TV Review: Ms. Marvel, Episode 4

By Matthew Moorcroft

Strong Recommendation

  • Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • Starring Iman Vellani, Zenobia Shroff, Aramis Knight, Farhan Akhtar
  • TV-14

Shifting locations in the middle of your show is always going to be a hard thing to pull off, but it’s especially difficult when your show’s location is essential to it’s identity like Ms. Marvel. Part of the reason the show works as well as it does is it’s extensive supporting cast – New Jersey itself is a character, and letting Kamala sort through her life as she goes day by day is the charm and appeal of the character.

Which is why the show suddenly shifting gears to go to Karachi is a bit jarring at first, and does lend itself to skepticism at whether or not it can work. And while Seeing Red isn’t the strongest episode of the show – the lack of Bruno, Nakia, and the rest of her family is felt here – it manages to overcome that and introduce new layers to Kamala’s journey that feel shockingly essential in the long term. It helps that the entire cast here is game as well, and both Vellani and Shroff feel particularly committed to their roles here. I haven’t really sung the praises of Shroff enough because Vellani steals much of the show as usual but Shroff has become one of the strongest parts of the show for me; a mother dealing with her own baggage regarding her family heritage, and not wanting that to cloud her relationship with her own daughter.

Kamala is on her own for the most part here though, albeit aided by a charismatic Aramis Knight as the new vigilante character Red Dagger, whose somewhat cheap looking outfit is mitigated by leaning into the ramshackled as opposed to simply not looking good. It’s not often we get straight up vigilantes in the MCU though, especially with the whole “no secret identities” thing that they decided to go with in the wake of Iron Man subverting the trope to great effect in 2008. If anything, going back to that feels like a genuine breath of fresh air again, and it helps that Red Dagger, or Kareem, has irresistible chemistry with Kamala to the point where you kind of hope they form some kind of superhero partnership – which, admittedly, is straight out of the comics so I guess that’s what they want you to feel.

On the weaker end here are the action scenes, though there is still good here. A chase scene through the streets of Karachi is really great and uses the camera to hide and reveal characters in unique, clever ways, and I’m finally starting to like Kamala’s powerset here in it’s own weird way – I was worried it was going to make her overpowered but it really doesn’t, it just gives her more ways to interact with the world. Still would rather the embiggening powerset but if this is what we are going to get, I’m glad at least it’s being used effectively and not simply as a blind substitute.

And that extends to her origins, which revert back to partition and her heritage, which is a great direction for this to go. If anything, the ending of the episode hints at some of the best stuff is yet to come from the show, and that excites me as Ms. Marvel up to this point has been one of Marvel’s most visually interesting and entertaining affairs. The ending shot, which features Kamala witnessing the events of partition through her own eyes as the reality of what happened hits her, is a great one and leaves you wanting more like any good cliffhanger; there is something about the way the series uses it’s cultural status that just works unlike other attempts.

I don’t know, maybe Ms. Marvel is just hitting all of the right boxes for me. Even in it’s weaker elements the heart is there and that’s all you really need for me in the end. And while this was absolutely a setup episode it’s still as engaging and creative as ever, and the the implications have me intrigued. Consider me on this train.

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