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Now that Kamala Khan has mysteriously gained superpowers, she has to learn how to use them. She also has to maintain her life in high school as well as at the mosque, so hopefully no one will come around to distract her.
That may be exactly what happens in Episode 2 of Ms. Marvel, the latest streaming series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The mystery of Kamala’s powers gets deep, and it is likely connected to some family history that is infamous to many people in her community.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 2 of Ms. Marvel. If you have not watched yet, platform jump your way out of here.***
Kamala (Iman Vellani) struts into school full of confidence. Zoe (Laurel Marsden) has now become a very minor instagram celebrity thanks to the footage of Kamala saving her, so she’s throwing a party to celebrate the “fragility of life.” There’s not much interest from Kamala’s best friends Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), and Kamala wants nothing to do with it either.
That’s before handsome newcomer Kamran (Rish Shah) says he’s going. She’s all about it after that. She’s crushing on him, but Bruno (who is obviously crushing on Kamala) wants to see her new powers for himself. She tells him that they are “like an idea come to life.” They test them out in a montage sequence, determining that there is no super strength at work. She does get pretty good at creating platforms and jumping on them ala Mario, so that’s something.
Bruno determines that the power (which they call “hard light”) is not coming from the bangle; it’s coming from Kamala herself. As he says, “...the bangle unlocked a superhuman part of you.”
Kamala and Nakia then proceed to the mosque, where Kamala challenges the status quo. She convinces Nakia to do the same and run for the Mosque Board. “Do I look like a 90 year old man to you?” she asks Kamala. She doesn’t, but Kamala exclaims, “The change is here and the change is her, everyone.” Nakia decides to run, possibly to get to the bottom of who continues to steal shoes at the mosque. There have been 22 occurrences of this, and Nakia’s Versace shoes are the latest loss.
The cops crash Zoe’s party early on, but Kamala and friends are driven away by Kamran, who is sure to put his number in her phone. He offers he a driving lesson, and she goes over the top with romantic fantasy. She blows Bruno off the next day to meet with Kamran... Bruno, who just heard that he has received early admission to CalTech. He’s hesitant about going! We wonder why. Bruno doesn't talk about that.
At the Khan home that night, Mr. Khan (Mohan Kapur) tells Aamir’s wife Tyesha (Travina Springer) some family history having to do with the Partition. As Aamir (Saagar Shaikh) says, “Every Pakistani family has a Partition story.” Mrs. Khan (Zenobia Shroff) doesn’t want to hear it, but Yusuf expands on the story anyway, telling them all about Muneeba’s mother Sana and how she got lost but managed to find her family again by following a “trail of stars.”
Sana’s mother, Aisha, vanished. They do not talk about Aisha. Kamala’s nani tells her that the mysterious bangle belonged to her, but that’s all she’ll say.
The next day, Mrs. Khan tells Kamala about Aisha. “That woman brought shame to our entire family,” she says. “I had to move halfway around the world to forget it.”
Everything comes to a head at Eid, the “lesser Eid” as Kamala describes it earlier in the episode. Nakia is drumming up votes and Kamala goes to the “illuminAunties” for more information about Aisha. They have heard all sorts of rumors.
It is then that a kid falls from a high roof while taking a selfie, and Kamala has to spring to action. Still wearing her Captain Marvel cosplay costume, she uses her platforming skills to get to the boy. The crowd below cheers for “Night Light,” because that’s what Zoe dubbed her on Instagram. After a mysterious vision from the bangle (for the second time in this episode), Kamala loses control. The boy almost falls, but some quick platforms of hard light thrown out in desperation manage to save him.
Rattled by what is now two visions of a mysterious woman, Kamala runs, only to be chased by Damage Control drones. Agent Cleary (Arian Moayed) and Agent Deever (Alysia Reiner) interrogated Zoe, so they’re onto Kamala. She escapes them thanks to her powers, as well as Kamran pulling his car up at just the right moment.
There’s a woman in the backseat. It is Najma (Nimra Bucha), the woman from the visions. “I’ve been waiting a very long time to meet you,” she says.
Kamran then tells Kamala, “I’d like you to meet my Mom.”
-Kamala’s reason for thinking she could have Ant-Man powers is, as she says, “because we’re both charming and we look a lot younger than we are.”
-Being a possible Asgardian is ruled out, though Kamala is excited by the chance that she could be “related to Thor.”
-One of the movies that Kamala and Kamran discuss is Baazingar, a Bollywood classic from 1993. It featured Shah Rukh Khan, and Kamala maintains that there’s no such thing as “a bad Shah Rukh Khan movie.”
-During one of the Bollywood discussions, it comes up that both Kamala and Kamran’s mothers like Kingo, specifically “Kingo Senior.” This is a reference to Eternals, where the immortal Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) continued to reinvent himself as different members of an entertainment dynasty over time.
-Kamran appears in Marvel Comics, where he has superpowers. He reveals them to Kamala in Ms. Marvel #13.
-The guidance counselor makes reference to Jedi as well as The Devil Wear Prada in his scene with Bruno.
-After Deever asks Zoe about the ethnicity of the hero, Cleary says they’ll do a tri-state sweep, checking every “temple, community center, and mosque.” He adds, “The FBI is already surveilling them, you know that.”
-Kamala’s parents both love Bon Jovi. They maintain that they wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the song “Slippery When Wet.”
-Kamala does her own variation of the “Black Widow poser pose” in the middle of her rescue.
-Who is Najma? In Urdu the name means “Star” and that is also the name of a Captain Marvel villain who was a Kree/human hybrid. If all of this is tied into the bangle and Kamala’s heritage, her powers could be centered on the Kree, which would bypass all of the Inhuman stuff entirely. The Kree are already established in the MCU, with very strong connections to Carol Danvers.
-On the other hand… a Kree presence could be the show’s gateway into introducing a new MCU version of Inhumans. The Kree are directly tied to Inhumans in both the comics and on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so it could happen.
-That said, the easier way to explain the powers and the family history (with far less exposition) would be to just make both Najma and Aisha half-Kree, half-human. This version of Kamala’s powers do look a little Kree-ish, now that we think about it. We’ll kree. See. We’ll see.
-Nakia has much more of an introductory showcase in this episode, with the following passage (partially referring to her hijab) sticking out as a highlight: “My whole life I’ve either been too white for some people or too ethnic for others. And it’s been this very uncomfortable, sucky, in-between. So, when I first put this on, I was hoping to shut some people up, but I realized I don’t really need to prove anything to anybody. When I put this on, I feel like me. I have a purpose.”
Ms. Marvel streams on Disney+ every Wednesday. The mango man is here!