Moon Knight Episode 2 Review & Breakdown: The Unraveling of Many Truths
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR EPISODE 2 OF MOON KNIGHT
Episode 1 of Moon Knight, dubbed The Goldfish Problem, ended with Steven (Oscar Isaac) relinquishing control over to Marc Spector, his alter, during a rather tense sequence in which an Egyptian jackal was hounding him across the museum. The second episode of the series, directed by duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, picks up right after these events, with Marc beating the living daylights out of the beast and proceeding to exit the museum. Steven wakes up the next day, unable to differentiate his dreams from reality, which is understandable, as he spent a major chunk of episode 1 losing time via dissociation. Adding to his anxiety is the presence of the Harrow cult virtually everywhere, shadowing Steven’s every movement, and ready to intervene whenever they deem fit.
MOON KNIGHT EPISODE 2 RECAP:
A SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX AND AN EGYPTIAN MOON GOD
Steven heads to the museum and realizes that the events of the night before, were, in fact, real: the museum is closed off as the bathroom stalls (where the fight with the jackal took place) are absolutely demolished. However, the security footage reveals a scared Steven running away from nothing, as the cameras do not capture the jackal, or anyone other than Steven, for the matter, making him question his sanity once again. Determined to find answers, Steven searches for the storage unit that the key he found in his apartment is supposed to unlock. He does: it is a room with a bed, and a suspicious black bag filled with cash, a passport under the name of Marc Spector, a gun, and the golden scarab beetle. Momentarily relieved, Steven realizes that the scarab is a map of sorts, as it hovers in the air, pointing the user towards a specific direction. This is when Marc speaks to Steven via his reflection, explaining that he was never supposed to find out about his double life, as it goes against the tenets of the deal Marc made with the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu.
WHO IS LAYLA?
In episode 1, Steven got a call from a woman named Layla on Marc’s burner phone, which had led to him being further confused about who he truly is. After being terrified of Khonshu inside the security storage unit in episode 2, Steven runs into Layla (May Calamawy), who reveals that she is Marc’s wife. Layla is understandably pissed with Steven, mistaking him for her husband, and she views Steven’s natural pattern of speech as an accent for the purposes of identity concealment. Rejecting Steven’s explanation that he is not who she thinks he is, Layla asks Steven to sign divorce papers, which Marc had purportedly handed to her before leaving on a mission. Confused and terrified, Steven shows the contents of the black bag to Layla, and she is taken aback by the presence of the scarab beetle, an ancient artifact that she and Marc had fought side-by-side to keep safe. Before their mutual misunderstandings can be completely resolved, two policemen (who are Harrow’s men) take Steven to Harrow’s commune in the Alps under the guise of arresting him.
HARROW’S GRAND PLAN & STEVEN’S ALTERS
Episode 2 of Moon Knight takes a murky turn pretty fast: Harrow reveals his grand plan in greater detail, attempting to take advantage of Steven’s fragile state of mind in the process. Pretending to empathize with Steven’s situation, Harrow reveals that he was Khonshu’s former avatar, too familiar with the reality of battling a voice in his head and struggling to do what is morally right. Harrow is, of course, attempting to manipulate Steven, laying out his plan of resurrecting Ammit, who believes in doling out preemptive judgment based on what people might do in the future. This is a problematic premise, given that it is unfair to condemn an individual based on a mere thought, and the moral question of murder in the name of justice and the eradication of evil also takes center stage here.
After Layla shows up at the commune with the beetle, Harrow unleashes yet another ancient beast after them, forcing Steven to “summon the suit.” As he is not used to switching between alters, he ends up summoning his Mr. Knight persona instead, who does not prove to be effective against the beast in question. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Steven willingly hands control to Marc, who transforms into Moon Knight, succeeding in impaling the jackal, but failing to keep the scarab safe, as it is retrieved by one of Harrow’s men after the scuffle. A displeased Khonshu reminds Marc of his deal, urging him to do something to make matters right — the episode ends with Marc in Egypt, which seems to be the predominant location for the events that are about to take place in episode 3 of Moon Knight.
MOON KNIGHT EPISODE 2: REVIEW & ENDING EXPLAINED
THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF THE KNIGHT OF THE MOON
Marvel’s Moon Knight comics delved deep into Marc Spector’s many alters, a result of his dissociative identity disorder (DID), which Khonshu takes advantage of when he revives Spector and dubs him his fist of vengeance. Steven’s struggle with mental illness, along with the harrowing events that take place throughout episode 2 is heartrending to watch, as it is not easy to come to terms with the fact that he has to share his mind and body with personalities independent of his own, with their lives and agendas. While it is Marc who is Khonshu’s avatar, so is Steven, and this weight of being the instrument of justice can weigh extremely heavy, especially in a cruel and arbitrary world with constantly shifting rules. Harrow knows this weight too well, as he used to be in Marc/Steven’s shoes, and uses this pain against Steven to retrieve the scarab from him. Harrow, as a character, emerges as a formidable villain, as he truly believes in his mission to eradicate evil, willing to go to any lengths to actualize Ammit’s vision, making him a dangerous presence throughout the series.
The schism in identity, the dissociation, the lost time, the feeling of being nowhere yet everywhere — these feelings are too much for anyone, and this is heightened in the scene in which Marc and Steven have a confrontation after Marc takes over control. This scene is brilliantly shot: two personalities are at loggerheads, wracked with pain in different ways, driven by their personal desires to simply survive in a ruthless world. While Marc simply wishes to fulfill his role as avatar, and make sure that the world is shielded from Harrow’s plan, Steven wishes to gain back control over his life and his body, blaming Marc for everything he has ever missed out on, including the relentless feelings of lonely isolation he experienced for the most part. Marc shuts out Steven momentarily, but, of course, cannot do so forever, as Steven is innately a part of him, and they are now inextricably linked by virtue of being aware of the other in a personal, visceral manner.
MR. KNIGHT, AND THE DILEMMA OF NOT KNOWING ONESELF (OR KNOWING TOO MUCH)
Per the comics, Marc had four personas as per the phases of the moon, one of them being Mr. Knight, who usually worked undercover at night with the authorities to investigate crimes and gather intel on a practical level. In Moon Knight, Mr. Knight wears a dapper white suit, and is by far, the funniest of Marc’s alters, although he is presented as an extension of Steven, carrying nunchucks in his pockets and possessing superhuman strength (which works against the jackal for some time). While we do not see much of this persona, one can hope that he will appear in some capacity in the upcoming episodes, as he grants a closer look into the protagonist’s fractured psyche and the extent of Khonshu’s protection. Now that Steven is shunned out, unable to do much from within, Marc will take center stage, allowing us to better understand his motivations as a mercenary, and as a person, as a whole. Then there’s Layla, who will play a greater role, given that she is an archaeologist capable of offering further insight into the situation. Episode 2 of Moon Knight is the best entry in the series so far, replete with stunning visuals (especially the shot of Marc running in his suit under the moon), genuinely funny moments, great action sequences, and solid character development. What happens in the deserts of Egypt remains to be seen, especially now that Marc is in control of everything again.
EPISODES 1 & 2 OF MOON KNIGHT ARE NOW STREAMING ON DISNEY+
MOON KNIGHT EPISODE 2 LINKS: WIKIPEDIA, IMDB
MOON KNIGHT EPISODE 2 CAST: OSCAR ISAAC, ETHAN HAWKE, MAY CALAMAWY