It didn’t take long for Ms. Marvel to establish that the heart of the show was a story about intergenerational trauma and healing. Episode 5 “Time and Again,” brings that theme full circle with the story of Kamala’s great-grandmother Aisha.
Following the last episode’s cliffhanger of Kamala being transported back in time to the night of the Partition, we learn the story of what happened to Aisha after she’s separated from the other Clandestines.
Alone, she’s helped by a kind villager Hassan who eventually becomes her husband and Kamala’s great-grandfather. It’s a beautiful love story of two outsiders finding a home with each other.
But as Marvel fans are well aware, the MCU doesn’t like happy endings. As the country moves further into unrest, Aisha’s new life is also threatened by Najma finding her.
Aisha wants to stay with her family and tries to orchestrate their escape on the last train.
The story of the Partition and its long-reaching effects on families like Kamala’s has been woven throughout the season so it makes sense for the show to revisit that night. The use of a newsreel at the top of the episode, emphasizes that as fantastical as this story is it’s based on real history.
What’s surprising is the role Kamala herself plays in her family’s story. Ultimately after Najma stabs Aisha for betraying them, it’s up to Kamala to help Sana find her way back to her father. She is the stranger who helps her before Aisha’s trail of stars leads her the rest of the way.
Ms. Marvel is not necessarily a time travel story, but it does raise questions about the nature of the timeline and how could it be that Kamala is a part of her grandmother’s history.
In the present, once Kamala returns, she faces off with the Clandestines one final(?) time as the veil to the Noor dimension is opened. Instead of welcoming them, it kills them upon impact.
Kamala tries to make an emotional appeal to Najma, to not take away from Kamran what she took from Aisha – family. In a final sacrifice, Najma uses herself to close the veil, seemingly transferring her powers back to Kamran.
Kamran receiving powers isn’t exactly surprising given the character’s comic history but the fact the Clandestine story is wrapped up in the penultimate episode is. The episode ends with Bruno and Kamran being attacked by another drone, so will the big bad end up being the government after all?
Or will Najma’s abandonment lead Kamran to his own heel turn?
Regardless of how the season ends or what’s next for these characters, Episode 5 wraps up the story of four generations of women in an emotionally satisfying way. Muneeba makes amends with Sana, while Kamala makes amends with Muneeba.
In a year full of stories of families across different cultures learning to acknowledge their trauma and heal from it, Marvel may seem a little late in the game. Fortunately, its timing doesn’t make the story any less impactful or tear-jerking.
Marvel’s approach to trauma in Phase 4 has been a mixed bag, to say the least, but Ms. Marvel is one of its successes.
Ms. Marvel airs Wednesdays on Disney+