Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
I was talking to Nick Rogers about Moon Knight as he also watched through the four episodes provided to press before the premiere, and this episode is where he thinks a lot of viewers might jump off. I know what he means. This was my least favorite of the initial four provided, although I still liked it quite a bit. Let’s dive in.
Man of Action
We open with a reasonably well-choreographed but weirdly shot action scene with Marc Spector chasing down some of Arthur Harrow’s men across Cairo rooftops. This is the fight choreography we saw Oscar Isaac practicing in promotional material about a year ago, which I watched so many times I immediately recognized it here. The scene establishes that Marc is simply a very, very different man than Steven. He’s going to fight to get what he wants. He’s driven not by loyalty to Khonshu but by an unease with his entire situation. Marc died, and Khonshu raised him as his avatar. If Marc doesn’t work out, Khonshu sees Layla as a potential successor. That’s entirely unacceptable to Marc. He loves his wife and, as such, refuses to let her stay in her sphere of influence.
Marc’s legitimate love for Layla isn’t necessarily a reveal here, but it does bring into question something from the first episode: Which alter asked Steven Grant’s coworker out for a steak dinner? It clearly wasn’t Marc, who seems to have devoted himself to serving Khonshu and stopping Ammit. It wasn’t Steven, either. Was it a third alter, one we haven’t seen? One who might be more amoral than either of them?
The question becomes even clearer when Marc himself “wakes up” surrounded by brutally murdered men. He tells Steven it wasn’t him but also seems to know it was him or a version of him. Could this unseen alter be the show’s version of Jake Lockley? In The Goldfish Problem, we see the keys to a taxi cab in the secret stash of items Steven finds. I would like to see Jake very much, especially if it means Oscar Isaac adopting a New York accent as fun and outlandish as his English one.
Anyway, Marc isn’t quite as interesting at Steven, so we don’t actually get a full episode of him. Instead, this is where we see further conflict between Marc and Steven actively vying for control over the body. Things come to a head when the two accompany Layla to visit an art thief whose collection might hold the clue to how they can find Harrow and stop him before he awakens his dark goddess.
The Midnight Man
Anton Mogart (Gaspard Ulliel) is a classic Moon Knight villain, a black-clad super thief named the Midnight Man. He’s one of the earliest arch-foes. He also dies. A lot. Mogart dies here, too, after a big fight sequence in which he and his men try to kill our hero with spears. It’s a decent fight sequence with a great bit involving Steven Grant briefly taking control and becoming Mr. Knight again, only to get stabbed a bunch. If we get a second season of Moon Knight, it would be neat to see more of the classic rogue’s gallery brought onto the screen. Unfortunately, that won’t be possible with a potentially resurrected Mogart; Ulliel was killed in an accident earlier this year.
This episode also introduces the wider pantheon of Egyptian gods, who, in modern times, have given up directly influencing the course of human events, operating vicariously through avatars as observers. Khonshu is the only one among them who still uses his human form to extract holy justice; as a result, the rest think he’s kind of a dickhead. There’s a big sequence where Khonshu appeals to his fellow Egyptian gods to intervene with Harrow’s mission and stop the awakening of Ammit. Unfortunately, they hate Khonshu and think Marc Spector is nuts (due to their awareness of his alternate personality as Steven Grant). They decline to help them and even tell Khonshu to watch his back: One more public act of power and they’ll lock him in a statue.
In some ways, this is where the show becomes too “big” to me. It’s not that there shouldn’t be an Egyptian pantheon at play in the MCU; we’ve already seen Norse gods and Wakandan gods. Presumably, Thor: Love and Thunder will introduce other famous mythologies, given that its villain butchers gods. The Eternals are essentially angels serving celestial gods. Higher powers exist in the MCU, and incorporating such a recognizable group of ancient gods makes sense.
However, for a show that lives and breathes off the disorientation of Marc and Steven’s internal conflict, it almost feels too tactile to bring in the Egyptian pantheon this way. Khonshu himself is a mysterious presence we don’t really know, and I don’t think this does a great job of elaborating on his behavior or motivations. I think the show works when it’s smaller and more focused on the effect this has on our damaged heroes who share a body.
That being said, I really do love the climactic sequence in the desert, where Marc is forced to allow Steven (and Mr. Knight) use of the body to help Khonshu turn back the night sky in order to locate Ammit’s tomb. It’s a really neat sequence that plays up Steven’s strengths as an equal part of their total person. Plus, it just looks really damn cool.
In terms of Marvel stuff, nothing new except for a few pre-orders placed for the eventual Moon Knight and Mr. Knight 6” figures. I’m pretty disappointed that neither features new Oscar Isaac head sculpts, which have always been underwhelming on the Star Wars side of things.
I’d also like to mention that when I do buy new single-issue comics, I buy them at Downtown Comics North in Castleton on the north side of Indianapolis. I have bought single issues there for almost 20 years at this point. It’s a great store run by great people. If you’re from Indy, it’s a great place to shop. If you aren’t from Indianapolis, and are interested in the hobby, there are many great places to start — one of which is the Comic Shop Locator tool.
I’d love a 6” Scale Khonshu figure to stand behind my Mr. Knight and Moon Knight figures.
I wouldn’t mind a Midnight Man, either, but his leisure look here isn’t particularly cool. If they released a 6” comic-accurate costume, however …