Ms. Marvel Episode 6 Finale Review: No Normal

Ms. Marvel tries not to buckle under the weight of the Marvel Studios Disney+ formula as it introduces mutants into the main MCU timeline and seemingly confirms at least one fan theory about Kamala's bangle.

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in Marvel's Ms. Marvel

This review contains major spoilers for the Ms. Marvel episode 6 finale

Ms. Marvel Episode 6

For anyone who was waiting for Ms. Marvel to finally confirm that Kamala Khan was Inhuman after seeing Anson Mount’s Black Bolt pop up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the show had a surprise in store that will likely keep fans talking for quite a while, because the MCU has decided that Kamala is the first step towards introducing the X-Men into the main timeline instead.

Kamala is a mutant, Bruno essentially tells her in episode six, “No Normal”, as the X-Men animated series theme of the ’90s rises briefly from the show’s score to punctuate the reveal’s importance. Yeah, this is a pretty big deal, there’s no denying it, and maybe, just maybe, there’s now an added impetus to watch next year’s X-Men ’97, a revival of X-Men: The Animated Series? If there’s one thing we can almost always count on in these MCU projects, it’s the ferocious need to set up what’s coming next. Some people love this, other people hate it, and then there are those who don’t have the time or inclination to watch all these things who are getting lost in the increasingly impenetrable nature of this particular brand of storytelling. (we wrote more about what Kamala being a mutant means for the MCU here)

Ms. Marvel’s mid-credits scene (which we wrote about in more detail here) also delivered an expected cameo by Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, who was baffled to have suddenly and unexpectedly appeared in Kamala’s bedroom on Earth. It’s important to note that Carol was NOT wearing the other bangle when she showed up, but the two superheroes now appear to be able to trade places; a twist rooted in Marvel Comics lore. We don’t know whether this happened because Kamala’s bangle is one of the Nega-Bands – Kree technology teased during the temple discovery in episode three – or whether it’s part of the Quantum Bands, but since both The Marvels and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are both on the horizon, it could go either way.

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We’ll be fixated on some of this over the next year, but up until these reveals the episode itself continued to struggle under the constraints of the six-episode MCU Disney+ structure. After mostly abandoning its New Jersey story to travel to Karachi, we returned to it again in the finale, and the show suffered from a little whiplash as it attempted to shift the New Jersey characters back into narrative place so that Kamala could complete her superhero journey and save Kamran (and some innocent bystanders) from the comically useless DODC.

As a result of trying to squeeze in a resolution to Kamala’s globetrotting adventure battling the villainous Clandestine, a resolution to the conflict with her parents, and a resolution to the annoying DODC menace in these last two episodes, Zoe joining the group as an ally in this last endeavor felt rushed, and Nakia’s sadness at being left out was quickly resolved so she could team up with the rest of the group. Meanwhile, Kamran’s combined struggle with the Noor energy surge and the revelation of his mother’s passing was muddled as the show hurriedly set him up as a bigger (albeit temporary) threat. Kamala’s family also accepted and championed her as a budding superhero in the finale, which was lovely, but it felt like we missed out on a much longer conversation with her parents about this evolution that could have properly earned those later moments where Kamala got her completed costume and her superhero name (your mileage may vary on how well that last part worked for you, given the somewhat dodgy dialogue the actors were given to sell it).

There were, however, some fun moments to be had during the finale! We got to witness just how powerful and adept Kamala is becoming. It was uplifting when her friends and family joined the fight back against the DODC, and the public intervening in the DODC’s crackdown invoked the earnest and wholesome spirit of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. It was also refreshing to see Bruno accept that he needed to pursue his own dreams, even if that meant leaving his best friend and unrequited crush behind.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed Ms. Marvel, but it wasn’t the MCU side of the series that really worked for me. The Clandestine were ultimately forgettable villains, as were the DODC, and I really wish the show had been given at least a few extra episodes to make some of its key story elements more impactful. It was freshness of the premiere, the energy that these young actors brought to the project, and the family moments with the Khans that will linger with me as I say goodbye to Kamala for a while.

In the meantime, we’ll do that thing we do and speculate on “what’s next”, but for anyone who is exhausted with moving on to “what’s next”, and is perhaps feeling like Marvel Studios hasn’t quite got into the swing of their post-Avengers: Endgame storytelling, “what’s next” might come way too soon or not soon enough after the events of the underseen Ms. Marvel and the divisive nature of Moon Knight and Thor: Love and Thunder. As we look ahead to Marvel’s upcoming reveals at SDCC and D23, I’m really hoping for more focus on quality storytelling the likes of which Ms. Marvel often showed us is still possible in Phase 4, even as the MCU juggernaut steamrolls over it to make way for the next shiny piece of content.

Rating:

3 out of 5