Well, folks, we’re almost there. Moon Knight is reaching its conclusion, but first, we all had to get our hearts ripped out in Episode 5, “Asylum.” If you’re looking for takes on previous episodes, hop on over to these links for episodes one, two, three, and four. Ready to revisit some trauma? After all, it’s always darkest before the dawn …
“You’re not meant to see that. That’s the whole point of you.”
Steven and Marc learn from Taweret that they are very, very dead. In fact, they are on a journey through the Duat (Egyptian realm of the dead) to see if their hearts can balance the Scales of Justice against the Feather of Truth. However, the Scales are seesawing, so Tarewet deduces that Steven and Marc have some truth telling to do in order to properly balance their hearts on the scale. Thus begins the harrowing journey through Marc’s past of trauma, loss, and abuse.
However, as Marc and Steven are on their personal journey, the Duat is suddenly overwhelmed by souls meteoring into the sands before their time. They convince Tarewet they are the only way to stop Harrow from unleashing Ammit’s judgment, and she changes course to the gates of Osiris to let them back. But can they balance the scales before it’s too late?
This episode wasn’t really fair. After spending some time getting to know some of the other characters like Khonshu and Layla, it was time to get back to the show’s namesake and find out what makes Marc Marc. And this episode was an emotional tour de force that left me wrecked by the end.
With Marc and Steven’s scales out of balance, I expected them to go looking back to find the much-hinted-at third persona to even it out. I think we even saw a glimpse of that five minutes into the episode, when Harrow is asking Marc questions about a little boy he won’t tell Steven about. At that moment, Oscar Isaac puts on a frenzied look in his eyes and what sounds like a New York accent, threatening to violently lash out at Harrow if he digs any deeper. Jake Lockley is often seen driving a cab, so it’s not out of reason to assume he’s got the classic New York cabbie vibe.
But instead of some menial “Find Jake” story arc, director Mohamed Diab and writer Jeremy Slater go right for the gut and set out to find Marc instead. Phase Four of the MCU is quickly getting a reputation as putting its characters through hellish grief, and this is that to the nth degree. As a child, we see Marc survive a tragedy for which he carries an enormous amount of guilt. And we see he’s not the only one who believes this as we see the fracture between him and his destabilizing and abusive mother. All of this childhood trauma is ultimately how we meet Steven–and we find all this out at the same time Steven does.
We’ve heard time and again Marc saying things like he wishes he could disappear or that sometimes he wishes the evildoers Khonshu sends him to kill would win and kill him instead. It’s almost as if he has a death wish, and yet, when we see the pivotal moment in which Khonshu offers Marc a chance at life to be his fist of vengeance, Marc ends up choosing to live. Almost as if he feels the tragedy swirling around him is his fault and he has to live to rectify it. Which is probably why he doesn’t accept that he is destined for either the Duat or the Field of Reeds; he has to get back and set right the sudden release of souls into the Duat. Marc is torn between his grief and his sense of responsibility, and we see just how much that has come to torment him.
All of this is what makes Steven’s arc in this episode even more tragic. We see Steven was manifested as Marc’s way to compartmentalize and cope with the abuse. When Marc felt he had his DID under control, their lives start bleeding into each other again when Marc can’t deal with the loss of his mom. All the while, Steven finds it in himself to console Marc and tell him it’s not his fault; he was just a child. Steven throws himself in harm’s way in more ways than one at the benefit of preserving Marc. It’s incredibly bittersweet, and part of you wishes that Steven would receive what Marc ultimately gets instead.
So, I’m glad we finally got to dig more into Marc’s past like I was hoping last week, even if I incorrectly assumed he was in the Overvoid (and I incorrectly assumed the murder of Layla’s dad is what triggered his DID). I’m a big fan of how the creative team chose to unveil the character of Marc Spector to us; starting the series straight off with that scene where he hears the voice of Khonshu in the temple might have felt a little on the Norman-Osborn-crawling-toward-the-mask-on-a-chair levels of goofy.
With the final episode ahead, and Oscar Isaac saying the series ends with healing, I wonder how Marc will begin to find his way toward inner peace. Since I’m unearthing my incorrect predictions, I’ll just go ahead and lob a spicy hot take out into the virtual ether by guessing Marc will solve the Harrow/Ammit problem on borrowed time, finally find peace by returning to the afterlife, maybe they find a way for Steven to have the body, and then Layla ends up as the next Fist of Khonshu.
Of course, we’ll find out just how wrong I am in short order. Regardless of what happens, I’m so curious to see how they’ll tie a neat bow on this series with all the open ends that remain. Part of me hopes they leave enough open to see Moon Knight for many, many years ahead.
Steven's Trip through Marc's past10.0/10
Duat in the world is happening10.0/10
Moon Knight's creative team taking heartbreaking risks10.0/10
Why did that have to happen to Steven?10.0/10
Jake? Is that you?10.0/10
- Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, F. Murray Abraham, Antonia Salib, May Calamawy
- Directors: Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
- Writer: Jeremy Slater
- Characters: Doug Moench, Don Perlin
- Producers: Kevin Feige, Grant Curtis, Victoria Alonso, Mohamed Diab, Oscar Isaac
- Score: Hesham Nazih
- Cinematography: Gregory Middleton
- Studio: Marvel Studios
- Streaming: Disney+