Plot summary: With Damage Control on the hunt for Kamran, Kamala finally suits up as Ms. Marvel and makes some shocking discoveries.
Episode Title: ‘No Normal’
Air Date: July 13th, 2022
Directed: Adil & Bilal (2)
Written: Will Dunn (1) (story & teleplay), and A.C. Bradley & Matthew Chauncey (3) (teleplay)
The hygiene notice in Najaf’s halal truck bears the year 2025, adhering to the near-future timeline post-Endgame. Likewise, the high school gym has a title banner from 2024.
G. Willow Wilson, one of Kamala’s co-creators, cameos in the montage of social media reactions at the end.
Tyesha asking Kamala if her powers need to recharge may be a nod to some declaring her new hard-light abilities a knock-off of DC’s Green Lantern, who of course uses the titular lantern to refuel.
Bruno and Kamran flee from Damage Control, meeting up with Kamala, Nakia, Zoe and Aamir in the empty high school to try and make a stand.
Things go south as Kamran loses control of his temper and powers, but Kamala uses her abilities to grow, protecting innocent bystanders and talking Kamran down.
Kamran escapes for Pakistan under Kareem’s protection, while the New Jersey locals refuse to let Damage Control grab Kamala, who escapes as well.
Yusuf asks Kamala about her superhero name, revealing that Kamal means ‘marvel’ and that she has always been their little… Ms Marvel!
One week later, as Bruno prepares to leave for CalTech, he declares that Kamala has some kind of… genetic mutation…
Later still, while fiddling with the bangle in her room, Kamala suddenly vanishes in a flash of light with a confused Carol Danvers emerging in her place.
Let’s just address The Big Thing weirdos online are mad about first. Kamala was always supposed to be a mutant. Her co-creator, Sana Amanat, confirmed it after the episode, but it was obvious already.
She was created when Ike Perlmutter still ruled Marvel with an iron fist, and because Fox still held the movie rights to all things mutant at the time, he massively reduced the X-Men’s profile in the comics for several years. There were still a smattering of X-Books, but a lot fewer of them, and not in their traditional spotlight. He did the same with the Fantastic Four, who vanished altogether. Not wanting to stop there, Ike decided to turn the Inhumans into store-brand mutants, hugely increasing their numbers and shoving them down readers’ throats at every opportunity. They were the centrepiece of Civil War II (don’t read it), they ‘killed’ Cyclops, it was a dark period. The lone bright spot was Kamala Khan… who questioned if she was actually a mutant, barely interacted with the main Inhumans cast (outside of Lockjaw), and was mentored by Wolverine.
So no, weirdos online, this is not the MCU changing the comics just to piss you off – side note: I have seen more alleged Inhumans fans on Twitter in the last week than I ever have in my life – this is retconning a retcon. It’s a reclamation. Kamala is finally where she was always meant to be.
Anyway! That bombshell aside, I’m glad we got back to the show I was so enthusiastic about when it started, but it did pay a price for the two-episode detour.
Firstly, Zoe being thrust back into the role of major character after being persona non grata for weeks. I’m glad she was back, I like the actress, and she has a different kind of chemistry with the group than everyone else. Read into whether or not they’re hinting at a specific storyline with her and Nakia from the comics at your caution. All good things, but because of her absence, it felt a little jarring to have her back, and her coming through for them as a friend would have been more impactful if she’d been around every week. You also have the messy part where she apparently either knew it was Kamala at AvengerCon all along but didn’t say anything or figured it out later, which feels like it should have been a conversation that happened in a previous episode.
Secondly, Kamala’s whole family know her secret and are cool with it. That is kind of nice (especially considering the most famous movie scenes involving mutants’ families in the X-Men movies), and feels in the vein of the “I am Iron Man” bombshell that got the MCU started. But again, some of the sweetness of that is taken away by the fact we haven’t seen Yusuf, Aamir or Tyesha for a while. It truly felt like they all hit pause after the wedding and are now trying to resume the narrative like nothing else happened in between.
Conversely, Muneeba stitching together the Ms. Marvel costume from the various elements she collected in previous episodes was the exact payoff I was hoping for, and I love that it came in a toffee box. Not only did Sana mail the bangle in one in episode one, we learned in Karachi that Muneeba is a huge fan of them, so it’s a double-dose of environmental storytelling, capped off with a nice loving family moment. Wholesome AF. Yusuf revealing Kamal means Marvel was eye rolling, but in a good way.
Most of the episode is an extended ‘run away from the cops’ sequence, first in the mosque, where we got more of the stuff that worked in previous episodes, with Sheikh Abdullah razzing Deever good and proper, and then some light Home Alone hijinks in the school. This is the kind of low stakes fun I was hoping for throughout, and the results speak for themselves. These dumb kids scaring cops with loud music and chucking softballs at them was a lot more entertaining than the obligatory CGI superhero sequence that followed, but even that wasn’t the worst one of those you’ll ever see. Kamala didn’t Embiggen quite as much as I had hoped, but I’m thankful she did it at all, and it was still fun. I guess Kamran can just make it on his own from the hole in the ground, though.
Ultimately, the energy of the cast – Kamala’s posturing, Nakia’s secret boyfriend, Bruno’s bad dancing, Sheikh Abdullah applying a hot dog filter etc. – goes a long way toward papering over some of the typical MCU cracks.
Most Marvellous Player
It would be cowardly of me to give it to the entire cast, wouldn’t it? But I wanna!
Fine. Iman Vellani has been an incredible little charisma machine since the start of the series, and while this episode wasn’t her strongest, she’s still as charming as ever. Her more confident body language wearing her own costume compared to her discomfort in the Captain Marvel cosplay in the first episode was great attention to detail. She also excelled at putting her own character flair into all of the superhero scenes, which is nice given this is a superhero show.
But as my initial instinct may have suggested, her strongest work comes from her interaction with the rest of the cast. First and foremost, I really missed her chemistry with Yasmeen Fletcher. Nakia’s anger with Kamala for keeping secrets melting away once they actually made eye contact was incredibly true to life. Likewise, the Khans are a wonderful family I would like to see more from. Yusuf calling Kamala their little Ms. Marvel, Muneeba gifting her the costume, Aamir getting involved in the plan, it was all really nice.
Laith Nakli remains my lowkey fave, helping shelter the teens, sassing the feds and messing with his phone. A King among men.
If you needed further proof that Damage Control should have been the sole villains of this show, here’s this episode for you. The Feds as baddies works on a very simple level (even if we did have to do the cringe ‘good cops’ standing in their way routine), and Agent Deever in particular fits the show perfectly. Her use of charged language (‘the wrong people’) and flagrant disrespect towards protected religious sites is the type of real world villainy that is easier to hate than an eye-rolling movie style foe like The Clandestines.
Kamran’s brief foray into angry young man who goes full villain too fast was disappointing, but not episode-breaking. Switching from being willing to fight against his family to prevent them from destroying the world to attacking Kamala and declaring his allegiance to the Djinn was some of the weakest character writing in the season… which is fitting, because Kamran is the weak link among the regular cast in my opinion. None of his dialogue sounds authentic.
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 is back for a fourth and possibly final volume looking at our favourite movies form the ’80s. This week: Airplane!