i’m really enjoying moon knight so far. In terms of Marvel shows, this one has managed to establish an interesting story better than any of the previous offerings. The Egyptian angle intrigues, while the colorful characters engage in their own unique way.
Also: Oscar Isaac’s rules. I have always admired the man, so his very presence makes this new series an absorbing exercise. He is fantastic as the bumbling Steven Grant and the mysterious Marc Spector. There is a scene in Episode 2 where the characters have a heated Gollum/Smeagol-style argument after Marc refuses to relinquish control of Steven’s body. Steven is suspended in an alternate reality, which posits him as a reflection of Marc.
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“I can barely move,” Steven says, terrified.
“Just breathe, it will be easier”, answers Marc.
It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out, especially since neither Steven nor Marc are bad.
On the contrary, each man possesses heroic qualities. In the last chapter, we see Steven step up and try to fight off a jackal to protect innocent bystanders. And then, we learn that Marc is to do an entity known as the Khonshu offer; or risk losing his wife, Layla (May Calamawy), to the Moon God’s control.
I’ve seen some reviews criticizing the slow pacing of these first two entries, and even some calling the series “boring,” which doesn’t seem fair. Here we have an absorbing character drama that usurps flashy action in favor of quiet conversation.
Even the main antagonist, Harrow, played by Ethan Hawke, seems to refute violence unless in the service of his god Ammit. There is a hair-raising moment where he takes an artifact from an innocent bystander and summarily kills him. Directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson cut a distant shot of what transpired and we see the bystander silently succumb to death from afar in the most abrupt manner imaginable. Harrow does not enjoy the moment, but sees his actions as a necessary step in establishing a Heaven on Earth. Whatever that means.
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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Marvel show without a touch of humor. While I usually scoff at the studio’s overreliance on goofy comedy, moon knight spray just enough to be effective without overshadowing dramatic parts. Kudos to Isaac for his impeccable comedic timing, but credit to the writers and directors for not putting comedy into each and every scene just for the sake of it.
Here, the humor is derived from Steven’s reactions to outlandish situations. And though the character’s continued exasperation wears off a bit by the end of the second episode, his mannerisms never feel forced or made-up. His “OMG” reaction to finding a gun in his (or Marc’s) locker is funny, but also a completely natural response.
Action, however brief, packs a punch. When Marc takes control of Steven’s body and summons Moon Knight to fight the aforementioned jackal, the sequence is appropriately exciting. Especially since it’s shot from multiple perspectives, which includes people who can’t see the monster.
Episode 2 ends on a pretty dark note as Marc argues with Steven and gets frustrated enough to break his reflection. Who is this boy? Can he be trusted? What does Khonshu want? And what’s the deal with Layla?
I’m dying to know the answers to all these questions.
Other notes and theories:
• At this point, I’m assuming Moon Knight’s powers will pass to Layla before the end of the show. An article recently revealed that Isaac’s contract with Marvel ends after the season, which makes sense since he’s not exactly desperate for roles. I most likely predict that Steven will sacrifice himself to save Layla after the pair fall in love. We’ll see.
• Hawke is a damn good villain. I love how friendly he is to his followers, though it’s interesting to see his reaction to his (and Ammit’s) high power: they immediately take a few steps back. Are these loyal servants, or is it something like “better to be the Devil’s right hand”?
• The part where Steven summons the suit and reappears dressed in a white tuxedo felt like something out of place. The mask; and she leaned a little too heavily on silly theatrics. Not enough to derail the episode, but the moment certainly stood out in a bad way.
• I love the moment where Steven questions the logic of trying/killing people before they’ve committed a crime. Ammit, it seems, bears a strong resemblance to Steve Spielberg’s Pre-Crime organization. minority reportwho also looked to the future to prevent murders from taking place.
• Part of me wishes the show leaned a little more heavily into the idea that Steven might, in fact, be crazy. We see him running out of nowhere on the video camera, he talks to the reflections and sees monsters and demons. Obviously, Marvel would never venture down that path, but it would be an interesting wrinkle for the Marvel Cinematic Universe if Marc suffered from some kind of PTSD that completely changed his mental state and resulted in the creation of Steven; and/or allow him to look through the curtain into a separate dimension filled with gods and demons.
• Finally, I have to give another shout out to Hesham Nazih for his excellent score. So far, he has knocked it out of the park.