REVIEW: ‘Ms. Marvel’ Episode 4—”Seeing Red”

Ms. Marvel’s fourth episode is another well-crafted entry in the series.

While Ms. Marvel still has to stick the landing in its final two episodes—something that Marvel Cinematic Universe shows tend to struggle with—its Episode 4 was yet another triumph for Kamala Khan’s series. In fact, it manages to follow the MCU series template for four episodes, but yet surpasses all expectations set by previous Disney+ installments. Ultimately, the conclusion, so far, on Ms. Marvel is that from inception to execution it is the highest quality MCU series to date. And it is not particularly close.

While the mystery of Kamala’s origin continues in Episode 4, it is still developing in more interesting ways in each episode. Quickly, we learn that there is much more depth and nuance to the “Djinn” classification we were introduced to in the previous episode, and we get a hint that the Noor connection may have stronger connections to the more traditional super-aspects of the MCU. What that connection actually is remains the driving energy of the series, and Ms. Marvel expertly stretches the reveal out much like Kamala can stretch out her own hard light energy.

But one of the most delightfully perplexing aspects of Ms. Marvel is uncovering why exactly this is so well played out. While many substantive aspects of Ms. Marvel are certainly unique from other MCU entries, the actual structure of the series is not. For example, virtually every MCU series has a major cliff-hanging plot twist-type ending to its fourth episode. In WandavIsion’s  Episode 4, Wanda’s sentience in the Hex is formally revealed. In Loki, the titular character wakes up to different variants of himself at the end of time. In Moon Knight, Marc Spector is killed and is awakened in what appears to be a mental asylum. Here, in Ms. Marvel, Kamala seems to have been somewhat transported to the past, as she finds herself engulfed in the scene of the last train to Karachi the night her great-grandmother Aisha disappeared.

So while this sort of ending was not a true surprise—and the structure of the penultimate episode can likely similarly be guessed to an extent—Ms. Marvel executes it on an absurdly impressive level. The final shots are breathtaking and rely mostly on a realistic reimagining of the past rather than supernatural, magical, or fantastical elements. While the knowledge of Partition and Kamala’s family history has been known to this extent since the second episode, Episode 4 fully opened the door for what Kamala’s very human origin means to the character, and frankly, the world at large. Even Kamala is completely at a loss for words at the tragedy, suffering, and pain she sees around her. 

Much of the beauty of the series’ focus on Kamala’s mysterious origin is the fact that, as emphasized and written in stone in this episode, Kamala’s origin is as much intertwined with traditional reality as it is with whatever inter-dimensional tie-in is. All superheroes carry the weight and strengths of their non-super past, but Ms. Marvel is unique in truly expressing that Kamala’s foundation is in her family and its history. The bangle is certainly the most important force in her superpowers, but it is every bit as important to Kamala’s character as is her relationship with her mother, her mother’s relationship with her mother, and whatever happened to Aisha during Partition. 

In the midst of the incredibly rich storyline, even the action sequences of Episode 4 stand out. In particular, the extended chase scene could without a doubt be plopped into a feature film as is and no one would question it. While often in MCU series, even Ms. Marvel, action is rushed and sparing, this scene proved that that is a choice and not a necessity for these shows. 

So, to go back to the earlier question of why Ms. Marvel seems to be ahead of the curve, there are numerous unique things that the show brings to the table. But it would not be fair to say that the series radically upended the Disney+ MCU model. Not everyone will personally prefer the series over all others, and no one has to. But at the end of the day, in all truthfulness, Ms. Marvel has been written and executed with such quality that it truly stands out. On no level is that an attack on other MCU shows, either—Ms. Marvel is simply that good.

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