Each week, Darren from @darrenmoviereviews will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of Moon Knight and the show’s overall connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wake me up before you go-go! The MCU returns with the premiere episode of Moon Knight on Disney+, and strap in for a trippy and exciting adventure that throws back to the early days of the MCU!
It has been a long time since the MCU has felt so fresh, mysterious and exciting. Not only did the premiere episode of Moon Knight exceed all my expectations, but I was glued to screen for the entire forty minutes, eagerly anticipating what was going to happen next. The writing is excellent, finds a truly light and at times comical tone to Steven Grant’s life as a gift shop employee as he begins having weird dreams and hearing voices, while bringing a chilling darkness to the episode when necessary. The trailers and posters teased a much darker Marvel adventure for this series, and while there are teases of what is to come, the episode does a great job of keeping the shock of how brutal this show is going to get a larger reveal for future episodes. Oscar Isaac is great as Steven, capturing the awkward character in an endearing way. Watching him portray Steven struggling to understand what is happening adds an emotional connection to his character, allowing the audience to quickly attach to our latest hero. The other standout of the episode was the music. Whether it be Hesham Nazih’s musical score, or the soundtrack selections that used Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” to great effect, there was not a moment of the episode where the music was not firing on all cylinders. The only complaint was the VFX which is easily some of the weakest we have seen to date in the MCU Disney+ shows, but hopefully it will improve as the show progresses.
And into spoiler territory we go. If you have not seen the premiere episode of Moon Knight, stop reading now. If you have, keep on reading to find out what we learnt in the fourth episode…
The episode opens on Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow. Harrow smashes a glass and places the shards in his shoes before putting them to walk away, cutting his feet as he walks. Anyone else getting major The Da Vinci Code vibes here?
After the Marvel logo, we meet Oscar Isaac’s Steven. Steven wakes up in his bed, pulling off the sheets to reveal ankle restraints, which we later learn is because he sleep walks. He then feeds his fish, who has one fin, before leaving his apartment while calling his mother. Steven is catching the bus to the National Gallery, where he works as a gift shop employee. We learn that Steven is knowledgeable about Ancient Egypt and wants to be a tour guide at the museum, but his boss won’t promote him due to the fact he is always late to work. While working, Steven is approached by a female colleague confirming their dinner date for the following evening. However, Steven is confused and asks her if she is asking him out. She laughs and says he will see him tomorrow. Though Steven is still confused as he doesn’t remember asking her out, nor would he have picked a steak dinner as he is a vegan.
Back at his apartment, Steven pours sand at the foot of his bed before trying to keep himself awake. He is playing with a Rubik’s Cube, reading up Ancient Egypt and the Egyptian Gods, while listening to an audio track meant to focus his mind.
However, Steven wakes up on the side of a mountain. His jaw is dislocated, which he cracks back into place. He can hear a voice telling him to go back to sleep, but he cannot see anyone around him. The voice continues to tell him to go to sleep and to surrender his body to Marc as Steven pulls a golden scarab out of his pocket. Behind him is Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, but the scene cuts and Steven is at the bottom of a tower. There are two men in the window and begin shooting at Steven. The voice Steven heard earlier tells him to run, which sends Steven running to the town at the base of the mountains as teams of men chase him.
When he arrives in the town, Steven finds the people in the town congregating around a man: Arthur Harrow. In a chilling scene that reveals that these townsfolk are part of Harrow’s following, Harrow tells them that there is darkness in the world and that he is here to make Earth as much like heaven as possible. He then asks for a volunteer from the crowd, and a man steps forward. Harrow thanks him for being brave and tells him that he will judge him in Ammit’s name but with a fraction of the power. Harrows grabs the man’s arms and the scale tattoo on Harrow’s arm begins moving and turns green. Harrow then hugs the man, tells him that he has the face of a good man, The man returns to the crowd, and Harrow asks for another volunteer. A woman steps forward, however while holding her hands, Harrow’s tattoo turns red. Harrow then apologizes to the woman, who begins begging saying that she has been good her entire life. But Harrow says that the scales can see everything, that it could be something that lies ahead that the scales are judging her on. As the woman collapses, presumably dead, the men that were chasing Steven enter the village and tell Harrow that there was a problem with the exchange resulting in the death of two of their men. Harrow calls out in Egyptian, which results in everyone kneeling except Steven, identifying him as the individual being chased. Harrow says he knows him, that he is a mercenary which Steven denies. Harrow then asks for Steven to give him the scarab, which Steven tries to but his body refuses to let it go while the voice he has been hearing tells him he won’t return the scarab. After a comical bit with Steven’s body having a mind of its own, Steven blacks out and discovers blood on his hand a circle of bodies surrounding him. Scarab still in hand. The townsfolk begin converging on him and Steven runs and hijacks a nearby truck.
Escaping the town in a cupcake delivery truck, Steven finds himself on a windy mountain road being chased by Harrow’s man. It looks like a wild car chase is about to happen, humorously set to Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” thanks to the truck’s radio, but Steven blacks out and wakes up minutes later with a body in his truck and one of Harrow’s men’s car flying off the cliff. Rinse and repeat. In a comical sequence, all of the men chasing Harrow are taken out. Then a split second later, Steven wakes up in bed screaming, still being chained down by his ankle restraints.
Back at his apartment, Steven begins noticing some strange things. His goldfish has grown back its missing fin, and after showing up for his date he learns two days have passed since he went to sleep. While in the apartment, Steven notices scratches on the floor from his table being moved. But he doesn’t remember making the marks. He then looks above where the table was moved to and sees a wall panel loose. Inside the wall is a key and cellphone, which he has not seen before. Opening the phone, Steven sees numerous missed calls from a woman named “Layla”, and the phone begins ringing. It’s Layla.
Steven answers the phone, and Lays exclaims how thankful she is that he is alive as he has not responded for months and asks where he has been? But Steven does not know Layla and tells her that he has just found this phone. Layla asks “what’s wrong with your Marc?” and further inquiries about his British accent. Marc asks who she is and why she is calling him Marc, but Layla hangs up before Steven can get any answers.
After the call ends, Steven once again hears the voice in his apartment, calling out his name. Steven looks around, but there is no one there. The voice continues, telling Steven he needs to stop as he is going to get himself into trouble. Still searching for the voice, Steven enters his bathroom and sees his reflection in the mirror. However, his reflection is moving while he is standing still. The lights then begin to flicker, his reflection in the mirror begins moving towards him, and the building begins to shake. Steven runs out of his apartment to the elevator. He frantically begins pushing the buttons, still seeing the lights flicker in the elevator. However the doors open and he has not moved off his floor. He sees Khonshu walking towards the elevator and enters, which causes Steven to scream. But it’s just an old lady and she quickly leaves the elevator pretending to be visiting a friend on another floor, visibly distrubed by the fact that Steven appears to be having a mental breakdown. We then see a quick glance of Khonshu behind Steven, and he suddenly wakes up on the bus.
On the bus, Steven recognizes Harrow and some of his followers, prompting him to quickly depart the bus and run to the National Gallery. He tells the security guard not to let in any strange men as he is being followed, but the guard reminds him that this is a public museum so he will be letting in anyone he pleases.
Inside the museum, Steven recognizes a man from the village and follows him into a dark exhibit. Though it’s Harrow who surprises Steven by appearing, acknowledging that Steven does actually work at a gift shop. Quickly looking to the security guard for help, Steven sees the guard flash a scale tattoo, indicating he is one of Harrow’s followers. Harrow continues and tells Steven that he assumed that this was an alias. Steven tells Harrow that he does not have his scarab, but Harrow tells Steven that the scarab belongs to Ammit (who in Egyptian mythology is a beast associated with the time of judgment, who either devoured those who were not worthy or allowed individuals to pass into the afterlife peacefully).
Harrow then gives Steven a brief history lesson on Ammit and how she was betrayed by the other Egyptian gods. He claims that if Harrow had not been betrayed and allowed to continue her purposes, she would have prevented such human suffering as world wars. Steven then asks Harrow if Harrow is going to kill him as the lights in the museum begin to flicker, to which Harrow responds “isn’t the voice inside your head maddening”. Steven is caught off guard, realizing that the voice he is hearing is something much larger. In response to Steven, Harrow grabs Stevens hands and says that he is trying to help him. But much like the people in the village, Harrow is using the power of Ammit to judge Steven. However, his scale tattoo keeps balancing with no result. Harrow is surprised by this result and tells Steven that there is chaos within him. Luckily, a tour guide opens up a door and a group of children enter the room, giving Steven cover to escape the conversation.
That night at the National Gallery under a crescent moon as Steven is preparing to leave, he hears what sounds like a small dog howling. However, as he explores an exhibit trying to find the dog, we can see something much larger in the shadows stalking Steven. At the same time, Steven’s reflections in the glass of the display cases are not moving, instead watching Steven as he explores the room. However, a giant jackal reveals itself, causing Steven to hide. His name is called out over the intercom, demanding he give up the scarab or else he will be torn apart. Trying to distract the jackal, Steven tosses his bag and runs into the staff corridor. The jackal chases Steven down the corridor, forcing Steven to lock himself in a bathroom to protect himself.
Inside the bathroom, Steven’s reflection begins talking to him. However, it’s an American accent, not his British accent. His reflection says that he can save them both if Steven gives up control. At this point, Steven is convinced he is hallucinating everything, but his reflection assures him that this is very real. The lights begin to flicker and you can see glowing hieroglyphics on the wall with each flash. Steven eventually gives into his reflection, and white pieces of fabric begin covering his body. The camera then cuts to outside the bathroom, with the jackal now inside being beaten to a pulp by Moon Knight.
Cut to black, end of episode. No post credit scene. As promised, Moon Knight will be a mind bending series, but the series is off to a great start. It has a great mix of humour, character development and Egyptian mythology. Throughout the entire episode, it feels like we are only scratching the surface of the story, so expect an exposition heavy episode coming soon. Isaac’s is great in the role, but I am very intrigued by Hawke’s Harrow. Hopefully we will get a deep dive into his character and his cult following, unlike Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius from Doctor Strange who is reminiscent of Harrow but didn’t get the screen time to explore his following as much. I’m interested to see if the show will touch on the various gods at play in the MCU, as we now have both the gods of Egyptian and Norse mythology as well as the Eternals. There are similarities between the gods across the different ancient religions, and considering how many of them are active in the present day MCU, this could be a good point to help connect Moon Knight to the larger MCU, despite the showing being set in London to purposely distance Steven from Avengers populated New York City. As for the bloody action teased by the promotional material for the series, it is still being teased by this episode with Steven blacking out as you expect the action to happen. But I’m sure once these action sequences make their debut, they will not disappoint.
How many identities does Steven have? Who is Layla and how is she connected to everything? And what is Harrow’s ultimate plan to restore balance to the world? Check back next week for the next Moon Knight recap to find out if we learn the answers to any of these questions and what new questions are formed as a result.