hurting Kamala.
If you’re from the UK, it might call back memories to the 2021 Glasgow immigration raid, which made national news after hundreds of neighbours banded together to stop two men from being suddenly deported by the UK Home Office.
There was a number of brilliant things about the finale, but the problem is that overall, it wasn’t brilliant. It was just fine.
The writing, acting, and plotting pale in comparison to what we saw in episodes 4 and 5. The problem with the final episode being a step-down from its predecessors is that while watching, we know that the show has the capability to be better than what we’ve already seen, meaning that as entertaining and genuinely touching as some moments are, they’re tinged with disappointment and unmet expectation.
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Not to jump on a bandwagon, but one of the biggest let-downs of the episode was the CGI. Although the CGI surrounding Kamala’s powers and the bangle remained fairly consistent, the rest of it felt a little too unfinished, too Uncanny Valley, and too saturated in comparison. While I’m more than happy usually to suspend belief in the MCU timeline, I found some of the CGI work in this episode distracting and, if I’m honest, a little bit jarring.
It was also a struggle to believe just how fast Kamala’s family came around to the idea of her being a superhero, although it was admittedly refreshing that her parents were, at least, alive. Certain aspects of the family’s reaction were almost relatable in the sense of how you’d expect your family to react if, like me, you come from a… slightly over-protective upbringing.
Details like Kamala’s mother telling the rest of her family before her daughter could and instructing her older brother Amir to be her super-chaperone definitely evoked a chuckle out of me, but I find it hard to believe that the same woman who refused to let Kamala go to a convention on her own in episode 1 is now lovingly stitching her a super-suit as she dives head first into various perilous situations. This development might have been plausible if the season was longer, but in six episodes and a relatively short time frame, it was difficult to accept.
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In fact, a lot of the problems with the finale would have been solved if it was a climax of a longer, ten-episode series. Not only did the finale feel a bit fast-paced and bloated, but not all loose ends were tied up. The exact reason why Najma and the rest of the Clandestines want so desperately to return to the Light Dimension — and why they were banished in the first place — is never fully explained.
Given how long Najma has worked to return to the Light Dimension, even abandoning her son and killing Aisha in order to achieve that goal, it doesn’t make sense that all it takes is a 2-minute pep talk from a teenager to make her change her ways.
It’s a shame, because Nimra Bucha makes a very compelling villain — but because the show never really explores the history of the Clandestines and how they ended up here — there isn’t much in terms of stakes and depth.
Another flashback episode or two set in the Light Dimension fully explaining why Aisha was so desperate to run from Najma and how the exile came to be would definitely have helped flesh out Najma a little more and make her seem less of a pantomime villain, albeit a well-acted one.
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It also feels like a lot of the side characters and subplots set up in the early episodes were abandoned, such as Kamala’s innate lack of direction and how finding herself as Ms Marvel changed her; Bruno’s family life and past; Nakia’s journey with her faith; and the tension between DoDC agents P. Clearly and Deever.
I also wish the series granted more insight into the world of the Red Daggers, Kareem, and his dynamic with Kamala, but with all these loose ends and a few other major revelations, I have a feeling Disney isn’t going to stop with The Marvels.
They have set up more than enough potential plots and have plenty of comic book material to deliver Ms Marvel season 2, and despite the mediocrity of the Ms Marvel ending, I really hope that’s something they pursue. Because although Ms Marvel, like its titular hero, is not perfectly polished just yet, the raw potential is clear.
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