Ms. Marvel’s third episode, “Destined”, does a remarkable job at maintaining the heart and integrity of the series while also bringing it to new heights in an exciting way. The episode hit the ground running straight off of Episode 2’s cliffhanger in Kamran and his mother’s car. There is a very welcome shift in pace throughout the beginning of the episode, which also takes the series in a very bold new direction. While the bangle remains mysterious, Kamran’s mom, Najma’s, explanation of its history to Kamala suggests that Najma (along with her family) and Kamala’s mysterious great-grandmother Aisha are Clandestines, or Djinn, from another dimension. While their narrative should be taken with a grain of salt at this point, they seek Kamala’s power to get them back to their home Noor dimension from which they had been exiled. The very end of the episode suggests there is more to the story of Aisha’s disappearance still, as Najma shows both Kamala and her grandmother Sana a vision of a train marked “Karachi”, which seems to be a callback to Sana’s family’s escape from India and Aisha’s disappearance.
The rest of the third episode once more brought the Kamala Khan charm to the screen. Particularly in the wedding scene, the episode proves that Ms. Marvel is one of the most colorful Marvel Studio’s projects in existence and is filled to the brim with personality. The teenage drama involved in Kamala’s story is amplified here, as she struggles to maintain trust, confidence, and honesty with and from her friends and family. Bruno begins to hesitate about Kamala’s plans with the bangle and tells her he is headed to CalTech, which complicates their adorably awkward crush-type relationship. Nakia angrily discovers that Kamala is actually the masked person who has caused problems for the community, and Kamala’s relationship with her family is further strained by her inability to tell them what she is going through.
The episode spends much time celebrating and dissecting the concept of family. This theme was introduced, foreshadowed, and explored in the first two episodes, but Episode 3 featured multiple scenes back to back that explicitly state the importance of family through dialogue. Kamala’s relationship with the Clandestines is yet another layer to that discussion—assuming they are to some extent her family, what is her duty to them? How can Kamala honor her lineage or heritage while not betraying her closer family and community?
While we have still yet to see Kamala go into full superhero mode, the episode’s first major action scene set to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer” was a strong start for the series in that regard. This episode also solidified the villains of Ms. Marvel even if there was no surprise to it. The tease of the mask Bruno made Kamala tees up her eventual triumphant debut as her own bona fide superhero, but that moment still seems potentially distant on the horizon.
Overall, Episode 3 of Ms. Marvel dramatically raises the stakes and implications for both Kamala and the series. While the more “classic” elements of the series are still going strong—teenage awkwardness, crushes, family responsibilities, and self-discovery—there is now an additional element of inter-dimensional or multiversal travel and Kamala’s direct connection to it. The fact that there is a missing bangle is a mystery that foreshadows its inclusion down the line. Sana’s request that Kamala and her mother come to Karachi is clearly setting up an adaptation of the Ms. Marvel comics “Mecca” arc, but it also is the prime (or closer to it) location for exposing the truth about Kamala’s family history, the significance of the bangles, and Kamala’s powers.