Well, “Moon Knight” is back and he’s still messing with your mind.
After last week introduced us to both Steven Grant and Marc Spector, personalities that inhabit the same body (both played, with aplomb, by a very game Oscar Isaac), we have returned with even more quasi-mystical Egyptian shenanigans. This is probably the episode that will make you fully embrace the unexpected weirdness that “Moon Knight” has to offer (this time directed by indie genre darlings Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) or reject it completely. Either way, this episode is a trip.
Major spoilers follow for “Moon Knight” episode 2. Beware!
Steven wakes up his bed. Odd considering that, at the end of the previous episode, he had allowed for Marc to take over and, in turn, for the Moon Knight to reveal himself. (Side note: how cool is that costume? The mummy bandage motif is so cool and the hood/cape feels like a modern take on the character that still acknowledges and respects the character’s storied comic book history.) Was it all a dream? He looks in the mirror and asks, “Are you there?” No response.
He makes his way to the museum (hey, he’s got a job after all). The security guard is putting up safety tape. Steven convinces the security guard who always calls him Scotty to allow him to watch the security footage from last night, which he excitedly describes as “It’s like Area 51 meets MI-6 bonkers.” There’s nothing on the footage, aside from him running around and bumping into things. (“Are you crying?” the security guard asks.) There’s nothing else. No jackal. He fast-forwards to when Steven leaves the bathroom. No Moon Knight. “Still you, bruv,” the security guard drolly remarks. “That’s not me,” Steven says.
Called into the museum’s administrative/HR office, he’s told that the museum won’t press charges for him destroying the bathroom. The administrator slides a pamphlet across the desk to Steven. It’s for a mental health facility (please catalogue this item in your list of “potential clues that could pop up later in the season”). “They’re wonderful,” the museum administrator says. HR says that he will be let go. “Any museum property on your person?” the administrator asks. Steven sheepishly pulls off his name tag and hands it over. What a crushing moment of defeat, played wonderfully by Isaac. Sad and resigned.
Next, we see him talk to his gold statue friend in the park. He’s explaining his predicament and the discovery of his second life. And in the course of his one-sided conversation, a revelation is sparked: “Find that storage locker.” This is, of course, the key that Steven found secreted away in his flat in episode 1 along with the burner phone worthy of Walter White. He walks into a storage place. “This is the fifth one I’ve been to,” Steven says. Finally, he hits the jackpot: the guy behind the counter recognizes him and takes him to his storage locker … #43.
Inside the locker there’s a makeshift apartment: a low-slung cot, shelves, a duffle bag containing money (from around the world), guns, a passport for our beloved Marc Spector, and the gold scarab, which now appears to be some kind of compass (leading towards what???) The scarab, at least, proves that it’s real. Marc pops up. “I can’t have you interfering with what I have left to do,” Marc tells him from a reflective surface. He tells him to lay down on the cot and take a nice nap. Marc tells him that he serves Khonshu and is his avatar.
The lights start flickering in the storage unit. He runs into teh hallway and they’re flickering there. Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) resurfaces, in all of his bird-skeleton-headed glory, is chasing after him.
Steven runs out to the street and is intercepted by Layla (May Calamawy), the mysterious woman who called him last episode on Marc’s burner phone, on a moped. (She traced it anyway.) They drive through London. She talks about Marc’s “suit” and that Steven wrapping his arms around her “feels like I’m riding with a Victorian duchess.” One more thing: Layla is Marc’s wife. Twist! Steven is flummoxed. She still thinks the accent is fake.
Back at Steven’s flat, he sees Marc in the fish tank (along with his now two-finned fish). Layla pokes around (asks about his mother, questions his taste in poetry) and she gives him divorce papers. “Are we doing this or not?” she asks. Steven doesn’t understand and calls Marc a “twit.” Marc pleads with Steven not to show her the inside of the duffle bag. Marc tells Steven, “You’re going to get her killed.” Steven tries to stop showing her but he can’t.
Layla finds the scarab. She knows it. “Have it,” Steven tells her. He tells her that he thinks he’s in real danger and that she could be the only person who can help him. There’s an emotional beat when she asks him if he really can’t remember their “adventures” together. And then (of course) the cops show up. Don’t you hate it when that happens? The coppers (bobbies?) find his multiple passports and call Steven a thief. Steven gets hauled off. (Layla is hiding; she’s escaped out the window.)
In the back of the cop car, they look up his file. As it turns out – important background information alert – Marc Spector is a “full-blown international fugitive,” a mercenary who stole priceless relics from Egypt. He also apparently murdered an archeologist at a dig site. (This has precedent in real-world history, most recently during the American occupation of Iraq, when looting of artifacts was common.) The cops stop in an industrial area and get Steven out of the car. “I thought we were going to the police station?” he asks (again: Isaac sells these potentially silly moments incredibly well). He notices a young girl with the scales tattoo. “You don’t need to fight me Steven, surrender control,” Marc tells him.
Ethan Hawke’s evil Arthur Harrow shows up. The cops were in his pocket. He unlocks Steven’s cuffs. “Aren’t they terrific?” he asks. Delicious!
A Harrowing Encounter
Harrow gets Steven out of the car and starts telling him things; “monologuing” in “Incredibles” terms. He mentions Khonshu, the deity that Steven is seeing. Khonshu says, “Kill him!” And as they tour what used to be a bad neighborhood (“It was truly heartbreaking”), Harrow says that he turned it into a place that is flourishing – full of spiritual depth and intellectual curiosity (he notes that many of the inhabitants now speak three languages). Steven notices a goat.
Harrow walks Steven through the temple we saw at the start of the premiere (after Harrow put the glass shards in his sandals). They’re both vegans. Harrow tells Steven about Khonshu. “I am the real justice,” Khonshu says. And here’s the real kicker: Harrow used to be Moon Knight. Or he at least used to be Khonshu’s avatar; his human counterpart. “I was the fist of vengeance,” Harrow says. And you believe him!
Instead of Khonshu, Harrow is now interested in a different ancient Egyptian god: Ammit. He wants to resurrect Ammit, who he thinks will clear the earth of the unworthy and do it before evildoers have a chance to, you know, do evil. (Think back to last week and the scale tattoo dictating who should live or who should die.) The scarab that everybody has been scrambling over is the compass that points to Ammit’s tomb. Harrow asks to speak to Marc and then asks Marc, “What has Khonshu promised you?” Steven and Harrow have a debate over child murder.
Harrow tells him that his cane contains “a tiny sliver of the power” from the Egyptian god Ammit. “I don’t want to use it,” Harrow says. He again asks for the scarab. Layla shows up. “I have it!” she says. Layla tells Steven to “summon the suit.” He has no idea what she’s talking about.
Harrow’s cane has purple rocks that recall Agatha’s witchy power from “WandaVision” or the way the sky cracked open at the end of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Harrow summons another jackal-headed monstrosity. It crawls out from the underworld.
In an abandoned part of the “evil magician’s man-cave,” Steven summons the suit but it’s a different suit – this personal is known as Mr. Knight and is wearing not a costume but an actual three-piece suit or, as Marc calls it, “psycho Colonel Sanders.” Nobody else can see the monster.
Steven gets hit by a car. He lets Marc take control. There’s a very cool chase through the London night as Moon Knight is chased by this hideous monster. Moon Knight leaps across rooftops, chased by the monster. Finally, he impales the jackal. Steven lost the scarab. A homeless man finds the scarab but is intercepted by Harrow, who kills him and takes the scarab. Marc sees Steven in the mirror, looking even more worried than previously thought possible. Now Steven knows what it’s like being trapped on the inside. He kicks the mirror where they’re having the conversation.
Khonshu shows up. Khonshu tells Marc, “I’ll protect you.” Khonshu infers that he will use Layla as his next avatar if Marc bails on him. Marc asks, “Where are we going?” Khonshu replies, “Where the hell do you think?” (Khonshu is honestly the bitchy craggy old god we need to get us through 2022.)
The final shot of the episode is Marc/Steven waking up in a strange hotel room, padding over to the window, and throwing open the blinds to reveal the great pyramids of Egypt. Time to stop the bad guy.