Spoiler alert: this article is for people watching Moon Knight on Disney+. Do not read unless you have seen episodes one to five.
After the headscratcher of episode four – was it a dream, a trick played by Harrow or Ammit, or was it all in Marc’s head? – we needed some answers. And we got them, sort of, albeit slowly. To my mind, the opening recap heavily suggested this was all a ploy by Ammit, or agents acting on her behalf, going so far as to hint that the Ennead are also involved (I still think they are, even though there was no more evidence to support that).
The first five minutes of the episode proper didn’t clear things up any further, with two stories being told simultaneously: the part that was seemingly in Marc’s mind, featuring Steven and Tawaret, and the other, in Harrow’s office, in which the doctor told Marc that he’d been picking fights in the psychiatric hospital and talking about a rhinoceros.
It wasn’t until Tawaret welcomed Marc and Steven to the Duat, the Egyptian underworld, that things began to clear up a little. As the Duat is incomprehensible to the human mind, people tend to muster surroundings that are familiar to them before passing through to Aaru, or the Field of Reeds, the heavenly paradise ruled by Osiris. At this point, Marc had come to believe he genuinely was a patient in the hospital, while Steven was faced with the revelation that he, too, was unwell. Of course, in life as in death (or the MCU) two things can be true at the same time, and just because you are dead, and have dissociative identity disorder, doesn’t mean that Harrow is a doctor and that the talking Egyptian deity in front of you is all in your head.
And so to getting their hearts weighed on the scales of justice, just as Harrow had done for the people in the Alpine town square. As Marc and Steven’s hearts were unbalanced, they were instructed to go back into the hospital construct and revisit their memories to show each other the truth. We saw Moon Knight in the museum toilet, we saw Mr Knight and Khonshu turning back the stars and then, in the third window, we saw someone I was convinced was going to be Jake Lockley. For the non-comic readers among us, or those reading who don’t spend time trawling the internet for clues, Lockley is, in the comics at least, a second Marc Spector alter ego after Steven Grant. He’s a New York taxi driver, prone to more severe violence than the other two personalities. It would have made perfect sense – given the rooftop killings neither Spector nor Grant seemed to remember, Layla’s dad’s previously unexplained death, and that third sarcophagus in the hospital last week. The scene in question here looked like New York and there was a taxi in the background. But it was not to be (the truth, when it finally came, was far more devastating). Perhaps Lockley is Moon Knight’s version of Nightmare or Mephisto, the character the internet has decided it wants to see, but that is nowhere to be found.
Little boy lost
Nevertheless, we moved on, to a room full of people killed by Marc, the scales slowing down as Steven learned a lot more about who Marc – and, by extension, he – is. “Why is there a little boy in a room full of people you’ve killed?” came Steven’s most pertinent question.
As he followed the boy through the door, he was taken back to childhood, where we learned Marc had a brother. They wandered through the fields, reciting lines from Tomb Buster as Rosser and Dr Grant, and it quickly became apparent what had happened. Marc’s brother drowned, and their mother blamed him. We saw the yelling and the uncelebrated birthdays and, eventually, Marc leaving to join the military. Fast forward to Egypt, and the truth of Layla’s dad’s death. Marc – now a mercenary being discharged after going into a fugue state – was working for Bushman, who ordered him to raid a tomb and leave no survivors. “I couldn’t live with that. I tried to get them all away, but we didn’t make it. Clearly.” It sounds so simple, explained that way, and believable. Couldn’t he have told Layla that last week when the subject came up?
Then we came to the really heartbreaking moment, when Steven finally learned the truth about himself: that he was an invention of Marc’s all along, nothing but a shield from his mother’s beatings. “You’re not meant to see that; that’s the whole point of you,” said Marc, dragging him away from the memory. “The point of me? What, to be your stress ball?” replied Steven. “All this time I thought I was the original, but I’m just something that you made up.”
And so to the big reveal of why Marc – and definitely not Jake – was standing on that street, sipping from a hip flask. He was watching his mother’s shiva through the window of his former family home.
We finished up with Steven, realising that if Marc can fight, he can, too, and fending off a couple of undead on board Tawaret’s boat. He was thrown overboard in the tussle, destined to reside for eternity in Duat, while Marc, with his scales now balanced, on his way to the Field of Reeds where, hopefully, he will realise what kind of game Harrow is playing, find Layla and free Khonshu before being reunited with his Moon Knight powers.
We’ve now had two episodes without our costumed hero and his beaky god, save for flashback scenes, and it would be churlish to complain, given the quality of this episode and episode four. But the series is called Moon Knight, and I want to see him throwing more moon-shaped ninja stars (ninja crescents?) around before the credits roll on episode six. Something tells me I’m going to be satisfied this time next week, but I have been wrong before.
An Oscar for Isaac
Let’s hear it for Oscar Isaac’s performances. He’s never been less than great in this series, but this was a standout. As Marc and Steven he had several huge moments of emotion to deliver and nailed each one. I often wince when actors are essentially talking to themselves on screen – Gollum/Sméagol’s two-way dialogue notwithstanding – but this was a masterclass.
Notes and observations
Tawaret mentioned the Ancestral Plane, which we were first introduced to in Captain America: Civil War, when T’Challa described the Wakandan perception of death to Natasha Romanoff. We saw the plane for the first time in Black Panther.
Putnam psychiatric hospital features in the Moon Knight comics as the facility Elias Spector has his son sent to for treatment. While not explicitly stated, I believe it served the same function here on screen, mustered by Marc as he has been there many times before.
Rey Lucas, who played Elias Spector here, can be seen in two episodes of Luke Cage playing Det Tomas Ciancio, partner of one Misty Knight.
I loved the Ned Flanders jibe at Harrow’s moustache. Confirmation, if it were ever needed, that people in the MCU watch The Simpsons. I wonder if they get discounted Disney+ subscriptions?
If Marc and Steven’s mum is dead, who was he leaving all those voicemails for? A mailbox Marc set up?
The song playing as Marc gazed on Arau was called Mas Allá Del Sol, which means “somewhere over the sun”.
What did you think? Perfectly poised for the finale, or a distraction? Are you missing Moon Knight and Khonshu? Have your say below ...