Plot summary: Kamala travels to Pakistan to learn more about her family and befriends some local vigilantes along the way.
Episode Title: ‘Seeing Red’
Air Date: June 22nd, 2022
Directed: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (1)
Written: Sabir Pirzada (1) and A.C. Bradley & Matthew Chauncey (2)
The Damage Control facility the Djinn escape from will feature in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, with Abomination as an inmate.
Kamala’s comment about possibly being Canadian is a nod to Iman Vellani’s nationality.
The purple slices that appear in mid-air before Kamala tumbles into the vision are identical to the tear Clea makes in Multiverse of Madness.
Kamala and her mother land in Pakistan to stay with Sana. Kamala struggles to fit in, having lived in Jersey her whole life.
Giving her cousins the slip, Kamala heads to the train station connected to her visions, where she has a brief skirmish with local vigilante, Kareem.
Convinced she is virtuous, Kareem takes her to the secret hideout of The Red Daggers to meet their leader, Waleed.
Waleed reveals that The Clandestines’ plan will result in their dimension overrunning and destroying our own.
The Clandestines break out of a Damage Control facility and head to Karachi to attack Kamala and The Red Daggers.
Two of the villains and Waleed die in the chaos, and another bangle vision is triggered of the fateful night decades ago, but this time Kamala is able to move around it…
Overall, I liked this episode better than last week’s, and got a lot out of the culture and aesthetics, but there are a few irksome little things poking at the edges. Mostly the superhero stuff.
I don’t mean to keep piling on Moon Knight… but it is intensely funny to me that one of the big talking points was Mohamed Diab wanting to show a more authentic depiction of modern Cairo… and Ms. Marvel just casually did a similar thing WAY better. Not that Diab’s mission wasn’t a noble one, but it amounted to about 4 seconds of aerial footage. While much of this episode was shot in Thailand, they still managed to inject more authentic shots of Karachi, and about 33% of this script was dedicated to the culture and customs of Pakistan.
Kamala struggling with the heat – both the weather and the spicy food – and being gently dunked on by her cousins for being an ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi) was incredibly charming. I missed Bruno, Nakia and the rest of Kamala’s family, but it was fun to be somewhere else and meet some new faces for an episode. Waleed obviously won’t be back, but I wouldn’t mind Kareem sticking around.
The Kamala/Kareem battle encapsulates MCU fight scenes perfectly; it has some cute/clever little choreographed moments, but broadly the CGI just looks crappy. The chase scene at the end of the episode was okay, but nobody will remember it in a month. More on it below, but it is completely impossible to care about the antagonists of the show, and they feel like such an intrusion on the version of the show everyone loves: a fun, low-stakes teen dramedy with some gentle mystery elements and an admirable refusal to hold white people’s hands as it represents Muslim culture.
I’m being pedantic, but after complaining last week that they have used ‘timeline’, ‘universe’ and ‘dimension’ in the last year without defining what (if any) difference there is between them… they threw ‘realm’ into the mix in episode 4. I’m sure it’s just them wanting to mix up their verbiage, but when a large chunk of your ongoing plot hinges on the specificity of these terms, you simply have to be crystal clear about them all. Are the Clandestines essentially trying to trigger an Incursion? Or is this a completely different thing?
Not all of the superhero elements are bad though, as I always enjoy seeing a character slowly crafting a forerunner version of their eventual costume. It started with the sash/scarf, then Bruno gifted her the domino mask she wore for the first time here, and then the Red Daggers gifted her another piece. It’s cute.
The number of Ant-Man nods is getting strange now…
Most Marvellous Player
You’re sick of reading it, I’m a little sick of writing it, but it’s quite clearly Iman Vellani yet again. She took adeptly to the fish out of water gimmick they were striving for here, at times awestruck and at others visibly uncomfortable. It was all very cute. On that note, don’t think I didn’t notice that little stolen glance at Kareem…
Speaking of Kareem, shout-out to Aramis Knight. Not because he was very good, but because he was in Into the Badlands, a show only I watched. He could be a little wobbly in that show, and I think him trying so hard to do an accent here didn’t help him any.
Conversely, Farhan Akhtar was far more engaging as Waleed, tasked with delivering some silly exposition but rising above it and remaining a fun one-and-done character.
Zenobia Shroff continues to impress me through the duality of Muneeba. She expresses her constant disappointment in Kamala and judges New Jersey locals for being too wild, but then we hear how she was such a rebel herself, not to mention the love of Bon Jovi. Her heart to heart with Samina Ahmad was nice.
It’s comforting to know Marvel will just be bad at villains forever.
Both factions suffered from an identical problem: intense incompetence. First, Damage Control allow their prisoners to escape almost immediately like it’s no big deal.
Then, Najma and The Clandestine all-but teleported to Karachi to take a run at The Red Daggers, only to basically get outfoxed by some people with no superhuman powers or special weapons. Sure, they killed Waleed at the end, but he got one of them before he ate it, and before that, he calmly slipped away from them despite their overwhelming numbers advantage. Kareem managed to kill one too, so that’s 2 of the 5 dead without a huge amount of effort. They just do not come across as particularly powerful or clever, and only Najma gets to talk, and she’s fine at best. Plus appearing from out of nowhere and then vanishing until the next action scene is required is textbook bad villain writing.
My MCU podcast, Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey has already finished for another year, taking a look back at Marvel’s 2021 projects alongside Ben Phillips. We’ll cover this show and the rest of the 2022 fare early next year.
In its place, There Will Be Movies returns NEXT WEEK for its fourth volume, wherein Ben and I will look at 25 of our favourite films from the 1980s.