Ms. Marvel – Season 1 Episode 2 “Crushed” Recap & Review

Crushed

Kamala walks with renewed confidence in the hallowed lobbies of her high school at the start of Ms Marvel episode 2. She acts all smooth, knowing that her “powers” make her the cool one.

That is, until Zoe’s interview about her experience goes viral on her account. She not only amasses 500k followers but also throws a party at her house to celebrate the “fragility of life”.

Kamala seems romantically interested in Kamran, a new senior at school, and suggests to her friends that they should go to the party (because Kamran is invited). Having discovered the power of the bangle, Kamala and Bruno set out to explore their real worth and extent.

The pair thinks if Kamala can harness it with control, she can really be a superhero. Bruno notices during the trials that the source of the powers is not the bangle but comes from Kamala’s core. By the looks of it, Kamala grows better at doing so. For the first time in the series, we see firm religious representation.

The namaaz ada (offering of prayers) in the masjid (mosque) is the perfect place for the creators to show how the playing field between the two genders is uneven. Male privilege is a defiant constituent of the religion and it is shown through the unevenness in the physical structure of the buildings on the men’s and women’s sides.

When Kamala suggests that Nakia run for the Mosque Board, she cheekily replies, “Do I look like a 90-year-old man to you?”

Muneeba seems to have come on a neutral ground with her daughter about the sneaking out. She even grants her permission to go to Zoe’s party. I know there is a strong overlap in the cultures of Pakistan and its illustrious, noisy neighbors, but ‘Ms. Marvel’ is also using the latest Bollywood songs as background score.

The popular jalebi bai croons as Kamran shows off his sculpted body. His antics of jumping from the top of the house into the pool get everyone’s attention, including Kamala’s. Police show up – like they always do at illegal teenage parties (how do they do that?) – and Kamran and the group escape in his car. Yes, they go with him. He drops them off at a restaurant and gives Kamala his number.

It has to be said: Kamran and Kamala hit it off really well. If you ask me, there is a 99.9% probability of it converting into a teen romance for the foreseeable future. I am not sure how comfortable Bruno would be with that – not too much, as it seemed from his reactions in the car ride.

Optimistic butterflies emerge as Kamala cannot shrug off her meeting. She is even meeting Kamran for a driving lesson. Come Monday, though, Kamala’s nose starts glowing and barely stops in class.

Meanwhile, Bruno has great news from the counselor. He has gotten into the Early Immersion program at Caltech University. But Bruno is a bit hesitant due to leaving Kamala, most probably.

The “Ks” go on a date to the same place that Aamir and his fiance go. Kamran handles the situation by calling himself a cousin of theirs from Uncle Choudhary.

A sensitive discussion at the Khan’s household gives way to another deeply emotional aspect of India and Pakistan’s shared history and culture surface: the Partition.

Sana (Muneeba’s mother) got separated from her mother, Aisha, during the Partition. This separation mirrors the fate of millions who became victims of the chaos of those dark days.

Although it is just mentioned in passing, full marks to Bisha Ali for making the show really inclusive. Kamala, during dinner, has a seizure kind of attack, wherein she sees a figure emerge at the precipice of a kind of blast of energy. It is the same one that makes up her powers.

After regaining conscience, Kamala phones Sana and discovers that the bangle actually belonged to Aisham, who disappeared in the above story. A new lead for her to follow. Surprisingly, Muneeba warns Kamala to never talk about Aisha again as she brings her up. It is Eid and the celebrations are in full flow in the house.

The extended family converges at the Mosque, where big celebrations are planned to enjoy the festivities. Nakia has actually decided to run. She distributes duties for promoting and canvassing for her top Kamala and Bruno. The strategy goes brilliantly, as Nakia and Kamala sound convincing to their target voters.

Zoe is called into questioning by Agent Cleary. He mentions the “enhanced individual”. Cleary’s tone is snide and insinuating. Meanwhile, Agent Deever walks in from the shadows to lean in. They press her to answer questions about Kamala.

The Agents have big plans to find that individual as early as possible. At the Eid celebrations, a boy is on the verge of slipping out and falling from a tall tower. Kamala rushes to the scene and saves his life – in her costume. She is able to save him -just about, but experiences another vision – probably seeing Aisha – and loses grip of the boy. His softened fall doesn’t do much damage but riddles Kamala with another mystery.

The Department sets a trap to arrest Kamala. They are almost successful, only to be undone by another group watching Kamala closely: it is Kamran and his mother. So, Kamran finding and getting close to Kamala was no coincidence.

I mean, it might have been more delicate to Kamala if it would have happened otherwise, but this is the reason they meet.


The Episode Review

Admittedly, yes, ‘Ms. Marvel’ has much brighter-looking prospects after the second episode. The crazy effects and unnecessary leverage of the culture are replaced with observant and critical comments about Muslim traditions. Not to forget the building blocks for the story that are wonderfully settled into the narrative in this episode.

It is a huge improvement over the first episode. We finally have the central conceit of the series – the bangle’s connection to Kamala’s past. Kamran and his mother’s introduction serves the series better.

I loved the way Bisha Ali was able to give more freedom and nuance to her own voice as an artist. Nakia’s introduction is key here. It gives some perspective to the story.

Too ethnic for some, too white for others – caught in between expectations and appearances captures a universal feeling among people of color in the US. Any foreign place you go to, really. It is a phenomenon that follows them around.

‘Ms. Marvel’, more appropriately and along expected lines, takes a more palatable direction in building up the characters. The teen romance trope has worked for years and there is no stopping it.

If we all could have a paisa for the amount of times we have seen this inadvertent love triangle among high schoolers and rooted for guys like Bruno to win over their gals, we would all be very rich people.

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