Warning: the following contains spoilers for Ms Marvel through Time and Again as well as the entire MCU. Read at your own risk.
Arguably Ms Marvel: Time and Again was a blink and you’ll miss it episode since it clocked in at about 33 minutes without even doing the Moon Knight courtesy of a mid-credits scene for our trouble. But, much like Moon Knight: Gods and Monsters, I suspect our run time was due to budget. In Moon Knight’s case an Ammit vs Konshu kaiju battle, in Ms Marvel’s case, a truly mind boggling amount of extras (probably supplemented with CGI, I’m sure, but still).
In terms of my comments about the ep we also run into a similar problem like we did with Ms Marvel’s second episode, Crushed, where I can see enough connections between what we saw and what’s gone on in the comics that it’s hard to talk about them without doing spoilers.
So! All that being said this is probably going to end up being as short as the episode itself as I restrict myself to what I feel I can safely say. But what I can safely say is that I did like the ep. Let’s chat a bit about why.
The Good Parts of Ms Marvel: Time and Again
I’m going to start this off ironically by talking about something I’m sure other people are going to consider a bad part, which is how quickly the Clandestine storyline was taken care of. “This is horrible! Oh it’s happening now! Oh the solution to this problem turned out to be super easy, barely an inconvenience!” And yeah, this particular plotline was barely a plotline. But for me that’s why I don’t mind it going away quickly. I’d much rather a show course correct than stay with something they clearly don’t want to spend a lot of time with.
Plus, in the grand scheme of antagonist MacGuffins in the Disney+ MCU, if I don’t hold the Flag Smashers against Falcon and the Winter Soldier I’m certainly not going to hold the Clandestines against Ms Marvel. I mean look: I’m not watching porn to find out if the copier gets fixed, you know? Sure it’s great if we can get multilayered antagonists who are well thought out. But once we get into the budget and constraints of a TV universe filming during covid I immediately start grading on a curve. In that instance we need to service the heroes first (no porn double entendre intended) (….or is it??) and all else comes second (…ahem.)
What I will say, though, between the Clandestines and the Department of Damage Control, plus the pacing of the five episodes of Ms Marvel we’ve seen so far, my sense is that this show was very much intended to be season one of an ongoing series. (PLEASE GOD. GIVE IT LOKI’S BUDGET WHILE YOU’RE AT IT. LIKE LITERALLY. TAKE THE MONEY AWAY FROM THEM AND GIVE IT TO GOOD PEOPLE.)
But I mean look at what we’re getting here. Introducing Kamala as a hero is going at a pretty good pace, but in terms of who she fights against we’ve gotten very little time spent on multiple people we're supposed to care about. Think about it: why is the Department of Damage Control even here? Yeah it created the moment of the Clandestines being arrested and Kamran being left behind but any number of things could’ve done that. They could’ve simply had generic cops show up at the wedding as a catalyst for Najma and the others to flee. It also would’ve made more sense for them to leave Kamran behind because he’d just betrayed them
But bring the Department of Damage Control in with as much weight as they’re giving it and it makes more sense as setting them up as potential antagonists for a second season. (Which would also tie with some of the Ms Marvel plotlines in the comics, albeit with some necessary tweaks to MCU-ify them.) I mean yes, we’re clearly leading to some kind of confrontation with them in episode six but unless they wrap that up with as much of an afterthought as they did the Clandestines in this ep, this still feels like this is more about setup than conclusion.
On top of that we also have pacing. Not only was this a short episode but we were at 19 minutes in before Kamala showed up. Which I’m fine with! I thought it was a great choice to give that much space to the flashback, particularly since who these people were then affects so much of who Kamala is now. But that’s over half of an episode in a six episode run. That’s a lot of time to not show your protagonist… unless you’re not worried about how often you’re going to show her.
Granted there’s no announcement of a second season so hopefully I’m not jinxing things here. I just mean in terms of how this season was planned, I suspect they were at the very least counting on having a second season to play with. Compare this to Moon Knight which, while sure could also have a second season, still told a single story with a beginning, middle, and end. If Moon Knight doesn’t ever appear again in the MCU you can’t say they left things hanging. Possibilities for future stories, sure, but that’s different.
Anyway, another reason why I don’t mind the Clandestine storyline being ended in a blink and you’ll miss it moment - and why I count it with the Flag Smashers as something I don’t hold against the show when judging quality - is because clearly the time and money was spent on those freaking amazing crowd scenes in the flashbacks. I mean holy poopsticks that was a LOT. And unlike last week’s chase sequence, which clearly had a lot of money and work put into it but was sadly underserved by what ended up on the screen, this was handled beautifully (shout out to director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin). The simultaneous sense of hugeness yet claustrophobia. The way you could see little stories in the way people were dressed or how many possessions they had with them (if at all). So many freaking details that would’ve required so much work from every single person in production and dude, DUDE. Well done.
It’s all based on real life, of course, but plenty of things based on real life don’t get filmed well if the people responsible for it don’t have the ability to do it properly.
I also liked the small details, like Hasan being disabled, which helped to stress how much harder it is for people with disabilities or chronic illness when massive events like these happen. And I did tear up when baby Sana got lost in the crowd, even though I knew full well she would be fine.
And honestly that’s where I’ve got to leave it off. I can’t do deeper analysis without getting into potential comics spoilers. So here’s hoping episode six is as amazing as the rest of the series has been so far and I can roll up my sleeves and do the deeper dive like I’ve been holding back on all this time. Fingers crossed!
As always, things that don’t fit anywhere else:
- Related to the issues with last week’s chase sequence, check out this clip of a chase sequence done right. Yes, there’s much less going on in the background but for the purposes of learning that works out great since you can focus purely on what visuals make the sequence successful. Notice how the camera movement always corresponds to the movement of the people, helping you stay oriented even as the locations change. Also note how you never lose track of where everyone is. Even if you’re only seeing one person in the shot you still know where the pursuers are vs the people being pursued. Now compare this to last week and how there weren’t any visuals giving us a through line to know who we were following, who was following them, and so on. Yes, there was so much going on in last week’s scene but that means they needed to be better at making sure we knew what we were looking at. They should’ve been amping up the techniques shown in this clip to 11, not getting as lost in the chaos as we were.
- Back on episode five, I’m still no expert but again the hair and makeup felt very modern and not like it was evoking 1942.
- “No human alive can resist the smell of fresh-fried paratha” - FACT
- What is Najma’s deal with unreasonable deadlines? First with Kamala while offering Kamala no help in teaching her how getting her and the others home was even supposed to work, then now with how quickly she wanted Aisha to produce the bangle. Yeah I get that Aisha was lying about the bangle being hidden but even so every time Najma wants something it’s NOW. Like girl you just showed up late and didn’t even bring Starbucks. Cool your jets and let people take their coats off first or something.
- I love that Muneeba sees Kamala in danger and she still wants to know who the boy is.
- I also loved that Kareem was immediately respectful to Muneeba… and then tried to peace out as quickly as possible. He knew what the greater danger to his life was between an interdimensional portal and Kamala’s mother. Smart lad.
- Once again we’re skipping right past any sort of “HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU HAVE POWERS” discussion. Like I love the multi-generational group hug but y’all weren’t exactly running out the clock here. Take a moment. Brew some tea. Have a chat.
- Muneeba wearing a rose patterned outfit at the end was a nice way to show she was coming to terms with her family’s history while also understanding she can’t hold Kamala back from her future.
- Given that MCU Carol Danvers never used the lightning bolt symbol, I like the idea that Kamala’s use of it will come from it looking like part of her name. Also if Muneeba making costumes in episode one plus her with the necklace in this ep is a foreshadowing of her being the one to make Kamala’s costume I am all for it.
- I audibly groaned at seeing Bruno again. Move to California already!
And that’s all for now! See you next week!