- Created by Jeremy Slater
- Based On the Character Moon Knight by Doug Moench and Don Perlin
- Marvel Productions
- March 30, 2022 to May 4, 2022
- Marc Spector / Moon Knight and Steven Grant / Mr. Knight-Oscar Isaac
- Layla El-Faouly-May Calamawy
- Khonshu-Karim El Hakim (performance) and F. Murray Abraham (voice)
- Arthur Harrow-Ethan Hawke
- Anton Mogart / Midnight Man-Gaspard Ulliel
- Selim (Osiris avatar)-Khalid Abdalla
- Crawley (the living statue)-Shaun Scott
- Yatzil (Hathor avatar)-Diana Bermudez
- Taweret-Antonia Salib
- Elias Spector (Marc’s father)-Rey Lucas
- Wendy Spector (Marc’s mother)-Fernanda Andrade
- Ammit-Sofia Danu and Saba Mubarak
Presented here are my thoughts per episode of the final three episodes of the Disney+ series.
Episode Four: The Tomb
- Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
- Written by Alex Meenehan, Peter Cameron, and Sabir Pirzada
- April 20, 2022
Grant and Layla arrive at Ammit’s tomb only to be confronted by Harrow after which Grant finds himself in a psychiatric hospital.
I was worried that this particular episode would be some kind of bastardized version of the comic book origin. At the minimum Layla here is a bastardized version of Marlene Alraune who was the first significant female character in the MK mythos. I don’t know how Layla is in the comic books (cannot recall seeing her in an MK comic) but here she is seriously the replacement for the Marlene character. Or the MCU version anyway. Her dad is even an archaeologist that dies because of Marc’s involvement much like in the comics.
I’m just curious why couldn’t they have gone with something similar to the character’s comic origin rather than shoehorning in some characters and bastardizing others to create some kind of Frankenstein. Then again the longer that Marvel goes on producing film and television, the more they just slap names on random characters and say “Look at who we’re bringing to the screen” when they really aren’t.
We go into a mental institution in this episode which was a pretty mediocre storyline in the comics. And having read that storyline this episode comes off like a poor retread rather than something new. I’m not expecting exceeding originality in any adaption, but I am expecting at least an attempt at a fresh spin. You can tell when someone tries and fails as opposed to them not trying at all.
One thing I’ve hated about the comics is that they have focused on the character’s mental illness rather than having a superhero doing superhero stuff in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with touching on mental illness but that has become the focus of the stories and that appears to be becoming the focus here. The stories in the MK comics like that tend to crawl as this one is doing. If you have an unlimited run you can crawl but we are on episode four of six. There is no time to take it slow.
Touch on it but do not make it the centerpiece. There is only so much you can do. The character at some point needs to learn to cope and move on otherwise it becomes a gimmick and not a story element.
And once again I must say Moon Knight is not a funny character. But with the appearance of Taweret in the closing moments of the show it looks like this series is going to get goofier and goofier. I said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody laughed when Moon Knight cut Raoul Bushman’s face off. A joke to lighten the mood is fine but endless jokes pointing out the oddity of the story negates any impact one may be going for.
Moon Knight wants to not only be a goof but be a dramatic a goof. I’ve waited for this for 40 years so I’m going to watch it to the bitter end, but I am so far not impressed.
Episode Five: Asylum
- Directed by Mohamed Diab
- Written by Rebecca Kirsch and Matthew Orton
- April 27, 2022
The Egyptian goddess Taweret explains that Spector and Grant are dead and the “psychiatric hospital” is a boat sailing through the Egyptian afterlife. She weighs their hearts on the Scales of Justice to determine whether they can enter the Field of Reeds, but the hearts are imbalanced by hidden memories that she suggests they explore together.
While it is a little bit of an improvement over the last episode, that is still a low bar to clear. The major problem is the goofiness of Taweret in what could’ve been an otherwise fine bit of drama and exploration of Marc and Steven. She is just this side of a Valley Girl. All that was needed was an ”As if!” exclamation.
The balancing of the heart is a nice excuse to delve into Steven and Marc. There’s only one episode left here and only now they are delving seriously into the central character. Seems a bit late to be doing all that. But the bigger issue is why is Steven there?
Steven is essentially a work of fiction by Marc’s mind to protect him so why is he on the boat or even showing up in the afterlife at all? He is an imaginary friend of sorts. Steven does not really exist and yet there he is.
The origin for Moon Knight here is somewhat representative of what it was in the comics and I’m happy for that bit. I’m irritated at the exclusion of Marlene Alraune and her being replaced with Layla but in the grand scheme of things that’s a minor yet irritating quibble. We also get a mention of Bushman, a significant figure in the life of Moon Knight/Marc Spector, but not an actual appearance of the character.
In the comics some of the finest Moon Knight stories have been psychological and the ending of this episode fits into the beginning of his finer stories. The problem is the writing-the skill they use here-didn’t exist in the previous five episodes.
The visuals are absolutely stunning. They really do a good job of showing the ancient Egyptian mythology aspect of it all. Some of my favorite stories for the character have juxtaposed the Egyptian images with an urban setting. Essentially clashing the two distinct aspects of the character.
This episode with its writing and its acting (Taweret aside) has convinced me to give the final episode an earnest shot. If the writing is as quality in the final episode then the series will have ended on a higher than expected note.
Episode Six: Gods and Monsters
- Directed by Mohamed Diab
- Teleplay by Jeremy Slater, Peter Cameron, and Sabir Pirzada
- Story by Danielle Iman and Jeremy Slater
- May 4, 2022
Harrow finally frees Ammit and kills the other Egyptian gods avatars as the final battle begins.
Gods and Monsters is the conclusion to the Moon Knight saga which heavily features the character of Layla as the avatar of Taweret with a significant guest appearance by the title character. Seriously. For a character that’s not featured in the title she gets a lot of play in this episode.
And once again as with much of this series we barely see Moon Knight in full costume and instead we got a lot of just Marc and Steven. The costume at times in the source material has been described as his vestments. In other words, it’s the religious clothing that he wears in order to carry out his duties for Khonshu. It is much more who he is.
Truth be told the character of Khonshu really shined in this episode more than his avatar did. His dialogue with the resurrected Ammit was some of the better drama in the episode if not the show. It highlighted how similar both characters were but there was that fine line which caused a divide that neither cross. Khonshu enacts vengeance upon those that actually commit evil. Ammit takes out those who are likely to do evil in the future. A fine yet important line.
Ammit and Khonshu fight it out and have their discourse as giants at the pyramid complex at Giza. And this is where this show finally drifts very far from the core elements that make the universe of the character of Moon Knight special. He is not about epic confrontations with gods. He can fight supernatural entities and super powered entities but casting magic spells and giant gods not so much.
In this whole episode Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Moon Knight are among the weakest portrayed characters when they do get time. The real focus more often than not is Layla. The purported main character couldn’t even take care of themselves and once again needed Layla’s help. Nothing against Layla but her name is not in the title.
I was also bothered during the moment when Marc jumped into the Duat to save Steven who had fallen overboard on Tawaret’s boat during the previous episode. I need to ask exactly why? Steven is not an actual individual but rather a personality created by Marc’s mind to deal with abuse. It is no different than saving an imaginary friend.
The statues of the imprisoned gods were kept in the chamber where their avatars met yet Ammit was kept in a pyramid. Why? The implication was that holding it in the chamber was secure. Why was a tomb a better deal with Ammit? Grave robbery was a regular issue in ancient Egypt. Still is. Some follower could find it even without the scarab compass.
This episode leaves a little bit dangling should they decide to do another season. In a post credit scene which also references the iconic Bill Sienkiewicz. Khonshu makes some cryptic comments about Marc not knowing how damaged he truly is and then we get to see Jake Lockley (who for some reason is speaking Spanish) and that’s when Arthur Harrow finally dies.
While I had some hope with the previous episode, this was a serious downturn to the level of quality from before. It was a disappointing conclusion to a barely passable six episode story.
I have issues with the writing of Moon Knight. Excessive humor which often bordered on the kid friendly just brought things to a screeching halt. The jokes that give a wink and a nod to how silly this situation is were just irritating. You weaken your narrative and can even stop the flow by making a joke that highlights the reality. Make too many and you bring it all down. It sadly is a common part of the formula in Marvel these days.
The major character development of the whole show for the purported main character is that Steven Grant now knows about the personality of Marc Spector. The show even ended with him still tying himself to the bed at night. What really changed for the character? This was not an episodic show needing to maintain a status quo but rather a six-episode series that told a story from beginning to end and you would think something would be different.
Khonshu had better character moments in the show. As a general rule he was much more interesting than the character that the series was supposed to focus on, whatever you wish to call the character, be it Marc Spector or Moon Knight or Steven Grant.
And most importantly I am bothered by what the show is not. It’s not a closer adaption of the character. It’s more of a broad adaption that takes bits and pieces of random elements and slaps it on to a character that they feel is close enough. For the time he came into being-at least in his first series-he had a different type of beginning with some of the more unusual characters to face off against. This waters that down extensively.
Moon Knight is only ever ‘meh’ at best. It never reaches great or okay. I think you can skip this if you like the comics version of the character. If you like the MCU in general, then I am sure you will like this.