blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Ms. Marvel (2022) s01e06 – No Normal

“Ms. Marvel” wraps up with its inevitable MCU third act finish, with Iman Vellani teaming up with her friends to save Rish Shah from the racist Damage Control agent (Alysia Reiner, who seems strangely unconcerned with the type-casting). Reiner starts the episode explaining it’s not just brown people she doesn’t like; it’s teenage brown people especially. She escalates from trying to take the teens down with non-lethal rounds to just shooting her service pistol at them. In front of the neighborhood. “Ms. Marvel” ends with a superhero with public support sequence.

Obviously, coming after Vellani’s trip to Pakistan with mom Zenobia Shroff to visit her grandma (who sadly doesn’t appear this episode) and find out her superhero origin, this episode’s a letdown. Shroff’s gone immediately from an over-concerned, controlling parent to the proud mom of a superhero. There’s a brief scene getting dad Mohan Kapur on board, with brother Saagar Shaikh amusingly whining in the background. But they needed another episode. Especially once the high school action sequence starts, Vellani and best guy friend Matt Lintz figure out the science, while everyone else runs around to confuse the federal agents. Who are shooting pulse rifles at the teenagers. They’re the non-lethal weapons, but they take out chunks of concrete.

“Ms. Marvel”’s message is very much, “The U.S. government will kill your white kids if they have Muslim friends.” They’re not wrong, obviously; it’s just a lot for a Disney show. And it doesn’t get addressed in the epilogues. There’s no accountability for Reiner. It’s a little too realistic.

Shah’s got the biggest arc in the episode; he doesn’t know his mom is dead, doesn’t know she’s zapped him full of energy, so he’s almost as powerful as Vellani. It too could’ve been a couple episodes. Like I said before, the biggest disappointment of “Ms. Marvel” is it not being a real show, instead a (very) extended cut of a feature film.

Vellani gets some excellent superhero origin moments, with Kapur and Shroff helping out at different times, which is really nice. Laurel Marsden returns, entirely shoehorned, for the high school action conclusion. Yasmeen Fletcher has a little bit more to do, but she and Vellani’s friendship repairs incredibly conveniently so as not to give the episode any subplots or character development. It’s a rush job for everyone. Particularly Lintz, who’s second-billed on “Ms. Marvel” but hasn’t made any significant contributions since the first couple of episodes.

Though he does get to drop an MCU-relevant reveal on Vellani. It’s a cute moment, but it’s there to avoid any resolution to their relationship. Vellani still doesn’t know Lintz’s mad-crushing on her. Maybe in the movie.

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are back directing. They do an adequate job. However, while they handle some of the action better than the other series directors, they don’t handle the characters better.

The credits scene setup for Vellani’s big screen adventure, The Marvels, is decent. It’s going to be a long year waiting for “Ms. Marvel” to return.

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