'Ms. Marvel' Episode 2 Recap: Kamala's Got a Crush, and the Mystery Begins

The Disney Plus series offers a few Easter eggs as the show's plot begins to turn.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
4 min read
Kamala Khan takes the helmet of her homemade Captain Marvel costume in Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan is gradually accepting her destiny.

Marvel Studios

Say hello to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's newest superhero... Night Light! Yes, even as Kamala Khan gains superpowers and new confidence -- and even a love interest -- she's still stuck with other people telling her who she is and who she should be.

Episode 2 of the Disney Plus series Ms. Marvel sees superhero superfan Kamala develop her powers and learn a little something about her past. The first two of the show's six episodes are available on Disney's streaming service now, with more to follow each Wednesday until July 13.

Following our recap of episode 1, let's dive into an in-depth recap of episode 2, titled Crushed, including character arcs and Marvel Easter eggs (and lots of spoilers!)

The word "spoilers" over a scene from Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Studios

Training montage!

Kamala's new powers are like "an idea come to life." She names them "hard light," projecting light that temporarily crystallizes (in contrast to her powers in the comics, in which she stretches and elongates her body). As Ms. Marvel's origin story continues to unfold, this week sees the obligatory scenes of the fledgling hero exploring her superpowers.

What's cool about this sequence, set to the bangin' beats of Goddess by Krewella and Nervo featuring Raja Kumari, is that it explicitly rejects physical strength. You don't need bulging muscles to be a superhero. Instead, Kamala's powers come from within. And they're not created by a physical artefact, they're only channeled by the bangle, which in turn is a talisman of her family and heritage.

The hard light powers come in handy when rescuing a boy who fell out of a window, the kind of slightly contrived small-scale rescue you rarely see on the big screen of the MCU. Superpowers do come with a downside, however, as Kamala's nose lights up weirdly in class. Then, her father relates a story of how Kamala's grandmother Sana was separated from her parents during the chaos of the 1947 partition that divided India and Pakistan. Although her mother, Aisha, disappeared, Sana followed "a trail of stars" back to her father. Hearing this story triggers Kamala's bangle to immerse her in strange visions.

In episode 1 she glimpsed a group of shadowy figures; this time she sees what looks like a mysterious woman. What does this have to do with her missing great-grandmother Aisha, who is said to have cursed everything she touches, had secret affairs or even killed a man?

And what does all this have to do with the mystery woman at the end of the episode…?

A handsome young chap leans on a car outside school in Ms. Marvel.

Rish Shah as bad boy Kamran in episode 2 of Ms. Marvel.

Disney Plus

Bad, bad, bad, bad boy

Which brings us to Kamran, the new senior and Kamala's crush, played by 23-year-old Londoner Rish Shah, previously seen in the British soap Emmerdale and the Netflix rom-com To All the Boys: Always and Forever. Swoon he takes off his shirt and dives into a swimming pool to the sound of Jalebi Baby by Tesher and Jason Derulo (also Feel So Good by Mase, Be My Baby by the Ronettes and Sage by Ritviz -- his guy practically has his own soundtrack).

Kamala and Kamran make a cute couple as they discuss common interests like their love of Bollywood movies, name-checking 1993 hit Baaziger and DDLJ (1995 romantic musical Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge). And they also share a love of Swet Shop Boys, a hip-hop double act including musician and actor Riz Ahmed, who was nominated for an Academy Award for The Sound of Metal. Shah starred with Ahmed in the Oscar-winning short film The Long Goodbye, which accompanied Ahmed's 2020 album of the same name.

No Snapchatting in the masjid!

It's quite refreshing to see a superhero show that doesn't immediately throw up a villain to be fought. But that does mean the show is still simmering various subplots rather than moving forward -- so the (slightly racist) Department of Damage Control and that cliffhanger arrive just in time to give the show some momentum.

Kamala does have some issues to tackle, however: she's already taken a stand against micro-aggressions in school. She's spoken up about being segregated in a moldy and decrepit women's section of the mosque. And then there's the mosque shoe thief, making off with Nakia's new Versaces.

The election subplot introduces us to the mosque bros, pious boys, converts/reverts and mini harami girls -- not to mention the all-knowing Illumin-Aunties. The show kinda screeches to a halt for Nakia's scene where she monologues her feelings about wearing the hijab, complete with slow push-in and poignant music. But it's a heartfelt and thought-provoking scene that shows how even Ms. Marvel's secondary characters have problems and personalities.

When's the next episode?

New installments stream each Wednesday. Episode 3 is streaming June 22. Here's the full episode release schedule for the rest of the series.

Random thoughts

  • Seriously, "Night Light"?
  • Everybody loves Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd, who famously looks younger than he is.
  • Kamala's rival Zoe Zimmer is busy parlaying her brush with a superhero into popularity, playing the victim entering herself in an exaggerating version of the story to gain attention at school and on social media. But the feds easily manipulate her, and she's clearly going to cause more trouble for Kamala.
  • "Don't question my love for the Captain Kidd…" Muneeba is a fan of New Jersey prince Jon Bon Jovi, a little nuance that makes her more than a stereotypical demanding mother.
  • This is the moment in the movie when you choose: be a Jedi, or be in The Devil Wears Prada. Bruno is kind of a Peter Parker figure who has his own future to figure out.

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